Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Q&A: Russian Gas Deal

The following is the translation of an Arabic Q&A from the website of Sheikh Ata' Abu Rashta.

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم


On 22/2/2012 the Russian President issued instructions to the Russian gas company "Gazprom" to begin setting up the "South Stream" pipeline, which carries gas through the territorial waters of Turkey to Europe, at an annual of 63 billion cubic meters, and before that on December 28, 2011 an agreement allowing for the pipeline project "South Stream" was signed, which is opposing the project and the alternative to the pipeline project "Nabucco" which is supported by the West...

What made Turkey accept the Russian project "South Stream" after it outrightly rejected it, and then adopt in its place the project "Nabucco"? Is it a deal between Russia and Turkey, backed by America? And if this understanding is correct then what is about that deal?


The reason for this change in Turkey's stand is made clear from the reality of projects Nabucco and Southern Corridor, and the circumstances surrounding the two projects:

First: the gas pipeline Nabucco:

Nabucco pipeline is a pipeline with the length of 3900 km, and a capacity of 31 billion cubic meter. Those behind its establishment are the European Union and Turkey, backed by America, to transport natural gas from the countries bordering the Caspian Sea to Turkey then to Austria via Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary. The line is from Erzurum in Turkey to "Baumgarten an der March", which is the main headquarters for natural gas in Austria.

The route's pipeline avoids passing through Russia therefore; Russia describes the Nabucco project as "anti-Russian."

The project relied initially on the export of natural gas from Turkmenistan, which has the fourth largest gas reserves in the world, but the interference of Russia within Turkmenistan made it not possible for Turkmenistan to participate. So since the beginning of 2008 there was thinking over alternative sources, which eventually inclined towards the gas in Azerbaijan.

The preparation for the project started in February 2002, coinciding with the first talks between the two companies, Austrian OMV and Turkish Boattash. In June 2002, there were five companies: (OMV of Austria, MOL of Hungary, Bulgargaz from Bulgaria, Transgaz of Romania, BOTAŞ of Turkey). They signed a protocol of intention to construct the Nabucco pipeline. The protocol followed by the cooperation agreement in October 2002. In December 2003, the European Commission awarded a grant in the amount of 50% of the estimated total eligible cost of the feasibility study including market analysis, and technical, economic and financial studies. On 28 June 2005, the joint venture agreement was signed by five Nabucco partners. The ministerial statement on the Nabucco pipeline was signed on 26 June 2006 in Vienna. On 12 September 2007, Jozias van Aartsen was nominated by the European Commission as the Nabucco project coordinator. In February 2008, German RWE became a shareholder of the consortium.

On June 11, 2008 the first contract was signed so the Nabucco pipeline of gas can run through Azerbaijan to Bulgaria.

On January 19, 2009 the Prime Minister of Turkey Rajap Tayyip Erdogan stated that Turkey may withdraw from the Nabucco project if the negotiations about Turkey's entry into the European were kept disrupted. The Nabucco Summit was held in Budapest on January 27, 2009. At the summit the President of the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) stated that they are ready to give financial support to the Nabucco gas pipeline.

On January 29, 2009, the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliav, said that Azerbaijan was planning at least to double its production of gas in the next five years to supply the pipeline.

On July 13, 2009 Turkey and some countries from the European Union signed an agreement to leave the Nabucco pipeline project, which will supply gas to Europe from Central Asia and the Middle East via Turkey. The deal could reduce EU dependence on the Russian gas.

The Prime Ministers of Turkey, Austria, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary signed the agreement, allowing the line to pass through its territory and implement a coalition of private companies through the Nabucco Summit. that was held in the Turkish capital of Ankara on 13/7/2009.

Turkey hopes ardently to enter the EU by working with the Nabucco project, to establish a European stance so that it can be the center of energy for the West.

Second: "South Stream" project:

The gas pipeline that transports Russian gas through the Black Sea to Bulgaria, Greece, Italy and Austria is expected to end in 2015. The project appears to meet the planned Nabucco pipeline and eliminates of its effectiveness even eliminating it because the Nabucco pipeline ignores Russia by not passing through it, and Russia considers it as a legislated aggression.

The project announced on 23/6/2007, through signing an agreement between Russia and Italy which took place in Rome between Eni Paolo Scaroni company and the Russian company "Gazprom"..

On 22/11/2007, the two companies signed a final agreement regarding the project in Moscow. Russia has made great effort to convince the European countries to sign the project. Russia and Bulgaria signed on 01/18/2008. Russia and Hungary signed on 25/01/2008. Greece and Russia on 29/4/2008.

On 15/5/2009 Russia, Italy, Bulgaria, Serbia and Greece signed an agreement for the construction of South Stream. Thereafter on 14/11/2009 Russia signed with Slovenia and affirmed on 21/3/2011 and then Russia signed with Croatia on 2/3/2010.

Turkey had opposed the project, with its weight and that of the European Union, and behind them is the United States to promote the Nabucco project ... Russia and Turkey entered into a conflict over the draft for the South Stream ... On 28/12/2011 Turkey approved the project and allowed the passage into its territorial waters in the Black Sea.

According to the "Middle East" paper, Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin had announced on 28/12/2011 that Ankara had agreed to build a natural gas pipeline, South Stream, through Turkish territorial waters in the Black Sea.

The Interfax Russian news agency stated that the announcement was made by Putin in Moscow, during the signing ceremony that a contract between the executives of the Gazprom Russian national gas company, a gas monopoly, and the Turkish Energy Foundation BOTAŞ in the presence of Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz. The project South Stream is a joint venture owned by Russia, Italy, Germany and France, allowing the pipeline to connect South Stream, which will be at the bottom of the Black Sea, to the natural gas fields in the Caspian Sea, for consumers in southern and central Europe. This allows the pipeline in Turkey's relatively shallow waters, so that the project avoids passing more expensively through deeper international waters.

Reuters quoted Putin in Moscow on Wednesday, 28/12/2011 saying: "I would like to thank the Turkish government for its decision to allow the construction of South Stream pipeline in the economic zone, Turkey."

On 3/10/2011 a company called "South Stream Transport AG" was incorporated for the construction of the line and running it on behalf of the following companies: Russia's Gazprom, Eni of Italy, Électricité of France and the German Wintershall.

The four companies shared this quota as follows: 50% Gazprom, Eni 20%, Électricité 15% and Wintershall 15%.

The South Stream project is a rival to the Nabucco pipeline project. Note that the South Stream cost is between 19 - 24 billion Euros, which is almost double the Nabucco, costing about 12 billion Euros.

The project aims to provide Western Europe with Russian natural gas by passing under the Black Sea crossing to Bulgaria, Hungary, Serbia and Slovakia. The project consists of four parallel pipelines, 940 km in length each, and this project has the ability to produce 63 billion cubic meters annually.

The project, which will be operational at the end of 2015, is supposed to compete with the Nabucco gas pipeline project, which is supposed to supply gas to Western Europe with Caucasus gas through Turkey and the Balkans, thus avoiding transit through Russia.

Third, the above shows that the Nabucco Project was to ignore Russia through avoiding passage through its territory, but through the territory of Turkey to Europe. Turkey strongly supports and hopes to strengthen its case to enter the European Union, as being the significant key link that transports gas from the Caspian Sea regions to Europe, without passage through Russia. Showing that the South Stream Project is a Russian project to weaken the Nabucco Project, or eliminate it.

It is Turkey's interest to keep control over the transfer of gas to Europe to a large extent, which is not substantially achieved by the South Stream project ... The question: What made Turkey sign an agreement over South Stream from its territorial waters and is it aware that the Russian project is intended primarily to compete with Nabucco, eliminating its usefulness?

The Turkish government appeared to show that it has agreed to the South Stream agreement, in return for Russia's agreement on "Samsun Geyhan" gas lines. This came as a justification for Turkey's agreement after opposing the project strongly. But this justification does not make a case, in two ways:

Firstly: The South Stream project was originally established to bring opposition for Nabucco by ignoring Russia. Russia had worked to abolish the South Stream project and that is not about "Samsun Geyhan" gas line. Every political observer knows that the South Stream Project is due to the opposition of the Nabucco Project.

Secondly: the route of the Samsun Geyhan gas lines are in between two ports in Turkey, and they pass through Turkey alone. They can establish it without any fuss, with some understandings about the transportation of gas through it. But it is portrayed as if Russia relinquished agreement to Samsun Geyhan and that Turkey gave up the agreement on the South Stream!

The most correct view concerning the consent of Turkey on the South Stream after strong opposition towards it was something else. This consent came after Turkey's approval for setting up missile defense radars in its territory in response to a request by America on behalf of NATO, and the issue is as follows:

In autumn 2011 a new subject was initiated, about a missile shield designed and constructed by America, with part of the shield being giant radars...

America was thinking at first to erect it in some Eastern Europe countries. When Obama came to power, he installed it in Turkey on behalf of NATO as Turkey is a part of the NATO alliance. This allows for radar surveillance in the south-eastern direction for a distance of thousands of kilometers. Turkey announced on 9/1/2012 the approval of early warning radar on its territory, as part of the missile shield intended for NATO deployment in Europe.

The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated earlier: "Turkey welcomes the establishing in our country early warning radar deployed by the United States for NATO. It will be a contribution to our country in defense, developed in the context of the new strategic concept for NATO, enhancing the defense capability of NATO and our national defense."

The Turkish news agency "Anatolia" carried a statement from the spokesman for the Turkish Foreign Ministry about the radar site located in the city of Malatya, which lies about 400 miles, around 650 kilometers, southeast of Ankara, the capital ... He pointed out that he managed the mediation of the two armies, the Turkish and the US military.

Turkey is one of the five European countries that expressed willingness to host bases for the missile system, which was designed in the United States. America was welcomed by Portugal, Poland, Spain and Romania for establishing parts of that system on their territories.

America has radars in Turkey monitor hostile missiles, whilst it has missiles in Poland and Romania and operation centers located in Germany.

Note that there are four anti-ballistic missiles in the town of Rota, Spain.

In his justification of the approval by Turkey to deploy radar, Gul said in a Turkish television interview after the approval, "NATO adopted this defense system and decided to deploy it in a number of states that are members in the NATO. Turkey accepted as a member of NATO to deploy the radar system on its territory, in keeping with its obligations in NATO Charter." Gul added, "The radar system which was deployed in the east of the country several months ago, came within a range of defense tasks of NATO against the danger of ballistic missiles that threatens NATO countries."

However, the Turkey approval resulted in a confrontation with Russia. Therefore, Putin in his speech, after the approval of Turkey, said, "Russia will arm itself strongly decisively in order to meet Wester threats, specifically its missile shield that is deployed to the east in Europe and to the south in Turkey."

Fourth, and so matters were strained between Russia and Turkey with a series of statements by Russian officials over the Turkish approval:

"The new project of shield deployment, including the radar installation in Turkey, covers the whole of south Russia, especially the Black Sea and the Caucasus, where there are many Russian military bases and it will be under the control of NATO," said Savkin Nikolai, who is a researcher at the "Centre of Strategic Research" based in Moscow, whilst commenting on the radar installation in Turkey, after Turkey declared its approval on 1/9/2011.

-On 10.10.2011 (source aljazeera from German media) "Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reiterated his government's opposition to the deployment of that system, saying that Moscow would undertake rapid retaliatory action in the case that it is established. The only country targeted by the NATO plan and which will have its arms affected, is Russia. He added in an interview with the Austrian Profile magazine, "We are told that the system is not aimed at us, but they (NATO) refused to pledge a formal commitment of the treaty. We can retaliiate without great effort or huge costs. "

- On 11.23.2011 (Source EUR News) "If the situation continues to evolve contrary to Russian interest, we reserve the right to discontinue the resolution to implement arms control, and he threatened, Russia will deploy in the west and the south of the country, advanced offensive weapons which will target the European component of the [U.S.] missile defense," said the Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev.

- On 11.29.2011 (Source BBC)
Russia has established a new missile early warning system in its westernmost region in response to US plans for a missile shield in Europe.

And the President, Dmitry Medvedev, ordered the system to be activated on a visit to the radar unit in Kaliningrad, a Baltic region bordering the EU countries.

The unit is equipped with the new Voronezh-DM radar system.

Mr Medvedev has warned Russian missiles could be deployed on the EU's borders if the shield is installed.

The Russian Interfax news agency quotes Medvedev saying "If they have ignored this step, we will install another defense means, including taking strict action and disseminating strike force."

Medvedev spoke about the deployment of Alexander missiles, a modernized version of the mobile Scud land-to-land missile.

- "Russia today," quote from President, Dmitry Medvedev, on November 29 in 2011, activated the missile attack early warning radar operation system. Though he formally announced that the radar is not directed against the West, he initiated a similar system in response on the missile defense system deployment of in Europe.

- On 7/12/2011 (source Al jazeera, quoting agencies)
The Russian Chief of the General Staff said on Wednesday, 7/12/2011, that plans to build a European missile shield leave Russia with no option but to strengthen its defenses, adding that Moscow does not want a nuclear arms race.

Nikolai Makarov mention that the idea of a missile shield installed in Europe could exacerbate -quickly and dangerously- Russian tensions with NATO.

The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, on 7/12/2011 suggested in Vilnius, capital of Lithuania that Moscow is given written guarantees by NATO to confirm that the missile shield in Europe is not to make a threat against Russia.

This came when the foreign ministers of NATO member states sought to "calm things down" with Russia at the meeting of 7 and 8/12/2011 in Brussels.

And diplomatic sources said that the NATO members will confirm once again that the missile defense systems will continue, and also that they are not directed against Russia.

In a related context Russian President Dmitry Medvedev starts a one-day visit to Prague and he is going to discuss Moscow's stance over the anti-ballistic missile system in Europe. Meanwhile Russia has start to deploy its new weapon system in Kaliningrad region to keep the balance of power between the two sides, when the anti-ballistic missile system is operational.

- On 08.12.2011 (Source: ITAR-TASS -Publisher Russia Today)
Sergei announced after the Russia-NATO meeting that Russia will not allow the US anti -ballistic missile system to be on any part of its land.

Knowing that a new radar will be establish in Turkey as part of the anti-ballistic missile that will overlook a large part of Russia ,he added that, "Russia has decided to guarantee its safety using its own ability".

Fifth: but this worsening of relations between Turkey and Russia as a result of Turkish approval to installed radars decreased late last year, specifically when Turkey approved the South Stream project on 28/12/2011, and there is a series of statements about the radars and the anti-ballistic missile system:

At the beginning of February 2012 the Committee for Euro-Atlantic Security suggested that the US, NATO states and Russia should cooperate in the arctic, regional conflict and energy issues, as well as anti-ballistic missile programmes.

The new suggestion that the Committee for Euro-Atlantic Security reached to a stage that the US, NATO and Russia might exchange intelligence about radars and satellites for early missile attack warning. Therefore, each side provides the other a clear picture of any attack. But each side remain responsible for bringing down any missiles that threaten it and will be responsible for its anti-ballistic missiles.

-On 29/02/2012 (source Russia Today, carried by "Itar-Tass," Russian news agency)
"On the other hand the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Ryabkov, pointed out that relations with NATO are poor, saying, "we are preparing to undertake anti -ballistic missile maneuvers in the theater of military operations." "I hope we receive good news about that," he added and went on to say that a decision about Russian participation in the NATO summit that is going to be held in May in Chicago is being studied." 07.03.2012 (Source Russia Today.)

Russian Defense Minister, Anatoly Serdyukov, said that the Ministry of Defense will organize an international conference about the anti-ballistic missile at the beginning of May and will invite all the concerned parties. This came after the conclusion of his meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmitry Solomattin, on 7 March in Moscow.

According to his words, he called for a conference of representatives from "all states concerned" and also experts from non-governmental organizations.

And according to information from the Russian Ministry of Defense, the conference will be held during the period between 3-4 of May this year and the title of conference will be "Space and Defense Conference."

-- On 10/03/2012 (source Algzeera from agency)

"The White House statement said that President Obama and the elected President Putin agreed -during a phone call - that it is necessary to work on a successful resetting of relations in the coming years. The statement added that the two leaders agreed to continue the discussions in the issues where there are differences between the two countries, including anti -ballistic missile systems."

From his side, one of Putin's assistant, said to the Russian news agency RIA Novosti that Obama spoke to Putin of his willingness to work closely with him.

Sixth: Thus, the tone of Russia has eased over the radar installations in Turkey. But even though its tone has eased from strong confrontation over the anti -ballistic missile systems, all eyes are on the discussion between Russia and NATO to resolve this issue quietly by negotiations and conferences, as well as joint maneuvers.

Therefore, it is more likely that the consent of Turkey on the South Stream project is almost a deal with Russia, to end Russian opposition to installing radars as part of the anti -ballistic missile system put forth by NATO.

Seventh: It is worthy of mention that the justifications made by the Turkish government to install radar is not considered an excuse, if the radars were under the supervision and leadership of the Turkish army, and they had nothing to have with NATO, or actually America, then it would be correct, for preparations to maintain the security of Muslims countries and their defense is required in Islam { وَأَعِدُّوا لَهُمْ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُمْ مِنْ قُوَّةٍ } And make ready against them All You can of power... But this is not the case at all, the project essentially an American idea, covered by NATO, to find a formal justification to Turkey for approval by considering it as a member of NATO. The purpose of this project is to protect the security of the American and European colonialist kuffar and their agents...

It is confirmed that the radar installation serves America's interest in origin and that is what was stated by the United States Army Europe and Seventh Army commander Mark Hertling, when he announced on 27/2/2012, in his first statement about this subject, regarding American soldiers and military experts based in the radar station in Malatya, "our troops have settled in the radar station in South Turkey." He said this from Podgorica, capital of Montenegro, adding, "I can only speak for the ground-based air defense units. But I will tell you that we constantly coordinate (with the US Navy and Air Force), and I think we are well on track to conducting missile defense."

It is clear from him that the actual sovereignty of the radar station is for the US Air Force and Navy alone. This grants authority to the colonialist kuffar in the lands of the Muslims.

Allah says: { وَلَنْ يَجْعَلَ اللَّهُ لِلْكَافِرِينَ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ سَبِيلًا } .... and never will Allâh does not permit the Believers to grant Kuffar authority over them. , i.e. the participation of Turkey with NATO is not of equals, but its reality is the reality of a commander and follower ... But even if it was a real participation, it is not permissible in Islam, because the co-operation with the kuffar is haraam and a great sin, the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him said:

"إِنَّا لَا نَسْتَعِينُ بِمُشْرِكٍ"

"Surely we do not seek help from the Mushriq (polytheist)".

"لَا تَسْتَضِيئُوا بِنَارِ الْمُشْرِكِينَ"

"Do not seek light from the fire of the Mushriqeen (polytheists)".

18 Rabi' II 1433


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