Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Babali in MEQ: "Turkey at the Energy Crossroads"

Middle East Forum
March 31, 2009

at the Energy Crossroads
Turkey, Present
and Past

by Tuncay
Middle East Quarterly
Spring 2009, pp. 25-33


Turkey is increasingly at the crossroads of the world energy
trade. Because of tanker traffic through the Bosporus and Dardanelles
straits, Turkey has become an important north-south oil transit route. The
Baku-Tbilisi- Ceyhan (BTC) oil and Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum (BTE) natural gas
pipelines make Turkey an important east-west route as well. Economic
opportunities, however, can present diplomatic liabilities. As the
importance of Turkey's energy sector has grown, Turkey has come under
increasing pressure. Turkey finds itself caught between competing U.S. and
Russian interests as a result of the August 2008 Georgia conflict.
Turkish-Iranian energy trade has also brought Washington's ire down on
Turkey. Turkey's efforts to minimize problems with its neighbors may make
it popular with some, but it has led others to question the strength of
the U.S.-Turkish strategic partnership. Analysis of Ankara's options show
that it has little choice besides greater caution and engagement, and that
energy concerns rather than a reassessment of its Western ties motivate
its outreach to Russia and, to a certain extent, Iran.

Turkish-Russian Bilateral Relations

Istanbul straddles the
Bosporus with a population of thirteen million. Over the last
decade, oil tanker traffic on the strait has increased 240 percent.
No other city in the world is exposed to the transit of such
volatile cargo every day.

Historically, U.S.-Turkish relations have been strong.
Throughout the Cold War, Turkey was a staunch member of the North Atlantic
Treaty Organization (NATO). Along with Norway, it was the only NATO
country to border the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union's collapse
fundamentally altered Turkey's geopolitical position. To the east, Turkey
found itself a neighbor to three new countries: Azerbaijan (through the
Nakhchivan enclave), Armenia, and Georgia. The Warsaw Pact's demise made
neighboring Bulgaria a promising new market. And the Black Sea, once the
proving ground of the Turkish and Soviet navies, suddenly became a much
friendlier place. It was not long before Turkish businessmen began
exploring new economic opportunities.

Analysts and politicians have explained the rapprochment as
"ever closer cooperation and [a] multidimensional partnership."[1] At the same time, many U.S. analysts
and officials worry that Ankara's warming ties with Moscow signal a
decline in the U.S.-Turkish alliance.[2] It need not be like this, however; rather, the
growing Turkish-Russian relationship is based on the economic interests of
both countries.

In many ways, the private sector has driven Turkish-Russian
rapprochement. In 1990, Turkish-Soviet trade was $1.7 billion.[3] A decade later, it was $4.5 billion.
By 2007, bilateral trade between Turkey and Russia reached a record $28
billion, albeit with an $18.6 billion Turkish trade deficit. In the first
nine months of 2008, bilateral trade had already reached $30 billion with
a total trade volume expected to reach $36 billion for the year. Whereas
Germany was Turkey's number one trading partner up to 2007, today Russia
has taken its place. Indeed, Turkish-Russian trade is now, by volume,
almost three times that of U.S.-Turkish trade.[4]

In 2002, both countries completed the 16 billion cubic
meter/day capacity Blue Stream pipeline, running from the Beregovaya
compressor station in Arkhipo-Osipovka to the Durusu terminal located 38
miles from Samsun, Turkey. Gas flow from Russia to Turkey started in
February 2003. However, because of a price dispute between the two
countries, the inauguration ceremony could not be held until November 17,

Energy cooperation—both gas and oil—forms the basis of
Russo-Turkish economic relations. Gas is Turkey's major import. In 2007,
Turkey imported 23.15 billion cubic meters of natural gas through both
western and Blue Stream pipelines, up 18 percent from the year before.
Turkey, as the third largest importer of Russian gas after Germany and
Italy, depends on Russia for almost two-thirds of its gas imports.[5] If Turkey cannot tap other major
supplies from Azerbaijan, Iraq, and Turkmenistan by the early 2010s, then
the Russian share of Turkey's gas supply will increase to 80 percent of
the total.

In addition, Turkey imports approximately six million
barrels of oil (seven million tons) annually from Russia, 30 percent of
Turkey's total oil import and second only to that purchased from Iran.
Turkey is also the third largest importer of Russian coal following
Ukraine and Great Britain, spending $710 million in 2007.[6]

It is not just geography and energy that make Russia such an
attractive trading partner for Turkey. Even though Russia's population is
twice that of Turkey's, if the energy sector's contribution is subtracted,
the Russian economy is smaller. Flush with cash from the still
underdeveloped oil boom, Russia provides Turkish industry with ample
opportunity. Turkish contractors have engaged in projects worth close to
$28 billion; $5 billion in 2007 alone.[7] In addition, Turkish direct investments in Russia
reached $6 billion by the end of 2007.

Tourism has also helped cement relations. In 2007, 2.5
million Russian tourists visited Turkey, almost four times the number of
American visitors.[8] In only the first
six months of 2008, Turkey welcomed two million Russians. Both Ankara and
Moscow encourage this trend, which is unprecedented in the history of the
two countries. According to the memorandum of understanding signed in 2006
between the Turkish Ministry of Culture and the Russian
Federation's Federal Agency for Culture and Cinematography, Ankara
named 2007 the year of Russian culture in Turkey. Moscow reciprocated and
declared 2008 the year of Turkish culture in Russia. On October 20, 2008,
the Red Army Chorus and the Ottoman Army Military band (Mehter) gave a
joint concert in the Kremlin.[9] Such a
concert may seem a side note to a U.S. audience, but for both Turks and
Russians, it had immense symbolic meaning, given that the Russian and
Ottoman armies had clashed eleven times in major battles in the course of
history. Few Turks ever expected a "Janissary" soldier to sing "Kalinka"
in the Kremlin Palace.

The leaders of both Turkey and Russia have encouraged
further bilateral developments. On December 5-6, 2004, Russian president
Vladimir Putin paid his first bilateral visit to Turkey, the first by a
Russian head of state since 1972 when Nikolai Podgorny, the chairman of
the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, paid a symbolic visit to
the country. Putting aside Podgorny's visit, Putin's was the first state
visit by a Russian head of state since the beginning of official
diplomatic relations 512 years before. During the visit, Putin and Turkish
president Ahmet Necdet Sezer signed a joint declaration of cooperation
which characterized bilateral relations as a "multilateral strengthened
partnership."[10] The following year,
Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited Russia three times,
and Putin returned to Turkey to mark the opening of the Blue Stream
pipeline. On June 28-30, 2006, Sezer became the first Turkish president to
visit Russia,[11] and his successor,
Abdullah Gül was scheduled to visit Moscow in January 2009. In contrast,
during this period, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited
Turkey only twice (February 5-6, 2005, and April 25, 2006) and National
Security Adviser Stephen Hadley just once.

Nor are the Russo-Turkish visits just symbolic. In follow-up
agreements to the Turkish-Russian partnership, the foreign ministries of
both countries established a bilateral consultation mechanism to cover
twelve different subjects in February 2006. The commission held meetings
in November 2006 and June 2008.[12]
In contrast, the United States and Turkey do not enjoy such a
comprehensive, regular mechanism for meetings or developing relations.
Instead, because of the difference of opinion over the invasion of Iraq,
they started in July 2006 to have irregular "Shared Vision and Strategic
Dialogue" meetings. Although it is one of the key strategic partnership
topics for Ankara and Washington, the parties were able to establish a
working group on energy issues only in the summer of 2008.

Turkey's Energy Strategy

Turkey's energy strategy has three main pillars. The first
is to ensure diversified, reliable, and cost-effective supplies for
domestic consumption; the second is to liberalize its energy market; and
the third is to become a key transit country and energy hub. Three
quarters of the world's proven oil and gas resources are located in
regions neighboring Turkey, and there is an increasing dependence on
Russian, Caspian, and Middle Eastern oil and natural gas by Europe, the
United States, and developing East Asian countries.

Approximately 3.7 percent of the world's daily oil
consumption transits the Turkish Bosporus and Dardanelles straits. While
this is currently only one-fifth of the traffic that passes through the
Strait of Hormuz, it still represents a 240 percent increase in traffic
over the last decade.[13] Two-thirds
of these tankers carry Russian oil and gas exports; most of the bulk cargo
trade is also Russian.

This creates a problem for Turkey, however. Istanbul, its
largest city, straddles the Bosporus with a population of thirteen
million. The 19-mile-long Bosporus has a convoluted morphological
structure that requires ships to change course at least twelve times,
including four separate bends that require turns greater than 45 degrees.
At Kandilli, a blind 45-degree bend complicates navigation where the
channel narrows to less than half a mile. At both Kandilli and Yenikoy,
forward and rear lines of sight are blocked during turns. Moreover, two
bridges built in 1973 and 1988 spanning the channel increase the
navigational threats. Approximately 1.5 million people cross the waterway
daily on intercity ferries and shuttle boats, accounting for about 1,000
east-west crossings.[14] No other
city in the world is exposed to the transit of such volatile cargo every

Planning for an accident in the congested shipping passage
is every Istanbul waterway official's nightmare. All Turkish officials
remember the conflagration that followed a collision between two Cypriot
tankers at the Black Sea entrance to the Bosporus on March 13, 1994. The
accident killed twenty-nine crewmen, polluted the waterway with nineteen
million gallons of crude oil, shut the channel for a week, and caused $1
billion in damage.[15] Today, ships
four times as large as those involved in the accident ply the waterway.
Turkey has been lucky that there have been no more major accidents. Still,
between 2004 and 2007 alone, there were 103 minor accidents in the
Bosporus strait. Over the same period, 651 tankers experienced technical
breakdowns or malfunctions in the passage. Shipping is no longer a
sustainable way of carrying hydrocarbons through the Bosporus.

Russian energy companies understand the gravity of the
situation, and even as Moscow demands fulfillment of the 1936 Montreaux
Convention's guarantee of "free and uninterrupted passage" through the
Turkish straits, Russian officials and energy companies are aware that
current traffic through the Bosporus is unsustainable. The solution lies
in the use of alternative oil export options that bypass the straits.

The Blue Stream natural gas pipeline is one of the main
components of a north-south axis alternative transport strategy. In 2007,
Turkey imported 9.3 billion cubic meters of Russian gas through Blue
Stream; the figure for 2008 is likely to be 25 percent higher. The Turkish
Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy regards the implementation of gas
transit projects through Turkey to third markets as possible new projects
to strengthen Turkish-Russian energy cooperation.

Turkey also has begun work on other pipeline bypass options.
While the Trans-Thrace pipeline has been cancelled because of
environmental concerns, the Samsun-Ceyhan project (also called the
Trans-Anatolian pipeline) broke ground at Ceyhan on April 24, 2007, in a
joint venture between Turkey's Çalık Energy, Italy's Eni, and the Indian
Oil Corporation (IOC); it is expected to have a capacity of 60 million
barrels annually (70 million tons). Ceyhan provides distinct advantages
for its existing infrastructure and linkages to the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan
pipeline. Originally meant to terminate at Samsun, its directors
calculated that Unye, a small town in eastern Samsun province, would allow
larger offshore facilities while reducing the total length by sixty miles.
The proximity of Unye-Samsun to the oil outlets of Novorossiysk, Supsa,
and Batum on the eastern Black Sea minimizes seaborne transportation of
oil in the Black Sea.

While environmental concerns have also caused Turkish
officials to oppose plans for an oil terminal in the Aegean Sea, there has
been preliminary progress on the potential Medstream project, which
envisions a network of pipelines to supply oil, natural gas, electricity,
and water, possibly along with a fiber optic line from Turkey to Israel by
connecting the Blue Stream and Samsun-Ceyhan pipelines to Israel's
Ashkelon-Eilat pipeline. Feasibility studies have been positive, and
Israeli demand would enable Russia's state oil company, Gazprom, to fill
the Blue Stream pipeline although progress has stalled as Moscow and
Jerusalem have yet to agree on a contractor to lay the pipeline from
Ceyhan to Ashkelon.[16]

Turkey's Energy Relations with Iran

Despite frequent Iranian declarations of contracts and
partnerships, since 2001 Turkey has been the only significant importer of
Iranian gas. Turkey signed the Iran contract in 1996, during the short
tenure of the Refah Party, whose leader Necmettin Erbakan's Islamist
leanings later led to public pressure for his resignation. While the
Islamic Republic is Turkey's second largest gas supplier after Russia,
Ankara's dealings with Tehran have not been easy. Iran often demands
prices higher than those of alternative suppliers, and gas quality and
quantity often fall below the terms agreed. Even after renegotiation, Iran
currently supplies Turkey with a little over half of its contracted 9.6
billion cubic meters of natural gas a year (6.16 billion cubic meters in
2007).[17] In both January 2007 and
January 2008, Tehran slashed gas exports to Turkey in the face of high
Iranian domestic demand.[18]

Turks certainly do not always consider Iran a reliable
partner. Ankara and Tehran have also come to loggerheads over Iran's
failure to respect commercial contracts. On May 8, 2004, the Islamic
Revolutionary Guard Corps forced the expulsion of the Turkish construction
consortium TAV from Tehran's flagship Imam Khomeini International Airport
despite a 15-year service contract. That same year, the Iranian government
also cancelled Turkcell's successful bid to enter the Iranian cell phone

Still, under the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)
chairman and prime minister Erdoğan's administration, there has been a
renewed drive for energy partnership with the Islamic Republic. On July
14, 2007, Iranian oil minister Kazem Vaziri-Hamaneh and his Turkish
counterpart, Hilmi Güler, signed a memorandum of understanding by which
the two sides agreed to build 2,200 miles of gas pipelines to transport up
to forty billion cubic meters of gas annually to Europe through Turkey.
They also agreed to increase cooperation in electricity generation and to
construct natural gas power stations. This would allow the Turkish state
oil company, Türkiye Petrolleri Anonim Ortaklığı, to develop successive
phases of the South Pars gas field, a $3.5 billion undertaking.[19] But one year later, the energy
accords remained formally unconcluded.[20]

Turkish-Iranian energy cooperation has angered Washington
because it undercuts White House efforts to isolate the Islamic Republic
over its defiance of three U.N. Security Council sanctions seeking
suspension of uranium enrichment.[21]
Reuben Jeffery III, undersecretary of state for economic affairs, urged
Turkish officials to bypass Iran and develop alternatives in the Caucasus
and Central Asia. U.S. energy secretary Samuel Bodman and undersecretary
of state Nicholas Burns have traveled to Ankara to underscore U.S.
displeasure. Burns even alluded to possible application of the Iran
Sanctions Act which would enable the U.S. government to sanction any
company investing more than $20 million in the Iranian hydrocarbon

Erdoğan, however, has shrugged off Washington's displeasure
and said Turkey seeks diversified energy supplies. It would be "out of the
question to stop imports from either country [Russia or Iran],"[23] Erdoğan said following the Georgian
war, especially as Turkey's energy needs grow by almost 6 percent per

Geopolitical Reality Check

The August 8, 2008 Russian invasion of Georgia has
complicated Turkish strategy. Immediately after the invasion, Anatoly
Nogovitsyn, deputy chief of Russia's General Staff, warned Ankara that
Moscow would hold Turkey responsible for allowing U.S. navy ships through
the Turkish straits to provide humanitarian assistance to Georgia should
U.S. ships remain in the Black Sea for more than three weeks, as
stipulated by the Montreaux Convention.[24]

According to some analysts, in apparent retaliation for
allowing the U.S. ships passage, Russia has imposed new import controls on
trucks at Russian border points. Russian foreign affairs minister Sergei
Lavrov's September 2, 2008 visit to Turkey failed to resolve the dispute
although he denied any connection with the U.S. ships' passage to the
Black Sea.[25] Some Turkish trade
officials say—depending upon the timing of final resolution of the
problem—Turkey may lose roughly $3 billion because of these new Russian

Turkey's leaders are treading carefully around the Georgia
crisis. Although Turkey has called for Georgia's territorial integrity to
be respected, it has refrained from embracing the stronger rhetoric coming
out of Washington and Brussels. An explosion on the Turkish portion of the
Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline three days before the Russia-Georgia conflict
highlighted Turkish vulnerability, even if it were caused by technical

Prime Minister Erdoğan walked a very tight rope, explaining
to the Turkish daily Milliyet, "It would not be right for Turkey to
be pushed toward any side. Certain circles want to push Turkey into a
corner either with the United States or Russia after the Georgian
incident. One of the sides is our closest ally, the United States. The
other side is Russia with which we have an important trade volume. We
would act in line with what Turkey's national interests require."[27] Prime Minister Erdoğan's top
foreign policy advisor Ahmet Davutoğlu explained, "You can't say that
Turkish-Russian relations can be like Danish-Russian relations, or
Norwegian-Russian relations, or Canada-Russian [sic] relations. ...
Any other European country can follow certain isolationist policies
against Russia. Can Turkey do this? I ask you to understand the
geographical conditions of Turkey... We don't want to pay the bill of
strategic mistakes or miscalculation by Russia, or by Georgia."[28]

As some analysts at Stratfor Intelligence Service put it,
however, "Moscow got its point across: Europe can sink its money into
projects designed to leave Russia in the cold [mainly east-west energy
corridor projects like Baku-Tbilisi- Ceyhan, Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum, and
Nabucco], but the Russians still have the will and capacity to disrupt
many of these projects."[29]

The Georgian crisis has shattered many of the assumptions in
both the East and West about how oil and gas from the Caspian Basin can
best be transported to international markets and, as a result, about the
relations between producing and transit countries on the one hand and
those two categories and the rest of the world on the other.[30]

Both Caspian Basin oil and gas producers and Western powers
have wanted oil and gas export pipelines from that region to bypass Russia
but, at the same time, have ruled out Iran as an alternative. Following
the successful completion of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan and Erzurum pipelines
and the first leg of the Turkey-Greece-Italy gas interconnector, the
U.S.-Turkish "east-west energy corridor" concept envisions extending these
pipelines east to Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan via the Trans-Caspian
pipeline and west to Europe via the Nabucco pipeline between Turkey and
Austria. This would, for the first time, allow the European Union to buy
Caspian gas without a Russian intermediary.

Given the continued standoff between Azerbaijan and Armenia
over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, that leaves only one route available:
the current BTC pipeline route through Georgia. Georgian and Russian
actions there have called into question the security of this pipeline.
According to analyst Soner Cagaptay, "It is hard to imagine today how any
energy company would invest in extensions to the East-West corridor, along
which Georgia has become the weak link." [31] With its actions in Georgia, Russia has sent a
strong message to "the U.S.-Turkish plans to boost the East-West corridor
and make Turkey an entrepôt of Caspian energy. Moscow has also
preemptively blocked the EU's plans to buy energy from the Caspian Basin
without having to go through Russia." [32]

As a result, some Caspian Basin states are now considering
exporting their hydrocarbons via Russia even if that gives Moscow leverage
over them,[33] while some Western
countries that want to punish Russia are discussing allowing exports via
Iran;[34] still others are pushing to
resolve the Karabakh crisis in order to allow the export of oil and gas
via Armenia.[35]

No matter what solutions major powers pursue, the mere
discussion of alternative energy strategies suggests old allies may come
into conflict while old enemies may begin to cooperate. Perhaps the first
major shift will be in Turkish-Armenian relations. On September 6, 2008,
at the invitation of Armenian president Serzh Sargsyan, Turkey's president
Abdullah Gül visited Armenia—a country with which Turkey does not have
diplomatic relations—to watch the 2010 World Cup qualifier soccer match
between their national teams.

A second outgrowth of the Georgian crisis has been plans to
create a "Caucasus Stability and Cooperation Platform" to include Armenia,
Azerbaijan, and Georgia as well as Turkey and Russia.[36] In principle, each country has agreed to support
the initiative.[37]


Energy dominates Turkish strategic thinking. While the
United States enjoys a relatively peaceful neighborhood, Turkey exists in
a tough and complicated region. As Turkey continues to industrialize and
develop into a regional hub, its thirst for oil will only increase. This
requires not only diversification but also good relations with all its
neighbors, in addition to and not to the exclusion of its traditional
partnerships. Turkey simply does not have the luxury to remain aloof from
its neighbors, even if they are Russia and Iran.

Still, the Russian invasion of Georgia underlines the
uncertainty that marks Turkey's diplomatic realignment. The future of
Turkish-Russian energy relations and the north-south corridor depend
largely on Moscow's vision of energy security for Europe and the world.
Russian officials often point out that during the Cold War, they did not
stop supplying oil to the West. While that is correct, it is equally true
that the reputation of the Russian Federation as a consistent and
trustworthy energy supplier is questionable. Moscow's use of energy as a
trump card against Ukraine, Belarus, Latvia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, and the
Czech Republic raised eyebrows. Even if Russian decision-makers perceive
energy as not only an economic but also a political matter, energy
bottlenecks due to political risks are always a possibility[38]—a situation that will increase the
legitimacy of energy policies aimed at creating alternative supply

This should make Turkey's long-term energy development
important to the United States and Europe even if Washington remains upset
at the short-term implications of Ankara's dealings with Tehran.
Diversification of new energy supply routes remains crucial not only to
Turkey's development but also for the West's energy security.

Tuncay Babalı, Ph.D., is counselor at the embassy
of the Republic of Turkey in Washington D.C. The views expressed in this
article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey.

[1] Igor Torbakov,
"Making Sense of the Current Phase of the Turkish-Russian
," Jamestown Foundation, Washington, D.C. Oct. 11,
[2] Zeyno Baran, "Will
Turkey Abandon NATO?
" The Wall Street Journal, Aug. 29,
[3] Confidential report of the
Commercial Counselor's Office of the Embassy of Turkey in Moscow, Nov. 11,
[4] "Trade
with Turkey: 2007
," Foreign Trade Statistics, U.S. Census
Bureau, accessed Jan. 7, 2009; "Turkish-American
and Economic Relations," General Directorate of Agreements,
Undersecretariat of the Prime Ministry for Foreign Trade of the Republic
of Turkey, May 8, 2008.
Annual Report 2007, BOTAŞ (Petroleum Pipeline Corporation), p. 49,
accessed Jan. 7, 2009; "Natural Gas Sale and Purchase Agreements, Natural
Gas Pipeline Activities," Portrait
of BOTAŞ Activities
, accessed Jan. 21, 2009; "Natural Gas and LNG
Purchases," "(Gas) Trade Movements 2007 by Pipeline," BP Statistical
Review of World Energy 2008
, p. 30.
[6] Bill Powell, "Just How
Scary Is Russia?
" Fortune, Sept. 15, 2008.
[7] Interagency special 2007 report,
International Contracting and Technical Services Department,
Undersecretariat of the Turkish Prime Ministry for Foreign Trade.
[8] "Tourism
Statistics for 2007
," Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic
of Turkey, Ankara, accessed Jan. 8, 2009.
[9] Today's Zaman (Istanbul), Oct.
22, 2008
[10] Axis
Information and Analysis news service, Aug. 21,
[11] Turkish Embassy,
Moscow, news release, June 29, 2006.
[12] Internal Turkish Ministry of
Foreign Affairs Information Bureau Monthly Activity Announcement, Nov.
2006, June 2008.
[13] "Vessel
Traffic Statistics in the Istanbul Straits 2003-2007," confidential
report, Ministry of Transportation, General Directorate of Coastal
Security, obtained from the Turkish representative to the International
Maritime Organization.
[14] John
C. K. Daly, "Tankers, Pipelines and the Turkish Straits," Eurasia Daily
(Jamestown Foundation, Washington, D.C.), June 26,
[15] Anatolian News Agency
(Ankara), Mar. 14-30, 1994.
Turkish Daily News (Ankara), July 14, 2008; Agence
France-Presse, Oct. 23, 2008.
Movements 2007
by Pipeline," BP Statistical Review of World Energy
, p. 30.
[18] Reuters,
Jan. 1, 2008; Agence France-Presse, Jan. 1, 2008; Voice of America News,
Jan. 1, 2008.
[19] John C. K.
Daly, "Iran and Turkey Energy Ties Deepen," Eurasia Daily Monitor,
July 2, 2008; Press TV (Tehran), Aug. 13, 2007.
[20] Eurasia Daily Monitor, Nov.
21, 2008
[21] Milliyet
(Istanbul), Sept. 28, 2007; Radikal (Istanbul), Sept. 28,
[22] John C.K. Daly,
"Analysis: Turkey Iran Energy Ties," United Press International, Nov. 30,
[23] Gareth Jenkins,
Turkey Determined to Press Ahead with Iranian Gas Deal," Eurasia
Daily Monitor
, Oct. 5, 2007.
[24] Hurriyet, (Istanbul), Aug. 25, 26, 27,
2008; Milliyet, Aug. 25, 26, 27, 2008; Turkish Daily New,
Aug. 25, 26, 27, 2008.
Deutsche Presse-Agentur (Hamburg), Sept. 2, 2008.
[26] Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Sept. 2,
; BBC Monitoring European (BBC Monitoring/Factiva), Aug. 6,
2008; John Roberts, "Georgia Falls
to Pipeline Politics," BBC Analysis, Aug. 12, 2008.
[27] Bulent Aliriza, "Turkey and the Crisis
in the Caucasus
," Center for Strategic and International Studies,
Turkey Project, Washington, D.C., Sept. 9, 2008.
[28] "Turkey's Top Foreign Policy Aide Worries about False Optimism in Iraq,"
Council on Foreign Relations, Sept. 19, 2008.
[29] "Turkey: Eyeing Central
Asian Energy Ties
," Stratfor Intelligence Service (Austin, Tex.),
Sept. 3, 2008.
[30] Paul Goble,
"Assessing The Global Impact of Russia's Aggression in Georgia," Radio
Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Sept. 3, 2008.
[31] Soner Cagaptay, "The
: Small War, Big Damage," Turkish Daily News, Sept. 8,
[32] Ibid.
[33] Lindsey Alexander, "Seeking a Way
Forward on Trans-Caspian
," Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Sept. 2, 2008;
Spiegel Online (Hamburg), Sept.
12, 2008
[34] Goble,
"Assessing the Global Impact of Russia's
Aggression in Georgia
"Turkey: Energy Cooperation with Armenia and Azerbaijan?" Stratfor
Intelligence Service, Sept. 12, 2008.
[36] Zaman (Istanbul), Aug.
19, 2008
[37] Azeri-Press
Agency (Baku, Azerbaijan), Sept. 24, 2008.
[38] Suat Akgün, "The Russian Federation
as an Energy Supplier," Turkish Policy Quarterly, Summer 2007.

Related Topics: Oil, Turkey Spring 2008

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WASHINGTON, March 31, 2009 – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus recently presented a $12,636 check to American Recreational Military Services to help the troop-support group ship care packages overseas to deployed servicemembers.

Chairman Recognizes Civil Servants for Defense Contributions
WASHINGTON, March 30, 2009 – The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff today recognized eight civil servants for their positive impact on national security and their efforts in support of the Joint Staff throughout the past year.

You can't keep a good Tea Party down!
"Freedom Works.org, an advocacy organization that fights for lower taxes, less government and more freedom and is headed by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, has stepped in with an organizer and an insurance policy to save the Cape Coral, Fla., Tea Party.

U.S. offers olive branch to non-violent Taliban
THE HAGUE (Reuters) – The United States offered Taliban fighters who renounce violence in Afghanistan an "honorable form of reconciliation" on Tuesday as part of a revamped strategy to tackle a deepening insurgency.

Electrical 'Smart Grid' Not Yet Smart Enough to Block Hackers
President Obama's plans to accelerate the development of an electrical "smart grid" could leave the nation's power supply dangerously vulnerable to attacks by computer hackers, security analysts are warning.

TSA Warns Truckers Of Violence In Mexico
Drivers in cross-border operations to Mexico and along the U.S. Southwest border are being advised to take precautions to avoid being caught in the drug violence in the region, a Transportation Security Administration contractor said.

Russia, China cooperate on new currency proposals
Russia and China are coordinating proposals on a new global currency that could replace the US dollar as a reserve currency to prevent a repeat of the global economic crisis, the Kremlin said on Monday.

North Korea Threatens War Against Japan Over Missile
March 31 (Bloomberg) -- North Korea’s government vowed to wage war against Japan if Japanese defense forces try to shoot down a missile that the communist nation says will carry a communications satellite.

Spy Agencies Believe North Korea Has Nuke Warheads
Intelligence agencies have information that North Korea has assembled several nuclear warheads for its medium-range Rodong missiles capable of targeting Japan, an analyst said Tuesday.

EMP Threat - A Single Nuke Could Destroy America
A sword of Damocles hangs over our heads. It is a real threat that has been all but ignored. On Feb. 3, Iran launched a “communications satellite” into orbit. At this very moment, North Korea is threatening to do the same. The ability to launch an alleged communications satellite belies a far more frightening truth. A rocket that can carry a satellite into orbit also can drop a nuclear warhead over any location on the planet in less than 45 minutes.

Don't like CFLs? Ask your pet about them
Compact fluorescent light bulbs, or CFLs, are packaged with promises of energy savings that have prompted the federal government to dictate their use, but consumers of the new technology are finding the product doesn't always live up to the promise.

Here is today's break from all the serious stuff.

Bacon Cupcakes, Bacon Cake? Why Not?
When it comes to bringing home the bacon, literally, that is, Americans are near-professionals. Last year Americans ate more than $2 billion worth of bacon.

For more news and info you need to know from America and around the world go to http://operationrooster.110mb.com/

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Another significant milestone

homelearnactlocal chaptersContact Congress

Another Big
Step Forward for ACT! for America

by Brigitte

Dear Solsticewitch13

Tomorrow marks another exciting milestone in the growth, influence and
effectiveness of ACT! for America. I’m delighted to announce that tomorrow,
ACT! for America’s full-time lobbyist, Lisa Piraneo, begins work on Capitol
Hill !!

Lisa’s official title is “Director of Government Relations.” Lisa has over 15
years of experience on Capitol Hill, including stints in four congressional
offices and nearly seven years of experience as a lobbyist for a national
organization. She has also worked for a Homeland Security consulting firm.

In her capacity as Director of Government Relations, Lisa will work with
members of Congress and their staffs, educating them on issues we’re
concerned about and seeking their support for bills we consider important.
We already have a handful of bills Lisa will be working on, and we’ll give
you information and updates on those at a later time.

She will also be working with our chapter leaders and members on such
tasks as providing education on how to effectively persuade our elected
representatives as well as coordinating grassroots contacts with members
of Congress.

As events of the past several weeks demonstrate, our achieving a full-time
presence on Capitol Hill hasn’t come a moment too soon.
Yesterday we reported to you that the UN Human Rights Council passed a
resolution that calls on nations around the world to criminalize the
“defamation” of Islam. The Fox News article below highlights the growing
concern in America about the encroachment of Islamic shariah law.

Putting an experienced, qualified lobbyist to work on our behalf on Capitol
Hill was our top priority for 2009. Hundreds of you responded to our
request for financial support to make this a reality, and thanks to your help,
it is a reality!

I dreamed of this day seven years ago when I launched American Congress
for Truth, ACT! for America’s “sister” organization. I dreamed of the day that
we would have tens of thousands of members, hundreds of chapters, and
a full-time lobbyist in D.C.

That day has arrived.

Lisa will be one of our featured speakers at most of our “Citizens in Action”
conferences this year. If you haven’t yet registered to attend or participate
via live webcast, please log on to www.actforamerica.org and register today.

Words simply can’t express my gratitude for each and every one of you.
We have a big task ahead of us, but together we will succeed, because as
each of us does a little, together we’ll accomplish a lot.

Always devoted,

Brigitte Gabriel

Islamic Law's Influence in America a Growing Concern

Sunday , March 29, 2009

By David Lewkowict

As America's Muslim population grows, so too does the
influence of Islamic law, or Shariah, in daily life in the U.S.

"Shariah Law is the totality of the Muslim's obligation," said
Abdullahi An-Na'im, a professor of law at Emory University in Atlanta.
According to An-Na'im, Shariah is similar to Jewish Talmudic Law or
Catholic Canon Law in that it guides an adherent's moral conduct.

"As a citizen, I am a subject of the United States," An-Na'im
said. "I owe allegiance to the United States, to the Constitution of the
United States. That is not inconsistent with observing a religious code in
terms of my own personal behavior."

While many view this as a testament to the "great American melting pot,"
others see Islamic law's growing influence as a threat. Shariah's critics
point to cases such as the airport in Minneapolis, where some
Shariah-adherent taxi drivers made headlines in 2006 for refusing to pick
up passengers they suspected of carrying liquor. The drivers' aversion to
alcohol stemmed from a verse in the Qur'an that describes "intoxicants
and gambling" as "an abomination of Satan's handiwork."

Last year, a Tyson Foods plant in Shelbyville, Tenn. replaced its traditional
Labor Day holiday with paid time off on Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim festival —
marking the end of fasting during Ramadan. A labor union had requested
the change on behalf of hundreds of Muslim employees— many of them
were immigrants from Somalia.

But public outcry over the decision to dismiss Labor Day quickly prompted
the company and union to negotiate a new contract that makes
accommodations for both holidays.

In 2007, the University of Michigan installed ritual foot baths to accommodate
Islamic tradition. "These things are beginning to percolate up as
Shariah-adherent Muslims insist that their preferences and practices be
accommodated by the rest of the population," said Frank Gaffney,
founder and president of the Center for Security Policy — a
Washington think tank.

Gaffney predicted the U.S. could soon face problems similar to some
Western European countries, where the religious values of Muslim
immigrants sometimes clash with their highly secular host cultures.

But Professor An-Na'im believes it will be different in America.
"The variety of American secularism — which is much more
receptive of public displays of religion and a public role for religion —
is, in fact, more conducive for Muslims to be citizens and to be
comfortable with their religious values and citizenship than European
countries," An-Na'im said.


ACT for America

P.O. Box 12765
Pensacola, FL 32591


ACT for America is an issues
advocacy organization dedicated to effectively organizing and mobilizing
the most powerful grassroots citizen action network in America, a
grassroots network committed to informed and coordinated civic action that
will lead to public policies that promote America’s national security and
the defense of American democratic values against the assault of radical
We are only as strong as our supporters, and your volunteer and financial
support is essential to our success. Thank you for helping us make America
safer and more secure.

Send a personalized version of this message to your friends.

Click here to give an online donation.

FSM Security Update: 3-31-09 *Clinton-Appointed Judge Backs Off Sanctions on Obama Eligibility Suit*

March 31st
How radical is Obama? It appears that we've learned nothing from appeasing Nazism 70 years ago. Obama & the Chicago Climate Exchange. "Four Horsemen of the American Apocalypse." Have a laugh at the new president's "Bart Simpson moments!"


Exclusive: FSM's Keep the ChangeTM Awards - March, 2009

This month's winners - or losers, depending upon how you look at it.

Exclusive: Clinton-Appointed Judge Backs Off Sanctions on Obama Eligibility Suit

Margaret Calhoun Hemenway

Is a Judge letting his skewed perception of public sentiment guide his judicial rulings?

Today's Blog Topics

Image: Uwe Romeike with two of his children at their home in Morristown, Tenn., on Friday, March 13, 2009. The family is seeking political asylum, saying they say they were persecuted for their religious beliefs by home-schooling their kids in Germany. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

German Family Seeks U.S. Asylum to Homeschool Their Children
A Rookie President - by Thomas Sowell
Video: Mr. Jefferson
Video: Daniel Hannan: When exactly did we become less fiscally responsible than France?
Video: Fox News Host Beck Slams Connecticut AG: 'You are an Insult to George Washington'
Video: MSNBC'S Matthews Says Palin Was McCain's 'Mail-Order Bride'
FSM Follows The Economy - Here are the top articles for today. (3-31)
The President's budget calls for the largest increase in the death tax in U.S. history
Powerful head of the American Federation of Teachers calls Mr. Obama the "education president."
Violence, Not Violins

Lawfare and Obama's Transnationalist

Frank Gaffney, Jr.

How many Americans are aware that Obama's pick for top lawyer at the State Department favors U.S. submission to the International Criminal Court?

Freedom of Speech: Silence is Not Golden

Edward Cline

Distracted by the gutting of Wall Street and the vilification of all business CEOs, few are paying attention to the peril in which their right to speak against Congress and the administration has been put.

Syria's Strategy in Lebanon

Dr. Walid Phares

Since 1971, Syria's role in the region has been described in two diametrically opposing narratives. The difference between these two narratives is so wide that one of them has to be wrong.

Exclusive: Government Failure to Arrest Illegal Aliens Fails American Citizens

Michael Cutler

Until nation secures its borders and creates an immigration system that has real integrity, better jobs and homeland security cannot be attained.

Closing Gitmo: A Dangerous Decision: Are al Qaeda and Taliban coming to a prison near you?

Peter Brookes

Not everyone agrees with the new president's decision to close Gitmo. Critics worry that America's national security is being sacrificed for international popularity.

The Two Sides of Failure

Jim Camp

Failure can destroy the hopes and dreams of those who put too much trust in elected leaders and then failed to replace those who did not fulfill their constitutional responsibilities.

Exclusive: Terrorism for the Next Generation

Jim Kouri, CPP

There hasn't been a major terrorist incident in the United States since 9/11, but experts agree that it's not "if," but "when" we will be attacked in the future.

Quote of the Day - March 31, 2009

Redistribution is not the answer.

Today's Hot Topics: 3-31

We choose, you peruse.

•1. Obama team drops "war on terror" rhetoric

•2. Obama to Propose $2.8 Billion in Military Aid to Pakistan

•3. Remembering Olmert's true record

•4. Agents on horseback arrest 80 near Arizona border

•5. Government moves to isolate Muslim Council of Britain with cash for mosques

•6. Israeli drones attacked Iranian convoys in Sudan

•7. Immigration reform tough during crisis, Biden says

•8. Obama's Most Perilous Legal Pick

•9. Deadline Passes for Hostages in Philippines

•10. DHS Signals Policy Changes Ahead for Immigration Raids

•11. Pyongyang, Tehran: Axis Of Missiles

•12. Party leaders stressed about Dodd

•13. Obama's Atomic Options

•14. Another Day, Another Scary Nomination

•15. Senate Finance Chair Wants Obama Tax Increases Voted on This Year

•16. How Israel Foiled an Arms Convoy Bound for Hamas

•17. Bibi and Barack Can Unite on Iran
•18. NATO Can Do Better in Afghanistan

Caption Contest March 26 - March 31

Will your caption come in at number one?