The New Rules: Turkey’s Long Game in the Cyprus Gas Dispute

The New Rules: Turkey’s Long Game in the Cyprus Gas Dispute

"Resource wars" enthusiasts worldwide have a new -- and unexpected -- poster child: "zero problems with neighbors" Turkey. The Turkish government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is beside itself over Israel's recent moves to cooperate with Cyprus on surveying its Eastern Mediterranean seabed for possible natural gas deposits thought to be lying adjacent to the reserves discovered last year off the coast of Haifa.

I told Reuters last week that the mounting war of words between Turkey and Israel, which includes some clear military preparations, amounts to a "storm in a teacup." But other respected experts quoted in the article sounded some legitimate alarms.

Fellow WPR columnist Nikolas Gvosdev, for example, called it a "big deal," pointing out that Turkey is talking about sending naval escorts for its own surveying efforts on behalf of the breakaway Turkish region in north Cyprus. The Russians, already siding with Turkey's rival Greece, are likewise slated to show up in the region soon with an aircraft carrier. As for the U.S.; its activity in the Mediterranean has been slim since the end of the Cold War. That underscores a point raised by Ian Bremmer, head of the Eurasia Group, who notes that in a "G-zero" world, we may well find regional security cooperation insufficient to mitigate such territorial dust-ups.

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