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Erdogan stays silent on Qatar amid Cyprus gas row

Amid an escalating dispute over gas exploration off Cyprus, observers in Turkey are perplexed about why Ankara is sparing Qatar while harshly reacting to other countries and companies cooperating with the Greek Cypriots.
The Homer Ferrington gas drilling rig, operated by Noble Energy and drilling in an offshore block on concession from the Cypriot government, is seen during President Demetris Christofias' visit in the east Mediterranean, Nicosia November 21, 2011.  REUTERS/Cyprus Public Information Office/Handout/File Photo    FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS

ANKARA, Turkey — A long-running dispute between Turkey and Greek Cyprus over gas exploration in the Mediterranean is escalating, but curiously, Ankara has remained silent on Qatar’s role in Greek Cypriot exploration efforts, raising questions as to what it might expect from its Arab ally in return.

Under a deal with the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which only Ankara recognizes, the state-owned Turkish Petroleum Corporation has begun drilling in offshore areas where the TRNC claims economic rights. Some areas are claimed by both sides of the long-divided island, fueling the drilling crisis. Last month, Turkish military ships on maneuvers off Cyprus blocked a drillship chartered by the Italian oil and gas company Eni from reaching an area the Greek Cypriots had slated for drilling. Another problem for Turkey is the exploration plans of a joint venture between US energy giant ExxonMobil and Qatar Petroleum (QP), which last year acquired a license for Block 10 in the exclusive economic zone the Greek Cypriots have declared.

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