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Research Report

The Mediterranean as a Strategic Environment:: Learning a New Geopolitical Language

Eran Lerman
Copyright Date: Feb. 1, 2016
Pages: 57

Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. 1-4)
  2. (pp. 5-6)
  3. (pp. 7-8)
  4. (pp. 9-14)

    The Mediterranean world is in turmoil. “Our Sea,” said EU High Representative Federica Mogherini at a Med conference on December 11, 2015, ”is at the center of the world” - for all the wrong reasons, as conflicts, above all in Syria, spill over into terror and mass migration, turning the region into a focal point of international disorder. Still, as often happens, this sense of crisis can and should generate an opportunity for re-tooling regional strategies. At stake are the prospects for a (gradual) geo-political convergence of interests and the emergence of a community of like-minded regional players, with a...

  5. (pp. 14-18)

    The full implications of the so-called “Arab Spring” - the political upheaval in much of the Arabic-speaking world - for the region and for the world, are beyond the scope of this study, and have been dealt with in detail in a steadily-growing body of research and commentary, including other BESA publications.16 Still, aspects of it need to be addressed in the specific context of the challenges to Mediterranean security and stability. In effect, there are two interwoven categories of threats, generated by the events of the last five years, which stand out: those mainly arising from the increasingly chaotic...

  6. (pp. 19-26)

    The problems facing the Mediterranean security architecture are more acute than ever not only because of the chaotic conditions and criminal conspiracies discussed above, but also due to the rise of dangerous and powerful political phenomena. These need to be described - despite the difficulty, for many post-modern Europeans, of even thinking, let alone speaking, in such terms - as enemies: regimes and movements committed to the violent overthrow of the existing order, and in many cases, acting brutally and in open defiance of the laws of war and the most elementary norms of human conduct.

    These forces are by...

  7. (pp. 26-30)

    The presence of several common threats, emanating from political and social chaos and from the rise of Islamist forces, is not the only reason for like-minded nations in the Mediterranean region to enhance their cooperation with each other. Also of great importance in shaping the agenda for national policies and regional alliances is the range of serious economic challenges many of them face, and the equally significant opportunities which are bound to arise if trade relations are allowed to develop in a relatively stable environment. Of particular importance is the potential for cooperation in the field of energy, once it...

  8. (pp. 30-36)

    These prospects for energetic cooperation, listed above, are in turn an important part of a broader emerging pattern of practical cooperation between key like-minded players in the Eastern Mediterranean arena. As Efraim Inbar has indicated in his study, this is driven to some extent by growing doubts about the willingness and ability of the United States to provide a stable security environment, in the face of the mounting challenges and threats.

    Thus, for Egypt - a key to regional stability - the fantasies of Pan-Arabism have been receding further and further, amidst the chaos and the patterns of radicalization, and...

  9. (pp. 36-40)

    Underpinning the evolution of political, military and economic interrelationships between Eastern Mediterranean players is an ambiguous, less salient, but nevertheless significant dimension of cultural and historical association among the peoples of the realm once known to the Romans as Mare Nostrum. When he welcomed President Anastasiades in Jerusalem on the latter’s second visit, Prime Minister Netanyahu began by recalling his impressions from the Nicosia Historical Museum, where artifacts clearly reflected the “common roots” and the ancient links between the two lands.74

    In a similar vein, the Egyptian-Greek-Cypriot tripartite declaration in Cairo included an explicit reference to this aspect: “We recall...

  10. (pp. 40-45)

    The broad challenges lying ahead - facing the tragedies and dangers of chaos; confronting Islamist totalitarian enemies in their various manifestations; and creating the right conditions for the realization of the Eastern Mediterranean’s economic potential - all must be met by utilizing existing architectures for regional security, as well creating new ones where necessary. “Soft power” issues of identity and cultural commonalities should play a useful supportive role, but cannot be an alternative to effective action.

    What are the relevant structures, and what should be the ensuing policy? This stabilization project must rely on existing organizations, and above all on...

  11. (pp. 46-54)
  12. (pp. 55-56)