As the war was raging between Azerbaijan and Armenia, we had highlighted the logistical importance of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory, which has since been mostly recaptured by Azerbaijan after the cessation of hostilities, largely thanks to Russian mediation.
Consequently, Baku was able to link the country with Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, allowing it to tap the important logistical capabilities of Karabakh.
As soon as the ceasefire deal was signed, its strategic importance became crystal-clear, as Azerbaijan and Turkey, which supported Azerbaijan in its war against Armenia, signed a MoU to transport natural gas from Azerbaijan to the Nakhchivan Republic, which is linked to a land border with Turkey.
This paves the way for new lines to transport natural gas not from Azerbaijan alone, but also from Turkmenistan and other Central Asian republics to Turkey and from thence to Europe. This represents an important shift in gas supplies and throws a lifeline to confined republics that do not have ports.
It will also bring these countries unprecedented financial and economic gains, especially Turkey, where most pipelines will pass through.
In addition to this new line that links Ankara directly with Baku - for the first time since its independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union three decades ago - other supply lines pass through Turkish territories, such as the South Stream line or the TurkStream, which is coming from Russia.
This line has become even more important after the US sanctions were imposed on Nord Stream, which connects Russia with Western Europe through Germany, and faces possible project suspension, temporarily or permanently.
All about control
Furthermore, there remains an ongoing conflict over Eastern Mediterranean gas and the supply lines - expected to be extended to transport gas to Europe - especially after Greece, Cyprus and Israel reached an agreement to lay a gas pipeline called EastMed, supported by Egypt and America to supply gas to Europe.
Recently, Dan Brouillette, Secretary of the US Department of Energy, assured that his country supports a pipeline under the Mediterranean to supply Europe with natural gas.
In this aspect, Ankara wants to have a stake, whether in the production or transportation of gas from eastern Mediterranean, which will turn Turkey into a focal point for energy supplies to Europe. Especially if we consider the Tabriz-Ankara pipeline, which is dedicated to transporting Iranian gas to the Turkish capital and transferring and exporting Iraqi oil from Iraqi Kurdistan to the Turkish port of Ceyhan. (This pipeline was inaugurated in 2002.)
This means the huge gas supplies coming to Europe will be controlled by Central Asia and Russia, which top the world in terms of gas reserves.
In any case, the South StreamLine will be completed, and the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh has almost been settled, meaning there is still the last part of the gas triangle not completed. That’s the Mediterranean gas and its transmission lines, around which the conflict is expected to intensify in the coming months, especially after the EU and US, imposed sanctions on Turkey because of its gas and oil exploration in the eastern Mediterranean.
This is the region that is in a constant state of turmoil owing to the overlapping of maritime borders and the conflict over the islands scattered there, as well as the division of
Cyprus in 1974.
Considering these facts, the solution to this conflict seems to be very complicated, especially as more international parties will get involved in this complex and dangerous conflict, as their positions appear to be contradictory at times.
It is another matter that finding solutions to this conflict will create new situations in the global energy markets. The centre of power in this area will be redistributed.
- Mohammed Al Asoomi is a specialist in energy and Gulf economic affairs