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War or peace in the Mediterranean?

A view of the platform natural gas field in the Mediterranean Sea on 19 December 2019 [JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images]
A view of a natural gas field in the Mediterranean Sea on 19 December 2019 [JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images]

There are hundreds of warships in the Mediterranean, which is currently witnessing the largest gathering of warships since WWII. Political, economic, social, cultural, military and technological changes are also continuing at a rapid pace in a world that has suffered from the pain of the new order after the Cold War. At the beginning of the 21st century, the Eastern Mediterranean hydrocarbon reserves were discovered, a fact nobody could have predicted a quarter of a century ago. It is estimated that natural gas reserves amount to $3 trillion, and it is able to meet Turkey's needs for about 572 years, and Europe for about 30 years, according to the current consumption.

In his book, "Libya, Turkey's Neighbour from the Sea", Major General Jihad Yayji says that the political influence of this volume of reserves, along with its economic value, has made the area a new centre of attraction. The increased efforts of the countries of the region in recent years, and the increasing activities of non-regional forces towards the eastern Mediterranean, are a confirmation of this situation. Dozens of countries today, including global and regional actors, conduct activities in the Eeastern Mediterranean. The increased activity of non-Mediterranean countries in the Eastern Mediterranean illustrates very clearly the extent of sensitivity in the region. This situation has made the security environment in the Eastern Mediterranean more complex. As with the rest of the Mediterranean countries, Turkey is following developments in the Eastern Mediterranean with political and military alertness and precaution, while it continues to legally defend its rights and interests in the Eastern Mediterranean for future generations.

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The actual situation in the Mediterranean is one of the main causes of the wars, chaos, and continuing turmoil in Syria, Libya, Lebanon and Palestine. On the other hand, problems on land, such as illegal immigration and terrorism, have been destabilising maritime areas in the eastern Mediterranean for decades. We must not forget that the military coup against Mohamed Morsi, the first elected president in Egypt, was also due to the Mediterranean and the Suez Canal, because Morsi's projects to ensure the provision of the necessary capabilities for Egypt's self-reliance, from the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean, had deeply angered Israel.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis (C), Greek Cypriot administration leader Nicos Anastasiades (L) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) pose for a photo prior to the signing of the EastMed agreement in Athens, Greece, 02 January 2020. [Yiannis Liakos - Anadolu Agency]

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis (C), Greek Cypriot administration leader Nicos Anastasiades (L) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) pose for a photo prior to the signing of the EastMed agreement in Athens, Greece, 02 January 2020. [Yiannis Liakos – Anadolu Agency]

The discovery of one of the world's largest natural gas reserves in the Eastern Mediterranean in 2000 doubled the geopolitical and geo-economic status of the Mediterranean. With these developments, it becomes very clear that the Mediterranean will play a very important role in shaping the new world order. In particular, Israel, Greece and other Western countries continue to engage in all kinds of illegal activities to keep Muslim countries out of the Eastern Mediterranean, amid their uneasiness over the standing that Turkey and the Arab countries will gain from their rights in the Mediterranean.

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In his book "Histoires de la mer", French writer, politician and economist Jacques Attali, lists future scenarios in the Mediterranean, as follows: "Maritime terrorism may appear in the future as a new form of war. It can be imagined that this war will take many forms: such as the use of submarines and drones, sending suicide ships or hostage-laden ships towards cruise ships or ports, sending ships loaded with explosives or migrants to the Mediterranean or cutting some of the most important marine cables."

Will the Mediterranean be a place for war or for reunification in the future? Philosophers who say that the Mediterranean is a place where ordinary people live in peace, stress that there is an understanding of life in the Mediterranean based on living, cultural exchange, rapprochement, and mutual concessions. In light of this, will it be possible to reinterpret the Mediterranean Sea with its new structure in the 21st century through the concept of "Mediterranean thinking" according to the expression of French sociologist and philosopher Edgar Morin? Of course, this will become clearer over time.

This article first appeared in Arabic in Al-Quds Al-Arabi on 29 January 2020

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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