Not only Eastmed, what will change after Turkish news in Libya. Bianco’s analysis

Not only Eastmed, what will change after Turkish news in Libya. Bianco's analysis

By putting a stick to the Eastmed project (which is about to be shelved), Turkey has sparked a conflict that is generating an anti-Turkish front. The analysis of Cinzia Bianco, visiting fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations and analyst of the Gulf countries.

What consequences will the Turkish victory in Libya have on the great match for Libyan oil?

After analyzes that crowned Erdogan as the new dominus of Libya and its energy resources have taken place in the last few days, it seemed appropriate to check whether things really were this way.

Start Magazine heard Cinzia Bianco , a visiting fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, a great expert on the affairs of the Gulf countries and co-author of a full-bodied report recently published, “Deep Sea Rivals: Europe, Turkey, and New Eastern Mediterrean Concflict Lines ”, which analyzes and explains practically all the pieces of the great puzzle in which the conflict going on in our ex fourth bank fits.

The point is that the real trophy over there is not, as we tend to think, the black gold that flows from the wells of the Fezzan or elsewhere, but the geopolitical control of the Mediterranean.

In short, that of Libya is only a small piece in a great game that involves all the players in the area – from the great players of the Persian Gulf, to Russia to our own country – and in which the immense energy resources buried are in the middle under its seabed: the same that, as Bianco remembers, had to be conveyed to Europe through a project like Eastmed which found its most formidable enemy and obstacle in Ankara.

Cinzia Bianco, can it be argued that the Gulf countries – the Emirates in the lead – were defeated together with Haftar in Libya? And how will they move now?

The United Arab Emirates have now remained the only supporter of Haftar among the Gulf countries and certainly, with the defeat of the Marshal, they feel defeated too. They justify what happened with fairly linear and substantially military explanations – the defeat would have been determined by Turkey's most active and kinetic participation in the conflict – however for the Emirates this is not just a military conflict and above all it is not related only to Libya. It is a geopolitical conflict that is played on multiple tables. So surely the Emirates are going to respond to the Turkish victory by trying to hit Ankara. They will do it in Libya itself or on some of the other tables where they confront it: the Horn of Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean or Syria.

What were the Emirate's energy aims in Libya? And what changes now for them from this point of view?

The Emirates certainly have energy goals in Libya, but their interests are mainly logistical and I will explain. Having many energy resources on their own, it is not so much access to Libyan energy that they aim, even more so at a time when the energy market is in crisis with supply exceeding demand. I would therefore say that for the Emirates, as for the Gulf countries in general, the energy factor is certainly secondary. What the Emirates want is to obtain logistical advantages, in terms of projection in a strategic area from a geopolitical point of view.

What changes for Libya, and above all for its energy structures, after Erdogan's victory? Will he have the last word on Libyan oil?  

Although the latest developments are certainly significant, they will have no influence on a fundamental market dynamics at this moment, namely that the producing countries do not find whom to sell their oil to. Having more oil right now isn't necessarily a good thing. And I would like to point out that this contraction has been accelerated since Covid-19 , but it already existed before. It is a structural phenomenon. As for the fact that Erdogan can now control Libyan oil and have, as you say, the last word I have serious doubts. This is a speech that touches many other entrenched interests and armored contracts lasting decades.

Will the victory in Tripoli have a direct effect on Erdogan's aims and appetites in the eastern Mediterranean?

The Eastern Mediterranean is absolutely part of this game. From the point of view of Middle Eastern actors, it is as if it were a single geopolitical game in which two sides are confronted, one led by Qatar and Turkey and the other by Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, to which other subjects are added depending on the contexts. To counter Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Emirates have found bank in all countries that have gas fields which should then feed the Eastmed pipeline. We are talking about actors like Cyprus, Greece, Egypt and even Italy, although his participation in this game was on alternating current. But the Eastmed project, as you know, is about to be shelved.


Firstly because it was very expensive. Secondly, alternative technologies for transporting gas are being discussed, including liquefaction to allow gas to be exported anywhere in the form of LNG. Following this path, a good part of the geopolitical component that provided for grouping all the actors in a single subject would be lost.

It was no coincidence that this project had sent Erdogan into a rage.

Exactly. To put the stick to the Eastmed project, Ankara has attempted to redefine the exclusive economic zones in the Eastern Mediterranean in collaboration with Tripoli, bringing many fields of interest for the project back under Turkish sovereignty. In this case, the energy figure overlapped the political rivalry between Turkey on the one hand and Greece and Cyprus on the other, and generated a widespread conflict that extends to Syria, where Athens has just reopened its diplomatic representation. In short, it is a conflict that is spreading like wildfire generating a compact anti-Turkish front.

This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Start Magazine at the URL on Wed, 10 Jun 2020 13:40:02 +0000.