Erdogan’s Israel-Bashing Imperils Turkey’s Energy Hub Dreams
By Onur Ant
Erdogan linked Israel on Aug. 20 to the Egyptian army’s overthrow of Islamist former President Mohamed Mursi, prompting rare condemnation from the U.S. of its only Muslim-majority ally in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Turkey cut diplomatic ties with Israel in 2010 after Israeli soldiers raided an aid ship seeking to break the blockade of the Gaza Strip in 2010, killing nine Turks on board.
Rising tensions between the former allies risk the ability of Israel’s Delek Group (DLEKG) and Turkey’s Zorlu Holding AS to negotiate a pipeline from Israel to Turkey that could feed markets in Europe. While trade has been resilient to the souring of diplomatic ties, building the $2 billion pipeline requires inter-government cooperation for a long-term commercial agreement. Their inability to complete a pipeline deal would hurt Turkish ambitions to become a regional transit center and mean continued dependence on Russia and Iran for gas.
“When the politics go wrong, the whole project breaks down,” Robin Mills, head of consulting at Manaar Energy Consulting in Dubai, said by phone yesterday. “Even if it’s done by private investors, they would want government protection.”
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