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Dreams of economic prosperity and stability came crashing down in Kurdistan when the Iraqi central government ceased supporting the region’s budget, oil and gas prices hit rock bottom, and the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) flared up in other parts of the country—causing over 1.8 million refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) to flee to Kurdistan. As a result, Kurdistan’s economy—thus far almost entirely dependent on the energy sector and support from Baghdad—collapsed and has been almost nonexistent for the past two years. The people of Kurdistan should not depend on Baghdad to rebuild build their economy; Kurds must take initiative by pursuing their own enterprises.
In December of 2015, a sophisticated cyberattack on Ukraine’s power grid caused outages that left nearly 225,000 citizens without power. The malicious software used in the attack was traced back to Russian groups, making the intrusion a stunning realization of the threat posed by cyberattacks. Though this event called attention to the vulnerability of European cyber defenses, the European Union has done little to adopt a more unified cybersecurity policy for its energy infrastructure. The EU needs to reinforce cybersecurity defense measures in tandem with implementing a more integrated energy policy. Understanding the rise of complex terror attacks on European soil and the use of cyberattacks as a tactic, cybersecurity and dedicated critical infrastructure protection need to constitute larger parts of the EU’s plans for further energy integration.
The United States will be a reliable supplier of liquefied natural gas to global markets because it is “not only good for our energy security, it is good for the security of our energy partners and allies around the world,” said Robin Dunnigan, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Diplomacy at the US State Department.

Dunnigan was hopeful that US LNG will be part of the energy “diversification solution” in Europe and other parts of the world. She spoke at a conference hosted by the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center and Eurasian Energy Futures Initiative on April 28.
A perfect storm appears to be brewing as tensions rise between Turkey and the main Kurdish groups in Iraq, Syria, and Turkey itself. And this at a time when there are fears in Ankara that Russian support for Kurdish fighters in Syria might be accompanied by covert assistance for Kurdish groups at war with the Turkish state.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq is caught in the middle of these tensions. Since mid-February, its oil lifeline through Turkey has been out of action, almost certainly as a result of landmines laid by fighters from the PKK, the hardline Marxist Kurdistan Workers’ Party. As a result, one senior Kurdish source told the New Atlanticist: “We’re losing $13 million to $14 million a day. And without this the government (of Kurdistan-Iraq) cannot pay the peshmerga or government salaries.” And the peshmerga, of course, are on the front lines of a US-led coalition’s efforts to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in Iraq, and are expected to play a crucial role in operations to recapture Mosul.

But why should the PKK, which is fighting to achieve either autonomy or outright independence for Turkey’s Kurds, seek to undermine the autonomy already won by Iraq’s Kurds?
Nord Stream 2 is the latest Russian incarnation intended to bypass Ukraine and bring Russian gas directly to Europe’s borders. It would double the existing Nord Stream capacity to 110 billion cubic meters/year with two additional strings between Russia and Germany under the Baltic Sea. In spite of a recently signed shareholders agreement between Russian gas giant Gazprom and five European firms, underpinned by unflinching German support, Nord Stream 2 remains subject to considerable legal and regulatory oversight by the European Commission even before it can be commissioned.

At Istanbul summit, European leaders lay out plans to diversify energy sources

Energy security was the main theme of the remarks by Albania’s Prime Minister and Croatia’s President at the Atlantic Council’s seventh Energy & Economic Summit in Istanbul on Nov. 19.

“Energy security has become a challenge for all of Europe, thus the efforts to diversify the sources in the Balkans and beyond should be shared,” said Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama.

“The energy union in the Balkans, it is today, very clearly a commitment to fundamental and lasting change for our region and the whole of Europe,” he added.

Erdoğan warns ‘hardening of attitudes’ will deepen humanitarian crisis

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Nov. 19 criticized the growing backlash against migrants in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris saying this will only deepen the humanitarian crisis unleashed by the war in Syria.

“We have been condemning the Paris attacks with our sincerity. We have been sharing the grief of the French public, but we have started hearing [of] attacks on Muslims in several places,” Erdoğan said in his keynote address at the opening session of the Atlantic Council’s seventh annual Energy & Economic Summit in Istanbul.

In European countries where Muslims are a minority, an “increasingly prejudiced and exclusionist attitude has been increasing,” he said. Such a “hardening of the attitudes [toward] the migrants… would only deepen the human crisis,” he added.
Since it was signed in 1996, the Panrusgáz contract with Russia has dictated the structure of Hungary’s natural gas market. While this contract’s expiration will be delayed until closer to 2018, it is clear that a new agreement will be negotiated on entirely different terms than before.

Like other Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries, Hungary has benefited from the rising tide of interconnectivity and hub-based trading across Europe. With demand unlikely to rebound to pre-2008 levels in the medium term, and more competitive import capacity than ever before, Hungary must consider how a new arrangement with the Russian energy giant Gazprom will reshape its domestic market.
Russia has confirmed the primacy of Nord Stream—a natural gas pipeline through the Baltic Sea—in its efforts to replace Ukrainian transit routes for gas exports to Europe, diminishing the likely role to be played by its southern counterpart, Turkish Stream.

The agreement, signed September 4 in Vladivostok, sets out the shareholding arrangements for the project to build a new 55 billion cubic meters (bcm) per year system across the Baltic. It not only emphasizes Russian determination to bypass Ukraine, but also almost certainly ensures that, for the foreseeable future, implementation of the Turkish Stream project will be not only delayed, but stunted.
Over the past few years, the European Union (EU) has sought to enhance its energy security by implementing the Third Energy Package, proposing an Energy Union, holding Russia’s state-owned energy giant Gazprom to competition rules, and actively pursuing the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).


    

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