As the world’s economic and political centre of gravity moves increasingly towards East and South Asia, we can expect a number of countries in these regions to devote more attention to the Middle East. The relations between East and South Asia and the Middle East have significantly expanded as a result of the global rise of Asian economic powers, particularly China, India, Japan and South Korea.
At the beginning of March, Lebanon's Prime Minister Hassan Diab officially confirmed that Lebanon would not pay a $1.2 billion Eurobond due to mature that same month. Lebanon’s default comes after an unprecedented wave of protests has caused growing political instability and economic uncertainty since last October.
In Libya, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are testing their ambitions as a middle power, exactly like they did - and are still doing despite extensive military disengagement - in Yemen. In both arenas, the UAE intertwines geopolitical and ideological goals: it needs strong proxies and trusted allies to achieve them.
Over the last decade, the deep transformations that swept through the wider Mediterranean region have risen new challenges that overlap with old crises. State fragility, conflicts, security threats and socio-economic inequalities have turned the area into one of the world’s most volatile regions, whose geo-strategic importance goes far beyond its geographical borders.
Gas discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean have been enthusiastically received by international observers, although the current price dynamics advises caution. This commentary both explores the opportunities of political and economic collaboration for the states of the region and beyond, and analyses the financial hazards of gas extraction and selling in a global scenario characterised by low prices and decreasing demand.
After an uncertain political transition following the 2011 revolts, Egypt seems ready to reshape its geopolitical role in the Mediterranean area and fulfil its geostrategic goals, always maintaining their national security principle to be an essential objective of its domestic and foreign policy. The two main closely and interconnected scenarios, where the country’s strategic ambitions are projected, move from Libya to the contested waters of the Eastern Mediterranean.
The overlapping of civil and proxy wars in Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen have gradually turned the wider Mediterranean into a land of conflicts, asymmetric threats and geopolitical challenges. In particular, the implosion of some coastal states of the southern shore has undermined the stability and legitimacy of the old regional system built in the post-Cold war. This shift has unequivocally stressed a new perception of the Mediterranean arena: an expanded and wider space turned in one of the world’s most volatile regions.
It is widely believed the COVID-19 pandemic that has recently hit and paralysed the international community has accelerated processes already underway. These include the redefinition, certainly not the disappearance, of what is often termed globalisation. A trend, the latter, that – despite trade wars, shrinking supply chains, reshoring of companies – is destined to permanently characterise international relations, marking the end of traditional space-time limits and expanding their scope as never before.
Over the last years, Turkey has increased its activism in the Mediterranean, becoming a key and assertive player in regional politics and crises. From the Eastern Mediterranean gas dispute to the Libyan war, Ankara has not hesitated to flex its muscles to safeguard its interests and achieve its goals. Turkey's activism is part of a wider foreign policy, which has become more and more militarized since 2015, aiming at extending its geopolitical influence in the Middle East and its surrounding regions.
Why did the January-2020 Berlin Declaration on Libya fail to limit this country’s flare-up, and the more recent Cairo Declaration in June could face the same fate? It is because this Libyan case is but a reflection of the predicament of the East Mediterranean and the whole MENA insecurity complex: the inter-connectedness of different elements of instability, geopolitical as well as domestic, entangling several international/regional powers and local actors/militias.