A New Lausanne: Energy politics and Shengal
NEWS DESK (DİHA) - The following article ‘Enerji ve Şengal‘ was written by M. Ali Çelebi and appeared in Özgür Gündem. It has been translated into English below.
The Russian ruble has undergone a major devaluation owing to the Ukrainian crisis, sanctions, and the fall of oil prices. If in the course of this crisis hundreds of thousands take to the streets, or if certain individuals attempt to move in on the Kremlin the subsequent upheaval will not only hit Russia. It will also affect the balance in Iraq and Syria, two countries which rely heavily on Russian support, as well as the global energy market, investments in the construction sector, etc. And for this reason it will also affect Turkey. The projection can be summarized thus: the very cards at play which were used to create this devaluation and create difficulties for Russia using global financial instruments are heading for a reshuffle. Vladimir Putin, who will want instead to spend his remaining energy on the Crimea, will not be able to support the militias in Eastern Ukraine as he was before even if he wanted to. This means negotiations with the US-EU-Ukraine partnership. This will also affect events in the Eastern Mediterranean. Considering the importance both the United States and the EU put on an energy source in the Eastern Mediterranean and the equations in Cyprus, Greece, Egypt, Israel and Jordan the games which Turkey has played with Russian support will also suffer. The transportation of Mediterranean gas to the EU, Jordan and Israel outside of the control of Russia or Turkey will be a blow to the Russia’s natural gas monopoly. The crisis will decrease Russia’s influence in the Eastern Mediterranean and projects such as the Mavi Akim-2 (Türk Akımı) Natural gas pipeline and the nuclear power plant in Mersin which has cost billions of dollars may have to be postponed.
Kobanê, Shengal and an alternative Lausanne
Seperately, Russia is hosting the former president of the Syrian National Coalition Muaz el-Hatip and officials from Iraq and Syria in an effort to end the civil war in Syria, and it is making calls for mediation between the United States and Damascus. The economic crisis will limit the range of Russia’s diplomatıc efforts around Iran and Syria. Iran might also put pressure on Moscow to speed up the projects it has promised to complete in order lessen the difficulties it will suffer from the loss of income from declining energy sales. This could eventually lead to tensions between Tehran and Moscow.
One of the reasons that Turkey has not put its billion dollar projects with Russia on the table is its goal of keeping Russia away from the dynamic developing around Rojava, but whether Turkey wants it or not the peace process will be affected by the equations in Syria and Rojava.
It was not for nothing that Putin recently praised Erdoğan as he weighed in on the past year and the crisis, calling him ‘a very strong man’ (19 December) As Turkey pursues its own interests, Russia too wants to remain close to the oil reserves in the KRG, the cities of Rojava, and Deyr Zor and Rakka through its relationship with Turkey.
Even if a final agreement in the nuclear negotiations between the United States and Iraq does not come until 2015, or does not come at all, Russia is aiming at being a part of the trade in the region as projects heat up to transport Iran’s oil and gas across Rojava and Syria toward the Mediterranean. This is to say that Iran, the KRG, Rojava and Syria all remain very watchful and wary of the back-and-forth games between Russia and the US-EU bloc to control the region’s energy resources. However Russia, which just experienced the bloody attack on the journalists’ club in Gronzi on December 3rd, cannot discount fears of further attacks nor its cleavages with Turkey on the subject of ISIS. This is to say it is an alliance that can only go so far.
We have said that the United States, which has made a pivot to the Asia-Pacific region the most recent focus of its national security strategy, would not be able to make this plan work and would once again have to focus on the Middle East. And so it seems that the United States will have to expend more of its energy in the Middle East in 2015.
As a result of all of this the United States, Russia, Turkey and Iran will be forced to make a decision about Rojava in the next critical steps they will take in the region. Because following Kobanê, Rojava has become the compass of freedom for the people of the region. The liberation of Sinjar (Shengal) will also bring the liberation of areas under ISIS occupation where Syriac Christians live and around Tel Afer, which is home to Shia Turkmen. The Yezidi-Syriac-Shia Turkmen canton that will emerge will be a barrier to imperial designs in the region. As a result no pipelines from the energy basins in Iran or from Mosul and to its south will be possible without the consent of Rojava. This is one of the reasons that delegates from the United Nations Security Council began high level meetings with the PYD following the Kobanê resistance. If the Kurds and the Rojava cantons can successfully assess and situate themselves between the international contradictions and the irreconcilable contradictions between certain global and regional powers they can make major gains. Turkey will grudgingly accept this prescription. Whether it is called the Eastern Lausanne, the Peoples’ Lausanne or an alternative Lausanne a new arrangement will be unavoidable.