Recent tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean have multiple drivers including the race for exploitation of energy resources, long-standing maritime disputes, and the broader geopolitical competition between regional powers. While Turkey’s recent assertiveness of her rights in the Eastern Mediterranean drew renewed attention to the region, this round of confrontation has been long in the making.
The Eastern Mediterranean question, like a ghost train, shuttles around and around, plunging the global agenda into fright with each passing day.
Libya has become a major focal point of the power struggle in the Eastern Mediterranean. That country’s future is directly related to energy politics, European security and North Africa’s stability. The United States Africa Command’s (AFRICOM) most recent announcement about Russian aircraft bombing Libyan government forces in Sirte demonstrated how closely Washington is watching the Russian presence in Libya – despite major distractions like the upcoming presidential election.
Russia's eagerness to have a presence in the Mediterranean is an old, well-known and deep-rooted policy. Syria, the country that could offer Russia the best chance of reaching the Mediterranean, presented an incredible opportunity for the country to implement its policy of reaching warmer seas when Bashar Assad called for help from Moscow in 2015. Russia has already developed good relations with countries such as Iran and Syria to contain NATO countries and U.S. allies in this region.
To solve the crisis in Idlib, the international community is hoping for the success of a four-nation summit and fresh diplomatic talks. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel and France's President Emmanuel Macron, scheduled to take place on March 5, keeps alive the hope of ending what the U.N. called “the worst humanitarian crisis of the 21st century” diplomatically.