Mixing a mess in the Mediterranean.
Putin and Erdogan, intended despots for life, are mixing a potentially potent mess of pottage in the Eastern Mediterranean in the absence of the US and the lack of leadership within the EU. The next few days are going to be important.
Russia and Turkey have found themselves on different sides in the political tilting over the future of Libya. Both nations, heirs to local and storied empires, want to bolster their current influence over the Southern Mediterranean as much as they want the oil and construction contracts Libya has to offer. Turkey is promoting its Islamic agenda and wants a base from which it can add to its pressure on Greece over oil prospection in the Aegean. Russia is no less looking for Regional domination once the Libyan civil war is over. It too wants a base in the Southern Mediterranean, and it too wants more oil.
Last week facing the real prospect of imminent confrontation, both sides changed their tune and began to talk collaboration. In truth neither side has the capacity to run Libya – both are looking for the cheapest pth to influence and treasure. They want the bully boy spoils without the hard yards.
The trouble is they have stirred the pot, there is a lot of history here and other nations are becoming involved. Libya was once an Italian colony and France retains dreams of its Napoleonic Empire. They both have long standing oil links. European nations are already holding their breath against the prospect of a new season of refugees from North East Africa. The tussle for political supremacy is gong to hot up. Saudi Arabia, The UAE, Jordan and Egypt are interested in the emerging geopolitical mix – all are fearful of Russia or Turkey becoming the Regional power.
This weekend American eyes are on impeachment, the UK is focussed on its January 31 Brexit deadline. At the same time Berlin is hosting the two Libyan factions as well as missions from Russia, Turkey, France, Italy, the Arab League, the African Union as well as the US, UK and China. The brew is thickening. The South Mediterranean is one of the danger areas of the world and it is not going away. More anon. Have a good day, James