Balkans: Israel and Turkey Have a Plan


February25, 2007: Turkey and Israel are acknowledging that that are once again discussing the possibility of constructing underwater pipelines from the Turkish port of Ceyhan to the Israeli port of Ashkelon. The plural "pipelines" is important. According to an Israeli source, one would transport oil and another would transport fresh water. This discussion began in April 2006. The water would be for Israeli use (and yes, possibly Palestinian and Jordanian use, if the price is right and peace breaks out). The oil from Ceyhan could help supply Israeli needs (Israel and Turkey are allies) but that isn't the whole story. Ceyhan is now the Mediterranean hub of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline. That pipeline connects Ceyhan to Caspian Sea basin oil sources. Interestingly enough, Israel could ship the oil through pipelines to its Red Sea port of Eilat, and then load the oil back on tankers for shipment to East Africa, India, or East Asia (Japan and China). This is an interesting option for Caspian Sea oil exporters, like Azerbaijan, because it bypasses the Strait of Hormuz, which Iran often threatens to close. The pipelines don't yet exist, but the Israelis are supposed to be willing to put up the capital. Two other undersea pipelines could be constructed, one to carry natural gas and another to ship electricity. Turkey's new hydro-electric power stations are coming on line and Turkey has electricity to sell. The pipelines could be vulnerable to underwater attack by several types of weapons. Iran supplied Hezbollah with anti-ship missiles, so it might supply Hezbollah with wire-guided torpedoes or similar devices that could conceivably used against the pipelines. However, the Turkish government would take a dim view of an attack on an economic asset that produces hard cash for Turkey. (Austin Bay)

February 22, 2007: International observers described Albania's February 18 local elections as "flawed." However, Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha said that his governing coalition had won 56 percent of the popular vote in those elections. Berisha's coalition now claims it controls 60 percent of Albania's 384 local councils. The opposition disputed the vote count, claiming it had won 50 percent of the total votes. The opposition did very well in the capital city of Tirana.

February 20, 2007: A group calling itself the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) claimed responsibility for a bomb attack in Kosovo that damaged three UN vehicles. The attack occurred in Pristina. No casualties resulted in the attack. This is the first appearance of a "new KLA." The original KLA disbanded in 1999 after the Kosovo War. The "new KLA" claimed the attack was "revenge" for the deaths of two Albanian Kosovars who died on February 10 in a fight with police. The two people who were killed were participating in a protest against the UN-recommended "Kosovo Final Status" report.

February 17, 2007: Albania reported a "rise in violence" prior to its February 18 local election date. Over 40 violent incidents have been reported by Albanian authorities. One of the worst was a restaurant explosion, on February 15, that almost killed one of Albania's leading opposition politicians, Edi Rama, who is the mayor of Tirana.

February 15, 2007: The Greek government announced that it had hired a private contractor to begin removing mines from border areas in northwestern Greece. Mine removal had been the responsibility of the Greek Army. The minefields are south of the Albanian border.




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