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Research Report

The New Strategic Equation in the Eastern Mediterranean

Efraim Inbar
Copyright Date: Sep. 1, 2014
Pages: 37

Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. 1-4)
  2. (pp. 5-6)
  3. (pp. 7-8)
    Efraim Inbar
  4. (pp. 9-11)
    Efraim Inbar

    For centuries, the Mediterranean Sea was the main arena for international interactions, before it was replaced by the Atlantic Ocean and subsequently by the Pacific. Nevertheless, as the historical meeting place between East and West, the East Mediterranean was the focus of significant superpower competition during the Cold War and still has strategic significance. Indeed, the East Mediterranean is an arena from which it is possible to project force into the Middle East. It is the location of important East-West routes such as the Silk Road and the Suez Canal (on the way to the Gulf and India). The Levant,...

  5. (pp. 11-17)

    In the post-Cold War period, the West gained dominance in the Eastern Mediterranean primarily because of US military and political dominance. For a while, the naval presence of the Sixth Fleet was unrivalled.³ In addition, Washington also managed the region through the use of a web of alliances with regional powers. Most prominent were two trilateral relationships with powerful regional actors, which had their origins in the Cold War: US-Turkey-Israel and US-Egypt-Israel.⁴ This security architecture has since broken down. While the US still is a powerful actor, its influence seemed to dwindle in the region, the triangular relations went sour,...

  6. (pp. 18-27)

    The American security architecture in the East Mediterranean has collapsed and its position has been weakened; several littoral states are fraught with instability; and radical Islamic groups have gained greater influence. The East Mediterranean of today experiences a power vacuum and displays an uncertain future. Several strategic implications are noteworthy: a resurgence of Russian influence; the potential for Turkish aggression; the emergence of an Israeli-Greek-Cypriot axis; an enhanced terrorist threat; a greater Iranian ability to project power in the region; and the potential for wars over gas fields. These will be expanded on below.

    The power vacuum makes it easier...

  7. (pp. 28-30)

    The longstanding security architecture in the Eastern Mediterranean, which was based on American preponderance, has collapsed. American political influence has been considerably weakened. Europe, an impotent international actor, cannot fill the political vacuum created. Russia under Putin eagerly entered this vacuum, beefing up its naval presence, while Western influence in the Eastern Mediterranean is also being challenged by the growing radical Islamic influence in the region. Turkey, no longer a trusted Western ally, has its own Mediterranean agenda and the military capability to project force to attain its goals. So far, the growing Russian assertiveness has not changed the course...

  8. (pp. 31-35)
  9. (pp. 36-36)