The Eastern Mediterranean in Transition: Multipolarity, Politics and Power [1 ed.] 1472440390, 9781472440396

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The Eastern Mediterranean in Transition: Multipolarity, Politics and Power [1 ed.]
 1472440390, 9781472440396

Table of contents :
List of Figures and Tables
List of Contributors
1 War, Peace and Stability in the Era of Multipolarity
2 Structural Changes and Emerging Patterns of Strategic Behavior in the Eastern Mediterranean during the Transition from Bipolarity to Multipolarity
3 Russian Foreign Policy in
the Eastern Mediterranean since 1991
4 US Foreign Policy in the Eastern Mediterranean: The Limits of Smart Power
5 The Dragon’s Rise in the Great Sea
6 Penelope Unraveling: The Obama Administration’s Policy in the Eastern Mediterranean
7 “Smart” Leadership in a Small State: The Case of Cyprus
8 Structure over Agency:
The Arab Uprising and the Regional Struggle for Power
9 Reorienting Turkish Foreign Policy: Successes, Failures, Limitations
10 Vernacular Security in the Eastern Mediterranean after the Arab Spring
11 Twitter vs. Penguens on TV: #GeziParkProtests, Social Media Use, and the Generation Y in Turkey
12 Beyond Hegemony
13 A Most Vicious Weapon
14 Reasserting Normalcy in Iran’s Foreign Policy Realm: Continuities, Challenges and Opportunities
15 The Call of the Sea
16 The Israeli–Greek Rapprochement:
Stability and Cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean

Citation preview


The International Political Economy of New Regionalisms Series The International Political Economy of New Regionalisms series presents innovative analyses of a range of novel regional relations and institutions. Going beyond established, formal, interstate economic organizations, this essential series provides informed interdisciplinary and international research and debate about myriad heterogeneous intermediate level interactions. Reflective of its cosmopolitan and creative orientation, this series is developed by an international editorial team of established and emerging scholars in both the South and North. It reinforces ongoing networks of analysts in both academia and think-tanks as well as international agencies concerned with micro-, meso- and macro-level regionalisms. Editorial Board Timothy M. Shaw, Visiting Professor, University of Massachusetts, Boston, USA Renu Modi, University of Mumbai, India Isidro Morales, Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, México Maria Nzomo, University of Nairobi, Kenya Nicola Phillips, University of Sheffield, UK Fredrik Söderbaum, University of Gothenburg, Sweden and UNU-CRIS, Belgium Recent titles in the series (continued at the back of the book) Africa in the Age of Globalisation: Perceptions, Misperceptions and Realities Edited by Edward Shizha and Lamine Diallo Limits to Regional Integration Edited by Søren Dosenrode A New Scramble for Africa? The Rush for Energy Resources in Sub-Saharan Africa Edited by Sören Scholvin Converging Regions Global Perspectives on Asia and the Middle East Edited by Nele Lenze and Charlotte Schriwer

The Eastern Mediterranean in Transition Multipolarity, Politics and Power


First published 2015 by Ashgate Publishing Published 2016 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN 711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017, USA Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business Copyright © Spyridon N. Litsas and Aristotle Tziampiris 2015 Spyridon N. Litsas and Aristotle Tziampiris have asserted their right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as the editors of this work. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library The Library of Congress has cataloged the printed edition as follows: The Eastern Mediterranean in transition : multipolarity, politics and power / edited by Spyridon N. Litsas and Aristotle Tziampiris. pages cm. -- (The international political economy of new regionalisms series) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-1-4724-4039-6 (hardback : alk. paper) 1. Middle East--Foreign relations--21st century. 2. Middle East--Strategic aspects. 3. Geopolitics--Middle East. 4. Regionalism--Middle East. 5. Mediterranean Region--Foreign relations--21st century. 6. Mediterranean Region--Strategic aspects. 7. Geopolitics--Mediterranean Region. 8. Regionalism-Mediterranean Region. I. Litsas, Spyridon N., 1974- editor of compilation. II. Tziampiris, Aristotle, editor of compilation. DS63.18.E37 2015 327.56--dc23 2014030871 ISBN: 978-1-4724-4039-6 (hbk) ISBN: 978-1-3156-1585-1 (ebk)

To our wives Lena and Maria and to our children, the future of the Eastern Mediterranean, Elena and the newly born twins

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Contents List of Figures and Tables   List of Contributors   Foreword   1 2

War, Peace and Stability in the Era of Multipolarity: What Lies at the End of the Systemic Rainbow?   Spyridon N. Litsas

ix xi xvii 1

Structural Changes and Emerging Patterns of Strategic Behavior in the Eastern Mediterranean during the Transition from Bipolarity to Multipolarity   Panayiotis Ifestos


Russian Foreign Policy in the Eastern Mediterranean since 1991   31 Pavel Shlykov


US Foreign Policy in the Eastern Mediterranean: The Limits of Smart Power   Akis Kalaitzidis


The Dragon’s Rise in the Great Sea: China’s Strategic Interests in the Levant and the Eastern Mediterranean   Christina Lin


Penelope Unraveling: The Obama Administration’s Policy in the Eastern Mediterranean   Nikolaos Zahariadis



“Smart” Leadership in a Small State: The Case of Cyprus   Ilias I. Kouskouvelis


Structure over Agency: The Arab Uprising and the Regional Struggle for Power   Raymond Hinnebusch


Reorienting Turkish Foreign Policy: Successes, Failures, Limitations   Ilter Turan


5 6




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Vernacular Security in the Eastern Mediterranean after the Arab Spring: The Cases of Egypt and Jordan   Stacey Gutkowski

11 Twitter vs. Penguens on TV: #GeziParkProtests, Social Media Use, and the Generation Y in Turkey   Aslı Tunç 12 13 14 15 16



Beyond Hegemony: Cyprus, Energy Securitization and the Emergence of New Regional Security Complexes   Constantinos Adamides and Odysseas Christou


A Most Vicious Weapon: Rape, War and Civil Strife in the Arab World   Amikam Nachmani


Reasserting Normalcy in Iran’s Foreign Policy Realm: Continuities, Challenges and Opportunities   Ghoncheh Tazmini


The Call of the Sea: Strategic Opportunities and Challenges for Israel in the Eastern Mediterranean   Aharon Klieman


The Israeli–Greek Rapprochement: Stability and Cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean   Aristotle Tziampiris




List of Figures and Tables List of Figures 5.1 5.2

British military bases on Cyprus   OTH radar range from Cyprus  

68 69


US public opinion on whether the war in Iraq (Afghanistan) was a mistake (in percent).  


11.1 Frequency of internet access among young people in Turkey in 2013   11.2 Use of communication tools among young people in Turkey in 2013   11.3 Purpose of internet use among young people in Turkey 2013   11.4 Membership to a political party among young people in Turkey, 2013   11.5 Age distribution of Gezi Park Occupiers (KONDA Gezi Park Research 2013)   11.6 Educational level of Gezi Occupiers (KONDA Gezi Park Research 2013)   11.7 Getting the initial news (KONDA Gezi Park Research 2013)   11.8 The occupiers’ use of social media (KONDA Gezi Park Research 2013)   11.9 Protestors’ moment of decision (KONDA Gezi Park Research 2013)   11.10 Occupiers’ defining identities (KONDA Gezi Park Research 2013)   11.11 Political participation of the occupiers (KONDA Gezi Park Research 2013)   11.12 Occupiers’ participation in previous protests (KONDA Gezi Park Research 2013)  

163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 173

List of Tables 4.1

US Favorability Global Favorability Rating (Numbers compiled by the author from several Pew’s Global Attitudes Projects)  


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List of Contributors The Editors Spyridon N. Litsas is Assistant Professor in Theory of International Relations at the department of International and European Studies of the University of Macedonia, Greece. He specializes on War Theory, Middle East politics, Turkish politics, Islamic Fundamentalism and Strategic Theory. Dr Litsas holds a Ph.D from Durham University, UK. He is a visiting fellow at the Joint Supreme War School of the Greek Army and at the NATO Defense Corps in Thessaloniki. His most recent writings include: Democratic Peace Theory and Militarism: The Unrelated Connectivity, Civitas Gentium, 2012, 2(1), pp. 33–58; Stateness and Sovereign Debt: Greece in the European Conundrum, 2013 (Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books), together with K.A. Lavdas and D.V. Skiadas; Stranger in a Strange Land: Thucydides’ Stasis and the Arab Spring, Digest of Middle East Studies, 2013, 22(2), pp. 361–376; Bandwagoning for Profit and Turkey: Alliance Formations and Volatility in the Middle East, Israel Affairs, 2014, 20(1), pp. 125–139; The Greek Failing State and its “Smart Power Prospects”: A Theoretical Approach, Mediterranean Quarterly, 2014, 25(3), pp. 52–73. Aristotle Tziampiris is Associate Professor of International Relations and Director of the Center for International and European Affairs at the Department of International and European Studies of the University of Piraeus, Greece. He is currently (2013–2014) Visiting Fellow at New York University (The Remarque Institute) and was Visiting Scholar at Columbia University (The Harriman Institute) during 2009. Dr Tziampiris specializes on South-Eastern Europe, the Eastern Mediterranean and Greek Foreign Policy. He holds a Ph.D from the London School of Economics and Political Science, UK. His most recent writings include: Faith and Reason of State: Lessons from the Early Modern Europe and Cardinal Richelieu, 2009 (New York: Nova Science); Assessing Islamic Terrorism in the Western Balkans: The State of the Debate, Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies, 11(2), 2009, pp. 209–219; Greek Foreign Policy and Russia: Political Realignment, Civilizational Aspects and Realism, Mediterranean Quarterly, 2010, 21(2), pp. 78–89; Greek Historiography and Slav-Macedonian Identity, The Historical Review/La Revue Historique, Vol. VIII, 2011, pp. 215– 225; The Macedonian Name Dispute and European Union Accession, Southeast European and Black Sea Studies, 12(1), March 2012, pp. 153–171.


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The Contributors Constantinos Adamides is Assistant Professor of International Relations and a Research Fellow at the Research and Innovation Office at the University of Nicosia, Cyprus. Dr Adamides most recent works focus on energy and visual securitization and on Regional Security Complexes. He holds a Ph.D from the University of Birmingham, UK. His most recent writings include: Comfortable Conflict and (Il)liberal Peace in Cyprus in O.P. Richmond and A. Mitchell (eds), Hybrid Forms of Peace: From the ‘Everyday’ to Post-liberalism, 2011 (Basingstoke: Palgrave-Macmillan) (with C. Constantinou); Allocation of Religious Space in Cyprus, Cyprus Review, 2011, 23(1): pp. 97–121 (with A. Emilianides and E. Eftychiou). Odysseas Christou is Assistant Professor of Politics and International Law at the University of Nicosia. Dr Christou holds a Ph.D from the Univesrity of Texas at Austin, USA. His most recent journal publications focus on processes of energy securitization, and the effects of the economic crisis on the welfare state and the political system. Stacey Gutkowski is a Lecturer in Conflict Studies in the Middle East and Mediterranean Studies Programme, King’s College London, UK. She specializes in Religion and Secularism, Security, Middle East Politics etc. Dr Gutkowski holds a Ph.D from the Cambridge University, UK. Her most recent writings include: Secular War: Myths of Religion, Politics and Violence, 2013 (London: I.B. Tauris); The British Secular Habitus and the War on Terror, Journal of Contemporary Religion, 2012, 27(1), pp. 87–103; Misreading Islam in Iraq: Secular Misconceptions and British Foreign Policy, Security Studies, 2011, 20(4), pp. 592–623. Raymond Hinnebusch is Professor of International Relations and Director of the Centre for Syrian Studies at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. He specializes on Middle East Politics. Professor Hinnebusch holds a Ph.D from the University of Pittsburgh, USA. His most recent writings include: Syria: Revolution from Above, 2000 (London: Routledge); The International Politics of the Middle East, 2003 (Manchester: Manchester University Press). Syria: From Authoritarian Upgrading to Revolution? International Affairs, 2012, 88(1), pp. 95–113. Panayiotis Ifestos is Professor in International Relations and Strategy at the University of Piraeus, Greece where he currently holds the Chair of the Department of International and European Studies. He specializes on War Theory, European integration and Eurostrategic issues, diplomacy and strategy of the Great Powers etc. Professor Ifestos holds a Ph.D from the University of Brussels, Belgium. He has written 16 monographs in Greek and English and numerous scientific articles on the aforementioned fields of his academic specialization.

List of Contributors


Akis Kalaitzidis is a Professor of Political Science at the Department of Government, International Studies and Languages at the University of Central Missouri, USA where he teaches International Relations, European Politics and US Foreign Policy. Professor Kalaitzidis holds a Ph.D from Temple University, USA. His most recent writings include: Europe’s Greece: A Giant in the Making, 2009 (NY, Palgrave-Macmillan); Domestic Determinants of Greek Foreign Policy, Journal of Political and Military Sociology, Winter 2007, 35(2), pp. 119–235 (with D. Felsen). Aharon Klieman is Professor Emeritus in Diplomatic Studies and International Relations at Tel-Aviv University, Israel. He is the senior editor of The Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs; and chair of the International Political Science Association’s Research Committee on Geopolitics. He holds a Ph.D from the John Hopkins University, USA. Professor Klieman has written and edited 24 books, monographs and documentary collections in English and Hebrew, and has authored over 30 book chapters as well as a number of journal articles. Ilias I. Kouskouvelis is Professor in Theory of International Relations at the University of Macedonia, Greece. He has served as Vice-Rector and Rector of the University of Macedonia while nowadays he holds the position of the Dean of the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts at the aforementioned academic institution. In 2010 he has been awarded from the French Republic the Palme de l’orde academique. He specializes on Middle East Politics, Strategic Analysis, Security etc. Professor Kouskouvelis holds a Ph.D from the University of Grenoble, France. His most recent writings include: The Problem with Turkey’s “Zero Problems,” Middle East Quarterly, 2013, pp. 47–56; Turkey and the Strategic Depth, 2013 (Athens, Piotita), [in Greek] (with Sp. N. Litsas); Institutionalism and the Macedonian Question, The Journal of Southeast European and Black Sea Studies, 4(3), September 2004. Christina Lin is a Fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at SAIS-Johns Hopkins University where she specializes on China-Middle East and North Africa relations. She was most recently a senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund’s Transatlantic Academy. Dr Lin has extensive US government experience, having served at the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the National Security Council, the Department of State, the Export-Import Bank of the United States, and the federally funded Institute for Defense Analyses. She holds a Ph.D from the London School of Economics and Politics, UK. Her most recent writings include: New Eurasian Embrace: Turkey Pivots East While China Marches West, Translantic Academy Series Papers, 2013–2014, 3; Israel in China’s Middle East Strategy: A New Quartet of US, China, Israel and Taiwan? Washington Journal of Modern China, Fall 2013, 11(1); China’s Strategic Shift towards the Region of the Four Seas: The Middle Kingdom Arrives in the Middle East, Middle East Review of International Affairs, 2013, 17(1).


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Amikam Nachmani is a faculty member at the Department of Political Studies, Bar Ilan University, Israel (Chair of Department: 2009—2013). He specializes on the modern history, politics, culture and society of the East-Mediterranean (Greece, Turkey and Cyprus in particular). Professor Nachmani holds a PhD from Oxford University, UK. His most recent publications (books) include: Europe and its Muslim Minorities: Aspects of Conflict, Attempts at Accord, 2010 (Eastbourne: Sussex Academic Press); Jacob Talmon: Combining Histories and Presents, 2012 (Manchester: Manchester University Press). Pavel Shlykov is an Associate Professor at the Institute of Asian and African Studies at Moscow State University, Russia. He specializes on the Russian Foreign Policy, Middle East politics etc. He holds a Ph.D from the Moscow State University, Russia. He is the author of Waqfs in Turkey: Transformation of the Traditional Institution, 2011 (Moscow, Mardjani Publishing House) [in Russian]. Ghoncheh Tazmini is the Iranian Heritage Foundation Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Iranian Studies in the London Middle East Institute at SOAS, United Kingdom. Dr Tazmini specializes on Iranian politics. She holds a Ph.D from the University of Kent, UK. Her most recent writings include: Khatami’s Iran: the Islamic Republic and the Turbulent Path to Reform, London, I.B. Tauris, 2009, 2nd ed.; Revolution and Reform in Russia and Iran: Politics and Modernisation in Post-revolutionary States, 2012 (London, I.B. Tauris). Aslı Tunç, Ph.D is Professor and Head of the Media School at Istanbul Bilgi University, Turkey. Her areas of research are mainly the freedom of expression and the media’s changing role in Turkey and around the world. Professor Tunç holds a Ph.D from Temple University, USA. Her most recent writings include: Behind the Line: The Situation of Editorial Cartoonists As a Press Freedom Issue Between 1980–2000 in Turkey, 2010 (Köln: Lambert Academic Publishing); Turkey’s Bumpy Road to Democracy: The Current Issues and Challenges Ahead in Freedom of Expression, Euro Dialogue, Journal of International Relations, Winter 2011–2012, pp. 15–30; Identities In-Between: The Impact of Women’s Perception on Their Identities in Turkey, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 2012, 35(5), pp. 906–923 (with A. Ferentinou). Ilter Turan is Emeritus Professor of Political Science at the Department of International Relations of Istanbul Bilgi University, Turkey. Professor Turan holds a Ph.D from the Istanbul University, Turkey. His writings focus mainly on Turkish politics and the Turkish Foreign Policy. Nikolaos Zahariadis is Professor of Political Science at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, USA. Researching issues of comparative and international politics, he has been awarded among others a Fulbright Scholarship, an ESRC-SSRC Visiting Fellowship, and a National Bank of Greece Senior Research Fellowship.

List of Contributors


Professor Zahariadis holds a Ph.d from the University of Georgia, USA. His most recent book Frameworks of the European Union’s Policy Process: Competition and Complementarity across the Theoretical Divide (edited by Nikos Zahariadis) has been published by Routledge in 2013.

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Foreword The region of the Eastern Mediterranean is returning to the very forefront of international politics. It was indeed the case that “after 1500, and certainly after 1850, the Mediterranean became decreasingly important in wider world affairs and commerce.” (Abulafia, 2011, p. xviii.). This is simply no longer the case. The Eastern part of the Great Sea is grappling with a series of issues and developments that include the aftermath of the Arab Spring and the fate of Egypt; a brutal war in Syria with wider regional destabilizing ramifications; humanitarian crises; the rise of jihadist Islam; the potential of nuclear proliferation; renewed efforts to peacefully end the Turkish occupation in the northern part of Cyprus; economic crises in Greece and Cyprus; the continuous inability to resolve the Palestinian Question, as well as Israel’s new security challenges. Following the end of the Cold War, the tragic events of 9/11, the US’s momentous decision to invade Iraq and the outburst of the Arab Spring, the region can be compared to an active volcano, spewing smoke and lava and producing earthquakes that are experienced by the citizens of the many local Pompeiis, not to mention neighboring regions as well. The Great Powers are keeping a watchful eye and striving to maintain a regional presence, something that affects the very ontology of all regional actors, from the daily routine of their citizens to attempts to formulate grand strategies. But the Eastern Mediterranean is not only becoming more significant for world affairs; it is simultaneously also in transition. Certain important trends and strategies are underway. Not only do they complicate any attempts at analysis or prediction, but they will definitely shape the region’s future. As this volume will demonstrate, the United States, though still influential, is reducing its role primarily due to domestic political constraints and concerns. Both Russia and China are trying to increase their presence, focusing primarily on energy and commercial interests. An ambitious Turkey is on the rise, but facing increasingly complicated challenges in its foreign policy. Israel is preoccupied with its national security in an unpredictable and unstable regional situation, but is benefiting from energy findings and the ability to pursue new relationships with states such as Greece and Cyprus. Greece is confronting an acute economic crisis but at the same time nurturing it’s rapprochement with Israel; and Cyprus is striving to explore and exploit its natural gas findings; in fact, the expectation that substantial energy resources exist in the Levant Basin offers prospects for wider regional cooperation and prosperity, though an outcome of conflicts and disagreements cannot be discounted. Without any doubt, international diplomacy will be of the essence but it demands a deeper understanding of the Eastern Mediterranean. The Eastern


The Eastern Mediterranean in Transition

Mediterranean in Transition: Multipolarity, Politics and Power volume strives to contribute towards precisely such an understanding. We argue that what emerges from this collective effort is a picture of the Eastern Mediterranean that is gradually experiencing the consequences, challenges, perils and opportunities of Multipolarity at a regional level. This new multipolar reality, in which no one of the current Great Powers will be willing or able to dominate the region, will affect the very physiognomy of the Eastern Mediterranean and constitutes the major characteristic of its process of transition. Ultimately, we aspire to contribute towards a larger conversation concerning the potential ramifications and sustainability of a multipolar era in the Eastern Mediterranean. The idea for this edited publication was born following continuous and intense conversations between the two editors regarding present developments and future prospects of the region. However, it was only actualized because of the willingness of our esteemed colleagues to write essays based on original research. We would thus like to thank all the contributors to The Eastern Mediterranean in Transition: Multipolarity, Politics and Power, Ashgate Publishing for their support and encouragement, Professor Timothy Shaw for truly believing in this project and all the people who bring joy and inspiration to our lives. Spyridon N. Litsas and Aristotle Tziampiris, July 1, 2014, Thessaloniki and New York References Abulafia, D., 2011. The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Chapter 1

War, Peace and Stability in the Era of Multipolarity: What Lies at the End of the Systemic Rainbow? Spyridon N. Litsas

Introduction Except for their daily effort for survival at the domestic level, states implement a distinctive variety of strategies to face the systemic volatility that determines international politics as well. The varying capacity of power that every state possesses essentially brings about a significant amount of ontological heterogeneity among the systemic factors. Despite these profound parameters of disparity, nonetheless an intriguing similarity is featured in all states without the slightest deviation; this similarity is nothing but an unconditional collective faith to Peace. For all societies that are identified as organized and civilized communities Peace constitutes the ultimate good, independently of the socio-economic, historical, or cultural norms and idiosyncrasies that shape their past and present ontology. However, a question arises and begs for an answer: Can this—rather romantic—conviction about Peace apply to the systemic jungle? I support the view that what is defined as Peace and is typically perceived as having a global dimension is, in fact, either a theoretical misconception or a political tactic. Since the dawn of history for all organized societies the political connotation of Peace meant the military defeat of the opponent and eventually its political vanishing or a perpetual political subjugation. Instead of a harmonious co-existence of all the actors in the international arena, aiming at Peace mainly gave rise to a violent preponderance in order to eliminate any form of antagonism that could ultimately lead to an unwanted War. I will base my analysis on the hypothesis that, while Peace is a political myth, systemic stability is a pragmatic political goal that can lead toward a less violent and more secure international environment. My argument is that systemic stability can be identified as a period during which the international system does not witness total war phenomena, even though it may be possible to experience continuous climax of interstate antagonisms and knotty security dilemmas. The analysis will be grounded in the neo-realist paradigm, maintaining a systemic approach rather than reviewing the various social, political, ideological or cultural conditions that shape each and every state individually. Firstly, I will


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portray the very essence of Peace and its relation to War. Next, I will discuss the vague hypotheses of how Peace can be attained and preserved through the exercise of the International Law and the implementation of the so-called defensive war, and point to their conceptual weaknesses and limitations. The gist of my analysis will center around the concepts of unipolarity, bipolarity and multipolarity. Specifically, I will explore the notion of systemic stability in the context of these three frameworks and, in so doing, I will argue that it is multipolarity that can best ensure systemic stability in the international arena, the latter being defined in terms of the scarce appearance of total wars. Finally, I will conclude by suggesting that, while multipolarity is a more stable condition for the dominant systemic factors and for the entire system, still the high propensity of conventional wars can render this condition one of great challenges for ordinary states and for regions of high strategic and economic importance, such as the Eastern Mediterranean. Τhe Concept of Peace: Conception, Essence and Realities Since the dawn of history it has become evident to humanity that Peace is not a given and that one has to strive hard in order to attain and preserve it. In Aristophanes’ “Irene’’, Trygaeus, a middle-aged Athenian, tries and finally succeeds, with the help of the chorus, to deceive War who had imprisoned Peace in a deep dark cave and to set her free. In a similar vein, in “Lysistrata,” another famous comedy of Aristophanes, the Athenian women made a secret pact with the women from Sparta to abstain from their spousal duties if their husbands continued their war. Eventually, instincts prevailed over politics, women achieved their goal and thus Peace was re-established in Greece. Both as a theoretical concept and as a political necessity Peace can only be perceived and defined in the light of War. Notwithstanding the oxymoron, since the dawn of time hard and vicious fighting has signaled the evolution of humankind. As a matter of fact, humanity refers to its historical past by using as a landmark the turbulent periods of war instead of the times of peaceful co-existence. This tendency toward organized violence is not a psychopathic inclination—what is usually assumed for individuals manifesting a violent behavior in their personal conduct—but rather relates to human’s desire for power in relation to, or over, others. From Thucydides to Hobbes and from Morgenthau to Carr humans’ tendency toward power in order to prevail against others is a central motivation shaping humanity’s evolution (see for example Neascu, 2009, pp. 85–94; Ahrensdorf, 2000, pp. 579–593). Peace is generally defined in terms of the avoidance of war between two states (Crawford, 2000, p. 111), representing one side of the coin in the “balance of power,” the other one corresponding to War (Wohlforth, Kaufman and Little, 2007, p. 4). In other cases, Peace is deemed the direct result of states’ choice to manifest tolerance toward the provocative attitude of problematic neighbors;1 the reciprocal recognition of sovereignty between two states with a stormy past (Keene, 2004, p. 12); or the result of a successful implementation of a military

War, Peace and Stability in the Era of Multipolarity


deterrent strategy.2 In a nutshell, Peace is such a multidimensional concept that makes it hard for scholars to flesh out a conclusive definition of it. If war is an act of violence to compel our enemy to fulfill our will as Carl von Clausewitz has suggested, then peace should be viewed as a non-violent act that indicates the willingness of a state to non-violently co-exist with all other states in the international system. However, the above definition about Peace can be neither theoretically nor empirically supported. For example, how a unanimous peaceful co-existence among states can be reached in an anarchic, hence utterly antagonistic, international domain of self-help policies? What will be the attitude of the pacifistic majority towards those states with a revisionist political agenda? If the majority favors organized violence in order to control the revisionist states, then pacifism is transformed into an empty pretext aiming plainly to preserve the existing status quo instead of promoting peace and cooperation among states. It is obvious that when Peace needs to be reinforced, it obtains a political, rather than humanistic, significance. And if politics is about power, then peace no longer serves non-violent co-existence but rather strives to rationalize the shortand long-term objectives of a political unit in the international arena.3

As already mentioned, articulating a single and comprehensive definition of Peace is confronted with major difficulties in the realm of international theory. The reason is that in the daily unfolding of international politics Peace manifests a protean ability in that it takes various forms depending on the systemic conditions. This is why one of the most intriguing approaches of Peace can be found in Oliver Richmond’s analysis (2008, pp. 7–8), where Peace is portrayed as a result of political and military procedures rather than as the product of choice: One approach to thinking about peace that is commonly used is to look back at its historical, international, uses. These generally include the following: an Alexandrian peace, which depended upon a string of military conquests loosely linked together; a Pax Romana, which depended upon tight control of a territorial empire, and also included a “Carthaginian peace” in which the city of Carthage was razed to the ground and strewn with salt to make sure it would not re-emerge; an Augustine peace dependent upon the adoption and protection of a territorial version of Catholicism, and the notion of just war; the Westphalian peace, dependent upon the security of states and the norms of territorial sovereignty; the Pax Britannia, dependent upon British domination of the seas, on trade and loose alliances with colonised peoples; the Paris Peace Treaty of 1919, dependent upon an embryonic international organisation, collective security, the self-determination of some, and democracy; the United Nations system, dependent upon collective security and international cooperation, a social peace entailing social justice, and the liberal peace, including upon democratisation, free markets, human rights and the rule of law, development,


The Eastern Mediterranean in Transition and, perhaps most of all, the support, both normative and material, of the United States and its allies.

For some the success of a state in emerging as a regional hegemony able to dictate its will over all the others is portrayed as “Peace” because it contains the notion of stability. However, this is not the archetypical exegesis of Peace. Rather, it indicates the willingness and the ability of the regional hegemon to prevail over the other states in the region and establish itself as an alpha element. It thus becomes obvious that under these conditions “Peace” is not the long searched means toward non-violent interstate co-existence; it is evidently inclined toward the prevalence of one or a few over the rest of the regional or the international actors. Viewed in this way, War and Peace operate as political tools that either promote organized violence or signal the ability and the willingness of exercising organized violence against those actors that do not accept the existing status quo. As Richard Ned Lebow (2010, p. 97) argues, although they are commonly treated as dichotomous categories, Peace and War in reality represent two ends of a continuum. In between these two poles political evolution takes various forms of cooperation and violence. A characteristic approach suggesting that the emergence of Peace can only be achieved through the prevalence of one actor against others is the well-known Democratic Peace Theory and its implementation in the world arena (see for example Rasler and Thompson, 2005; Russet, 1993; Litsas, 2012). In fact, when Peace is embedded in a specific ideological, religious or socio-economic context it follows that it will inevitably lose its idealistic ambiguity. Instead, it will be transformed into a political device readily available to a state or an alliance willing, and able, to put forward its strategic goals in the international arena. Evidently, Peace is stripped off the long established idealistic conformity, thus adopting the rather Jesuitical dictum “the end justifies the means.” From the moment Peace is endowed with certain political features and implications and thus forfeits its idealistic ambiguity it automatically becomes subject to heterogeneous targeting on the part of every state in the international system. It is through this process that the concept of Peace subsides in the International Relations theory, giving rise to the concept of systemic stability instead. Can You Tame the Fire? Two Times the Charm Neorealist theory supports the view that War is the result of the anarchic and antagonistic conditions penetrating the structure of the international system (Waltz, 1998). War does not constitute only a choice of strategic maneuvering but also a prolific political methodology in order for a state to manifest its power to the rest of the international system or just to implement a “rally round the flag” policy designed for domestic consumption. As Richard Ned Lebow (2010, p. 9) points out:

War, Peace and Stability in the Era of Multipolarity


British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher benefited from the same “rally round the flag” effect in the Falklands War, and Tony Blair somewhat less so in the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq. Thucydides was the first historian to describe this dynamic in his account of the Peloponnesian War. Pericles’ masterful speech turned around Athenian opinion, which had previously rejected Corcyra’s plea for a defensive alliance.

The multifaceted nature of War leads to the following oxymoron: theoretically everyone believes in the eradication of War but no one can actually implement a political formula to achieve this. In the following sections the two means that are alleged to serve this objective, namely international law and defensive war will be scrutinized. A) International Law This approach focuses on the implementation of international law and the operation of multinational organizations as a political apparatus toward the decisive eradication or the pivotal restraint of War. Such views were widespread mainly during the Cold War era, when the anti-war movement was popularized among the Western youth. This is clearly illustrated in the following quote of Philip Quincy Wright (1961, p. 87), an emblematic figure in the theory of international law in the 20th century: Ιnternational Law, through its rule of order, has a large role to play in the elimination of war, and through its principles of justice, in the settlement of international disputes. Conversely, the elimination of war through diplomacy, international organization, economic assistance, and education, is of major importance in the development of international law, as in the extension of the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice. Peace, adjudication, and law are each dependent on the others, and their reciprocal development is the way to a more satisfactory world in the atomic age.

Such approaches have given rise to the liberal theory, which among other things argues that the unpredictability of international politics can be regularized by the implementation of international law to almost every aspect of systemic evolution (Corten, 2011; Norton-Moore, 1989). The rather enchanting rationale of this view is to limit and eventually eradicate the anarchic and antagonistic nature of the international system through the predominance of international law and the elevation of multinational organizations to a dominant position so that they will be able to regulate political osmosis among the states at international level. Consequently, as long as every form of dispute can be solved through the application of international law War will eventually become a distant and unpleasant memory. Alas, in reality international law does not constitute a set of legal dictums that is able to regulate or control every incident that takes place in the international

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arena. Consider the archetypical imagery of Themis, the Greek goddess of Justice; she is typically depicted wearing a blindfold, holding a sword on one hand and a scale on the other. At the international level, however, could Themis be depicted with an analogously compelling decisiveness to impose fairness and equity in every systemic factor? At first glance, the answer would probably be “yes.” Yet at international level Themis’ movements are not self-propelled but rather dictated by a set of attached strings. In other words, at international level Themis is no longer an angel of justice but a puppet designed to justify the political decisions of the dominant systemic actor. International law is thus implemented according to the will of the powerful elements at the expense of the weaker ones. This is why Edward Carr (2001, p. 161) does not view international law primarily as a branch of ethics but instead as a vehicle of power. However, the thematic broadness of international law and the inefficacy to bypass Great Powers’ interest does not invalidate its gravity regarding how international politics could function in an egalitarian form. Rather, a pragmatic limitation is posed on the ability of international law to eradicate the anarchic systemic structure and consequently War. In the words of Jack Goldsmith and Eric Posner (2005, p. 225): International Law is a real phenomenon, but international law scholars exaggerate its power and significance. We have argued that the best explanation for when and why states comply with international law is not that states have internalized international law, or have a habit of complying with it, or are drawn by its moral pull, but simply that states act out of self-interest.

Since international law fails to ultimately regulate states’ strategic endeavors in their struggle for survival through the means with which they are endowed in the anarchic systemic environment, international arena remains a realm of high antagonism. Under these circumstances, War is deemed the decisive instrument to manipulate the will of others and a unique apparatus to maintain an autonomous route in the international arena. At the end of the day, it is rather challenging to deal with Thrasymachus’ reply to Socrates, as their dialogue is reported in Plato’s Republic I. When Socrates supports the view that justice is a political virtue that seeks the good of all, Thrasymachus replies that justice is the advantage of the stronger (as cited in Jackson, 2005, p. 18). Alas, international politics constantly proves Thrasymachus right. B) Defensive War As far as defensive war is concerned, first of all it needs to be pointed out that the idea that War can be eliminated from international politics through the prevalence of defense over offense should not be confused with the Waltzian Defensive Realism Theory. It is rather a form of political choice that may determine the course of action and the very nature of antagonism between the states. For example, during the Chinese system of multiple independences, 770–221 bc, the

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defensive theory of Mo-zi emerged supporting that the repudiation of offensive war on the part of a state simultaneously provided it with the prospect to expand its defensive structure in such a higher degree that no other element was able to match it. If every member of the Chinese system of multiple independences adopted that plan, then offensive war would be eradicated and perpetual peace would prevail instead (Watson, 1992, p. 90). All in all, Mo-zi’s Defensive War Theory constitutes an early attempt to describe the non-violent systemic balance of power that can be achieved through the rejection of offensive practices. Centuries later a similar approach was put forward by Kenneth Abbot and Duncan Snidal (1998) suggesting that repudiating offensive war is a rational choice for every state and is also corroborated by the operation of international organizations. However, the success of this theory presupposes a unanimous agreement between all states of a periphery or even of the international system regarding the prevalence of Peace through the rejection of the concept of War and its brutal methods. Otherwise it is a lost case, one of the many that have shaped human existence and international politics throughout time. Indeed, the ambiguity of the aforementioned hypothesis can be fully revealed in the evolution of the classic Chinese system that manifested a series of offensive wars, thus proving wrong Mo-zi’s theory. This is what Watson suggests in the following lines (1992, p. 90): But Mohists [Μο-zi’s followers] did not think in terms of a structured relationship between the Chinese states, as the Confucians did, and their concept of peace and amity amounted to little more than coexistence between multiple independences that hardly constituted a system. In practice, defensive strategy, especially without alliances, proved inadequate to protect its civilized practitioners from the vigorous states of the periphery.

It thus follows that the concept of defensive war cannot serve as a remedy for War since not all states are prepared to renounce offensive methods or to abandon once and for all revisionist policies (e.g., Rynning and Ringsmose, 2008). This is exactly what Kenneth Waltz (1988, p. 44) implies when he argues that “in an anarchic domain, a state of war exists if all parties lust for power. So too, however, will a state of war exist if all states seek only to ensure their own safety.” Defensive War Theory constitutes a rather conspicuous attempt to cover the use of violence with a veil of moral rationale, a step forward from the principle of Jus ad bellum which itself suffers from moral fixation (Reichberg, 2008). Just like the “Jus” concept can be interpreted in subjective terms regarding what is right or wrong and for whom, similarly Defensive War Theory leaves some room for vagueness as far as the implementation procedure is concerned, as in the case of a pre-emptive war launched to prevent an imminent attack (Flynn, 2008; Van Evera, 1984). In other words, an offensive attack can be considered a defensive initiative if the state that launches war aims to protect itself from the forthcoming attack of an adversary. From a theoretical point of view, pre-emptive war is a rational act


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of self-protection. A state that is about to face shortly an imminent attack has the right, as well as the moral obligation toward its citizens, to attack first. In this way a state can ensure its protection either by blocking the hostile action or by reducing the force of blow. However, ambiguity enters the picture when the analysis turns to the sphere of power politics. This is the case when a state baptizes an offensive war as pre-emptive in an attempt to secure its political interests, not without revealing some anguish in so doing, while disallowing being stigmatized as a bully by competitors. A telling example illustrating the complexity of the whole subject can be found in Bush Jr’s decision to name the invasion in Iraq as a pre-emptive strategic move, maintaining the fallacy that Sadam’s Baathist regime was about to strike western targets with weapons of mass destruction (see for example Brim and Brostrom, 2005; Bonn, 2010, pp. 80–100; Smith, 2006, pp. 45–64, 93–159). Maybe Peace cannot prevail over War. However, humanity is not doomed to live in a continuous inferno of militarism, endless conflicts and futile bloodshed. Systemic stability may constrain chaos to the minimum for certain periods of time. The quantitative, as well as the qualitative, form of such a development depends on the implementation process, as will be suggested in the following section. Balance of Power: A Multidimensional Concept The idea of balance of power has taken multiple conceptual forms in Political Theory and International Relations. Some scholars consider the balance of power to be a synonym with power politics or with the struggle for power in the international arena (Haas, 1953). Others define balance of power as a set of specific policies at the international level functioning as a counter-balance toward hegemonic initiatives and aspirations, that is the formation of anti-hegemonic alliances or the adoption of self-help policies (Walt, 1991; Watson, 1992, pp. 51–52). In addition to these views, other scholars argue that balance of power can only be established when a Great Power adopts the role of a systemic stabilizer, thereby discouraging any revisionist competitors (Kaufman, Little and Wohlforth, 2007). Last but not least, according to Little (2007, p. 21), the balance of power in international politics is nothing but a metaphorical expression. All in all, a thick mist of vagueness seems to obscure the concept of balance of power. I personally follow a rather systemic approach regarding the balance of power, perceiving it as a political apparatus in order to maintain the anarchic structure of the international arena. This is mainly the reason why I endorse Jack Levys’s definition (2004, pp. 29–51) who perceives the balance of power as the product of balancing behavior from leading states of the international arena with a sole aim, to prevent the formation of hegemony. In case the cooperation proves to be successful then balance of power may occur in the international arena for a certain period of time. Nevertheless, this does not ensure that systemic stability will follow. This is mainly due to the fact that while a balancing pact may block the establishment of hegemony this cannot regulate interstate antagonism that deeply

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affects the level of systemic stability. However, what is systemic stability and how can it be achieved? This issue will be explored in the remainder of this chapter. A) Polarities and Systemic Stability There are two main approaches regarding the factors that affect, either in a positive or in a negative way, systemic stability. For some scholars stability is interconnected with hierarchy in the international system, that is, the relations between the dominant systemic factors and the secondary ones, as well as the capacity or the desire of the secondary factors to challenge the existing status quo (Kang, 2004). In addition, there are views that endorse the same systemic pattern while at the same time linking the concept of stability with the proportion of systemic change. These approaches maintain that the greater the change regarding the flow of politics in the international arena, the greater the systemic instability that follows (Anderson and Hurrel, 2000, pp. 54–59). Robert Gilpin (1981) also supports this line of thinking in arguing quite convincingly that only War can generate large-scale changes, which can deeply affect systemic structure and concomitantly systemic stability. Generally, it transpires that the two approaches regarding systemic stability are interwoven with the concepts of hierarchy and change. Nonetheless, can it be supported that stability is more solid and less questionable within a certain systemic framework? I aim to address this question by examining systemic stability under the three possible systemic polarities, namely unipolarity, bipolarity, and multipolarity. B) Stability under Unipolarity The end of the Cold War brought to the systemic surface a rather forgotten concept, that of unipolarity. A large number of scholars approach systemic unipolarity as the capacity of a Primus Solus actor to drastically influence the international developments in accordance with its own political goals. A quite clear illustration of this comes from Stephen Walt (2009, pp. 91–92) as shown below: A unipolar system is one in which a single state controls a disproportionate share of the politically relevant resources of the system. Unipοlarity implies that the single superpower faces no ideological rival of equal status or influence; even if ideological alternatives do exist, they do not pose a threat to the unipolar power’s role as a model for others.

Unipolarity constitutes a systemic option and a political fact, as human evolution has shown; the last example being that of the United States after the end of the Cold War. However, it is vital to note that this form of intense concentration of immense capabilities on the part of a sole state does not actually dissolve international anarchy. The emergence of various antagonists aiming to question the dominant position of the Primus Solus systemic actor in the arena every time that unipolarity was being established has led various scholars to support the view that unipolarity


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does not eradicate the anarchic nature of the international system (Layne, 2006, p. 9). From the post-Peloponnesian War status quo when various elements such as Thebes contested the Primus Solus status of Sparta until the post-Cold War status quo where China, Russia and various elements of the jihadist Islam have contested the primacy of the United States unipolarity offers the opportunity to the dominant factor to feel like a Primus Solus systemic element but not to be able to act accordingly due to the high level of antagonism its status attracts. According to John Mearsheimer (2001, p. 21), all the main actors of the international system strive to elevate their status—from a regional hegemon to a global one—since a state’s ultimate goal is to dominate the system. In a unipolar system states look for various systemic incentives in order to perform a regicide against the dominant factor, thus feeding the vicious circle of conflict through systemic mimesis; except the systemic conditions that urge all the elements to adopt a rather aggressive attitude towards the Alpha unit it is also the dynamics of mimesis that further prompts states to target the dominant factor in the international arena. Systemic mimesis is the direct outcome of political interdependence and of the modus operandi of alliance networks. From the time a state sets its eyes on the Alpha unit and begins to question its supremacy then other will follow either because they have to in order to maintain their alliance with the revisionist pioneer, or because they do not want to fall behind in systemic antagonism. Because of the high political instability that a unipolar system entails due to the extensive range of antagonism it involves humanity has witnessed only short-term periods of a sole state dominating in the international arena. Historic evolution proves this. There is a widespread conviction that Alexander the Great came too close to transforming the regional Greek hegemony to a global one. However, it was this specific aspiration of Alexander the Great that forced his army to a mutiny, refusing to follow him beyond the Hyphasis river. Rather, it was the Roman Empire after the end of the Punic Wars that almost succeeded in establishing a unipolar system, although eventually it failed too. The division of the Roman Empire in two parts, the Western and the Eastern, by the emperor Diocletian in 285 ad pointed to the inability of Pax Romana to face systemic antagonism and its scarcity to continue as a unified administrative entity. Next in line is the British Empire ‘where the sun never set’ during its peak. However, it did not manage to elevate its status from a regional hegemon to a global one. It can be suggested that its failure to maintain the control over the American colonies was the main reason for that, a failure that was completed after the end of the Second World War where the UK did not emerge as one of the imposing superpowers. Finally, the US came close to dominate in a unipolar system. Although in a better position than every other power in the past, the reason being its superiority in soft and hard power, it also failed to elevate its status to that of the sole global hegemon. The unsuccessful and costly campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, the great turmoil that Islam witnesses since the end of the Cold War, the contradictory so-called Arab Spring that resembles more a long and dire winter for the Middle East, and the emergence of new systemic antagonists such as China, Russia, Brazil, India, etc.

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reveal that the post-Cold War unipolarity lasted for a very limited period of time and with clear limitations in the US control over the international developments (Chaffe, 2009; Mearsheimer, 2011; McCoy, 2010). It becomes clear that the unipolar system is far from stable since it urges every systemic factor to implement a revisionist policy in order to lead the existing dominant factor to political demise and thus fill in the gap in the systemic hierarchy. I maintain that the rise of antagonism and interstate friction in a unipolar system is not just a product of the normative desire of the states to impose their status against everyone else but is rather due to the fact that unipolarity is a systemic oddity that prompts states to antagonize fiercely each other in order to fix it as soon as possible. C) Stability under Bipolarity Unlike unipolarity, bipolarity essentially involves the direct competition of two dominant systemic elements that possess a leading role in the international arena, while the rest of the actors either rally around one of the two dominant elements or simply try to maintain their autonomy by establishing a distinct alliance. Bipolarity is qualitatively defined by the capacity of power each of the two dominant states possesses in order to affect, in the highest possible degree, systemic developments (Waltz, 1993). In a bipolar system the dominant powers have a double role to play; to successfully withstand the antagonism of the other side while keeping under control the other states and thus preserve their supremacy in the systemic pole they lead. Prominent theorists support the view that a bipolar system is the most stable, if not the less war prone, because it reduces systemic uncertainty. For example, as Kenneth Waltz (1979, p. 168) suggests: States are less likely to misjudge their relative strengths than they are to misjudge the strength and reliability of opposing coalitions. Rather than making states properly cautious and forwarding the chances of peace, uncertainty and miscalculation cause wars … In a bipolar world uncertainty lessens and calculations are easier to make.

The reduction of systemic uncertainty lessens the possibility of war in a bipolar system because as Jack Donelly (2000, p. 108) argues: Bipolar superpowers are less likely to stumble into war because their close focus on one another induces an iterative process of relatively mutual adjustment.

Andrew Hanami (2003, p. 201) supports that the bipolar system is more stable when the conflicts among the main actors are infrequent. Along these lines: In bipolarity, major confrontations being rare and their prevention by the action of lesser states was not possible, the international system below the level of the superpowers was, in a sense, frozen in time. Their maneuvers mattered less


The Eastern Mediterranean in Transition because it was the potential top tier movement that held the greatest leverage. Thus the orbit of state actions took place within a relatively immobile, stable and patterned bipolar world, as structuralists have predicted.

Finally, John Mearsheimer (1990, p. 37) supports the view that the bipolar system is more peaceful because only two factors are involved in the systemic competitive procedure: Deductively, a bipolar system is more peaceful for the simple reason that under it only two major powers are in contention. Moreover, those great powers generally demand allegiance from minor powers in the system, which is likely to produce rigid alliance structures. The smaller states are then secure from each other as well as from attack by the rival great power. Consequently (to make a Dick-and-Jane point with a well-worn social-science term), a bipolar system has only one dyad across which war might break out.

The Cold War bipolarity was the most stable period for the international system since the dawn of history. This was the direct result of the non-violent antagonism that dictated the strategic relations of the two superpowers. The systemic stability, however, that was manifested in the bipolar system in the second half of the twentieth century was not an outcome of this specific systemic structure but a political effect coming from the non-violent confrontation of both the US and the Soviet Union. The predominant reason for this was nuclear deterrence. Indeed, it was the nuclear arsenal of the two superpowers that acted as a drastic strategic tranquilizer, bringing to the fore the fear of a global holocaust which, in turn, gave birth to a strategic doctrine known as Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD). MAD shaped in the most emphatic way the diplomatic and political interactions of the two superpowers, creating a sui generis strategic necessity of non-conflict (Soloski, 2004; Freedman, 2003, pp. 233–236). In view of this, I support the argument that the systemic stability that occurred during the Cold War was not a product of bipolarity but was rather derived from MAD.4 Therefore, it can be argued that the Cold War bipolarity was a sui generis phenomenon, essentially distinct from conventional bipolarity, as I will argue next. Conventional bipolarity refers to the antagonism of two dominant factors in the international arena. Nevertheless, it does not function as a secret recipe for producing the systemic stability effect. On the contrary, conventional bipolarity leans toward total and large-scale wars, which undermine any form of systemic stability whatsoever for a prolonged period of time. Consider, for instance, the following historical example: During the Peloponnesian War the status quo was bipolar, yet the clashes between Athens and Sparta, the two superpowers of the era, were constant and severe for a prolonged period of time. An almost identical instance marked systemic bipolarity during the era of the Second Punic War, when the two superpowers of the era, Rome and Carthage, maintained a long

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and ruinous war that produced noteworthy systemic instability until the ultimate demise of Carthage. From the above analysis it transpires that conventional bipolarity is not less war prone than unipolarity and that the systemic stability that was produced during the Cold War era was a sui generis condition that had nothing to do with the systemic structure but with the catalytic effect of the MAD doctrine. Still, it needs to be noted that in a bipolar system the clashes are fewer in number because the competing elements are only two. Yet, the clashes are more intense mainly because they are not mere expressions of an interstate antagonism but appear as the climax of a collision aiming to create a sole global hegemony. Bipolarity constitutes a firm step into the labyrinth of international anarchy. Since the dominant competitors are only two, then the lust for total systemic control increases; viewed in numerical terms the odds are evidently in favor of one or the other pole. Numbers play a limited role in politics. However, when they have to do with the concept of stability then numbers may have an important role to play either as a source of defining the means or as a means for defining the ends. Thus, bipolar conditions undermine systemic stability to a greater or a lesser extent, thereby giving rise to prolonged periods of systemic inconsistency. At the end of the day, politics, both domestic and international, have to do with a number of conceptions that may lead to substantial misconceptions and total victories or defeats. Stability under Multipolarity Multipolarity is the most related concept to the archetypical definition of the anarchic international system. It exists when three, or more, powers possess exceptionally large capabilities, in a way no one can dominate the others at the systemic level (Hyde-Price, 2007; Dale-Walton, 2007). The multipolar system subsists through constant, high and multidimensional competition, encouraging intense systemic volatility that results in persistent interstate challenging. This is why it can be argued that high and constant antagonism among the main systemic actors defines the structural endurance and the probabilities of preserving multipolar intricacy. Hans Morgenthau (1993), Edward Gulick (1967) and many more prominent scholars of classical realism claim that multipolarity is more stable because it creates a larger number of possible coalitions reinforcing deterrence against any form of aggression (Levy and Thompson, 2007, p. 33). However, the most thorough analysis that set the theoretical foundations for this specific form of approach came from Karl Deutsch and David Singer when they supported that the multipolar system is more stable than the other two because it discourages structural changes at the systemic level and encourages political decisions and methods that preserve its fundamental characteristics. These characteristics can be summarized in the following three points: a) no single nation becomes dominant; b) most of its members continue to survive; and c) large-scale war does not occur (Deutsch and Singer, 1964, p. 390). Despite their rational approach regarding the


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structural characteristics of systemic stability, their analysis does not provide a satisfactory answer on why large-scale wars do not occur in a multipolar system. My approach promotes the view that total wars do not frequently occur in a multipolar system because of the central role that more than two actors hold in the international arena. The more powerful actors in the international system, the more insecure the corresponding states. The more insecure the states, the more hesitant to dispose all their natural resources and power capabilities in order to be victorious in a total war. And this is because in a multipolar system the major threats are more than one or two; therefore, states should behave rationally and preserve large proportion of their power capabilities in case events do not turn in their favor. Since total wars are typically followed by large-scale friction and increased systemic instability they are undesirable for the Great Powers and their allies. The dominant systemic factors can promote their interests through conventional forms of war and thus avoid undermining their status or allowing the system to enter into a highly revisionist evolutionary phase. In other words, these forms of systemic prerequisite make total war less frequent and the system more stable. As a whole, a multipolar system is more prone to a conventional war than unipolar or bipolar ones but is less total war prone than the rest two, the reason being that leading actors are more hesitant to face the systemic uncertainty that the other leading actors may bring forth. This is why multipolarity produces a more stable international system, yet with higher levels of antagonism and hence more opportunities for the occurrence of conventional wars and fewer for total war resolutions. Given that, while multipolarity necessitates the Great Powers to reinvent themselves regarding new forms of systemic antagonism that will maintain them in the front line of the international system, it constructs a more hazardous environment for the rest of the systemic elements; conventional wars cannot ruin a Great Power but can certainly push a common state off the systemic cliff. Therefore, although multipolarity ensures to a greater extent systemic stability, it is more challenging for common states and this can be especially seen in the region of the Eastern Mediterranean that continues to produce phenomena of high political volatility, such as the Arab Spring. Conclusion The quest for perpetual Peace constitutes the lapis philosophorum for every one entering the discipline of International Relations. Yet, this is a chimera. I supported the view that while the quest for perpetual Peace is a pure illusion that weakens scientific rationality, systemic stability is possible in pragmatic terms. Stability can occur in a multipolar system not as an instance of peaceful co-existence between the states but because multipolarity is a rather hostile environment for the flourishing of total war phenomena. It goes without saying that multipolarity has the potential to deeply affect regions of great strategic and economic importance that form an ideal locus of

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immense antagonism between the dominant systemic factors. The franticness of a multipolar system with almost every state contained in the systemic roller coaster of antagonism gives a central position to various regions worldwide manifesting a significant tendency to friction such as the Asia Pacific, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean. The Eastern Mediterranean, in particular, a region that in the past served many times as a weathercock for the rest of the international arena thus revealing the climaxes of antagonism on various occasions throughout history, already holds a central role in shaping the multipolar framework of the twenty-first century international system. The Arab Spring; the new strategic alliance between Greece, Cyprus and Israel; the Greek sovereign debt; the status of the Greco–Turkish relations; and the manifested antagonism of the US, Russia and China for either maintaining or reinforcing their position in the region, all these reveal that the Eastern Mediterranean maintains its traditional historical role, as Winston Churchill once put it; to produce more history that it can really consume. The latter quote sounds as either a warning from the past or as a fulfilling prophecy for both regional and international actors. It seems that the multipolar international system assembles the components of high entropy that produce high disorder (Schweller, 2014). And while, as we have already argued above, this form of disorder may not produce total war phenomena, still it has the capacity to profoundly destabilize regions with a clear tendency to political turmoil. Inevitably, as the post-9/11 era of multipolar antagonism reveals next station of this locomotive of entropy is the Eastern Mediterranean. Please, passengers of the region mind the multipolar gap. Notes 1 The Greek response during the Imia crisis against Turkey is a characteristic exemplar of this kind of attitude (see for example, Strati 1996, Kalaitzidis 2010, pp. 143–144; Athanassopoulou 1997). 2 As quoted by Waltz (2001, p. 222), according to Secretary General John Foster Dulles, “[p]eace requires anticipating what it is that tempts an aggressor and letting him know in advance that, if he does not exercise self-control, he may face a hard fight, perhaps a losing fight.” 3 Consider, for instance, the Islamist zealots: through blind hits they spread terror and death, yet in doing so they are utterly convinced that they operate in favor of the godly purpose of eternal Peace, i.e. Dar-al Islam vs. Dar-al Harb! (e.g. Kelsey, 1993) 4 Colin Gray (2007, pp. 211–215) characterized MAD as an anti-strategic condition, based on the oxymoron of preserving peace through the control of the most catastrophic weapon that humanity has ever witnessed.


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References Abbott, K.W. and Snidal, D., 1998. Why States Act Through Formal International Organizations. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 42(1), pp. 3–32. Ahrensdorf, P.J., 2000. The Fear of Death and Longing for Immortality: Hobbes and Thucydides on Human Nature and the Problem of Anarchy. American Political Science Review, 94(3), pp. 579–593. Anderson, K. and Hurrell, A., eds. 2000. Hedley Bull on International Society, London: Macmillan Press. Athanassopoulou, E., 1997 Blessing in Disguise? The Imia Crisis and Turkish Greek Relations. Mediterranean Politics, 2(3), pp. 76–101. Bonn, S.A., 2010. Mass Deception: Moral Panic and the U.S. War on Iraq. Piscataway, N.J.: Rutgers University Press. Brim, O., and Brostrom, P., 2005 The Iraq War and International Law: From Hugo Grotius to George W. Bush. In J. Hallenberg and H. Karlson, eds. The Iraq War: European Perspectives on Politics, Strategy and Operations. Abingdon Oxon: Routledge. pp. 118–140. Carr, E.H., 2001. The Twenty Years’ Crisis: An Introduction to the Study of International Relations. 2nd ed. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Chaffe, W.H., 2009. The Rise and Fall of the American Century: The United States from 1890—2009. New York: Oxford University Press. Collin, G.S., 2007. War, Peace and International Relations: An Introduction to Strategic History. London: Routledge. Corten, O., 2011. The Law Against War: The Prohibition on the Use of Force in Contemporary International Law. Oxford: Hart Publishing. Crawford, R.M.A., 2000. Idealism and Realism in International Relations: Beyond the Discipline. London: Routledge. Dale-Walton, C., 2007. Geopolitics and the Great Powers in the Twenty-First Century: Multipolarity and the Revolution in Strategic Perspective. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. Deutsch, K.W., and David Singer J., 1964. Multipolar Power Systems and International Stability. World Politics, 16(3), pp. 390–406. Donelly, J., 2000. Realism and International Relations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Flynn, M.J., 2008. First Strike: Preemptive War in Moder History. New York: Routledge. Freedman, L., 2003. The Evolution of Nuclear Strategy. 3rd ed. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Gilpin, R., 1981. War and Change in World Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Goldsmith, J.L., and Posner, E.A., 2005. The Limits of International Law. New York: Oxford University Press. Gray, C.S., 2007. War, Peace and International Relations: An Introduction to Strategic History. London: Routledge.

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Gulick, E.V., 1967. Europe’s Classical Balance of Power. New York: W.W. Norton & Co. Haas, E.B., 1953. The Balance of Power: Prescription, Concept or Propaganda. World Politics, 4(5), pp. 442–477. Hanami, A.K., 2003 Structural Realism and Interconnectivity. In Hanami A.K., ed. Perspectives on Structural Realism. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 199–222. Hyde-Price, A., 2007. European Security in the Twenty-First Century. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. Jackson, R., 2005. Classical and Modern Thought on International Relations: From Anarchy to Cosmopolis. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Kalaitzidis, A., 2010. Europe’s Greece: A Giant in the Making. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Kang, D.C., 2004. The Theoretical Roots of Hierarchy in International Relations. Australian Journal of International Affairs, 58(3), pp. 337–352. Kaufman, S.J., Little, R., and Wohlforth, W.C., eds, 2007. The Balance of Power in World History. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Keene, E.D. 2004. Beyond the Anarchical Society: Grotius, Colonialism and Order in World Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Kelsay, J. 1993. Islam and War: A Study in Comparative Ethics. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminister/John Knox Press. Layne, C., 2006. The Unipolar illusion revisited: The coming end of the United States’ Unipolar moment. International Security, 31(2), pp. 7–41. Lebow, R.N., 2010. Why Nations Fight: Past and Future Motive of War. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Levy, J.S., 2004. What do Great Powers Balance Against and When?. In T.V. Paul, J.J. Wirtz and M. Fortmann, eds. Balance of Power: Theory and Practice in the 21st Century. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, pp. 29–51. Levy, J.S. and Thompson, W.R., 2007. Causes of War. Malden: Blackwell Publishing. Litsas, Sp. N. 2012. Democratic Peace Theory and Militarism: The Unrelated Connectivity, Civitas Gentium, 2(1), pp. 33–58. Little, R., 2007. The Balance of Power in International Relations: Metaphors, Myths and Models. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. McCoy, A.W., 2010. The Decline and Fall of the American Empire. The Nation, [on line] Available at: [Accessed 13 June 2014]. Mearsheimer, J.J., 1990. Why We Will Soon Miss the Cold War. The Atlantic Monthly, 266(2), pp. 35–50. ——, 2001. The Tragedy of Great Power Politics. New York: W.W. Norton & Co. ——, 2011. Imperial by Design. The National Interest, 111, pp. 16–34. Morgenthau, H.J., 1993. Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace. 7th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.


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Neascu, M., 2009. Hans J. Morgenthau’s Theory of International Relations: Disenchantment and Re-Enchantment. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Norton Moore, J., 1989. Strengthening World Order: Reversing the Slide to Anarchy. American University International Law Review, 4 (1), pp. 1–24. Rasler, K. and Thompson, W.R., 2005. Puzzles of the Democratic Peace Theory, Geopolitics and the Transformation of World Politics, New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Reichberg, G.M., 2008. Jus ad Bellum. In L. May, ed. War: Essays in Political Philosophy. New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 11–29. Richmond, O.P. 2008. Peace in International Relations. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. Russet, B. 1993. Grasping the Democratic Peace: Principles for a Post-Cold War World. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. Rynning, S. and Ringsmose, J., 2008. Why Are Revisionist States Revisionist? Reviving Classical Realism as an Approach to Understanding International Change. International Politics, 45(1), pp. 19–39. Schweller. R.L., 2014. The Age of Entropy: Why the New World Order Won’t be Orderly. Foreign Affairs, [online]. Available at: . [Accessed 26 June 2014]. Smith, D.D., 2006. Deterring America: Rogue States and the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Soloski, H.D., ed. 2004. Getting MAD: Nuclear Mutual Assured Destruction, Its Origins and Practice. Carlisle: Strategic Studies Institute. Strati, A., 1996. Postscript: Tension in the Aegean—The Imia Incident. Leiden Journal of International Law, 9(1), pp. 122–29. Van Evera, S. 1984. The Cult of the Offensive and the Origins of the First World War. International Security, 9(1), pp. 58–107. Walt, S.M., 1991. Alliance Formation in Southwest Asia: Balancing and Bandwagoning in Cold War Competition. In R. Jervis and J. Snyder. eds. Dominoes and Bandwagons: Strategic Beliefs and Great Power Competition in the Eurasian Rimland. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 51–84. Walt, S.M., 2009. Alliances in a Unipolar World. World Politics, 61(1), pp. 86–120. Waltz, K.N., 1979. Theory of International Politics. New York: McGraw-Hill. ——, 1988. The Origins of War in Neorealist Theory. Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 18(4), pp. 615–628. ——, 1993. The Emerging Structure of International Politics. International Security, 18(2), pp. 44–79. ——, 2001. Man, the State and War: A Theoretical Analysis. New York: Columbia University Press, rev. ed. Watson, A., 1992. The Evolution of International Society. London: Routledge. Wohlforth, W.C., Kaufman, S.J. and Little, R. 2007. Introduction: Balance and Hierarchy in International Systems. In S.J. Kaufman, R. Little and

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W.C. Wohlforth eds. The Balance of Power in World History, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 1–21. Wright P.Q., 1961. The Role of International Law in the Elimination of War. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

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Chapter 2

Structural Changes and Emerging Patterns of Strategic Behavior in the Eastern Mediterranean during the Transition from Bipolarity to Multipolarity Panayiotis Ifestos

Introduction This chapter aims to outline fundamental trends in international politics that influence the current process of systemic transition that is underway in the region of the Eastern Mediterranean. It advances the widely accepted position that the area extending from the Balkans to the Indian Peninsula, and even further, constitutes a geopolitically sensitive region integrally linked to on-going containment strategies pursued by various naval powers. An exemplary containment strategy, lasting for several centuries, was that of Great Britain’s naval strategy, especially in the Mediterranean Sea. The United States followed along a similar path after the Second World War. The principal strategic purpose was to contain the continental powers, (and principally the Soviet Union), in order to secure both strategic control and access to vital regional energy resources (Ifestos, 1988, chapters 7 and 8). In order to comprehend the turbulence in the post-Cold War international politics, a clear conception of the undergoing and still identifiable historic trends and forces that defined the underlying ontological premises and the principal features of the Westphalian post-1648 state-centric system is necessary.1 Given the impact of dogmatic internationalist thinking, this is not self-evident. In fact, for this author, given the entanglements related to “Third World” countries in the Cold War era, the starting date of the post-colonial era is 1990. The fact that many former colonial nations either rise into strategic prominence or suffer internal turbulence –often combined with regional conflicts–may ultimately be the principal issue in strategic considerations regarding current Eastern Mediterranean politics. Four Main Hypotheses For theorists with a cosmopolitan approach to world politics, the state-centric international system founded in Westphalia in 1648 on the principle of state


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sovereignty is reversible. However, as we move into yet another phase of the post-Cold War era, it becomes obvious that state sovereignty is the only feasible international regime. Moreover, concurrent and interrelated structural changes are gradually constructing a new multipolar world, comprised of several substantial regional powers. In this respect, one should distinguish between a superpower capable to project its power almost anywhere in the world (during the era of bipolarity this applied to both the US and the USSR and since 1990 only to the United States), and a regional power aspiring to evolve into a significant international actor. For example, Russia and its strategies in central Europe in the 2010s offer a typical version of regional power strategy. Our underlying hypotheses are thus the following: First, if compared to the nineteenth century’s multipolar international system, the forthcoming multipolar world of the twenty-first century will give growth to a much more complex international environment. Complexity could increase even further if the existing regional powers such as Russia and China attempt to establish regional hegemonies and subsequently project their might at planetic level. In that case, history might repeat itself with the emergence of regional powers aiming to expand their status and influence while securing access to raw materials and markets. Second, there are many reasons permitting us to assume that systemic complexity will be ever greater if the twenty-first century’s multipolarity adopts a similar route as that that existed before the pre-nineteenth century. During the period from the classical era onwards and until the nineteenth century, the main actors were vast Empires while nations and ethnic cultures at regional levels enjoyed a limited degree of self-determination and self-governance. At a systemic level, stability was the product of specific policies of hegemonic aspiration. This is mainly why each Empire’s normative structures mostly secured stabilization, law and order over large geographic areas. Gradually, however, the Westphalian state-centric international system changed this structure. To put it in almost spiritual terms, the imperial weltanschauung, or in other words “cosmotheory” that underpins sociopolitical cohesion and determines the strategic orientations of the society or societies involved, was replaced by the weltanschauung of national sovereignty underpinning the many territorially defined independent states of different size, strength, cohesion and economic capacity. The new prevailing cosmotheory, as it was finally validated in the United Nations’ Charter, is that of national independence (Ifestos, 2009). As a consequence of this fundamental transition, citizens of independent nation-states were bound to claim political sovereignty and defend its political existence through the use of organized violence. Since 1648, the underlying attributes of the interstate system are consistent with these of the classical interstate system. It could indeed be argued that, in full agreement with the description and interpretation of Thucydides, the main causes of war are the intrinsic phenomenon of all differentiated groupings: Uneven growth and the resulting power differentials.2 The experience from the Second World War onwards until the end of the Cold War is telling and abundantly analyzed: Stability

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and instability are linked to the distribution of power and the counterbalancing acts of those defending the status quo. In short, international or regional balance of power means stability. Instability erupts when redistributions tend to disturb the existing status quo. Third, it is important to understand how the Westphalian regime evolved and what exactly changed in the post-colonial epoch. The end of the colonial era is not the nineteenth century, when a large number of colonies gained their independence were granted a self-autonomous status. The newly independent states –many of them artificial entities that were often designed by the withdrawing colonial powers in the context of divide and rule strategies – were entangled in the Cold War friction which marked the second half of the twentieth century. In fact, as it has already been mentioned, the starting point of the post-colonial era is 1990 when the Cold War ended. Evidence since then demonstrates the following: a) Many states increasingly follow a more independent foreign policy and b) most of them either owing to domestic or interstate problems, inevitably enter a prolonged era of instability. To put it more succinctly, these problems are not just questions of democratic functioning at a domestic level but drawbacks at a societal level. In fact, these are most often neglected by western analysts who tend to regard other states as mere billiard balls. In analyzing the structure of the international system, one needs to complement references to material issues with analysis of each state’s orientation in terms of political civilization, religion, the related anthropological trends and the orientation of the more identifiable characteristic qualities of its own political traditions. Following this, the crucial but qualitatively important issue is that the analysis is not deterministic but orientational.3 That is, it only defines trends and possible patterns of positions and postures, leaving space for statecraft and sound judgment. In other words, one could certainly “measure” materialistic attributes, but in order to understand “alienated” nations it is important to attempt to observe and estimate various factors such as the dynamism of their spiritual-cultural attributes and the maturity of political civilization as each polity evolves. Otherwise put, state structures are normative-governing superstructures predominating on the everevolving political traditions of each society. Material factors are rather measurable. Spiritual factors and criteria linked to political traditions involve high-risk estimation but still superior to “academic” observations regarding regime typologies or calculations that bestow upon humans merely material attributes. Moreover, regime debates are rather, by and large, obsolete: by definition, due to the states’ distinct self-existing ontology, regime typologies cannot be applied globally.4 Fourth, the structure of the multipolar international system of the twenty-first century is much more complex than any previous one. However, a multipolar world in an international system of almost 200 sovereign states and some rising regional powers is inevitably more unpredictable and unstable. Moreover, given antagonisms among the Great Powers, the Eastern Mediterranean will likely evolve into a high volatility region (and it is unlikely that stabilizing conditions will emerge in the near future).


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Debating International Politics on Substantial Theoretical Grounds What can one expect from a multipolar world characterized by increased complexity if such a system is compared to the nineteenth century international system? How does it influence regions such as the Eastern Mediterranean? Is the tendency of regional states to become more autonomous ephemeral? Or, in a world of almost two hundreds sovereign nations, do these trends constitute strong signs of an intrinsic and potentially ever growing complexity? As we move ahead in the twenty-first century, the ongoing traditional great power competition will most likely occur in unexpected ways and areas. The main and most important issues are the following: a) the new kind of constrains on big powers owing to intra-state strife and regional inter-state causes of war. Great powers’ contingency plans will inevitably be formulated and evolve in a less predictable world. b) A strong drive of regional powers to act independently.5 c) Evidence negating predictions of forthcoming patterns of behavior that show signs of a stable “new world order” that was anticipated by President Bush senior in the early 1990s, by neoliberal thinkers and by many analysts referring to globalization, interdependence and the technological progress as the basis of a fundamentally new international system. Nevertheless, the key-issues in our analysis are neither globalization nor transnational forces. At issue is the following question: which kind of international governance is feasible and accomplishable. Independently acting international institutions? Hegemonically driven institutions? Hegemonic governance driven by a single dominant power? In the same context and irrespective of intellectual exercises on various approaches to institutionalized international governance, the following observation is relevant: An equilibrium of power establishes political balance between competitors in a way that makes every attempt to modify the existing status quo costly and therefore harmful for the interests of the great powers involved and vice versa. Entering the third decade of the post-Cold War era it is manifestly evident that continuous redistributions of power are the main inputs in the strategic calculations and in the contingency plans of the big powers. Still, there are no signs for a different systemic structure than the one described by Robert Gilpin: (1981, p. 210): the conclusion of one hegemonic war is the beginning of another cycle of growth, expansion and eventual decline. The law of uneven growth continues to redistribute power, thus undermining the status quo established by the last hegemonic struggle. Disequilibrium replaces equilibrium, and the world moves toward a new round of hegemonic conflict. It has always been like thus and always will be, until men either destroy themselves or learn to develop an effective mechanism of peaceful change.

We shall now attempt to highlight further the aforementioned theoretical hypotheses on the basis of substantive theoretical propositions that exemplify the policy dilemmas of the states involved. Kenneth Waltz (1979, chapters 4–5)

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questions the classical realist assumptions about multi-polarity, arguing that in a bipolar international system the political conditions are more stable. Furthermore, challenging Hans Morgenthau’s (2005) main assumption about the causes that lead states to pursue power, Waltz posits that the drive for power relates to the threats against survival owing to the distribution of power. The causes, for Waltz, are to be found in the evolving structures of the international system at each historical juncture. Also, owing to the fact that states are more vulnerable when the balance of power changes, they strive to reinforce their security mechanisms in order to present a productive response against rising threats. John Mearsheimer (2001, p. 19) questions the above assumption and points out that “Waltz does not emphasize adequately that the international system provides great powers with good reasons to act offensively to gain power”. More importantly, Mearsheimer (2001, p. 20) points out that: Waltz recognizes that states have incentives to gain power at their rivals’ expense and that it makes good strategic sense to act on that motive when the time is right. But he does not develop that line of argument in any detail. On the contrary, he emphasizes that when great powers behave aggressively, the potential victims usually balance against the aggressor and thwart its efforts to gain power. (2001, p. 20).

Against Waltz’s assumptions, Mearsheimer supports that great powers are concerned mainly with figuring out how to survive in a world where there is no agency to protect them from each other. Subsequently, they quickly realize that power is the key to their survival (ibid). As he argues: Offensive realists, on the other hand, believe that status quo powers are rarely found in world politics, because the international system creates powerful incentives for states to look for opportunities to gain power at the expense of rivals, and to take advantage of those situations when the benefits outweigh the costs. A state’s ultimate goal is to be the hegemon in the system (ibid).

Given the qualifications expressed earlier concerning the distinction between deterministic and orientational estimations of internal societal premises, we agree with those IR scholars—notable among them Waltz and Mearsheimer—who argue that politics and human behavior are by and large unpredictable. Nonetheless, a profound knowledge of the orientation of non-material trends is a crucial parameter for all states wishing to act rationally in contemporary international politics. The correct identification of the roots and the causes for each conflict is a main source of political rationality and vice versa. The correct diagnosis of the causes and the pursuit of a rational strategy is a prerequisite of future stability. Against this proposition stand various versions of utopian-eschatological ideological doctrines that essentially negate the existence of the causes of war. They derive either from utopian thinking6 or from the intentional cultivation of certain ideas which have as


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their purpose to impress a particular vision of the international system that favors specific strategies. This has always been a common practice for great powers and it should be fully taken into account by the political elites and the societies of the Eastern Mediterranean.7 Therefore, at this point, it seems appropriate to address the following questions looking not for definite answers but the aiding of a constructive dialogue among academics with a specific interest in the region of the Eastern Mediterranean. Should Israel approach regional sources of geostrategic instability, for example the Syrian Civil War, on a self-help ground –preparing itself to intervene at a later stage- or should it rely on peaceful resolution of the various conflicts that penetrate the regional political scene generated by international institutions? Should Turkey, Israel, Greece and Cyprus care about shifts in capabilities owing to energy finding or should they ignore the danger of relative gains and cooperate in a straightforward manner? Do interpersonal relations among politicians matter? Are friendships, smiles and diplomatic gestures vital ends or useful means in international politics? Should a state appease aggression expecting international institutions to safeguard peace and stability, or should it attempt to acquire additional power? Should, after all, states care about absolute gains deriving from cooperation or should their abstain from cooperation fearing the other side’s gains8? Should they fear deception or should they trust the good will of their allies and the sincere intentions of their competitors? As regards the Eastern Mediterranean region and its adjacent international subsystem, a triangle with three interrelated and interacting poles is being evinced: Great powers strategies in action, postures of regional powers aiming to elevate their status to that of a regional hegemon and rising powers such as Russia or China attempting to establish footholds that enhance their power indices, role and position in global politics. Conclusion It is more than obvious that a new chapter of critical osmosis is opening for the Eastern Mediterranean. As the recent past indicates, it entails a combination of political crises and wide-scale strategic frictions. The structural changes generated by the beginning of a new systemic era, that of multipolarity, will construct a new geostrategic environment for all the major actors in the region. A new status quo is about to emerge in the Eastern Mediterranean, akin to a modern Neptune coming out of the deep blue sea. Nevertheless, as the Greek mythology reveals in various episodes, each birth contains immensurable pain and not necessarily a promising new start. This is a reality with which that the people of the region have grappled with for millennia.

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Notes 1 Hereafter, bibliographical references to IR theory shall be limited. For the author, most IR monographs and essays written during the twentieth century, owing to the impact of the fundamental ideological doctrines and the underlying strategic expedience in the context of the East‒West conflict, were and still are, by and large, irrelevant to the ontological premises of the international system. By definition, ideological doctrines prescribe the construction of a hypothetical future ontology, tending to bypass or provide a cursory understanding of existing socio-ontological premises. By definition, ideological doctrines prescribe the construction of a hypothetical future ontology tending to bypass or sightsee existing socio-ontological premises. There are some notable scholarly exceptions whose underlying epistemological approach is Thucydides’ classical paradigm. That is a set of axioms underlying any system of sovereign and thus anarchic interstate structure. Following the establishment of the League of Nations and in 1945 that of the United Nations various scholars describe and interpret the concept of state sovereignty as the deriving aura of the Westphalian interstate system. Thereafter a theoretical split took place between the legally thinking analysts and the philosophically thinking analysts (Wight, 1991, Introduction and Chapter 3). 2 Thucydides defined the underlying fundamental premises of the aforementioned traditional paradigm. Its fundamental characteristic is sovereignty and its corollary systemic anarchy. In such a system we have a legally determined international order as defined by the agreements among states; the word legal is not necessarily meant as a variety of written norms but as commonly accepted and by and large abided by interstate norms. In an interstate system consisting of sovereign members the concept of international justice or world justice is a contradiction in terms. Global or international justice could not possibly exist because it cannot be defined in social terms. By definition, as a consequence of the existence of an international system with sovereign nation-states, we witness the existence of many distinct sets of politically defined morality that underpin each one state’s distributive justice system. Variations of the spiritual and material attributes differentiate further the system by reproducing and deepening diversity. Stanley Hoffmann in a celebrated article that marked integration debates, referring to the perseverance of the nation-state in European integration, correctly concludes that “every international system owes its inner logic and its unfolding to the diversity of domestic determinants, geo-historical situations, and outside aims among its units; any international system based on fragmentation tends, through the dynamics of unevenness (so well understood, if applied only to economic unevenness, by Lenin) to reproduce diversity”. (Hoffmann, 1966, p. 864). It is noted that Hoffmann like most western analysts that examined the prerequisites of the state-centric system, focused less on domestic anthropology and more on power indices and governing regime features. 3 The true meaning of Orientational as I am defining it has to do with the thorough analysis of a theoretical concept, commencing from the anthropological dimension of a political phenomenon. I maintain the view that international politics cannot be approached through deterministic analyses, but it is rather essential to scrutinize each fragment of it in an attempt to explore the origins of an incident and not just its evolution.


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4 It is true that numerous liberal and Marxist theorists tend to focus on the types of domestic regimes. However, given national socio-political diversities, it is factually impossible to establish a single political typology that can be applied to every state. Traditional political thinking from Homeric years onwards, including some modern thinkers and artists, directly or indirectly focus on the broader still identifiable features of anthropology not on administrative regimes. Anthropology, as we define it here, of course, has nothing to do with certain racial modernist doctrines. As already stressed, it is orientational rather than deterministic. At any time this is, by and large, identifiable in socially defined and thus legitimated imprinted normative structures and the dominant political traditions. It is the imprinted and practiced moral and cosmotheoretical premises, the governing norms and the approaches and moral criteria that achieve peaceful internal change. In fact, the Odyssey written by Homer established an orientational versus deterministic political thinking that attempts not a lasting description of the anthropological premises, but the identification of the premises of the “trip” and a description of the never lasting man’s personal and politicalcollective move towards Ithaca. At the same time, Homer is the permanent antidote to political theology and its derivative eschatological doctrines. Finally, Western political thinking has been attached to ideological doctrines that search for a pre-fabricated political anthropology –some search at the state level, many others, still, owing to momentum of the ideological phenomenon, search for political unification at the global level. But they see unable to comprehend that the majority of the post-colonial nations resemble to an active “volcano” that produce major or minor explosions from time to time. 5 Israel has a tradition of independent strategic postures and highly developed skills for patron–client relations (Ifestos, 1992). During the crisis in Libya and Syria in 2010 Turkey and Iran seemed to claim large margins of maneuverability (Kouskouvelis, 2014). 6 The various versions of contemporary eschatology tend to see a unified global society and have their origin in civitas maxima. During the last two centuries the most popular ideological doctrines having their roots in both liberal and Marxist tradition are, to a lesser or greater degree, in favor of a united globe. When a Great Power is adopting these ideological doctrines then it evolves into a revolutionary dictum. (Wight, 1991, Chapter 3 and Chapter 5). 7 “More powerful states may be in a position to alter the conceptions that the weaker actors have of their own self-interests. The United States, for instance, worked strenuously for the implementation of a particular vision regarding the shaping of post-Second World War international society, while it renewed and reinvigorated this after the end of the Cold War. The American goal was not simply to promote a specific set of objectives that favored free market economy and moved against Moscow and its communist agents, but to persuade their allies to adopt their goals with no reservations whatsoever. (Simpson, 1994). 8 A central issue in Balkan and Eastern Mediterranean politics during the current decade is the issue of pipelines and the alliances related to them. As regards the absoluterelative gains issue see Grieco (1988, 1990).

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References Gilpin, R., 1981. War and change in world politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Grieco, J., 1988. Anarchy and the limits of cooperation: a realist critique of the newest liberal institutionalism. International Organization, 42(3). pp. 485– 507. ——, 1990. Cooperation among nations: Europe, America and Non-Tariff Barriers to Trade, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Hoffmann, S., 1966. Obstinate or Obsolete? The Fate of the Nation-State and the Case of Western Europe. Daedalus, 95(3), pp. 862–915. Ifestos, P., 2009. Cosmotheory of the Nations: The Establishment and the Containment of the States at a European and a planetic level, Athens: Piotita. [In Greek]. ——, 1992. Patron-client Relations in the Emerging Security Environment. Jerusalem Journal of International Relations, 14(2), pp. 35–47. ——., 1988. Nuclear strategy and European security dilemmas. Aldershot: Gower. Kouskouvelis, I.I., 2014. Revisionist Turkey: From the Zero-Problem Policy to the Strategic Destabilization of the Region. Foreign Affairs [online]. Available at [Accessed online June 29, 2014]. Mearsheimer, J.J., 2001. The Tragedy of Great Power Politics. New York: W.W. Norton & Co. Morgentahau, H., 2005. Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace. New York: Mc Graw-Hill, 7th ed. Simpson, C. 1994. Science of coercion, communication, research, psychological warfare 1945–80, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Waltz, K.N., 1979. Theory of International Politics. New York: Mc Graw-Hill. Wight, M., 1991. International Theory: The Three Traditions, Leicester: Leiceister University Press.

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Chapter 3

Russian Foreign Policy in the Eastern Mediterranean since 1991 Pavel Shlykov

Introduction The foreign policy of the Russian Federation in the Eastern Mediterranean divides into three periods distinguished by both the presence and activity of Russia in the region: the stage of retreat (during the 1990s), the phase of recovery (first decade of the 2000s) and the years of global destabilization after the Arab Spring. During the Cold War, the region of Eastern Mediterranean was a zone of confrontation between the two blocks. Both the Soviet Union and the Western states had equipollent military alignment in the region and contested with each other for allies in the region. In the 1990s the situation underwent radical changes: the West in general came to dominate the region solely, while the Russian Federation which took the place of the dismantled Soviet Union abandoned the Eastern Mediterranean as a sphere of strategic interests to the West, which started to promote its geopolitical projects in the region. A benchmark for this period was 1990 when Moscow kept itself aloof from the geopolitical competition in the region and gave up taking concrete steps in preventing a coalition led by the USA from defeating the army of Saddam Hussein during the first Gulf War. Inner political and economic problems hindered Russia from implementing large scale international initiatives in the region. Under President Boris Yeltsin Russia was satisfied with the role of an observer in the Eastern Mediterranean: Russia’s military presence in the region virtually came to an end and relations with Eastern Mediterranean countries were drastically reduced. This situation in many respects predetermined the character of Russia’s presence in the region for the following 15 years. This presence contrasted with the situation during the Cold War essentially and functionally. The range of Russia’s interests also underwent important changes: these interests narrowed to commercial preferences, concerns about spiritual values of the Holy Land and tourist attractions of the Mediterranean resorts. When in 2000 President Vladimir Putin came into power, a distinct intention to regain a leading role in the Eastern Mediterranean became one of the most important aspects of the Russian foreign policy. Consequently, during the first decade of the twenty-first century the region swiftly transformed into a zone of geopolitical and geoeconomic competition between Russia and Western states.


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However, both the nature and forms of this competition differed greatly from the struggle of the Cold War period. This competition wasn’t military and ideological but a contest in the spheres of energy and arms sales that resembled market competition. Though military dimensions throughout the last two decades were still important, the main tensions were not about control over territories and loyalty of regional allies but concerned primarily the issues of control over energy flows and arms markets. Western countries considered the growing activity of Russia in the Eastern Mediterranean as a challenge to their strategic interests in the region. For Eastern Mediterranean countries, the increasing tensions between Moscow and Washington meant the growing of their own influence on the scale of world politics priorities for both global and regional actors. Energy Security Dimensions By contrast with the period of the Cold War when tensions between the two blocks in the Eastern Mediterranean were military in manner and ideological in matter, the current interests of Russia in the region concern primarily energy security and arms sales. After having explored large reserves of natural gas off the coast of Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey the Eastern Mediterranean region attracted increasing concerns by global actors. Competition for the right to explore these resources has facilitated the escalation of existing tensions in the region about sovereignty. The growing activity of Russia in the Eastern Mediterranean throughout the last 15 years was much more about the promotion of Russian oil and gas companies on the regional market. This economic advance was closely associated with basic development problems of the EU, for example the dilemma of growing demand for energy resources and declining indigenous production of both oil and gas.1 During his first two tenures as president Vladimir Putin established Russia as the EU’s most important supplier of energy resources, satisfying about a quarter of European demand of oil and gas. At the same time, EU policy-makers started to express a growing concern about the reliability of Russia as the most important energy provider. Russia was generally accused of energy blackmailing against the EU which followed a rising confrontation between Russia and the West in general (sharp criticism of Russian policy in Chechnya and during the armed conflict in August 2008 between Georgia on one side, and the South Ossetia and Abkhazia on the other). As then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown (2008) summed up the attitude to Russia’s policy in his article to the Observer “no nation can be allowed to exert an energy stranglehold over Europe”. The US also considered the EU’s dependence on Russia’s energy supply as a factor undermining American predominance in the region. The administration of George W. Bush, Jr traditionally criticized Moscow for the energy blackmailing of Europe. The Obama administration despite all the declarations about the reset of US–Russian relations used the similar lexicon in the official comments on Russia’s policy since the

Russian Foreign Policy in the Eastern Mediterranean since 1991


Russia–Ukraine crisis in 2009. Russian officials denied all the accusation of using oil and gas supplies as political instruments to put pressure on the other countries. However president Putin has never dissembled the importance that energy plays in Russia’s current foreign and security policy even before 2009. Thus, in 2005 during his Opening Address at the Security Council Session on Russia’s Role in Guaranteeing International Energy Security Putin stressed that “Russia is one of the leaders in the world energy market … today it is mainly energy that ensures the growth of the world economy … well-balanced and regular sources of energy is undoubtedly a key factor in global security” (Kremlin, 2005). We can see similar estimations of energy issues for the revival of Russia’s influence in world politics in the “National Security Strategy of the Russian Federation to 2020” approved in May 2009 (Russian Federation Security Council, 2009). From the EU perspective, the growing concern about national energy security made the diversification of external energy supplies one of the core objectives for the EU energy policy. Apart from the increasingly developing relations with Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa on energy issues, this trend resulted in the strengthening of energy cooperation between Western Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean countries. Thus, in 2008 the EU initiated the establishment of the Union for the Mediterranean as re-launching of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (the Barcelona Process of 1995) with special emphasis on energy security. And in July 2009, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union adopted the EU’s Third Energy Package aiming to limit and withdraw foreign ownership for the gas and electricity companies in the EU. Russia reacted to these steps by the virtual repudiation of the European Energy Charter which Moscow signed in 1991 and began to promote the idea of comprehensive energy pact that could boost energy development in Europe and satisfy the requirements of the both net importers and net suppliers of energy resources. Military Security Dimensions from Russia’s Perspective During the Cold War the US dominated the region of the Eastern Mediterranean. Although the USSR had a comparable (in both number and power) military presence in the region, that is the Fifth Eskadra (Kasatonov, 2009, p. 49), Washington with the Sixth Fleet held the strategic advantage because the Soviets had to deal with access difficulties to the Sea. After the evacuation of the Soviet naval base ‘Pasha Liman’ in Albania in 1961 (Lüthi, 2008, pp. 201–209) and the expulsion of the Soviet military advisors from Egypt in 1976 (Vasilyev, 1993; Vego, 2000, pp. 164–190) the Syrian port city of Tartus became the only Soviet naval military base in the Mediterranean Sea. In 1991 Russia’s military presence in the region materially sputtered out. Due to economic and political difficulties, Russia’s military presence was swiftly decreasing in different regions of the world throughout the early 1990s and the Eastern Mediterranean was not an exception. The last decade on the contrary witnessed a moderate recovery of Russia’s


The Eastern Mediterranean in Transition

military presence in the Eastern Mediterranean. A symbol of this recovery was a reappearance of the Russian navy in the Eastern Mediterranean announced by Vladimir Putin in 1999 when he was Prime minister. Subsequently the aim of reestablishing military ties with the region was stated in the “Naval Doctrine of the Russian Federation until 2020” approved in July 2001. In the Doctrine military and political stability in the Mediterranean required the sufficient naval presence of Russia in the region. Thus the Doctrine proclaimed that the Mediterranean Sea along with the Baltic Sea, Black Sea and Azov Sea as spheres of Russia’s strategic interests (RF Security Council, 2001). However, the initial steps in pursuance of these aims were taken only by the first decade of the 2000s. In 2006 Russian newspapers reported about the Kremlin’s plans for the modernization of the Soviet naval base in the Syrian port city of Tartus including the transformation of this base into a full-scale military base that would be used even for the partial relocation of the Black Sea fleet of Russia. Moscow considers Tartus as a strategic point and a gateway for the Russian fleet that would provide full-scale military presence not only in the Mediterranean but also give access to the Red Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, and so on. Russian politicians often emphasized the need to counterbalance the US’ naval and military activity in the region. And regular military training exercises in the region with the Heavy Aviation Cruiser “Admiral Kuznetsov,” the cruiser “Varyag” and many other smaller ships from different fleets which were conducted for the first time in late 2007 became a symbol of Russia’s reappearance in the Eastern Mediterranean. Yet the predominance of the American Sixth Fleet meant that the US did not consider Russia’s renewed naval presence in the Eastern Mediterranean as a particular deterrent factor for NATO in the region. The other important manifestation of Russia’s growing military and political presence in the region was the increasing military-technical cooperation with the Eastern Mediterranean countries. Apart from Syria, which had close ties with the Soviet Union in the sphere of military-technical cooperation, such traditional Western allies as Israel and Egypt became Russia’s partners. And the sphere of arms sales constituted another zone of rivalry between Russia and the West that resulted in the transformation of arms sales from a seller’s market of the 1970s and 1980s to a buyers’ market. Yet this tendency revealed itself more distinctly in the Russia–Syria relations. Changing Relations with Egypt before the Arab Spring Egypt occupies a special position in both the Eastern Mediterranean and the AfroAsian region in general. The President of the Republic of Egypt, Gamal Abdel Nasser, was a good friend of the Soviet Union. However, following his death in 1970, the golden age of Soviet–Egyptian relations came to an end. The ideological calculations of Moscow and Cairo which constituted a solid foundation of the close bilateral relations in the 1960s lost their relevance. The new President of

Russian Foreign Policy in the Eastern Mediterranean since 1991


Egypt Anwar Sadat considered the US as a more advantageous “big brother” than the Soviet Union and relations between the Soviet Union and Egypt were virtually frozen. The pro-Soviet political course was replaced by the pro-US politics of liberalization reforms and separate agreements with Israel. Since the mid-1970s, Egypt strengthened itself in the role of a most important US ally in the region getting annual military and economic support of US $1.3 billion from Washington (US Department of State, 2014). However, throughout the last decade, the relations between Russia and Egypt were getting increasingly closer. This tendency comes back to 1992 when Russia and Egypt radically reformatted their relations establishing a totally new foundation for these century-long contacts. After having refused the ideological determinism, both Moscow and Cairo began to build their relations according to practical mutual interests. Apart from common issues dealing with bilateral relations, these interests comprised different regional cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean on the question of security and joint struggles against Islamic radicalism. During the 1990s the two countries managed to renew the legal basis of bilateral relations. Following these radical transformations in the first decade of the 2000s, the relations between Russia and Egypt were completely re-established and acquired a mutually beneficial character in both the political and economic spheres and not just on security issues. Historical visit of the Russian president Vladimir Putin to Egypt in April 2005 broke a 40-year-long pause in high level visits of Russian leaders to Egypt. The Joint statement on increasing friendly relations and partnership which was adopted during this summit stated that relations between Russia and Egypt were acquiring a strategic character. In 2009, President Dimitry Medvedev also visited Cairo and signed the Treaty on strategic partnership between the Russian Federation and the Arab Republic of Egypt (Russia Federation Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2009b). These visits created a good background for increasing military and technical cooperation. Since 2002 Russia resumed its arms sales to Egypt had almost ceased in the 1970s. For the first four years (2002–2006) the total amount of signed contracts exceeded US$300 million. Russia sold Egypt primarily antiaircraft defense systems but in 2006 part of the negotiating was a deal on MIG-29 bomber-fighters. However, all these new projects and new forms of cooperation didn’t make Egypt Russia’s key-partner in the Eastern Mediterranean. Cooperation with Syria before the Civil War of 2011 The role of Syria in realization of the Russian foreign policy strategy in the Eastern Mediterranean was always far more significant than the one of Egypt. Since Soviet times, Syria traditionally has been one of Russia’s main strategic allies in the region. In 1980 Syria and the Soviet Union signed a treaty of friendship and cooperation that strengthened the strategic partnership between the two countries (Vasilyev, 1993). Consequently Syria was among those few Arab regimes which


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didn’t criticize the Soviet operation in Afghanistan during the discussion at the UN General Assembly meeting in January 1980 (Cobban, 1980; Nossiter, 1980). Syria did not merely host the USSR’s and later on Russia’s only permanent maritime military base in the Mediterranean. Damascus has traditionally been a major customer for Soviet military exports. Throughout the history of independent Syria (since 1946) the total amount of contracts on arms sales with the USSR and the Russian Federation is estimated at more than US$35.2 billion (SIPRI, 2014). Despite all the changes and backtracking in bilateral relations in the early 1990s, Syria remains a key springboard for Russia’s growing political, economic and military influence in the region. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the position of Russia was constantly weakening. The reasons for this tendency of the 1990s were behind not only a swiftly diminished resource base for Russia or the reluctance of Damascus in paying back its Soviet debts but also in the transformation of Russian foreign policy. During the first years of Boris Yeltsin presidency Moscow continuously sought the approval of its Western partners trying to prove Russia’s loyalty and adherence to democracy. Russian foreign policy was characterized by an overwhelming tendency to avoid any discord with the West even at the expense of national interests. Consequently the export turnover between Russia and Syria dropped from US$1 billion in 1991 to US$88 million in 1993 (RF Federal State Statistics Service, 2014). In the late 1990s Russia again changed its foreign policy strategy and introduced the concept of “selected partnership” aimed at developing relations with primary partners—for example the US and the EU. Contrary to the previous years, Russia bargained with the West to retain its own opinion and strived to secure the right to make decision on its own when it was necessary, to act in concert with the West, but also keep away from Western initiatives (Bogaturov, 2007). The recovery of Russia’s partnership with Syria especially in the sphere of military and technical cooperation took place only during the first decade of the twenty-first century. At that time Moscow officially considered again Syria as one of its main allies in the region. In January 2005 Syrian President Bashar al-Assad visited Moscow and signed the Joint Declaration on deepening relations of friendship and cooperation, recognizing their role in achieving just and comprehensive peace in the region and the world. The declaration also fixed mechanisms for the development of military cooperation. Both the visit and joint declaration signified a breakthrough in the Russian-Syrian relations: the two sides solved the problem of Syrian debt which in 1991 amounted to US414 billion and bilateral relations took a turn for the better. Moscow assented to write off 73 percent of the Soviet debt (approximately US$9.8 billion) in exchange for guaranties on new arms sales contracts (Rossiyskaya Gazeta, 2005). Throughout the post-Soviet period Russian policy on the Syrian track has been determined by the specific international environment around Syria. First, the US put pressure on Damascus accusing it of supporting Arab terrorists and called for international sanctions. Second, Washington accused Syria of working on

Russian Foreign Policy in the Eastern Mediterranean since 1991


producing weapons of mass destruction and even elaborated plans for a preventive strike on Syria (using the Iraqi template). Third, Israel put pressure on Syria and bombed sites near Damascus, claiming there were terrorist training camps for jihadists (Huggler, 2003). During these years of isolation, Damascus affirmed itself in the role of the most important ally of Russia in the region. Moscow has maintained Syria’s dependence on arms sales from Russia considering the Syrian market as one of the most promising. Having suffered from international isolation and sanctions, Syria required Russia’s political support on both the global and local levels (in the UN Security Council and other international organizations). From the Russian perspective, the strategic location of Syria has facilitated the growing presence of Russia in the Eastern Mediterranean and Moscow made use of Syrian track as a sort of strategic platform for increasing its influence and advancing Russia’s interests in the region. Politics in the Context of the Arab Spring The wave of mass demonstrations and protests (both non-violent and violent), riots and Civil wars started in December 2010 in some countries of the Eastern Mediterranean and more generally throughout the Middle East. From a Russian perspective, these hardly expected events couldn’t be evaluated univocally for the Arab Spring raised great uncertainty about the future of the region. The growing radicalism and nationalism in the Arab segment of the Eastern Mediterranean could lead to new threats (both regional and global) and simultaneously intensify the old ones. Since 2011 Moscow’s aspirations to support Russian businesspeople in the Arab States has collided with rising instability, the passing away of the authoritarian and odious but traditional and familiar partners and the obvious prospects for redistributing the energy and arms sales market. However, the new leaders of the post-revolutionary states will most likely be interested in the diversification of external contacts and preservation of political and business ties with Russia. The level of external intervention in the events of different Arab States differed greatly. However, Russia’s rising concern about the military force as the only main tool for the overthrow of disloyal regimes determined the official reaction of Moscow to the popular protests in the Arab spring. President Dmitry Medvedev (Kremlin, 2011) in his opening address at the meeting of the National Anti-Terrorism Committee in Vladikavkaz in Ferbruary 2011 expressed the core of Russia’s attitude towards the Arab revolts: Look at the current situation in the Middle East and the Arab world … It may come to very complex events, including the arrival of fanatics into power. This will mean decades of fires and further spread of extremism … We must face the truth. In the past such a scenario was harbored for us, and now attempts


The Eastern Mediterranean in Transition to implement it are even more likely. In any case, this plot will not work. But everything that happens there will have a direct impact on our domestic situation in the long term, as long as decades.

The new reality of the post-bipolar world has already altered Moscow’s foreign policy in both the Eastern Mediterranean and the other regions in the world. Among Russian policy-makers there is now growing concern about the problems of the modern world order. During all stages of the Arab Spring, Russia’s declared main priority was global responsibility. Many European policy-makers considered the Russian stance as a recurrence of neo-Imperial logic and then an attempt to retain at any price arms markets and the military base in the Syrian port city of Tartus which is currently a small material supply center (two floating docks and fuel storage with repair crew on the shore). Both Russian policy-makers and most experts regarded the Arab Spring in form and in content as a “great Islamist revolution” (Mirskiy, 2011) which provided the change of secular regimes to Islamist ones and accession of al-Qaeda associates to power. Contrary to the EU and the US which compared the events of the “Arab Spring” with the Revolutions of 1848 and 1989 in Europe, Russian experts drew parallels with the Russian Revolution of 1917 (Trenin, 2013, p. 16). The head of Russian diplomacy, Sergey Lavrov, even called references to the Arab Spring and democracy as “baby talk” (ITAR-TASS, 2012). Russia’s attitude towards Syria is based on traditional views of the global order. Within this conceptual framework (Naumkin, 2011), a regime change from the outside is destabilizing, involvement in other’s civil wars is counter-productive and should be avoided; and military intervention is only a step of last resort. Sergey Lavrov repeatedly declared this formula of Russian foreign policy: “We don’t participate in the games of changing regimes.” (Russian Federation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2013). From the first days of the Arab Spring, Russia has considered dialogue to be the only way for solving the social conflicts. Moscow strived to persist consistently in its position and proved efficacy of this idea for the regulation of the inner conflict in Syria. Russia promoted the calling of the Geneva conference on Syria without any preconditions and with the participation of all sides of the conflict and regional powers like Iran and Saudi Arabia (Solana and Hoop Scheffer, 2013). The inertia of armed struggle and the polyphony of Islamist extremists’ interests made the reconciliation of the Syrian crisis almost impossible. The overthrow of President Bashar al Assad with direct or indirect foreign military intervention would only help extremists aiming at the “Talibanization” of the region. Finally, the military tensions around Syria (which came to climax in the summer of 2013), were virtually dissipated by the Russia-US agreements on the “Framework for Elimination of Syrian Chemical Weapons” under international control. This initiative increased the chances for diplomatic adjustment of the Syrian crisis.

Russian Foreign Policy in the Eastern Mediterranean since 1991


Pragmatism of Increasing Russian–Turkish Cooperation After the collapse of the Soviet Union the development of Russian–Turkish relations exhibited several distinct stages based on specific objectives and changes in the international context. In the early 1990s, Turkey strived to be politically compensated for the years under the pressure of a powerful northern neighbor, forcing Ankara to make national security a core topic of foreign policy. Throughout these years, Turkey had been limited in its international relations and mostly couldn’t separate its own position from the interests of the US and NATO. Accordingly, in the 1990s, Turkey tried to take advantage of a weakening Russia and play an active role in the newly independent states of Central Asia and the Caucasus and somehow even in the Turkic regions of the Russian Federation. This type of politics consequently led to rising tensions in the bilateral political relations with Russia. The start of a new stage in Russian-Turkish relations was chronologically near to the beginning of the twenty-first century. In November 2001, the then Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Igor Ivanov and his Turkish counterpart Ismail Cem signed the “Plan for development of cooperation between Russia and Turkey in Eurasia” which officially called for the new era in relations that would be a transition to regional cooperation in all fields “in the spirit of friendship and mutual trust.” (Russian Federation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2001). The document opened a broad corridor of opportunities for cooperation in such de-politicized spheres as trade, culture and tourism but also had to lay the foundation for a new political dialogue. Certainly both pro-Western political and market reforms in Russia in the 1990s and new geopolitical realities caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union laid solid preconditions for positive developments. However, the qualitative shift in the bilateral relations dates back to the period of the first presidency of Vladimir Putin. The rise of the Justice and Development Party (AKP—Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi) in 2002 and the subsequent formation of single-party government in Turkey had also a positive effect on the development of relations with Russia. The strong and stable position of the AKP afforded the government to follow an active policy, combined withrefusal to pursue a pretentious orientation towards the Turkic republics, further facilitated increasing cooperation with Russia. The visit of president Putin to Turkey in December 2004 which broke a 32-year pause in official visits of Russian leaders to Turkey marked the real beginning of a new era in Russian-Turkish relations. The visit resulted in the signing of a Joint Declaration on the Deepening of Friendship and Multidimensional Partnership which didn’t only mark a wide range of common interests and growing political confidence but also set a road-map for the diversification of partnership as an imperative for increasing cooperation of these “two Eurasian states” (Kremlin, 2004). At that time, Moscow and Ankara reached consensus on many pressing regional issues: The two countries shared a concern about the US’ offensive policy in the Greater Middle East. Even more important was the accumulation of internal


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and external factors facilitating the constantly increasing progress in some aspects of bilateral relations. Turkey was among the first NATO countries to sign a defense cooperation agreement with Russia in 1994. This agreement helped Ankara to get military equipment for its struggle against activists of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (Western allies didn’t provide Turkey with such know-how). In 2000, the two countries established a commission on military cooperation, yet subsequently Russia didn’t get the expected contracts on the arms sales and participation in the modernization of Turkey’s military structure; and Moscow considered the proclaimed military cooperation as Ankara’s plan to use it as an instrument meant to put pressure on the Western companies for getting better conditions (Kandaurov, 2001). On the level of political cooperation Turkey supported Russia’s aspiration to obtain observer status at the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation and to join the World Trade Organization. Ankara also played a key role in establishing the Russia–Islamic World Strategic Vision Group (2006). However Russia’s support of Turkey’s initiatives during the last two decades was more limited: Moscow vetoed the Cyprus report submitted by Kofi Annan in the UN Security Council (2004) and reacted to Turkey’s desire to obtain membership status in the EU with skepticism (2005). Vladimir Putin characterized the EU’s aspiration of Turkey as a potential obstacle in the development of Russian–Turkish relations (Sen and Cetinkaya, 2005). Political flexibility proper to the Turkish political culture affected RussianTurkish relations on different levels. Despite the constantly increasing mutual trade which amounted to US$38 billion in 2008 (following the Global Financial Crisis of 2007–2008 this index has been decreasing and for 2013 amounted US$32.8 billion (Federal Customs Service, 2014)) and perceptions of Ankara as a key partner, its membership in NATO limits the potential scale of Russian-Turkish cooperation. Favorable development in bilateral relations are influenced by three major factors: high level of mutual trust achieved at the political level; a solid economic relationship and third, psychological compatibility of both nations sharing a centuries-long history of two Euro-Asian powers. For the first time in history, Russian-Turkish relations are being built on a completely new ideologically free basis, of mutual respect, democracy, human rights, market economy (Kremlin, 2004) and determined by mutually beneficial trade and economic cooperation. Economic cooperation is a key element of the Russian–Turkish relationship. Russia is Turkey’s main foreign energy supplier and Turkey is a major purchaser of both primary energy resources and a large number of Russian intermediate goods (ferrous and non-ferrous metals) together with chemical productions. Among the factors contributing to the Russian–Turkish strategic partnership is the special relationship between the political leaders of the two countries. For the last two decades, Russia and Turkey managed to overcome the legacy of Cold War confrontation and de-ideologize bilateral relations. However, the current state of the Russian–Turkish relations has reached its limits: the model of partnership

Russian Foreign Policy in the Eastern Mediterranean since 1991


with economics being dominant (energy supply and tourist flows) had already played out its full potential, while political dialogue has remained unrealized. The situation around the Syrian crisis where Moscow and Ankara took different positions clearly demonstrated limits in bilateral relations, an acute shortage of mutual trust and a clear-cut need for the future articulation of mutual interests and challenges. Israeli Direction of the Russian Foreign Policy The current Russian–Israeli dialogue started in 1991 following the resumption of bilateral diplomatic relations that had been broken after the war of 1967. In the 1990s Russia mostly demonstrated a mostly pro-Arab political course in the Middle East, sometimes to the detriment of its relations with Israel. And contacts between Moscow and Tel Aviv have been largely dependent on Russia’s relations with Syria, Palestine and Iran. The closer Russia’s position was to these Muslim states the less productive were relations with Israel (Tel Aviv generally considered Russia’s policy in the region as a threat to its national security and as a manifestation of unfriendly attitude towards the Jewish state). Under Vladimir Putin, Russia began to implement a more balanced policy in the region and good relations with Israel were recognized as one of the foreign policy priorities in the Eastern Mediterranean. However, the true character of bilateral relations remained ambiguous. Despite regular political consultations and a semblance of political dialogue, the relations stagnated. During the first eight years of Putin’s presidency, the frequency of official visits and large scale of information and cultural exchanges failed to overcome the excessively formal character of the relations have often complicated by external factors. Thus, Russia’s plans to sell Syria S-300 which is regarded as one of the most potent anti-aircraft missile systems currently fielded had many repercussions in Israel and also became on the most debated issues during the meeting of Vladimir Putin and Benjamin Netanyahu in May 2013 (RIA-Novosti, 2013). The two sides finally managed to overcome tensions—something that proves the diplomatic acumen and flexibility of both Russia and Israel. Russia and Israel share concerns about the rising instability in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East in general. Tel Aviv traditionally considers security the top priority for its domestic and foreign policy. Leaders of Russia and Israel demonstrate similar attitude towards the problem of Radical Islam, something which also facilitates mutual cooperation. Political dialogue between the two states has been integrated into the broader context of bilateral relations. The sphere of mutual trade throughout the last two decades had a limited character but both sides keep on proclaiming the need for its intensification. Culture, science and education as spheres of cooperation have proved to be much more promising. Thus, in December 2008, Israeli authorities officially recognized Sergey Mission in Jerusalem (a symbol of Russia’s presence on the Holy Land) as a property of the


The Eastern Mediterranean in Transition

Russian Federation (, 2008). Another confirmation of positive dynamics in Russian-Israeli cultural relations became the constantly increasing list of new culture initiatives. Russia and Israel also possess a great potential for military cooperation. Both Russia and Israel are considered to possess one of the most powerful militaryindustrial complexes and act as the world’s main exporters of arms (the volume of military exports in Russia amounts to US$12 billion, the one of Israel is about US$8 billion) (Shulman, 2013). At the same time the two countries generally don’t compete with each other for arms sales markets—they rather complement each other: Russia has specialized mostly in the export of metal consuming weapons (tanks, warships, planes) and Israel is a leading exporter of high-tech weapons. Similar domestic threats regarding terrorist activities determine the character of Russian-Israeli military and technical cooperation. Policy-makers in Russia and Israel often draw a parallel between the struggles against Chechen separatists and the fight with Palestinian military organizations. In the first decade of the 2000s, then Prime-Minister Ariel Sharon openly mentioned the success of Russian policy in Chechnya (Katz, 2005, pp. 51–59). During the second Chechen War the specialservices of the two countries even organized an exchange of security information. Russia has traditionally demonstrated great interest in Israeli military facilities especially unmanned aerial vehicles commonly known as drones. In 2009, Russia signed contracts worth several US$ million contracts for the supply of drones and early warning radar system (Falcon, etc.). The growing political and military cooperation between Russia and Israel reflects the endeavor by Tel Aviv to balance the traditional diplomatic and military support of the US with interaction and cooperation with Russia. Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman implicitly proved this tendency in his support of the strategic partnership with Russia (Lieberman, 2009). However, any realistic analysis of Russian-Israeli relations shows the permanent priority of the USIsraeli relations for Tel Aviv. The US remains the main donor with annual military aid of US$3 billion and Israel will always look at Washington whenever it takes any political steps, and yet the growing radicalization of the region will stimulate the further strengthening of Russian-Israeli cooperation. Cooperation with Greece Relations with, Greece occupy a special position in Russia’s foreign policy. According to Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov, “there are only few countries in the world with such a long history of sincere friendship like Russia and Greece” (Russian Federation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2009a). Russia and Greece generally have no serious claims against each other which could create obstacles for development of mutual cooperation. Consequently many Russian policy-makers and their European counterparts have considered Greece as a country with which politics have always been very close to or even coincided with

Russian Foreign Policy in the Eastern Mediterranean since 1991


Russia’s. Thus, the authors of the paper “A Power Audit of EU-Russia Relations” (prepared by The European Council on Foreign Relations) even called Greece “the Trojan horse of Russia” (Leonard and Popescu, 2007). However, throughout the first decade of the 2000s the bilateral relations with Greece demonstrated another dynamic (Tziampiris, 2010). Following the increasing pressure of the World financial crisis and internal political tensions Greece revised its relations with Russia. When the project of the Burgas-Alexandroupoli pipeline, was stopped, together with all military-technical cooperation, the dynamics of Russian-Greek relations distinctly decreased. One Greek official, while estimating the situation, noted that “Russian–Greek relations were virtually frozen between October 2009 and June 2012” (Voice of Russia, 2013). The cooling of relations between Moscow and Athens since 2009 coincided with a specific trend in the world politics: in the age of globalization, trade and investment issues have come to the foreground and solid economic foundation of cooperation determines the progress in bilateral relations. Throughout the 1990s and the first decade of the 2000s, economic aspects of Russian-Greek relations were relatively weak (in 2008 the total turnover of Russian-Greek trade reached its peak but it was less than Russian-Bulgarian or Russian-Romanian one) (Federal Customs Service, 2009). However, among European countries, Greece has always been Russia’s first partner in military-technical cooperation and despite pressure from Brussels and Washington, Athens has showed an interest in buying Russian arms. The foundation of the military cooperation was led in 1995 when a special intergovernmental “Agreement on cooperation in military and technical spheres” was signed and Greece became one of the first NATO countries to buy arms from Russia. Since then the two sides have exchanged high military official visits on a regular basis and in 1997 Russia and Greece even established a permanent intergovernmental commission on military and technical cooperation. The training of Greek students at Russian military academies and joint military exercises are other spheres of military cooperation. For example, in December 2010 Russian and Greek paratroopers conducted joint military exercises in Elefsina in Greece. Positive changes in political relations with Greece took place after the coming to power of Antonis Samaras government in June 2012. Both Russian and Greek policy-makers demonstrated a high level of activity in unfreezing bilateral relations in order to celebrate in 2013 the 185th anniversary of diplomatic relations. Having overcome the stagnation of 2009–2012 the two countries showed a basically positive development in economic and political relations throughout the last two decades. Despite some disagreement in the early 1990s between Moscow and Athens over the name issue of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and the flourishing Russian-Turkish relations, Greece and Russia remain good partners sharing views on most issues of the world politics regarding developments in the Eastern Mediterranean region.


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Conclusion The Eastern Mediterranean as a part of the Greater Middle East bears great importance for the national interests of the Russian Federation. First, the region possesses a great amount of energy resources which today ensures the growth of the world economy. Second, the main trade routes that connect Europe with the rapidly developing countries of South, South-East and East Asia historically run through the Eastern Mediterranean. Third, the division between Christian and Muslim civilizations constitutes one of the core characteristics of the region. Accordingly the restoration and increase of previous positions in the region (both political and economic) has become one of the priorities for Russian Foreign policy since 2000. During the 1990s, Russia was constantly giving ground in the Eastern Mediterranean to the West and its interests. But in the early 2000s, the growing interest and activity of Russia in the region which distinguished Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy were mostly considered as an attempt to return to the Eastern Mediterranean. Consequently, Russia’s active policy resulted in growing concern of the West and the Eastern Mediterranean once again becoming (as it used to be during the Cold War) a zone of rivalry and tension between Russia and the West. However both the form and content of this rivalry differed essentially from the ones of the previous periods when the struggle was mostly for territory through military domination and networks of military-political allies. In the 1990s, the ideology-centered opposition faded away, the military aspects remained important for both Russia and the West but was essentially transformed primarily into a market competition for arms sales and energy markets. Thus, the geopolitical rivalry between Russia and the West in the Eastern Mediterranean which was typical for both the twentieth century (and even in the times of the previous Russian Empire) gave place to a geoeconomic one. From the perspective of Eastern Mediterranean countries the growing competition between Russia and the West signified the end of their predicament in which each country of the region was bound to belong to one of the two opposing Super Power-led blocks. Henceforth the regional actors of the Eastern Mediterranean have felt themselves freer in making decisions based on national interests (both political and economic) and mostly disregarding the determinism of block solidarity. Analysis of the Russian policy in the Eastern Mediterranean throughout the post-Soviet decades represents an essentially different configuration of Russia’s presence in the region. Russia doesn’t possess really close allies in the region (like Egypt under Nasser and then Syria for the Soviet Union) yet Moscow also doesn’t have consistent political adversaries (like Israel and Turkey during the Cold War). Russia has managed to build and maintain a sometimes difficult but usually constructive dialogue with all the countries of the region. Since the 1990s, the only permanent enemy for Russia in the region of the Eastern Mediterranean has been radical Islamism. In the long-term perspective,

Russian Foreign Policy in the Eastern Mediterranean since 1991


this factor will serve to consolidate Russia’s relations with other states of the region which share the same concerns. Regarding Russia’s presence in the Eastern Mediterranean, throughout the last 10 years the regional actors increasingly required Russia’s both presence and activism. Eastern Mediterranean states consider Russia as an influential external actor and think that cooperation with Russia could facilitate the rise of their position in international affairs. Though Russia can’t balance the US’ power, the regional states can and should develop cooperation with Moscow in order to diversify their external political and economic affairs. Notes 1 Currently, the EU is the world’s largest importer of oil and gas. It buys 82 percent of its oil and 57 percent of its gas from third-party states. This is projected to rise to 93 percent of its oil and 84 percent of its gas over the next quarter-century (European Commission, 2009, pp. 4–9).

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Russian Federation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2001. Plan for development of cooperation between Russia and Turkey in Eurasia (План действий по развитию сотрудничества между Российской Федерацией и Турецкой Республикой в Евразии от 16 ноября 2001 г.) Available at: < http://www.> [Accessed 30 November 2012]. Russian Federation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2009a. Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov’s speech at the meeting with the Greek people (Выступление Министра иностранных дел России С.В.Лаврова перед греческой общественностью), Athens, December 2, 2009, [press release] December 2. Available at: [Accessed May 30, 2014]. Russian Federation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2009b. Treaty on strategic partnership between the Russian Federation and the Arab Republic of Egypt (Договор о стратегическом партнерстве между РФ и АРЕ) [Accessed May 30, 2014]. Russian Federation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2013. Interview of Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov to BBC (Интервью Министра иностранных дел России С.В.Лаврова британской телерадиокорпорации Би-Би-си) [press release] March 7. Available at: [Accessed May 30, 2014]. Mirskiy, G., 2011. When the hoop broken (Когда обруч лопнул). Nezavisimaya Gazeta, [online] September 7. Available at: [Accessed May 30, 2014]. Naumkin, V., 2011. Upwards and backwards. Arab Spring and Global World System (Снизу вверх и обратно. «Арабская весна» и глобальная международная система). Russia in Global Affairs, [online] Available at:

[Accessed May 30, 2014]. Nossiter, B, 1980. U.N. votes 104–118 to “deplore” Soviet moves in Afghanistan. Demands troop withdrawal: Moscow not named. New York Times, January 15, p. 1. Available at: [Accessed June 10, 2014]. RIA-Novosti, 2013. Russia and Israel discussed Syria behind closed doors (Россия и Израиль обсудили Сирию за закрытыми дверями), RIA-Novosti, [online] May 15. Available at: [Accessed May 30, 2014]. Russian Federation Federal State Statistics Service, 2014. Foreign trade. Available at: [Accessed May 30, 2014]. Russian Federaton Security Council, 2001. Naval Doctrine of the RF until 2020 (Морская доктрина Российской Федерации на период до 2020 года).


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Available at: [Accessed June 16, 2014]. Russian Federation Security Council, 2009. National Security Strategy of the RF until 2020 (Стратегия национальной безопасности Российской Федерации до 2020 года) Available at: [Accessed May 30, 2014]. Rossiyskaya Gazeta, 2005. Russia forgave Syria 10 billion (Россия простила Сирии 10 миллиардов. Москва и Дамаск будут сотрудничать в оборонной отрасли). Rossiyskaya Gazeta, [online] January 26. Available at: [Accessed May 30, 2014]. Sen, E. and Cetinkaya, M., 2005. Erdoğan’dan Putin’e mesaj: AB’ye gireceğiz ama sizden vazgeçmedik. Zaman, [online] 10 January. Available at: [Accessed May 30, 2014]. Shulman, A., 2013. Russia and Israel: the way to military cooperation (Россия и Израиль: путь к военному сотрудничеству). Russian Planet, [online] October 8. Available at: [Accessed May 30, 2014]. SIPRI, 2014. Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Arms Transfers Database. Available at: [Accessed May 30, 2014]. Solana, A. and De Hoop Scheffer, J., 2013. Geneva Talks Hold the Only Key to Syria, The New York Times, [online] June 12. Available at: [Accessed May 30, 2014]. Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation between USSR and SAR, signed in Moscow October 8, 1980 (Договор о дружбе и сотрудничестве между СССР и Сирийской Арабской Республикой. Подписан в г. Москве 08.10.1980), 1982. In Collection of Soviet international treaties (Сборник международных договоров СССР). Vol. XXXVI. Moscow: International Relations Press, 1982, p. 27–30. Trenin, D., 2013. Russia and Crisis in Syria (Россия и Кризис в Сирии). Moscow: Carnegie. Tziampiris, A., 2010. Greek Foreign Policy and Russia: Political Realignment, Civilizational Aspects and Realism, Mediterranean Quarterly, 21(2), pp. 78–89. US Department of State, 2014. Foreign Military Financing Account Summary. Available at: [Accessed May 30, 2014]. Vasilyev, A.M., 1993. Russia in the Middle and Near East: from messianism towards pragmatism (Россия на Ближнем и Среднем Востоке: от мессианства к прагматизму).—Мoscow: Nauka Press.

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Vego, M., 2000. Soviet and Russian strategy in the Mediterranean since 1945. In J.B. Hattendorf, ed. 2000. Naval Strategy and Policy in the Mediterranean. Past, Present and Future. London: Frank Cass. Ch. 7 Voice of Russia, 2013. Democracy can’t be terrorized (Демократию нельзя терроризировать). Voice of Russia, [online] January 25. Available at: [Accessed May 30, 2014].

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Chapter 4

US Foreign Policy in the Eastern Mediterranean: The Limits of Smart Power Akis Kalaitzidis Introduction Since the events of 9/11 US foreign policy has been analyzed and criticized ad nauseaum. Then, in the elections of 2008 an American electorate mostly tired of the previous administration’s bellicosity, hit by hard economic times and enchanted by a young senator from Illinois, voted for change and the American Democratic Party returned to the White House. Although, President Barrack Obama promised significant changes in the conduct of US foreign policy he quickly found out that he could not even deliver on his most basic promises, such as the closing of the US’s most notorious prison complex in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Yet, the President seemed to be determined to change the US course of action in global affairs, however difficult that might be or whatever the political costs. He visited Cairo, Egypt on June 4, 2009 and spoke at the University of Cairo’s campus in a speech that resonated with the Arab world and drew heavy criticism from domestic opponents. The title of president Obama’s speech? “A New Beginning.” The acknowledgement that US foreign policy was on a wrong foot in the Middle East could not have come from a higher source. The speech was not only seen as a jab at the previous administrations bellicosity and callousness regarding the impact of US foreign and security policy in n the region but it also netted him a Nobel Peace Prize a year later. A President could not have asked for a more auspicious beginning to his presidency but two terms later at the very end of his two-year term president Obama finds himself beleaguered and severely criticized by his opponents for the “smallness” of his foreign policy (Krauthammer, 2014). Unfortunately for the president, he was also attacked from the American left, calling his vision a “Goldilocks” vision, in reference to the children’s tale, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, mocking his middle of the road stance (Dreyfus, 2014). He was criticized by the beltway insiders for not having an “Obama Doctrine,” (Dovere, 2014) as well as, by those who actually heard him articulate one, albeit crude (Rothkopf, 2014). Why has President Obama’s foreign policy ability been questioned so much and what has been the impact on his ability to conduct foreign policy in the Eastern Mediterranean? This paper will argue that the reason Obama’s foreign policy seems to vacillate and to resemble a rather jumbled and ad hoc group of decisions, especially in the Eastern Mediterranean, is his inability or refusal to engage in a consistent strategic thinking. In fact, contrary to his predecessor whose strategic


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vision was grandiose and got the United States involved in a never ending war, the war against terror, this president has embraced the concept of Smart Power, which for over six years it has meant different things to different people. As Smart Power became the essence of US foreign policy making in Washington, DC, the wheels came of the proverbial Obama bandwagon. Looking at the developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, in particular the events of the Arab Spring, the Syrian civil war, the Israeli Palestinian stalemate in additional to other major foreign policy issues like the handling of the two wars the US is involved in, one could surmise that US foreign policy suffers from a bipolar condition similar to patients with the clinical diagnosis. The US touts its soft power elements but has very few soft power tools, not to mention it uses them quite inefficiently, by which to pursue its agenda in the Middle East. When US foreign policy goals are in tandem with those of national security it relies heavily upon hard power, she has no institutional structure capable of completing the tasks set to it by the guidelines of Smart Power, and thus executes plays on an ad hoc basis. In sum, after considering the events on the ground this chapter will conclude that Smart Power in the Eastern Mediterranean is no more than a marketing slogan, in fact it has completely failed to produce the necessary results, because it is episodic rather than catholic, it is self serving and as such it appears to people of the Eastern Mediterranean that it is hypocritical. The Current State of US Foreign Policy The turning point in history, which necessitated a global change in international relations thinking, was the collapse of the Berlin Wall, ushering what according to one commentator was the “Unipolar Moment” (Krauthammer, 1990–91). Others saw it as the End of History, a complete victory of liberalism over Authoritarianism and Communism (Fukuyama, 1992). Conventional wisdom at the time would have global affairs be of the multi-polar kind, once the bipolar system was no longer there. This new system would have several decision-making centers such as the US, the European Union, China and Japan. However, according to Krauthammer and Fukuyama it was not to be so, this new world was going to be a unipolar world in which the United States took the global lead (Krauthammer 1990–91, p. 23 ; Fukuyama, 1992). These conclusions seemed to be reinforced with the events of 9/11 because the United States entered an era of prolonged war concentrated mainly in the Middle East with smaller global engagements. It was the perfect storm in a self-fulfilling prophecy ; the US was under attack and was going to defend itself without regard to international order. In the two-term period of George W. Bush’s presidency, US foreign policy was designed by a closely knit group of advisors, some of whom were part of his father, George W.H. Bush’s cabinet, a group known as the “Vulcans.” The nickname is a reference to the Roman god of steel and metalwork whose statute adorns Birmingham Alabama, the birth city of Condoleezza Rice, President George W. Bush’s Secretary of State (Mann, 2004). The Vulcans are also known

US Foreign Policy in the Eastern Mediterranean: The Limits of Smart Power


as neoconservatives, aka ‘neocons,’ whose beliefs are not new but by virtue of their response to the terror attacks of 9/11 became part of the everyday parlance of international relations as such after the invasion of Iraq in 2004. The beliefs of these neoconservatives are as important as their decision-making. “The ‘neocons ’ believe American greatness is measured by her willingness to be a great power—through vast and virtually unlimited global military involvement. Other nations’ problems invariably become our own because history and fate have designated America the world’s top authority.” (Hunter, 2011). These ideas are part of the American Exceptionalism milieu, the belief that the US is rather different and is bound to lead, or that it is the indispensable nation (Lipset, 1996). This group of individuals organized and streamlined intelligence for the president and an information campaign for the public, in support of, not only the invasion of Afghanistan, which after all, aided and abetted Al Qaeda, the perpetrator of the largest terrorist attack in the history of the world, but also of the invasion of Iraq and the establishment of a new, non-Baathist government in Baghdad (Packer, 2006). It is not only important to remember that these decisions well exceeded the administration’s life span but that they continue to be the primary foreign policy issues of the day presently, well over a decade later. In addition, it is important to note that very early in their life span, these decisions, they were considered to be disastrous by many commentators (Hersh, 2004; Woodward, 2006; Ricks, 2007; Isikoff and Corn, 2007; Chandrasekaran, 2007; Bacevich, 2009) because then we understand the complex nature of the situation in which the successor to President Bush has to make his own decisions. Although supportive in the beginning of the decision to go to war in Afghanistan and Iraq, the US public quickly grew tired, with no end in sight and several scandals damaging the reputation of its military abroad. Globally public opinion was even less favorable to US foreign policy as shown in Table 4.1. Table 4.1

UK France Germany Spain Russia Indonesia Egypt Pakistan Jordan Turkey

US Favorability Global Favorability Rating (numbers compiled by the author from several Pew’s Global Attitudes Projects) 2000









83 62 78 50 37 75 – 23 52

75 63 61 – 61 61 – 10 25

70 43 45 38 36 15 – 13 1 15

58 37 38 – 47 – – 21 5 30

55 43 41 41 52 38 – 23 21 23

56 39 37 23 43 30 30 27 15 12

53 42 31 33 46 – 22 19 19 12

69 75 64 58 44 – 27 16 25 14

60 69 52 58 52 – 19 12 12 15



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Following the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq the US seems to tumble in favorability ratings, not only with Allies in the Middle East but with Allies in Europe, as well. The difference is that, while with the election of President Obama the numbers in Europe seem to rebound, they remain very low in the Muslim countries polled. In this climate the people of the US were ready for change in the election of 2008 and the foreign policy positions of the Republican candidate, not to mention his choice for vice presidential candidate, offered no more than the same bellicose arguments than the Bush administration did. Naturally the US public chose a more hopeful candidate, one that promised to end the wars, close Guantanamo Bay prison and engage with the world rather than ignore and antagonize it. However, President Obama, who succeeded President Bush in 2008, found himself in the uncomfortable position having to reverse some of his electoral promises regarding US foreign policy. First, although his first order of business was to sign an executive order to close the Guantanamo Bay prison he found himself thwarted in his effort by the US Congress, and the prison remains active to this day (Kalaitzidis and Streich, 2011). Second, with several hawks in his administration early on, for example Susan Rice, Robert Gates, and Hillary Clinton, the US president had to re-think his Afghanistan policy and instead of withdrawing to actually increase the military strength of the US in the country, known as “the second surge” (The Economist, 2009). Third, he also had to rethink his timetable for withdrawal from Iraq and despite his bona fides in “post-realist” foreign policy thinking, he was drawn further into these wars and quickly reversed course (Randall, 2008–2009). Nonetheless, as per their agreement with the Iraqi government the US withdrew it forces from the country by December 2011. President Obama’s foreign policy started with an optimistic outlook towards US engagement in the Middle East, which was, and still is, a particularly troublesome region for the US, in both economic and political security. Midway through his first term the president faced his first, of several and very damaging to US reputation globally, security breaches which also served as trigger for a region wide revolt called the “Arab Spring.” US State Department cables were leaked globally through the WikiLeaks website, which gave people a glimpse of assessments of different countries around the world conducted by US diplomats. Needless to say, several Arab countries did not fare well. Tunisia in particular and its government, which was referred to as “The Family,” exploded in anger, starting what is called the “Jasmine Revolution” (Sanina, 2011; White, 2011). The President of Tunisia, Ben Ali, run away from his post in 2011 and as the cascading anger of the proverbial Arab Street spilled over to the neighboring countries some of his colleagues choose to stay in their posts and ended up badly. Muammar Gaddafi, died in a gruesome public execution at the hands of his detractor, after he was pulled alive from a ditch in August 2011, while Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, was arrested and was tried and was sentenced to jail in 2012. The Kings of Morocco and Jordan promised elections and constitutions to avoid similar fates, while Syria entered a long protracted and bloody civil conflict that was fed by its neighbors and spilled over in Iraq 2014.

US Foreign Policy in the Eastern Mediterranean: The Limits of Smart Power


As things unraveled in the post 9/11 world the United States foreign policy waxed and waned over the issue of how much of it military capability should be used to get the results needed. Because of 9/11 US foreign policy became even more the extension of its mighty military and to conduct foreign affairs in a way the US disapproved could be an invitation to the US military. As time passed and the trauma wore off leaders, such as Condoleeza Rice, the Secretary of State, spoke of a need for “transformational diplomacy.” Yearly reductions of budgets had hurt both US diplomacy and US intelligence, which came to be seen by commentators as the weak point of US foreign policy, and as such in 2008 it was corrected by the US congressional budget (Christian Science Monitor, 2008). In the Secretary’s words the US would be “work[ing] with our many partners around the world … [and] build[ing] and sustain[ing] democratic, well-governed states that will respond to the needs of their people and conduct themselves responsibly in the international system.” (Rice, 2006). In an interview Secretary Rice claimed credit for the developments in the Arab world by saying: The demise of repressive governments in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere during this year’s “Arab spring,” she says, stemmed in part from Bush’s “freedom agenda,” which promoted democracy in the Middle East. “The change in the conversation about the Middle East, where people now routinely talk about democratization is something that I’m very grateful for and I think we had a role in that,” Rice says. (Keen, 2011). What the former Secretary of State is arguing, is that her idea of promoting, building and sustaining democratic regimes in the Middle East, is working and having good results. However, in 2014 Iraqi politics changed as a result of the Syrian civil war, which gave rise to a group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), which took over large swaths of Syrian and Iraqi territory largely because of the collapse of the Iraqi army. The response of the people who advocated the invasion of Iraq came through the pen of former Vice President Cheney, who accused president Obama of “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory,” as well as, misusing his power. The former VP added “President Obama is on track to securing his legacy as the man who betrayed our past and squandered our freedom” (Cheney and Cheney, 2014). Are the accusations true or is it a case of the proverbial victory having too many fathers while defeat being an orphan?

The Obama Doctrine: From Smart Power to Avoiding Stupid “Stuff” Defining what the Obama Doctrine refers to has become one of the chief preoccupation of many commentators who have come up with a list of several names for it ranging from “Liberal interventionism,” “leading from behind,” “singles and doubles,” to the President’s own favorite “don’t do stupid stuff”


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(Crowley, 2014). Why has pinning Obama’s foreign policy guidelines been so hard? Mostly because there are very few of them. According to Leslie Gelb it is because Obama has captured the political center when it comes to foreign policy and “Holding the center field allowed Obama to move both on the left and on the right to block attacks or gain support. At times though, such political gain came at the cost of contradictory actions that confused audiences both domestic and foreign” (Gelb, 2012). There are, however, very good indicators of what the administration’s aims were form the beginning and they fall under the rubric of “smart power.” In its essence, smart power is the efficient and effective use of both hard, military, power and soft, diplomatic, power. The US Center for Strategic and International Studies commissioned a report on smart power headed by former Undersecretary of State, Richard Armitage, and former Undersecretary of Defense, Joseph Nye, who defined the term smart power for us as: The United States must become a smarter power by once again investing in the global good -providing things people and governments in all quarters of the world want but cannot attain in the absence of American leadership. By complementing US military and economic might with greater investments in soft power, America can build the framework it needs to tackle tough global challenges (2007, 1).

The United States power and ability to take unilateral actions is in decline and so in order to achieve maximum efficiency in global affairs, the US must use all the available tools and not only it military and economic might, but engage other countries through the skillful use of diplomacy in international organization arenas and also through the use of public diplomacy. She must use her economic power not only unilaterally and negatively but also positively, spending wealth to achieve development to get badly needed results in areas that she has not been able to make inroads before. It is one thing to conduct a global war on terror by drone as the Obama administration has done so effectively and another to address the underlining causes of terror by helping countries economically and technologically develop the tools they need to combat terror on their own and even prevent terror. The logic behind this argument is what international liberalism is about, engaging allies and sometimes foes to find the positive sum in international relations instead of acting unilaterally to get what the US needs disregarding the impact on the countries in question and most importantly the potential long term fallout. The critics of President Obama’s policy, mainly from the previous administration, view smart power policy as a capitulation to all kinds of evil regimes. Former Vice President Cheney argued that “American freedom will not be secured by empty threats, meaningless red lines, leading from behind, appeasing our enemies, abandoning our allies, or apologizing for our great nation—all hallmarks to date of the Obama doctrine. Our security, and the security of our friends around the world, can only be guaranteed with a fundamental reversal of the policies of the past six years” (Cheney and Cheney, 2014). Douglas Feith argued that the President’s

US Foreign Policy in the Eastern Mediterranean: The Limits of Smart Power


actions in Libya “his deference to the UN Security Council and refusal to serve as coalition leader show that he cares more about restraining America than about accomplishing any particular result in Libya” (Feith and Cropsey, 2011). No matter what the internal critique of Obama’s Foreign policy agenda in the Middle East was, he was able to shake it rather swiftly leaving the Republican opposition with little more than conspiracy theories and innuendoes about his commitment to his own country. He has been able to do this Leslie Gelb argues because of his ability to hold the political center and mostly importantly his willingness to avoid any type of strategic thinking (Gelb, 2012). Obama’s foreign policy is realistic to the core, focuses on the management of what he inherited in the East Mediterranean, made no assumption or took no gamble to shape the future of the region. It is this lack of strategic vision that is the most important failure of his presidential career and it is the one that haunts him, in regards to the developments in Syria and Iraq today. While most pundits and commentators on either side spent countless hours blaming the Democrats or the Republicans, depending on the media, the country’s foreign policy seemed to be led by the events on the ground rather than engaging with a plan to stave off unwanted developments. Meanwhile, Congressional Republicans took an ax to their previous increase on the budget of the State Department slashing it by 8.5 billion dollars, just over five years after they gave Secretary Rice the raise she asked for to conduct her “transformational diplomacy” scheme (Nye, 2011). The argument being soft power was not really producing results, or at least it does not produce results in the short term and thus it is not politically viable, no matter how important it might be for the conduct of US foreign policy. In the words of one opponent “Take Clinton’s Hallmark ‘three Ds ’ of defense, diplomacy and development. While Americans do defense and diplomacy, they don’t do development well” and as such soft power is not going to produce the results the US needs and thus it is the wrong approach (Adelman, 2011). Although hard to swallow, the argument is not at all partisan but seems to advocate that the receipt of American aid by countries which are completely on the opposite side of the spectrum in regards to liberal values and cultural affinities will not produce the desired effects for the US. It is a valued criticism, which must be taken into account considering the US has plenty of examples of supporting non-democratic regimes around the world and getting very little reciprocation. A historical analysis of the Latin American region in the 1960s will convince everyone that using aid to support regimes that are unsavory generally hurts American interests. In addition to having strategic thinking problems, the Obama administration has conducted its foreign policy in such an ad hoc manner that it is very difficult for anyone to defend the smart power principle on an intellectual basis. No country is more of a poster child for this ad hoc application of foreign policy elements than Pakistan. The US has conducted an air drone campaign in the tribal areas of the country, which is producing great results in fighting the dangerous elements of the Al Qaeda and the Taliban that inhabit those areas but is completely contrary to the intent of the “doctrine” of smart power not to mention international law. The


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drone war is an excellent example of unilateralism gone awry not to mention it can eventually destabilize a nuclear power. Moreover, in the case of Syria the US president has violated many of his own directives on humanitarian intervention, not to mention it allowed an active terrorist group with a very bad track record to be well armed, ostensibly by the US allies in the Persian gulf, and gave the Syrian government leeway to use chemical weapons on its population without punishment. It must seems rather interesting to foreign observers that the US entered the battle to restore democracy in Libya, albeit reluctantly, and refused to do so in Syria. Most importantly, in this case the United States in fear of not being able to control Egypt, the largest Arab nation, because of the results of the 2012 election in which the Muslim Brotherhood won, it acquiesced to a military coup against the elected president of country, Mohammed Morsi. It seems that in addition to not backing up the humanitarian elements of smart power, the Obama administration is now abandoning the democratization element, as well. In terms of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict US foreign policy objectives seemed far from attainable with the US failing in its honest broker role. Obama’s second Secretary of State undertook a serious effort to mediate between the two parties meeting with them dozens of times in 2013 but the talks failed when Israel announced plans for yet another new settlement, at which time the US put her involvement with the two parties on hold (Ravid, 2014). The frustration of the American officials boiled over in a statement from US secretary of State, John Kerry, in which he told his audience that Israel is going to be an Apartheid state if it does not make peace with the Palestinians (Rogin, 2014). This rare outburst of criticism of Israel draw sharp rebukes from many beltway insiders including the US Congress and it is characteristic of the Obama administration’s inability to deal with its ally. Evidently, it is also a well-known fact that the President of the United States and his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu were not in friendly terms, especially after the later became tangled in the American election and was accused of voicing support for Obama’s opponents (Thrush, 2012). With American diplomacy failing in Palestine the chances of renewed violence and the need for further entanglement by the US rises. Yet, no clear policy on the issue exists and as such no progress can be made. Having reviewed American actions in the Eastern Mediterranean region that “smart power” is yet another self-serving policy of extending American hegemony in a region in which the US has tried and failed repeatedly to establish reasonable control over the years. It seems that inaction in Syria vs action in Libya is only the result of American self-serving behavior not the development of viable policy that would produce long term results in the areas of democratic and economic development, which would also be to the benefit of the US. In addition, the inability of the US to produce any type of diplomatic movement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is attributable to the nexus of the domestic rather than international politics. Such behavior makes US foreign policy interests hostage to political maneuvering in the capital, rather than what they actually ought to be, an actual honest broker policy to achieve a win-win set of solutions to the problem.

US Foreign Policy in the Eastern Mediterranean: The Limits of Smart Power


Conclusion US foreign policy towards the Eastern Mediterranean has been dominated by the military actions the US has undertaken in the past decade as well as the Arab spring and the intractable Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In all three areas the Obama administration embraced a middle of the road centrist approach which failed to produce any result leaving most commentators wondering if the US really has a plan. First, most decisions on US foreign policy in the region tended to include the President himself and he has been very cautious advocating any particular strategic vision. The result of President Obama’s centrism is to wonder what the Obama doctrine is. Second, in his effort to remain faithful to his electoral promises and to disengage from the two wars inherited from his predecessor the President and his team embraced Smart power as a policy for the involvement of the US in global affairs. It is the policy that has come under scrutiny in this chapter. The limits of smart power are evident in its failures, to remain faithful to democratization, to seriously engage with developmental plans in areas where previously the US engaged with its military and finally to de-couple the foreign affairs from the domestic arena. It becomes painfully evident that smart power as it is practice now it nothing but a cliché to which most foreign leaders cannot rely. Consequently the credibility of the United States has suffered serious blowback. References Adelman, K., 2011. Not-So-Smart Power: Go Ahead Congress Cut Away US Foreign Aid. Foreign Policy, [online]. Available at: [Accessed June 22, 2014]. Armitage, R. and Nye, J., 2007. CSIS Commission on Smart Power: A Smarter More Secure America. Center for Strategic and International Studies, [online]. Available at: [Accessed June 22, 2014]. Bacevich, A., 2009. The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism. NY: Holt. Chandrasekaran, R., 2007. Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone. NY: Vintage Books. Cheney, D. and Cheney, L., 2014. The Collapsing Obama Doctrine: Rarely Has a President Been so Wrong at the Expense of so Many. Wall Street Journal, [online]. June 17. Available at: [Accessed June 22, 2014]. Christian Science Monitor, 2008. More Troops for US Diplomacy. Christian Science Monitor, 8 Feb. p. 9.


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Crowley, M., 2014. This may be the Real Obama Doctrine. Time, [online]. Available at: [Accessed June 22, 2014]. Dovere, E.I., 2014. From Afghanistan to West Point: Obama Looks Overseas. The Politico, [online]. Available at: [Accessed June 22, 2014]. Dreyfus, B., 2014. Obama’s Goldilocks Foreign Policy: It is Not Too Hot, Not Too Cold. The Nation, [online]. Available at: [Accessed June 22, 2014]. Feith, D. and Cropsey, S., 2011. The Obama Doctrine Defined. Commentary Magazine, [online]. Available at: [Accessed June 22, 2014]. Fukuyama, F., 1992. The End of History and the Last Man. NY: Free Press. Gelb, L., 2012. The Elusive Obama Doctrine. The National Interest, Issue 121, pp. 18–28. Hersh, S., 2004. Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib. NY: Harper Perennial. Hunter, J., 2011. What’s a Neoconservative?. The American Conservative, [online]. Available at: [Accessed June 22, 2014]. Isikoff, M. and Corn, D., 2007, Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal and the Selling of the Iraq War . Broadway Books, NY. Kalaitzidis, A. and Streich, G., 2011. US Foreign Policy: A Documentary and Reference Guide. Santa Barbara: Greenwood/ABC-CLIO.) Keen, J., 2011. Rice Reflects on Bush Tenure, Gadaffi in New Memoir. USA Today, [online]. October 30. Available at: [Accessed June 22, 2014]. Krauthammer, C., 1990–91. The Unipolar Moment. Foreign Affairs, 70(1), pp. 23–33. 2014. Obama’s Ad Hoc Foreign Policy. National Review Online, [online]. Available at: [Accessed June 22, 2014]. Lipset, S.M., 1996. American Exceptionalism: A Double Edge Sword. NY: W.W. Norton & Co., Inc. Mann, J., 2004. The Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush’s War Cabinet. NY: Penguin Books. Nye, J., 2011. The War on Soft-Power. Foreign Policy, [online]. Available at:> [Accessed June 22, 2014]. Packer, J., 2006. Assassins Gate: America in Iraq. NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

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Randall, J., 2008–2009. The American Foreign Policy Transition: Barack Obama in Power. Journal of Military and Strategic Studies, Fall/Winter, 11(1–2), pp. 1–24. Ravid, B., 2014. US Envoy Indyk Likely to Resign Amid Talks Blowup. Haaretz, [online]. May 4. Available at: [Accessed June 22, 2014]. Rice, C., 2006. Transformational Diplomacy. [online]. U.S. Department of State, Archive. Speech at Georgetown University. Available at: [Accessed June 22, 2014]. Ricks, T., 2007. Fiasco: The American Adventure in Iraq from 2003 to 2005. NY: Penguin Books . Rogin, J., 2014. Kerry Warns Israel Could Become Apartheid State. The Daily Beast, [online]. April 27. Available at: [Accessed June 22, 2014]. Rothkopf, D., 2014. Obama’s “Don’t Do Stupid Shit” Foreign Policy. Foreign Policy, [online]. Available at: [Accessed June 22, 2014]. Sanina, M., 2011. WikiLeaks Cables Help Uncover What Made Tunisians Revolt. PBS, [online]. January 25. Available at: [Accessed June 22, 2014]. The Economist, 2009. Obama’s War: The American President’s New Plan for Afghanistan is Roughly what the Generals Ordered. The Economist, [online]. Available at: [Accessed June 22, 2014]. Thrush, G., 2012. Benjamin Netanyahu vs. Barak Obama. The Politico, [online]. Available at:

[Accessed June 22, 2014]. White, G., 2011. This is the WikiLeak That Sparked the Tunisia Crisis. Business Insider, [online]. Available at: [Accessed June 22, 2014]. Woodward, B., 2006. State of Denial: Bush at War Part III. NY: Simon and Schuster.

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Chapter 5

The Dragon’s Rise in the Great Sea: China’s Strategic Interests in the Levant and the Eastern Mediterranean Christina Lin

Introduction Over the past three years, the Mediterranean basin has been experiencing a strategic shift from being a largely Western-friendly region to an increasingly antiWestern space. Across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), as the Arab Spring turned to Islamic Winter and ushered in increasingly Islamist regimes, combined with fiscal crisis in both the US and the EU, there is a retrenching of Western influence in this region. Washington’s Asia pivot reinforces this after a decade of war in the Middle East. In midst of a post-Arab Spring period of unrest and instability, while Eurozone countries left troubled southern European states struggling with debt and underinvestment, China has quietly stepped forward to fill the Mediterranean vacuum. Driven by needs of energy resources and markets to feed Chinese growing economy that sustains the Communist Party’s legitimacy and survival, Beijing’s foreign policy towards MENA and especially the Levant and the Eastern Mediterranean is entering a new era of pro-activism. Given this, China’s rise as an extra-regional power and entry into the Mediterranean security scene requires a readjustment of sensitive regional balances, as well as the need for defense planners in NATO and the US European, Central, and African Commands to incorporate China into their strategic calculus. This chapter thus examines the rise of China in the Eastern Mediterranean and its willingness to play a greater geopolitical role in the region. It first sets the current security scene of increasing military tension over Levantine energy resources, and outlines US interests in this region. It then sketches Beijing’s expanding economic and maritime footprint, and highlights how China’s entry into the hitherto “NATO Lake” of the Mediterranean may poses challenges for traditional regional stakeholders such as the US and Europe. The chapter then concludes with opportunities for the US, EU, and NATO to constructively leverage China’s enlarging presence for stabilization of the Mediterranean region post-Arab Spring.


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US Interests in the Eastern Mediterranean—A New Persian Gulf? For more than two decades, the US has taken Eastern Mediterranean maritime security for granted. But in 2010 discovery of vast oil and gas deposits in the Levantine basin is eliciting competition over Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) among countries such as Israel, Lebanon, Cyprus, and Turkey. Against this backdrop, Egypt and Syria are facing internal conflicts, Iran continues to facilitate terrorist activities through proxies in Gaza Strip and Lebanon, and a resurgent Moscow is seeking to expand its power in the Mediterranean (Blank, 2013; 2014). China has also become more assertive in this region. According to some Chinese scholars, Syria has become a new Afghanistan, a cauldron of international jihadist groups exporting extremism abroad and battleground of proxy war between great powers, along with Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon competing with each other to be another Pakistan in Syria (Wu, 2013). Beijing especially fears the internationalization of Xinjiang Uyghur separatists’ cause and increasing ties with jihadists in Syria. As such, it is playing a greater role to protect its interests with three United Nations Security Council vetoes on Syria, dispatched its warships for joint naval war games with Russia in a “show of flag” (Kasho, 2014), upgraded military ties with traditional US allies such as Israel, and courting NATO member Turkey to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)—a China-dominated and Russian-supported Eurasian security bloc. Admiral Stavridis (2013), former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), also observed that Syria is ground zero, with China, Russia, and Iran on one side and the US, Saudi Arabia, Gulf States and much of NATO on the other. With the return of great power rivalry, he argued for the US to adopt an Eastern Mediterranean Strategy. Likewise in 2011, former Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Roughead told senior officers the US needs to return to the Mediterranean, noting that “The eastern Mediterranean is also worrying” as natural gas discoveries have unleashed a scramble for resources and threaten to turn into open conflict (Apps, 2013a). Energy Resource Competition and Maritime Security Indeed the region is experiencing creeping militarization, with Turkey, Cyprus, Greece, and Israel building up their naval assets to protect their energy and maritime interests, and Turkey recently altering the naval balance in the eastern Mediterranean via plans for a new aircraft carrier (Today’s Zaman, 2013). This is part of Ankara’s $3 billion dollar MILGEM (National Warship) project to expand Turkey’s capability to deploy combat forces far from its coast (Tanchum, 2014). Israel is also in the process of creating the most technologically advanced fleet in the eastern Mediterranean, and stepping up military ties with Greece and Cyprus in face of Ankara’s increasing naval maneuvers off disputed Cypriot coast (Saidel

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and Kasdin, 2014). A region traditionally obsessed with fights over land, now turns its eyes toward the sea. Moreover, Russia has entered the Eastern Mediterranean energy game via Syria. In December 2013, Russia’s SoyuzNefteGaz signed a $90 million, 25-year agreement with the Syrian Oil Ministry, to allow Russians to invest in Syrian waters in the Eastern Mediterranean (Coats, 2013). As such Moscow’s ties with Syria, Iran, Lebanon/Hezbollah would allow Russia to expand naval power projection in the Eastern Mediterranean. However, this may risk putting Moscow alongside Beirut to challenge Israel’s maritime borders. Among Lebanon’s 10 planned exploration blocks, the country’s southernmost Block 9 falls into contested area between Lebanon and Israel’s EEZ that overlap by about 332 square miles (Dickey, 2014). Russia desires to enter the LNG market due to falling domestic energy productivity and surging global shale development, and Mediterranean gas can be exported to Asia that consumes 70 percent of global LNG market. Additionally, Russia and China share interests in diverting Eastern Mediterranean gas eastward. As Glover and Economides (2013) point out, Russia does not want Eastern Mediterranean gas to break Gazprom monopoly over Europe. Also, Netanyahu had reportedly discussed with Putin not to export gas to Europe in exchange for Russia not to supply certain weapons such as S-300 to Syria or Iran (Good, 2013). Finally, China wants Eastern Mediterranean gas as it is expanding LNG imports in its energy mix, cutting coal consumption due to severe pollution problems, and poised to become among the world’s largest LNG importers by 2018–20 according to Thomson Reuters Eikon (2014). Thus, with energy scramble exacerbating pre-existing tensions between Cyprus and Turkey, Turkey and Israel, Israel and Lebanon/Hezbollah, coupled with the Syrian crisis that brings in Iran, Russia, and China, the Eastern Mediterranean is becoming crowded with additional flash points. According to Jeffery Mankoff (2012), the US has three main concerns in the Eastern Mediterranean: conflict between Israel and its neighbors; division of Cyprus; and European energy security. Washington also does not want Russia to become involved in the development of Eastern Mediterranean energy resources, especially in light of the recent Ukraine crisis and the push for EU to diversify energy imports away from Russian controlled sources and pipelines. However, creeping militarization of the region is putting US interests at risk, and the US Sixth Fleet based at Naples could well be drawn into any attempt to defuse a crisis at sea. At a US National Defense University conference (2013) comparing maritime security in the Eastern Mediterranean and South China Sea, a retired US admiral observed that the Eastern Mediterranean is more complicated for the US. In the Western Pacific, the Pentagon is mainly concerned about its ally Japan’s conflict with China, while in the Eastern Mediterranean it may involve conflict between two US allies—Israel and NATO ally Turkey (US National Defense University, 2013). Indeed, any one of the issues facing countries in the Eastern Mediterranean—disputes over energy sources, provocative gunboat diplomacy,


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status of a divided Cyprus, Syrian civil-war, Arab–Israeli conflict, and potential Israeli conflict with Iran over the nuclear program—is a formidable policy challenge in its own right. Yet their linkage and inseparability complicates the search for regional stability even more. As such, some scholars have argued for a new US force posture in the Eastern Mediterranean similar to the ones in the Persian Gulf. Eastern Mediterranean as the New Persian Gulf Niklas Anzinger (2013) argued that as Eastern Mediterranean security becomes increasingly important, similar in the Persian Gulf where US has interests in safeguarding US allies and protection freedom of navigation, the US should bolster its regional force posture by establishing new cooperative security sites and develop regional defense partnerships. He proposed that the current US force posture in the Persian Gulf can be a model for the Eastern Mediterranean: cooperative security sites with favorable geographic locations, building on-call operating facilities, and establishing pre-agreements with the host nations that permit the US military to utilize the sites. Currently the US Sixth Fleet is headquartered in Naples, Italy, and in 2011 Souda Bay, Crete, became a forward-operating site for the US Navy to support US and NATO contingency operations. Anzinger pointed to additional potential sites for consideration such as Israel’s Haifa port, the most frequent port of call for US Sixth Fleet service members, or perhaps a naval security site in Limassol, Cyprus, near the British base in Akrotiri. However, the US Navy may have competition for potential bases on Cyprus, as the Chinese navy has also entered the Eastern Mediterranean with an eye on Cyprus. China’s Entry into the Eastern Mediterranean Security Scene For the past three years, the Chinese navy has sent several warships through the Suez Canal to visit ports around the Mediterranean littoral and the Black Sea. Nikolas Gvosdev from US Naval War College observed that the assumption that the Mediterranean would become a purely Western sphere of influence was premature, as the Chinese are showing their flag in far-flung regions to show that they are a global power (Apps, 2013a). No doubt Beijing has made a wider geopolitical decision to become much more involved in the region after the Arab Spring. Flush with cash, exporting the Chinese model of development, and increasing its military presence even while the US retrenches from the region, China is slowly capturing market share in what has been a traditional Western sphere of influence.

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A) China’s Maritime Interests in the Eastern Mediterranean The Arab Spring had caught China by surprise, and China feared that Western military intervention in crucial energy markets could eventually restrict Beijing’s access to oil and gas (Liu, 2011). In the aftermath of evacuating 36,000 Chinese national and losing over $20 billion in investments when the Qaddafi regime was ousted, Beijing is primarily concerned about deterring another “Libya” case in the MENA region and protecting its national interest and the security of Chinese citizens abroad. To this end, China is taking steps to develop long-range naval power projection capabilities for these far-flung interests abroad. In January 2013, the Xinhua owned International Herald Leader newspaper published an article on China’s intention to build 18 “overseas strategic support bases” for logistics and replenishment around the Indian Ocean littoral (Yu, 2013). However, calls for China to establish naval bases to protect its increasingly global economic interests were already in place a decade ago. In 2004 President Hu Jintao commissioned the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to conduct “New Historic Missions” to protect overseas interests, in which the PLA stressed the need to develop a “logistics tail” in the form of overseas bases to sustain their operations over the long term (Chacho, 2009). Hu again in 2010 emphasized the importance of logistics when he underscored, “Modern wars are all about support. Without a strong comprehensive support capability, it is very hard to win combat victory. When logistics support is in place, victory is a sure thing” (Hu, 2010). That same year Shen Dingli (2010), a prominent scholar of security studies at China’s Fudan University, also argued for China to set up overseas bases to protect China’s burgeoning global economic interests. China’s Libya experiences in 2011 appeared to fast track this aspiration. As such China is courting countries in the Mediterranean littoral and investing in strategic seaports and various transport infrastructure in these countries. It is acquiring stakes in shipping and logistics companies and expanding ports in southern European countries such as Greece, Italy, France, and Spain. It is especially courting Egypt, a geostrategic pivot state controlling the Suez Canal and in close proximity to the Horn of Africa, to further project its influence in the Middle East and Africa. In the Levant, China’s interests are limited to about 1,000 troops in UN peacekeeping mission UNIFIL in Lebanon, as well as various strategic infrastructure projects such as enlarging Tripoli Port. In Jordan, Chinese Development Bank is seeking to fund Jordan’s railway projects and has agreed to build a $2.5 billion, 900-megawatt oil shale plant (Whitman, 2013). In Israel, China is building the Med-Red railway of linking the Mediterranean port of Ashdod with Eilat Port in the Red Sea, with plans to extend the link to Jordan’s Aqaba Port. It also inked deals to build high-speed railway linking Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, and Hurghada to eventually connect Africa with the Middle East via Egypt. In Cyprus, in addition to potential investments in logistics infrastructure projects, China is interested in development of an LNG export terminal, including a floating LNG facility (FLNG) in exchange for acquiring stakes in Cypriot gas fields (Glass, 2014). The estimated $10 billion needed to build the LNG export terminal and


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infrastructure was initially conditioned on revenues from Cypriot gas resources, but after its estimated reserves were downsized from 169 bcm to 140 bcm, it was insufficient to justify building the LNG project unless more gas was found. However, China, with its large $3.3 trillion war chest behind China Development Bank, has a history of providing soft loans and generous financing to build large infrastructure projects worldwide. As such, Beijing can step in to finance Cyprus in exchange for concessions. Moreover, in its quest for overseas bases, the significance of Cyprus as a strategic naval “replenishment” base is not lost on China, as Britain currently has two naval bases on Cyprus given its unique geography as an unsinkable aircraft carrier in the Eastern Mediterranean (Leigh and Vukovic 2011). The UN peacekeeping mission UNFICYP on Cyprus is currently under a Chinese Commander, General Chao Liu (Apps, 2013b) and in January 2014, Cyprus allowed China to use Limassol port for Chinese naval frigates on escort missions of Syrian chemical weapons for destruction (People’s Daily, 2014). B) Geopolitics of Cyprus in Maritime Power Projection Cyprus, as an island, has been described as a huge military base and aircraft carrier. It is buffered against land invasion since it is only accessible by air

Figure 5.1

British military bases on Cyprus

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or water, and lies in the Eastern Mediterranean in Middle East, an ideal location for Europe to project its presence and power into the region. Also, the major overthe-horizon (OTH) radar installations in the Troodos Range, commercial seaports of Limassol and Larnaca, British military bases of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, and an international airport in Larnaca further enhance its strategic value. Due to this ideal position along with the altitude of the Troodos Range, at Mount Olympus, a large range for OTH radar surveillance is achieved (see Figure 5.2). The radar range of 6,000 kilometers makes possible aerial surveillance of the skies from the Atlantic northwest India, including all the volatile areas of the Middle East, North Africa, and the Persian Gulf. In fact, it has often been joked that “a mosquito can’t take off in Tehran without the radar watchers in Cyprus knowing.” (Leigh and Vukovic 2011). With its location on the great maritime highway of the Mediterranean and proximity to the world’s three great sea chokepoints of Suez Canal, Bal alMandab, and Strait of Hormuz, Cyprus is an important foothold for situational awareness and power projection in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East. Since China is seeking stability and continued access to energy and resources in the region, Cyprus—as a EU country with a Chinese UN commander already on the ground–is one of the more stable countries in the neighborhood as well as an ideal overseas replenishment base for the Chinese navy. On top of that, it is sitting in midst of new Cypriot and Israeli gas bonanza in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Map 5.2

OTH radar range from Cyprus

Source: Reprinted with permission from James Leigh and Predrag Vukovic, “A Geopolitics of Cyprus,” Middle East Review of International Affairs, December 22, 2011.


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C) China’s Energy Interests in the Eastern Mediterranean Over the next 25 years, International Energy Agency forecasts that China will account for more than 30 percent of projected growth in global energy demand. By 2035, China’s energy consumption is expected to reach 3.83 billion tons of oil equivalent, more than India, the US and EU combined (Afterman, 2012). The Chinese government has also been promoting natural gas as a preferred energy source and cutting down use of coal to address its chronic pollution problem. With LNG imports growing 25 percent annually over the last four years, Thomson Reuters Point Carbon (2014) forecasts China will be a top LNG importer by 2020—with volumes close to the current largest LNG consumer, Japan. In February 2014, Australia’s Woodside Petroleum pledged to buy 25 percent stake of the Leviathan gas field for $2.7 billion. Although he deal fell through in May due to disputes with Israel Tax Authority under the current proposal, Woodside has not shut the door to future involvement. Woodside is a leader in the field of LNG and holds export contracts with Asian markets, mainly to China and Japan, including deals with China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) (Eran, 2012). There had been previous discussions on whether Israel would export large volumes of its gas via pipeline to Turkey or via LNG to China, although there are already smaller deals to sell gas to Jordan, the West Bank, and possibly Egypt (Barkat, 2013). While a pipeline to Turkey would be the most cost-effective option, Erdogan’s antagonistic posture towards Israel remains a political block. Some scholars also assess that so long as AKP’s ideology continues to support the revival of Muslim Brotherhood parties throughout the Middle East, an Israeli pipeline to Turkey is unlikely (Tsakiris, 2014). Also, a pipeline would traverse Cypriot EEZ that is unlikely without a resolution on the Cypriot issue. Another risk is that Turkey would be a “semi-monopsony” market for Israel (Tsakiris, 2014, p. 41). A pipeline to Turkey would make commercial sense as an 8 bcm/y capacity pipeline, and over a 20-year period it would export to Turkey around 160 bcm, equal to 43 percent of Israel’s entire export potential currently set at 370 bcm. This would make Turkey Israel’s principal consumer for only 13.79 percent of Ankara’s projected demand, while Turkey can easily replace Israeli imports with supplies from Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, and Kurdish Iraq (Mediterranean Strategy Group, 2014). Moreover, China and Asia market remain attractive for several reasons. First of all, gas price for Asia are currently 50 percent higher than the price that would be obtained via a pipeline to Turkey (Barat, 2013). Secondly, Asia is a steady and growing demand market driven by economic expansion, nuclear plant shutdowns in Japan and South Korea, and the shift towards cleaner-burning gas in smogchoked Chinese cities, while EU economies continue to stagnate. Asian consumers of Japan, China, India, South Korea, and Taiwan account for 70 percent of global LNG market (Verma and Winterbottom 2012). Japan alone accounts for one-third of global LNG shipments following Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.

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Additionally, South Korea’s energy company KOGAS, in an ENI-led consortium, is already exploring in Cyprus’s offshore Blocks 2, 3, and 9, guaranteeing that a significant share of potential Cypriot exports would reach Asian markets. KOGAS is not in Cyprus in order to sell Cypriot gas to Europe but mainly to Seoul, the second largest consumer of LNG after Japan (Tsakiris, 2014, p. 46). Thirdly, Israel is facing growing EU Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement over West Bank products, so it is hedging itself and turning east to China and Asia (Traiman, 2013). In May 2014, Israel allowed China to purchase a controlling stake in its largest food maker Tnuva, prompting concerns from parliamentary members of putting Israeli food security in the hands of China (Cohen, 2014). Nonetheless, many Israelis see China as a large source of funding at a time of growing European calls for boycott over its failure to make peace with the Palestinians, and have proceeded to allow Chinese investments in strategic infrastructure projects such as railways, high technology sectors in agritech, medical science, biotech, internet, telecommunications and possibly Israeli gas fields given the loss of financing from Woodside. This is similar to Turkey’s frustrations with EU over the accession process and, like Jerusalem, Ankara is also looking east to Asian markets. Not only has Turkey joined SCO as Dialogue Partner, but it is also a Dialogue Partner of ASEAN, signed an FTA with South Korea, and penned a series of nuclear, defense and trade deals with Japan, South Korea, China, and Southeast Asian countries (Today’s Zaman, 2014). Fourthly, as stated earlier, Russia does not want Israeli gas to compete with Gazprom in Europe, so it would encourage the gas to also head east and be involved in joint projects in order to control and re-export the gas to Europe or Asia. Indeed in 2013, Gazprom signed a 20-year deal to exclusively purchase LNG from Israel’s Tamar gas field (New Europe, 2013). The Sino-Russian 30-year, $400 billion gas deal signed in May 2014 also would not impact Russian sources to Europe, as these would come from new East Siberian sources so supply the Chinese market (Mills, 2014). The Chinese wanted captive supply from new fields in order to hedge against possible Russian weaponization of energy sources to China—by diverting same source of gas one way to Europe or one way towards China in times of conflict (Dyer, 2014). As such Europe would continue to be dependent on cheaper Russian gas, given LNG is more expensive, is not a shortterm solution, and there are very few LNG terminals in Europe (Mediterranean Strategy Group, 2014). China’s Presence an Opportunity for Regional Economic and Security Cooperation Given China’s increasing economic and maritime presence in the Eastern Mediterranean at a time when Western material capabilities are declining, this presents a silver lining for regional stakeholders such as US, EU, and NATO to


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constructively leverage China’s posture to play a bigger role in the region, and perhaps inject new vitality into the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP) (Rakhmat, 2014). To this end, the US, EU, and NATO can engage China in both the political/ economic pillar as well as a security pillar to help stabilization and reconstruction of the Euro-Mediterranean region, in which China shares an interest. A) Political/Economic Pillar—Union for the Mediterranean On the political and economic pillar, US and EU can work through the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) that was re-launched by European Parliament President Martin Schulz, on April 7, 2013 to integrate and stabilize MENA post-Arab Spring (European Parliament, 2013). The UfM is a timely vehicle to promote Euro-Mediterranean region for several reasons. Firstly, it would keep US engaged in Europe since it is involved in the MEPP. UfM stalled in 2008 due to breakdown of peace talks after Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. Now, with peace talks re-launched even as it is currently suspended due to Hamas and Palestinian Authority (PA)’s unity deal, the US has an interest to remain engaged in the region despite the Asia pivot. Secondly, in the Arab-Spring aftermath UfM can be re-launched as EU’s MENA policy. UfM would gain traction with EU due to negative interdependencies with MENA—mass migration from North Africa, terrorism from Syria and Maghreb, WMD proliferation and energy security. UfM can provide the forum to integrate EU and MENA post-Arab Spring into a single Mediterranean space for regional stability. Thirdly, it would garner cooperation with rising extra-regional powers such as China to help stabilize MENA in which they share interest. Indeed there are various factors why China is emerging as an unconventional partner for the US and EU in UfM. On the financial side, it has a $3.3 trillion war chest unmatched by any Western Powers. On the construction side, China has a special talent for establishing Special Economic Zones (SEZ) in Central Asia, Africa, and elsewhere. Having already cut its teeth in conflict zones and tough terrains such as Sudan and Zimbabwe, they are best suited for leading SEZs in MENA, especially in the West Bank (Kim, 2013). On the diplomatic side, China enjoys a unique posture in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East region—simultaneous good ties with Turkey, Iran, Arab Gulf States, Israel, PA, including relations with Hamas and Hezbollah that the West refuses to engage. Moreover, Jordan is courting Chinese investments at a time when Jordan is simultaneously holding a non-permanent member seat in the UN Security Council as well as co-presidency of the UfM along with the EU. As such, this presents Jordan with auspicious timing to help take the lead and work with China in the MEPP as well as garner Chinese investments for regional economic cooperation, as conceptualized by Israeli President Shimon Peres’s “Valley of Peace” Initiative.

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B) Middle East Peace Corridor In 2007, President Peres launched the “Valley of Peace” initiative which sets forth a vision of promoting peace, regional stability in the Middle East, and social advances, by means of economic, regional, and global cooperation. In light of the current stalled peace talks from the diplomatic and security angle, perhaps the economic angle can inject new vitality and be integrated under the UfM framework in support of the MEPP. The Valley of Peace plan extends over the Great Rift Valley, spanning 520 kilometers of the Israeli–Jordanian border, from the Red Sea in the South to the Yarmouk River in the North. Out of the 520 kilometers, 420 kilometers are on Israeli border with Jordan, and 10 percent of this route extends over the future border with the Palestinians, who are in need of economic encouragement, as well as financial aid. The first projects include the following, some of which are already underway: digging of the Peace Carrier, to carry water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea; the establishment of a joint Israeli–Jordanian airport; the creation of railway connections between Jordan and Israel; the establishment of an industrial area in Jenin and an agro-industrial area in the Jericho-Demya region, with the aid of the governments of Germany and Japan; and the development and establishment of incubators for technological initiative. In December 2013, Israel, Jordan, and the PA signed an agreement at the World Bank headquarter to construct the Red-Sea-Dead Sea pipeline, carrying 100 million metric cubes of water annually to the north and build a water desalination plant in Aqaba (The Guardian, 2014). Currently Jordan is attempting to secure funding for the pipeline phase of the project, and given China’s growing investment in Jordan building the railway to Aqaba port, it may be an ideal financier for the Red-Dead project just as it is financing the Med-Red railway project in Israel (Whitman, 2013). Although there has been no agreement as of yet on a joint airport, the railway transportation connection is already underway with China building railways in Jordan and Israel. In the West Bank, Turkey is setting up the first Palestinian Industrial Zone in Jenin while in Jericho Japan has set up Jericho-Agro-Industrial Park and welcomed its first tenant company in July 2013 (Tamer, 2013; Japan International Cooperation Agency, 2013). As Alon Paz (2014) argued, the Arab uprisings have transformed the MENA region’s security landscape into one with new security challenges in energy, food/water scarcity, public-health domains that require non-military cooperation among Israel and its Arab neighbors. While Washington emphasized the diplomatic-security pillar as the primary means of resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict, new regional realities post-Arab Spring require a two-track approach that also encompasses the economic pillar. This is where extra-regional powers such as China can play a constructive role to help enhance regional cooperation and integration.


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C) Security Pillar—NATO Mediterranean Dialogue Of course, the security pillar that provides stability for economic activity to take place is still important. Thus on the military front, US and NATO can strengthen existing transatlantic ties in the Mediterranean via working with Mediterranean Dialogue partners in MENA countries. It can engage China in cooperative security on non-traditional security challenges such as counterterrorism, maritime security and crisis management especially in the Eastern Mediterranean. China has a stake in maritime security in the Levantine Basin given its interest in Israeli and Cypriot gas sources, and Beijing as well as Mediterranean Dialogue partners share similar interests in countering Al Qaeda affiliated groups in the Maghreb and Levant. With almost 1 million citizens in the Middle East and Africa facing threats of piracy and kidnappings, China also has an interest in emergency response. Indeed Beijing’s anti-piracy task force in the Gulf of Aden is already cooperating with NATO and EU in this regard. In instances where China and the US/NATO share divergent interests, as in the case of Syria, it is important to establish confidence-building measures with China for crisis management and to prevent miscalculation and escalation of tensions. As such the US and NATO engaging China in cooperative security would contribute towards a confidence-building template in the Mediterranean for regional stability. Thus China’s rise as an extra-regional power in the Eastern Mediterranean presents a timely opportunity for US and NATO to engage Beijing in cooperative security. Emerging unconventional security challenges render Beijing an unconventional, yet appropriate partner to help stabilization of the Mediterranean post-Arab Spring, and help construct a new regional security architecture that will remain of vital importance for decades to come. References Afterman, E., 2012. Israel’s natural gas find present opportunities for Israel-China cooperation. Caijing Magazine, [online]. Available at: [Accessed June 8, 2014]. Anzinger, N., 2013. Will the Eastern Mediterranean Become the Next Persian Gulf? AEI Middle East Outlook, [online] No. 3, July. Available at: [Accessed June 1, 2014]. Apps, P., 2013a. China, Russia, U.S. raise Mediterranean naval focus. Reuters, [online] January 24. Available at: < us-mediterranean-powers-idUSBRE90N0F920130124> [Accessed June 1, 2014]. ——, 2013b. Chinese general leads troops in Cyprus as Beijing embraces U.N. role. Reuters, [online] March 27. Available at: [Accessed June 1, 2014]. Barkat, A., 2013. Pipelines to Turkey or LNG to China. Globes, [online] June 19. Available at: [Accessed June 1, 2014]. ——, 2013. Russia Seeks Naval and Air Bases in Cyprus. Eurasia Daily Monitor, [online] July 17. Available at: [Accessed June 1, 2014]. Blank, S., 2014. From Re-set to Resurgence: Russia Finds Its Place in the 21st Century Middle East. Secure Line of Defense, [online] April 29. Available at: [Accessed June 1, 2014]. Chacho, T., 2009. Lending a Helping Hand: The People’s Liberation Army and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief. INSS Research Papers, [online] Available at: [Accessed June 1, 2014]. Coats, C., 2013. Russia Finds Path Into Mediterranean Gas Through Syria. Forbes, [online] January 16. Available at: [Accessed June 1, 2014]. Cohen, T., 2014. Israel welcomes tech-hungry Chinese investors. Reuters, [online] May 22. Available at: [Accessed June 1, 2014]. Dickey, C., 2014. Are These Gas Fields Israel’s Next Warzone?. The Daily Beast, [online] February 6. Available at: [Accessed June 1, 2014]. Dingli, S., 2010. Don’t shun the idea of setting up overseas military bases. China.Org.Cn, [online] January 28. Available at: [Accessed June 1, 2014]. Dyer, G. 2014. Russia-China gas deal may influence U.S. strategy on Ukraine. PBS News Hour, [online] May 22. Available at: [Accessed June 3, 2014]. Eran, O., 2012. Will Israel Sell Its Natural Gas to China?. INSS Insight No, [online] December 16. Availabe at: [Accessed June 1, 2014]. European Parliament, 2013. Declaration adopted by the Speakers of the Parliaments of the Union for the Mediterranean in Marseille. [press release] April 7, 2013. Available at: [Accessed June 1, 2014]. Glass, D., 2014. China eyes Cyprus’ multi-billion dollar LNG developments. Seatrade, [online] February 24. Available at: < http://www.seatrade-global. com/news/asia/china-eyes-cyprus-multi-billion-dollar-lng-developments. html> [Accessed June 1, 2014]. Glover, P.C., and Economides, M.J., 2013. Russia’s New Middle East Energy Game. The Commentator, [online] May 26. Available at: [Accessed June 1, 2014]. Good, A., 2013. New Concerns that Russia is Positioning Itself to Influence Israel’s Natural Gas Policy. The Daily Beast, [online] July 11. Available at: [Accessed June 1, 2014]. Hu, J., 2010. Fundamental Guidance for Development of PLA Logistics—Study Hu Jintao’s Important Discussion of Military Logistics Construction. China Military Science, No. 6, pp. 25–31. Japan International Cooperation Agency, 2013. First Factory Set Up in Jericho Agro-Industrial Park. Japan International Cooperation Agency, [online] September 26. Available at: [Accessed June 1, 2014]. Kasho, N., 2014. Russia, China signaling West from Mediterranean Sea. The Voice of Russia, [online] January 27. Available at: [Accessed June 1, 2014]. Kim, Y., 2013. Chinese-Led SEZs in Africa: Are they a driving force for China’s soft power? [online] CCS Discussion paper, Stellenbosch University, Centre for Chinese Studies. Available at: < handle/10019.1/85183> [Accessed 1 June 2014]. Leigh, J., and Vukovic, P., 2011, A Geopolitics of Cyprus. Middle East Review of International Affairs, [online] 22 December. Available at: <> [Accessed June 1, 2014]. Liu M., 2011. China’s Libya Connection. The Daily Beast, [online] June 21. Available at: <> [Accessed June 1, 2014]. Mankoff, J., 2012. Resource Rivalry in the Eastern Mediterranean: The View from Washington. German Marshall Fund Policy Brief, [online] Available at: [Accessed June 1, 2014]. Mediterranean Strategy Group of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, 2014. Mediterranean Energy: Developments West and East, lecture notes at Villa Abegg Torino, Turin, Italy on May 30.

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Mills, R., 2014. Robin Mills: Russia keeps gas options open despite Chinese deal. The National, [online] May 25. Available at: [Accessed June 2, 2014]. New Europe, 2013. Gazprom in LNG purchase deal with Israel. New Europe, [online], March 2. Available at: <> [Accessed June 11, 2014]. Paz, A., 2014. Quiet Partnerships for a New Era: Emerging Opportunities for Arab-Israeli Cooperation. The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, [online] January 28. Available at: <> [Accessed June 1, 2014]. People’s Daily, 2014. Cyprus to provide facilities to Chinese escort frigate in Syrian operation. People’s Daily, [online] January 3. Available at: [Accessed June 11, 2014]. Peres, S., 2007. Valley of Peace. Isracast, [online] August 10. Available at: [Accessed June 1, 2014]. Rakhmat, M.Z., 2014. China new partner for peace in Arab-Israeli Conflict. Your Middle East, [online] January 28. Available at: . [Accessed June 1, 2014]. Saidel, N., and Kasdin, J., 2014. With Natural Gas Fields in the Eastern Mediterranean: Israel Now Has a New Front: the Sea. Tablet Magazine, [online] January 17. Available at: [Accessed June 1, 2014]. Stavridis, J., 2013. Flash Point in the Eastern Mediterranean. Foreign Policy, [online] July 19. Available at: [Accessed June 1, 2014]. Tamer, M., 2013. Turkey to set up first Palestinian industrial zone, Al Monitor, [online] November 21. Available at: [Accessed June 11, 2014]. Tanchum, M., 2014. Turkey’s new carrier alters eastern Mediterranean energy and security calculus. The Jerusalem Post, [online] February 8. Available at:

[Accessed June 1, 2014]. The Guardian, 2014. Jordan hopes controversial Red Sea Dead Sea project will stem water crisis. The Guardian, [online] March 20. Available at: [Accessed June 11, 2014]. Thomson Reuters Eikon, 2014. China’s LNG import grows by 25 percent annually, set to be among the world’s largest. Thomson Reuters Eikon, [online] April 2.


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Available at: [Accessed June 1, 2014]. Thomson Reuters Point Carbon, 2014. China’s set to be among world’s largest LNG importer. World News Network, [online] March 24. Available at: [Accessed June 1, 2014]. Today’s Zaman, 2013. Major Turkish companies bid for country’s first aircraft carrier. Today’s Zaman, [online] January 1. Available at: [Accessed June 11, 2014]. —— 2014. Erdogan to visit East Asia to enhance cooperation in economy, defense. Today’s Zaman, [online] January 5. Available at: [Accessed June 11, 2014]. Traiman, A., 2013. BDS antidote may come from China., [online] October 6. Available at: <>. [Accessed June 1, 2014]. Tsakiris, T., 2014. Shifting Sands or Burning Bridges. Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy, Paper No. 22, p. 46. US National Defense University, 2013. Maritime Energy Security: Securing Boundaries and Resources in the East Mediterranean Basin and South China Sea, lecture notes at the Institute for National Strategic Studies, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, DC on September 18. Verma, N., and Winterbottom, J., 2013. Asia LNG buyers come together in bid to secure lower prices. Reuters, [online] December 3. Available at: [Accessed June 1, 2014]. Whitman, E., 2013. Jordan Yearns for Chinese Investments. Al Jazeera, [online] December 4. Available at: < features/2013/11/jordan-yearns-chinese-investment-2013112611506665831. html> [Accessed June 1, 2014]. Wu, B., 2013. Beijing, Moscow, and the Middle East, lecture notes at Soref Symposium at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, Washington, DC on May 9, 2013. Yu, R., 2013. Chinese Navy expected to build strategic bases in Indian Ocean. Sina English, [online] January 7. Available at: [Accessed June 11, 2014].

Chapter 6

Penelope Unraveling: The Obama Administration’s Policy in the Eastern Mediterranean Nikolaos Zahariadis

Introduction In Homer’s Odyssey, Penelope awaits the arrival of Odysseus to reclaim his rightful throne. However, she is surrounded by suitors who have no intention of giving up their quest to woo her, hoping to become kings themselves. They have moved into the palace in Ithaca, eating, drinking, and waiting. Penelope does not know whether Odysseus is coming back. She can only hope and wait. But her role is not strictly that of a submissive spouse/widow. She gives hope to suitors by telling them she will make a decision who to marry once she finishes weaving the shroud of Laertes. She weaves it during the day and unravels it at night, creating a sense of equilibrium and stability. She does not say no to suitors but she also does not intend to share her riches with them. Her role is characterized by ambiguity and indeterminacy. She plays both sides, so to speak, to gain time until something happens; in that case Odysseus comes back. In a sense, Penelope (local despots) highlights the American (Odysseus’) predicament in the Eastern Mediterranean. For years, the area was ruled largely by authoritarian despots who maintained an uneasy relationship with the US. These strongmen certainly kept suitors at bay, arresting and in some cases executing opposition leaders and repressing their followers. At the same time, potential suitors were never quite exterminated. Islamists, such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, had a useful role to play, creating enough of a stir for the major power in the region, the US, to have to take notice. This chapter picks up the story from here but gives it a different spin than Homer’s. What if Odysseus never came back or Telemachus did not recognize his father, and Penelope made a choice whether by force or otherwise? What kind of ending would that story have? In this chapter, I present one likely version. For half a century America considered the Eastern Mediterranean, which is integrally linked to Middle Eastern politics, as central to its global strategy and interests. Voluminous oil production, terrorist threats, uncontrolled migration, and the recent find of gas reserves render American presence strategically vital from the US point of view (Lesser, 2005). In 2012, America imported about 23 percent of


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its crude oil and related products from the Arab world, particularly from Saudi Arabia (1.2 million barrels per day), Iraq (550,000 barrels), Algeria (303,000 barrels), and Kuwait (301,000 barrels) (Jones, 2013). Odysseus always kept an eye on the region to protect his riches. However, following the recent upheaval caused by the Arab Spring, America appears to have lost its sense of purpose and power. Influence has been reduced and President Obama’s policy appears to be hesitant, unsure, and reactive. While less dependent on imported oil than it used to be, the US cannot escape this region. In light of continued vital security and economic interests in the area, why has the Obama administration not moved more robustly to protect them? Arguing against the rational actor model, I will show instead that domestic politics mostly drives American policy. While this does not mean that external events do not provide opportunities for action, of course they do, the argument will demonstrate that domestic politics filters the interpretation of events and shapes preferences and ultimately policy. Three factors account for the formulation of US policy in the region since 2009: the legacy of American adventurism since 9/11; the liberal ideology of the Obama administration coupled with its domestic agenda and crippled by the Great Recession; and the severity of dormant local conflicts. As a result, rising uncertainty and greater political regional instability pose an impossible dilemma: it can neither fix nor leave the region. Contrary to the optimism generated by the Arab Spring, tensions in the region are likely to continue to rise. The Limitations of Rational Actors In his magisterial Essence of Decision, Allison (1971) argued the rational actor model dominates strategic thinking in foreign policy circles. It essentially suggests policy is shaped in response to external events. Acting anthropomorphically US administrations assess stimuli, evaluate possible options, and given certain exogenously determined preferences decide on a course of action (contingent upon reasonable assumptions) that maximizes the national interest (however loosely it may be defined). While other models challenge specific premises and assumptions, such as the bureaucratic model (Halperin, Clapp and Kanter, 2006), behavioral psychology (Welch, 2005), or selectorate theory (Bueno de Mesquita, et al., 2003), the core rationality assumption has not been adequately questioned. Surely perceptions and institutions matter in weighing options, but the essential stimulus-response logic remains intact in most analyses. What if response is not forthcoming because there are no attention and clear goals? I set up an argument with three components. It does not constitute a model, but it corresponds roughly to three stages of the policy process: agenda-setting, decision-making, and implementation. It is weaved through the actual case study and is iterative in the sense agendas influence decisions which later influence agendas. The time period examines only the Obama administration, in other words

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US policy in the region since 2009. The legacy of American adventurism since 9/11 has dampened appetite for forceful action in the region, leading to missed signals and opportunities. As a result, when upheaval began in 2011, the US was caught unsure and unprepared. The old security doctrine of robust involvement was challenged by Obama’s liberal words and domestic economic problems. The resulting inaction fuelled local conflicts, which, though not of US doing, greatly affect American decisions. Absent a new security doctrine, lacking Penelope’s stabilizing influence (of repression), and bereft of military capabilities, caution and indecision have exacerbated local tensions. Domestic Politics and External Involvement To understand American policy in the Eastern Mediterranean, we must first understand American security since 9/11. A) The Legacy of American Adventurism since 9/11 The events of that tragic morning transformed US policy in profound ways (Birkland, 2004). The terrorist attacks provided a new focus (global terrorism and tyrants [with special emphasis on the Muslim world]) and a new doctrine (robust response to challenges to human dignity) (White House, 2002). The new security doctrine argued for a policy of preemptive strikes in cases of credible, imminent threat. While the policy appears innocuous at first, it essentially gave rise to a major shift in strategic thinking and global American involvement. It states: “To forestall or prevent such hostile acts [acquiring or using weapons of mass destruction] by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively” (p. 15). The true implications of this doctrine became apparent in 2003 when American forces invaded Iraq. The legacy of both wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has had a traumatic effect on the American psyche. They constitute the longest wars the country has ever fought. Assuming 2014 as the official termination of active military involvement in Afghanistan, the war will have lasted for 13 years (4,834 days), which is more than three times longer than US participation in the Second World War (1,346 days). According to figures provided by the national priorities project (2014) the war in Afghanistan costs taxpayers $10.45 million every hour while the war in Iraq costs a little over $824, 000 per hour for a total cost of over $1.5 trillion for both as of January 31, 2014. By early 2014, US fatalities in Afghanistan numbered 2,309 and 4,486 in Iraq (, 2014). These staggering numbers have had a profound impact on US policy. During the Bush administration opposition to the wars grew rapidly (see Figure 6.1). Interestingly, the same Gallup polls indicate 75 percent of Americans approved of President Obama’s decision to withdraw military troops from Iraq in 2011, while the corresponding figure of a similar decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan


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by 2014 was 74 percent (adding “stick to timetable,” 24 percent, and “speed up withdrawal,” 50 percent). Another poll conducted in January 2014, reveals Americans believe the US has failed to achieve its goals in Iraq by 52 to 37 percent, while the corresponding figure in Afghanistan is almost identical, 52 to 38 percent (Page, 2014). Clearly, the public has grown weary of foreign entanglements.

Figure 6.1

US public opinion on whether the war in Iraq (Afghanistan) was a mistake (in percent)

Source: Gallup, Historical Trends at and, respectively. Last accessed January 31, 2014. Figures for 2002 for Iraq refer to 2003.

Though not as extreme, the military has gone through a similar transformation. Leaked documents by WikiLeaks in 2010 paint an incomplete picture of optimistic, even naïve military assessments of the prospects of winning the war in Afghanistan. Similar images have surfaced regarding Iraq, especially since intelligence reports about the existence of weapons of mass destruction turned out to be exaggerated, if not outright false. Lessons drawn by civilians note the need for adequate planning and focus on nation-building in coordination with military operations because “it’s the war after the war that counts” and “military victory in asymmetric warfare can be virtually meaningless without successful nation building at the political, economic, and security levels” (Cordesman, 2004, p. iii). Military commanders similarly deplored ineffective planning, inadequate forces, slow reaction, and problematic funding (Collins, 2006). The legacy of the global war on terror has been a weary public and an exhausted military. New adventures would surely be greeted with skepticism if not outright opposition. When conflict flared up again in Darfur, Sudan, in 2004, and despite

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public pressure armed US intervention was not forthcoming mainly because of military exhaustion and the lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition to practical and logistical issues, it would have involved a long, slow process of nation-building to which American policy makers were simply not ready to commit (Temin, 2011). The same logic applied when the Arab Spring began to take form now colored by a new US administration intent on righting the “wrongs” of the previous one. B) The Obama Administration’s Liberal View of the World In 2009, a newly elected US president delivers a fiery speech in Cairo full of promise and new beginnings. Recognizing that “Islam is part of America,” President Obama promised to pursue a two-state solution (which wildly resonates throughout Arabs in the Middle East) and committed “to governments that reflect the will of the people” (White House, 2009). Governments should tolerate minorities and not infringe on their rights. Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance, and it can help bring people together. These arguments departed from previous doctrine. Whereas US involvement was traditionally shaped by a hegemonic interest in secure and stable oil supplies and commitment to Israel’s security, the new speech seeks to reach out to the Muslim majorities in those countries by highlighting the role of Islam in the US and in the Middle East in general. More importantly, President Bush had spent significant US resources promoting a paradoxical agenda: fight a bitter war against terrorism by bolstering allied and at times authoritarian regimes and promote democracy by undermining the same local despots. President Obama clearly makes the case in this speech for the latter. Stressing the importance of multilateral diplomacy, he explicitly argues for robust support of international institutions. However, the same contradiction has been perpetuated by Obama policy. While as late as 2010, the State Department hailed the US–Egypt “partnership as a cornerstone of stability and security in the Middle East and beyond,” essentially praising the much despised Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, President Barack Obama came under increasing criticism in liberal and conservative circles for not speaking out more forcefully against human rights abuses (Fisher, 2010). In the meantime, documents from WikiLeaks showed USAID planned to pump $141.5 million to Egyptian government and NGO efforts between 2007 and 2009 to promote democratic reforms (The National, 2011). Despite initial euphoria, disappointment quickly set in as Obama did not follow through on his promise to pressure Israel for peace while he seemed distracted by a highly partisan and contentious domestic agenda. Lofty rhetoric did not match subsequent reality (Indyk, Lieberthal and O’Hanlon, 2012). More worryingly, the long-term trend of global favorable views of the United States has a negative slope; in a BBC country rating poll in 2013, whereas the difference between mostly positive over negative views climbed above zero since Obama


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took office it has since fallen to negative territory though still higher than it was in 2007 (Curry, 2013). The masses were now encouraged by American acquiescence. The titanic battles in the US Congress for the stimulus package and health care reform took a toll on foreign policy. Consciously adrift from clear strategic objectives, the administration tried to anticipate and shape future events. In a memorandum written in 2010 President Obama presciently predicted among others the likelihood of rising discontent: allies might “opt for repression rather than reform to manage domestic dissent.” Consequently, “increased repression could threaten the political and economic stability of some of our allies, leave us with fewer capable, credible partners who can support our regional priorities, and further alienate citizens in the region” (Lizza, 2011). The end result would be careful cost-benefit analysis of continued support for increasingly unpopular regimes. But that was not to be. Expectations that the fall of brutal dictators would lead to democratic peace have proven elusive. The decline of military-led regimes and political uncertainty in these lands mean domestic politics is likely to weigh more heavily than it did before. New actors and dynamics are introduced complicating predictions and policies. For example, Turkey’s opposition to Security Council resolutions against Iran in 2010 and strains over the Israeli blockade of Gaza in 2011 play more to domestic Turkish opinion and highlight prime minister Erdogan’s wish to play a more assertive, regionally independent role (Alterman and Malka 2012, p. 122). Moreover, as the murder of US ambassador Christopher Stevens in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012 made abundantly clear, US help to topple Qaddafi did not preclude violent Libyan responses. Military bombings by NATO aircraft made the rebel victory possible, signaling a willingness to aid change. But shaping the type of change the US envisioned in Libya has proven altogether different. Congressional leaders, especially Republicans demanded an inquiry and clear attribution of responsibility. No matter how sensible US policy may have been, “in early 2011, the Obama team unceremoniously pushed Hosni Mubarak to give up power in Egypt but appeared reluctant to demand changes from his successors and said little about the resistance to reform in friendly monarchies” (Haass, 2013). Unprepared and thoroughly partisan, American leaders (be it Democrats or Republicans) have yet to articulate a clear vision of what the region means for US interests. To make matters worse, the anemic economic recovery (averaging 1.8 percent during Obama’s five years in office), still high unemployment (at 6.7 percent but roughly 2 percent higher than that of either Bush or Clinton), and the partisan battles over the debt ceiling in 2011 and 2012 have seriously tarnished Obama’s image (Schwartz, 2014). Perhaps more importantly, they have shifted attention to domestic priorities. This much came out of Senator John Kerry’s Senate confirmation hearings as Secretary of State who verified the US top priority would be to get its financial house in order. “Foreign policy is economic policy,” [and] “it is urgent that we show people in the rest of the world that we can get our business done in an effective and timely way” (quoted in Gordon, 2013). Unless politicians

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did something about the domestic fiscal crisis, analysts warned, the post-2020 fiscal outlook would be “downright apocalyptic” (Altman and Haass, 2010). And they continued: “the diminished appeal of the American model of market-based capitalism. Foreign policy is carried out as much by a country’s image as it is by its deeds. And the example of a thriving economy and high living standards based on such capitalism was a powerful instrument of American power, especially during the Cold War, when the American model was competing with Soviet-style communism around the world.” US public opinion takes a similar view. According to a Pew Research Center poll in 2013, foreign policy today is driven largely by domestic concerns (Zurcher, 2013). The top priorities of combatting terrorism, energy independence, and preventing the spread of nuclear weapons are powerfully filtered through what the public views as domestic liabilities. “It is one of many signs of a slow economy and also a considerable degree of intervention fatigue. There is a sense of some disillusionment and maybe also understanding about the limits, as strong as the United States is, to what we can accomplish in the world,” commented Richard Haass (ibid.). It is one of the contradictions of the liberal view: the world craves American recognition, demands US attention, but resents Washington’s interference. Ambiguity and disinterest in national security goals are partly the legacy of post-9/11. They have obscured dramatically the distinction between domestic and national security policy by linking foreign policy to domestic audiences and potential effects (Sarkesian, Williams, and Cimbala, 2008, p. 5). What happens elsewhere still matters but is strongly filtered by domestic priorities and concerns. A Brave New World The day of December 17, 2010, when Mohamed Bouazizi, a vegetable vendor in Tunisia, set himself on fire outside a municipal building, signaled the start of a brave new world. With a speed not seen since communist regimes were toppled in 1989, the whole Middle East was quickly engulfed in turmoil. Several weeks after Ben Ali was deposed in Tunisia, Mubarak suffered a similar fate. Libya was next while Syria, Jordan, Bahrain, and others seemed to follow a similar path. But the collapse of despots has signaled a new beginning although not the one envisioned by a young president in Cairo. The security architecture the US built after the Cold War rested on two pillars: the US-Turkey-Israel and the US-Egypt-Israel partnerships. Both have collapsed for different reasons raising questions about the ability (or willingness) of the US to manage its regional interests. Two elements of this new world are already apparent and in need of careful American examination. First, the ossified Arab power structure has given way to increased Iranian influence. If there is one winner in the aftermath of the Iraq war, it is Iran. Its influence in the post-Saddam world has expanded tremendously. Saddam kept the Iraqi Shiite majority at bay.


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His departure and the US need for political stability in that country have forced US planners to make deals with pro-Iranian elements, such as those allied with Muqtada al-Sadr, to fight against Al-Qaeda forces. Coupled with diplomacy over the thorny issue of Iran’s nuclear capabilities and Shiite support for Bashar alAssad in Syria, it is clear that Iran’s stature in the region is growing stronger. Current inability to deal effectively with the Iranian question, whether it entails robust response to its purported development of nuclear weapons or military intervention in Syria, reflects a more fundamental US problem: the lack of national consensus of broader interests and strategic objectives in the region. President Obama’s infamous “red line” over the use of chemical weapons has highlighted a stark reality: the US is hesitant to proactively shape regional policy according to its interests because it has yet to clearly and definitively articulate its interests. Second, it is becoming increasingly clear that deposing Arab dictators has shaken loose deep, simmering conflicts along two axes. The first axis revolves around Shiite and Sunni Muslims. While the US has not created those cleavages, participants to today’s conflicts seem to align along this dimension. To be sure, there are religious elements to it, but it is fundamentally a political struggle that goes back quite some time. In Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq Shiites are bankrolled by Iranians and Sunnis are supported by the petrodollars of Saudi Arabia thus creating an unhealthy sectarian, proxy struggle. The second axis reveals the existence of numerous local issues. Just like in the immediate days of the post-Cold War era, conflicts that lay dormant because of dictatorial suppression are now free to be played out in the open. Egypt and Libya appear prone to this predicament, while the civil war in Syria also has local dimensions. In Egypt long-simmering issues of repression of the Muslim Brotherhood have created a volatile situation in a society on the brink of civil war. The election of Mohamed Morsi in Egypt signaled a new era of Islamic control; his edict to be exempt from judicial review did not bode well with disillusioned “fighters” of Tahrir Square. Violent demonstrations and his eventual overthrow by a military coup in July 2013 have opened new fissures about the role of the military in democracy, the meaning of elections, fulfilling the dream of increased prosperity for all Egyptians, and the fate of the Coptic minority. More importantly, political uncertainty has hit Egypt’s natural gas production by limiting the inflow of upstream investment (Tagliapietra, 2013). Libya’s regime is desperately trying to keep law and order amidst a radicalized and well-armed populace, impatient and eager for its share of prosperity. Syria has brought to fore many old and new problems. First, the issues created by colonialism, especially the division of ethnic groups along sectarian lines, has reared its ugly head. Alawites are fighting for survival, allied with other Shiites, Kurds, Druze, and Christians. Second, History appears to repeat itself. In 1982, Hafez Assad faced the toughest challenge in his political career; an Islamist insurgency led by the Muslim Brotherhood was met by ruthless killings committed by the Syrian army. In fact in Hama, the epicenter of today’s rioting, Hafez alAssad conducted what became known as the Massacre of Hama. Third, the Syrian

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conflict seems to be used as a proxy war not only between Shiites and Sunnis, but also between Russia and the United States. Hesitation to support rebels for fear of arming al-Qaeda operatives in addition to marked volatility on the ground has led to American inaction. While the US appears to be quietly content to arm rebels, the Russian leadership has openly sought a more prominent role for itself on Syria’s side. On a regional level, Russia has inserted itself in economic affairs by signing an agreement with Ankara in 2011 to build the South Stream natural gas pipeline through Turkey’s exclusive economic zone. It is playing both Turkey, which has come out decidedly against Syria’s Assad, and the Syrian government, which seeks allies against Western involvement in its civil war. With regional actors such as Turkey and the Gulf states committed to undermining Assad, their demands for “American leadership” in providing resources, legitimacy, and political cover threaten to involve Obama in precisely the kind of complex regional conflict from which his administration promised to extricate. If Syria cannot or does not destroy all chemical weapons as promised, there is no guarantee Obama will undertake more robust measures as promised for fear of being dragged into a domestically unpopular, bloody, and long conflict. All this leaves the US-Israel relationship on shaky ground. The common thread in America’s triangular strategic partnerships in the region has been Israel. By fostering Israeli cooperation with Turkey and Egypt, Washington sought leverage and legitimacy in Muslim eyes, increased training and military cooperation to combat terrorism, and enhanced regional stability (Alterman and Malka, 2012, pp. 116–17). In its strategic guidance, the Obama administration reassures: “The United States will … stand up for Israel’s security and a comprehensive Middle East peace. To support these objectives, the United States will continue to place a premium on U.S. and allied military presence in—and support of—partner nations in and around this region” (emphasis in the original; Department of Defense, 2012). Israel’s position vis-à-vis the US is more puzzling than it used to be. On the one hand, Israel has been surprisingly mute about Syria. With a civil war raging north of the border, Islamic fighters possibly pouring in to settle scores and refugees flooding neighboring lands, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s silence is surprising and telling. Israel has decided to follow a policy which is diametrically opposed to that of the US. Netanyahu has adopted a hardline on Iran, a target the US has sought to isolate diplomatically, and silence on Syria, whose regime the US has increasingly vocally criticized. Part of the reason has to do with divergent interests. Israelis fear that wrong words might inflame and unite armed Syrians against their sworn enemy. Sharing a border with Syria, this amounts to inviting trouble. In contrast, Israelis have had a love–hate relationship with Iran (Parsi, 2008). Fear of Iranians developing nuclear capabilities has led Israel to adopt a very hardline position. The US has no such options. A softer line on Iran is part of Washington’s realization it has no leverage to force Iran to abandon its program. Interestingly, the discovery in 2009 and 2010 of the Tamar and Leviathan fields, which collectively hold an estimated 26 trillion cubic feet of natural gas,


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has complicated things. Half of all natural gas consumed in Israel up to 2010 was provided by a pipeline from Egypt (Tagliapetra, 2013, p. 5). Newly discovered riches have brought new allies, Cyprus and Greece, rekindled old maritime disputes with Lebanon, and made relations with Turkey even frostier (Zhukov, 2013). Since 2011 the annual trilateral military exercise Noble Dina has given valuable experience to Israeli forces in protecting offshore drilling platforms against mock air raids and has upgraded the training of Greeks in special force and tactical air operations (Cropsey, 2013). All this could be achieved and still reduce European dependence on Russian hydrocarbons which is an explicit US goal. The latter point is even more urgent given recent developments in Crimea and the rest of the Ukraine. Exploitation of gas fields might potentially become the source of economic prosperity for the region, but it will involve long-term sustained cooperation amidst growing political volatility and security uncertainty. The end result is possible divergence of opinion between the US and Israel, its staunchest ally in the Mediterranean. In the meantime, Greece could (re)discover its importance for US interests in the region. But this will take more than just Greek ingenuity and resolve. The State Department also has to change operationally and institutionally, taking Greece out of the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs into the Near Eastern bureau. Is either country ready for this shift? The Steep Price of Penelope’s Unraveling Despite vital interests in the region, why has the Obama administration not moved more robustly to protect them? I argued domestic reasons shape mostly the Obama response: the legacy of 9/11 has kept America at bay; the administration’s liberal view in addition to domestic recession and political troubles have deflected attention; much like the immediate post-cold war era, local conflicts have surfaced catching everyone by surprise. The Arab Spring did not just rid the region of its ossified power structures. Today’s Eastern Mediterranean has been transformed to a brave new and far more uncertain and dangerous world. The Obama administration not only failed to anticipate events but also missed the opportunity to shape their aftermath. Future administrations will have to revisit American security doctrine. They will be called upon to redefine the country’s interests and clarify the triggers that may give rise to robust, perhaps military, action. But the American public does not appear to care that much, tired of previous adventures and seemingly secure in the belief that decreasing dependence on foreign oil will make the region less important. That is short-sighted because volatility, as the Syrian case suggests, hampers global economic health and that undermines America’s prospects as the global and regional hegemon. And while American hegemony may arguably be less important to policy makers than it used to be, domestic economic prosperity is vital. To return back to Odysseus’s predicament, the Obama administration finds itself before an impossible dilemma. Tired of the long journey home, perhaps disinterested, Odysseus never returns and Penelope is made to pay for her role

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in keeping the suitors at bay. They finally take over, different suitors in different countries, creating instability and uncertainty. In some countries, such as Libya, the dictator may be gone but the outcome is not at all clear or better. In Egypt, there is a tug of war between factions aiming to retain or gain control of the country. In Syria, only bloodshed will determine the outcome. Despite initial euphoria, the Arab Spring has turned on its head. Moreover, the discovery of gas fields has led to shifting alliances and new security architecture. Penelope unraveled and things got worse. America remains hooked on the region’s oil and gas deposits. Odysseus may not like it, but he is stuck having to tend to his riches unappreciated, unwilling, and unsure. For all her flaws, Penelope served the useful purpose of keeping a lid on underlying tensions. Her unraveling, while not Odysseus’s doing, has come at a steep price which successive administrations will be called to pay. References Allison, G.T., 1971. Essence of Decision. Boston: Little, Brown. Alterman, J.B. and Malka, H., 2012. Shifting Eastern Mediterranean Geometry. The Washington Quarterly 35(3), pp. 111–25. Altman, C., and Haass, R.N., 2010. American Profligacy and American Power: The Consequences of Fiscal Irresponsibility. Foreign Affairs 89(6), p. 25. Birkland, T., 2004. The World Changed Today: Agenda-Setting and Policy Change in the Wake of the September 11 Terrorist Attacks. Review of Policy Research 21, pp.179–200. Bueno de Mesquita, B., Smith, A., Siverson, R.M., and Morrow, J.D., 2003. The Logic of Political Survival. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Collins, J.J., 2006. Planning Lessons fromAfghanistan and Iraq. JFQ, 41, 2nd quarter. [online] Available at: [Accessed January 31, 2014]. Cordesman, A., 2004. The “Post-Conflict Lessons” of Iraq and Afghanistan. Center for Strategic and International Studies, [online] Available at: [Accessed February 12, 2014]. Cropsey, S., 2013. Will U.S. Choose the Right side in the Eastern Mediterranean? Hudson Institute, [online] Available at: [Accessed February 12, 2014]. Curry, T., 2013. US Image in World Slips as Conflicts Deflate Obama Euphoria. NBC News, [online] July 4. Available at: [Accessed January 31, 2014]. Department of Defense, 2012. Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense. [pdf] Washington: The White House. Available


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at: [Accessed February 14, 2014]. Fisher, W., 2010. Mubarak’s Critics See Hypocrisy in U.S. Support. Inter Press Service, [online] November 10. Available at: [Accessed May 10, 2012]. Gordon, M.R., 2013. Kerry Links Economics to Foreign Policy. The New York Times, January 24, [online] Available at: [Accessed February 2, 2014]. Haass, R.N., 2013. The Irony of American Strategy: Putting the Middle East in Proper Perspective. Foreign Affairs 92(3). Halperin, M.H., Clapp, P.A., and Kanter, A., 2006. Bureaucratic Politics and Foreign Policy. Washington, DC: Brookings., 2014. Operation Enduring Freedom., [online] Available at: [Accessed January 31, 2014]. Indyk, M., Lieberthal, K, and O’Hanlon, M.E., 2012. Scoring Obama’s Foreign Policy. Foreign Affairs 9 (3), p. 29. Jones, S.G., 2013. The Mirage of the Arab Spring: Deal with the Region You Have, Not the Region You Want. Foreign Affairs 92(1). Lesser, I.O., 2005. Security and Strategy in the Eastern Mediterranean. Athens: Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy. Lizza, R., 2011. How the Arab Spring Remade Obama’s Foreign Policy. The New Yorker, [online] May 2. Available at: [Accessed February 12, 2014]. National Priorities Project, 2014. Cost of National Security. National Priorities Project, [online] Available at: [Accessed January 31, 2014]. Page, S., 2014. Poll: Grim Assessment of Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. USAToday, [online] January 30. Available at: [Accessed January 31, 2014]. Parsi, T., 2008. Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings with Iran, Israel, and the United States. New Haven: Yale University Press. Sarkesian, S.C., Williams, J.A., and Cimbala, S.J., 2008. US National Security: Policymakers, Processes, Priorities. Boulder: Lynne Rienner. Schwartz, N.D., 2014. Economy is Expanding but Obama’s Legacy may be Slipping Away. New York Times, [online] January 30. Available at: [Accessed January 31, 2014]. Tagliapietra, S., 2013. Towards a New Eastern Mediterranean Energy Corridor? Natural Gas Developments between market Opportunities and Geopolitical Risks. Milan: Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.

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Temin, J., 2011. Sudan: The Prospect of Intervention and its Limitations. In: E. Gross, D. Hamilton, C. Major, and H. Riecke, eds, Preventing Conflict, Managing Crisis. Washington DC: Center for Transatlantic Relations, pp. 67–71. The National, 2011. US Gave Material Support to Pro-democracy Groups in Egypt: WikiLeaks. The National, [online] January 28. Available at: [Accessed May 18, 2012]. Welch, D.A., 2005. Painful Choices: A Theory of Foreign Policy Change. Princeton: Princeton University Press. The White House, 2002. The National Security Strategy of the United States of America. [pdf]. Available at: [Accessed January 31, 2014]. The White House, 2009. Remarks by the President on a New Beginning. [press release] June 4, 2014. Available at: [Accessed January 31, 2014]. Zhukov, Y.M., 2013. Trouble in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. Foreign Affairs, [online]. Available at: [Accessed February 2, 2014]. Zurcher, A., 2013. Economic Concerns and War Fatigue Drive US Foreign Policy Attitudes. BBC News, [online] December 3. Available at: [Accessed January 31, 2014].

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Chapter 7

“Smart” Leadership in a Small State: The Case of Cyprus Ilias I. Kouskouvelis1

Introduction In the International Relations literature on small states it has been maintained that they have demonstrated wisdom (Baker Fox, 2006, p. 53), they have responded intelligently to change (Katzenstein, 2006, p. 213), and that, given their flexibility and their adaptability to new and challenging conditions, “small could become a synonym for smart in the post-Cold War era” (Joenniemi, 1998, pp. 61–62). While always keeping in mind that small states remain small in capabilities, we should further consider what the concept of “smart” may add to our understanding of international politics. To this end, I argue that, first, the concept of smartness should be attributed to an actor within the small state, such as a leader, and hence, the personification of the small state should be abandoned; secondly, it should be given a broader meaning than just flexibility (Joenniemi, 1998, p. 62) or adaptability (Katzenstein, 2006, p. 212); and thirdly, as related with persons and capabilities, it is limited in time. More specifically, as smartness has to do with humans and their decisions, we should consider as “smart” a capable and decisive leadership that enables the small state to “punch above its weight,” pursue its objectives, and satisfy its interests against those of stronger actors. To support these suggestions two different and contrasting cases of the Cyprus’s leadership efforts are studied in this work. The first, a bright image, the efforts to discover and exploit the Mediterranean energy resources, is a success story, demonstrating the possibility that a small state can accomplish things well above its power level. The second, a dim image, the mismanagement of the 2013 financial crisis, is the case of leadership’s failure, leading to what is known since Thucydides, that the “weak suffer what they must” (V.89). Both cases have taken place within the same decade, after the entry of Cyprus in the EU, and in a competitive, yet stable regional and international environment. The Republic of Cyprus is a small island state in the Eastern Mediterranean with a population of 862,000, a territory of ​​9,251 kilometers, of which, after the 1974 invasion, 36.2 percent is under Turkish occupation. The island’s geographic position remains an advantage that is of interest to stronger actors (Coufoudakis,


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2006), and the recently discovered natural resources may turn out to be another one. The US Geological Survey estimates that, between Cyprus and Israel, there are 122 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas, while all European Union (EU) countries hold in total combined hold 86.2 trillion (Ellis, 2012). The government of Cyprus announced that the natural gas just in ‘Block’ 12 was estimated to be 5 to 8 trillion cubic feet, with a mean of 7 trillion (O Fileleftheros, 2011a). Its net value was estimated to be 21 billion euros and the business cycle 70 billion, representing 10 percent of the total amount of the gas in the Cyprus’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), with the ability to satisfy the energy needs of Cyprus for the next 200 years (O Fileleftheros, 2011b). Reaching even this point, the discovery of energy resources, was a very difficult task to accomplish, given the hostile opposition of Turkey, the competitive regional environment, the size, and the particular situation of the Republic. It was the result of successive and coherent actions of three long-time and experienced politicians that were initiated by President Glafkos Clerides, developed and implemented by President Tassos Papadopoulos, and completed by President Dimitris Christofias. On the other hand, however, and despite the resources success story, Cyprus has suffered in March 2013 an economic disaster with the eurogroup’s decisions to restructure its banking system. In this case, President Christofias and President Nikos Anastasiadis did not succeed to manage the country’s economic problems, the former being politically unable to deal with the problem when the signs first appeared, and the latter demonstrating lack of preparedness and inability to negotiate and cope with the 10-day crisis that resulted after the eurogroup’s decisions. Next, I will present how the role of leadership in small states is viewed in the specific international relations literature. Then, I will focus on how the Cypriot leadership succeeded in implementing its energy strategy, namely preparing the country institutionally, finding powerful supporters outside the region, dealing with the threatening neighbor, and building regional alliances. Finally, as a contrast to the successful efforts on the energy resources, I will present the leadership’s inability to prevent and to manage the island’s economic crisis. Theory on Small States and their Leadership Theory on small states has shown that they are not just the obscure actors of the international system. They may be lacking in hard power, but they have other means through which they can increase their power. Diplomacy is considered one of their most powerful tools (Keohane, 1969; East, 1973; Hey, 2003) in order to “obtain, commit, and manipulate as far as possible, the power of other, more powerful states in their own interests” (Handel, 1990, p. 257). Another factor that enables a small state “to perform as a resistant rather than vulnerable and active rather than a passive member of the international community” (Vital, 1967, p. 3) is the geographic proximity to areas of conflict and of importance between and to the great powers (Handel, 1990, p. 6). Geographic location may become an

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instrument of influence or their main negotiating card, allowing the small state to link its demands with the interests of the bigger powers. Examples of smaller states wielding bigger influence can be found in the cases of Malta and Iceland (The Economist, 1971). Malta, in its 1971 standoff with the United Kingdom, succeeded in increasing British development assistance by 300 percent in exchange for NATO and United Kingdom bases on the island (Wriggins, 1975; Baldacchino, 2009). Iceland succeeded in winning its 1973 dispute with the United Kingdom on fisheries (a natural resource) by playing the “location” card and highlighting its strategic importance for both the USA and NATO during the Cold War (Ingimundarson, 2003). Besides geographic location, natural resources may also be used by the small state as a bargaining tool to gain advantage. Annette Baker Fox underlines the fact that the demands of great powers over small states “in the past have often had to do with such things as concessions for the exploitation of natural resources or the control over strategic passageways” (Baker Fox, 2006, p. 40–41). As such demands never cease, small states, from their side, may use their goods and services in order to buy consent, gain advantages or build alliances (Baker Fox, 2006, p. 40). Moreover, in the case of small states, leadership may determine their fate. In Small States in World Politics most authors claim that the individual level of analysis is the most important in explaining the foreign policy of small states, and this “is consistent with the other long-standing notion in small state foreign policy research: that most small state foreign policy is the domain of an all-powerful, and often whimsical, leader” (Hey, 2003, p. 191). David Vital suggests that there are leaders whose behavior is determined by their view on the weakness of their state. Yet, there can be “very exceptional men with great intuitive gifts and a marked capacity and readiness for the taking of the risks and for facing powerful opposition,” who are “likely to overcome these disabilities and imbue their colleagues and their public with their own self confidence” (Vital, 1993, p. 33, 38). The importance of leadership in relation to the exploitation of national assets has received attention from relatively few studies. One of them is the work of W. Howard Wriggins on Malta and the role of its leadership in the crisis and negotiations with the United Kingdom. Wriggins finds this case to represent “an example of highly successful bargaining by a small, physically ‘helpless’ country dealing with a major industrialized power” (1975, p. 185), and to confirm that, besides the pre-existing elements of power, the outcome of negotiations is profoundly affected by “the ingenuity and skill with which these elements are marshalled and deployed—or withheld” by the leader (1975, p. 167–168). The case of Cyprus’s leadership efforts to discover and then to exploit its maritime natural resources has some obvious similarities with those of Malta and Iceland, such as their small size and a powerful opponent. Yet, there are two important differences. Cyprus’s difficulties do not arise from a state that is afraid to appear as “bullying” a smaller state—something that, according to Baldacchino, may have influenced the United Kingdom’s behaviour towards Iceland (2009, p. 28). On the contrary, “bullying” is the modus operandi of Turkey towards


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Cyprus; the Republic is facing a state that has invaded it, and which has threatened it repeatedly with the use of force on the resources issue. Besides, it is no longer the Cold War period and no state may use the competition between the two blocks to its advantage. Finally, the case of a small state or of its leadership dealing with its economic problems within the eurozone framework is relatively recent. Research on small states within the EU has not yet dealt with negotiations on any bailout agreement, even though the Cyprus negotiations were preceded by those of Ireland, Portugal, and Greece. What is common, however, with studies on small states and the case of the energy resources is that the Cypriot government has tried to use the perspective of the resources exploitation as a bargaining chip in the bailout agreement negotiations. “Punching Above its Weight”: The Energy Resources A) Institutional Preparation Declassified documents of the Republic of Cyprus show that successive governments have delayed the declaration and delimitation of the EEZ. Since 1987, senior Foreign Ministry officials have been insistently asking from the country’s leadership that action be undertaken to determine the EEZ of Cyprus (Tsouroulis, 2008, p. 1, 16). This happened under the leadership of President Clerides, and especially under President Papadopoulos, who developed and implemented a full strategy that put Cyprus in the energy game. Cyprus began laying the foundations of the strategy to acquire and exploit its Mediterranean energy resources in 2002–2003. It was a moment when two other important processes for the future of the island were under way: negotiations for the entry in the EU, and negotiations under the United Nations to find a solution to the forced division of the island. Cyprus eventually became an EU member (May 1, 2004), but, before that, the Annan Plan was rejected by a referendum (April 24, 2004), constraining the leadership of Cyprus, on the one hand, to have to adapt the country to the demands of being an EU member and prepare it to join the eurozone, and, on the other, to deal with the consequences of the Plan’s rejection. It is in this context that the efforts of the leadership for the energy resources should be assessed. The first agreement on the EEZ delimitation was made with Egypt, a country that traditionally maintains good relations with Turkey and, from 1978 to 1984, had frozen its relations with Cyprus. The signing of the agreement on February 17, 2003 (United Nations, 2003; People’s Daily Online, 2006) was the last act of the Clerides Presidency, and its ratification (March 21, 2003) the first act of the Papadopoulos Presidency (March 1, 2003‒February 29, 2008). After this agreement, Papadopoulos had first imposed secrecy both on the delimitation efforts with other states (Iakovides, 2007, p. 12) and on any details of cooperation

“Smart” Leadership in a Small State: The Case of Cyprus


for the discovery or extraction of the resources. Second, in dealing with neighbors, he exploited Cyprus’s strengthened prestige of the then recent EU accession (New Europe, 2005; Al-Ahram Weekly, 2006). Third, during the summer of 2005, he carefully planned the steps for implementing its strategy. Papadopoulos has also moved fast and efficiently in the adoption and the enactment of all necessary legislation, such as the law proclaiming the Cyprus EEZ (April 2, 2004) and the Hydrocarbons Act of 2004, and the implementation of the tasks resulting from the delimitation agreement. To this end, the Council of Ministers authorized (September 28, 2005) the Minister of Trade to take concrete action (Chatzistylianou, 2007, p. 3). Consequently, the Council of Ministers (December 5, 2005) authorized the signing of an agreement with a Norwegian company for the conduct of a new seismic survey in the Cyprus EEZ, and with a French one for data analysis (Kasinis, 2011, p. 3; Chatzistylianou, 2007, p. 3). The survey was conducted from March to May 2006 and the President was briefed over the findings and the suggested course of action (Petroleum Geo-Services, 2006). Besides determination and speed, discretion characterized the signing of the ΕΕΖ delimitation agreements that followed. Negotiations with Lebanon started on October 10, 2006, and the parties reached a draft agreement (Pantelides, 2011). For its conclusion, the parties kept the utmost secrecy; after receiving a telephone invitation from the Lebanese Prime Minister (Christodoulides, 2007, p. 4), the Foreign Minister of Cyprus, using the ruse of a private journey, flew secretly to Beirut, where he conducted the final negotiations and signed the agreement. It was only then that the EEZ delimitation agreement was revealed (Gregoriou, 2007, p. 35). Papadopoulos has also conducted delimitation talks with Syria. The ambassador of Cyprus in Damascus met with the Minister of Oil and Minerals (August 30, 2007) to discuss the Cypriot proposal. His efforts and the efforts of his successor President Christofias were not successful basically because Syria developed excellent relations with Turkey, and afterwards, in 2011, civil war erupted in Syria. Christofias, following his predecessor’s policy and overcoming past policy perceptions relative to the Jewish state, also continued discussions discretely with Israel and signed an EEZ delimitation agreement with the Israelis (O Fileleftheros, 2010, p .4; Ozerkan, 2010a). Finally, discussions have been undertaken with Libya; however, they were not concluded due to the 2010 Cyprus’s agreement with Israel and to the 2011 events (Cyprus E Directory, 2009; Libya Herald, 2012). Thus, by the end of 2010, Cyprus had succeeded to sign EEZ delimitation agreements with three states (Egypt, Lebanon, and Israel), securing the institutional preconditions for conducting research or future exploitation. Moreover, as the Israeli interest in research was more active, and the results of the research were encouraging (Ministry of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism, n.d), the cooperation between Cyprus and Israel in the energy field brought the two states close to the stage of exploitation and closer in the areas of foreign policy and defense.


The Eastern Mediterranean in Transition

B) Bringing in the Powerful The findings of the 2006 geophysical survey created international interest for Cypriot energy resources. The leadership of Cyprus, acting smartly—without trying to proceed alone and maximizing possible self benefits—used the perspective of gains from a future resources’ exploitation in order to build lasting economic and political alliances with powerful actors. The first interest came from a Russian company (Ust-Luge), whose President visited Nicosia (May 29, 2006) and expressed interest for the building of the land infrastructures and future drilling and exploitation of resources. The Russian interest was reiterated by the Deputy Prime Minister Zhukov in a letter (July 17, 2006) to President Papadopoulos, who, obviously wanting to bring in as many actors as possible, replied that the licensing would proceed in accordance with international standard procedures (Pantelides, 2011). In fact, the Republic of Cyprus has implemented its own strategy in this area too. Once the data survey was completed in the first half of 2006, the government moved in two directions. First, taking into account the developments, it modified, after a series of closed meetings in September and October 2006, the Hydrocarbons Act of 2004 (I Simerini, 2007, p. 2; Official Gazette of the Republic of Cyprus, 2007). Second, it began an organized information campaign for corporate giants and countries in the energy sector, in order to ensure future investors. Officially, the 1st Licensing Round was opened on February 15, 2007, and upon its completion (August 16, 2007) three applications were submitted; of them, only Noble Energy Co. reaffirmed its commitment to cooperate with Cyprus (October 26, 2007) and won the contract. At that time and before leaving office, President Papadopoulos initiated also discussions with the OPEC (I Simerini, 2008, p. 33) and a Cypriot delegation visited the OPEC headquarters in Vienna (March 2008). When Cyprus was very close to the discovery of the gas deposits in “Block” 12, the government announced (November 23, 2011) a second Licensing Round “as another step towards the implementation of the strategy that was developed for the emergence of Cyprus into a regional energy centre” (Minister of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism, 2012). As in the past, the government promoted the 2nd Round in international conferences and exhibitions in the USA, Italy and the United Kingdom. The available “Blocks” were from 1 to 11 and 13. A total of 15 applications for 9 “Blocks” were submitted by 29 companies coming from a the United Kingdom, France, the US, Israel, the Netherlands, Korea, Russia, Malaysia, Italy, Australia, Norway, Canada, Cyprus, Indonesia, and Lebanon (Ministry of Energy, Commerce, Industry and Tourism, 2012). The strategy of Cyprus, which had managed to form a network of relations with key economic actors, created international interest. This is how the press has interpreted the very first visit of a German Chancellor to Cyprus and the messages that she sent to Turkey (O Fileleftheros, 2011c). Russia has also reiterated its interest. In a meeting with President Christofias, the Foreign Minister of Russia expressed the support of Russia to the right of Nicosia for surveys in its EEZ

“Smart” Leadership in a Small State: The Case of Cyprus


(SigmaLive, 2011a). In the Cypriot press, the President is reported as having agreed to grant Russia extraction rights in two “Blocks,” and this was, according to Cypriots, the reason why Russian naval forces appeared in the Cypriot EEZ (Antoniadou, 2011, p. 44) when Turkish warships tried to monitor Cypriot drilling activities. Cyprus sought support from the United States and the Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs met with her American counterpart (O Fileleftheros, 2011d). Soon after, the State Department appointed a regional officer for energy matters in the Nicosia US Embassy (SigmaLive, 2012a). Finally, in its effort to obtain support from the EU, the Cypriot government stressed the possible advantages that the EU may have from its energy plans. It underlined both the increased energy needs of Europe and the amount of hydrocarbon reserves in the Republic’s continental shelf and the EEZ; as stated, “the exploitation and utilization of these stocks can significantly enhance energy security, particularly in the EU” (O Fileleftheros, 2012a). C) Managing Hostility To the planning and the implementation of Cyprus’s energy policy, Turkey reacted with threats, extortion towards the parties, and “complaints” in international organizations, where it even tried to appear as the victim. After the agreement with Lebanon, the Foreign Minister of Turkey submitted written and verbal protests to the Lebanese government (Hurriyet Daily News, 2007a), and asked from Egypt and Lebanon not to engage in initiatives that would hurt the attempt to find a solution in Cyprus (Manousopoulou, 2007a, p. 5). Then Turkey turned first to Syria, in order to avert the signing of an agreement with Cyprus, and, second, tried to avert the 1st Licensing Round. The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the “international tender will adversely affect the peace and stability on the Island of Cyprus, as well as in the Eastern Mediterranean region,” and that “countries and companies that might be interested in conducting oil and gas exploration in the region” should “refrain from actions which may harm the search for a comprehensive settlement” in Cyprus (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2007). Pressure was also exerted on Egypt, requesting the Minister of Petroleum not to participate in the ceremony of the 1st Licensing Round. Eventually, the Minister participated and promised close cooperation with Cyprus, but Turkey reminded Egypt that the Arab pipeline gas project was expected to be accomplished through Turkey in 2009–2010 (Hurriyet Daily News, 2007b). Cyprus denounced Turkey simultaneously at the UN and the EU (Manousopoulou, 2007b, p. 3), and the President visited Athens in order to secure external support (Hurriyet Daily News, 2007c). Cyprus has also threatened to block Turkey’s accession negotiations with the EU, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs presented his government’s views to the Commissioner for Enlargement, to the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, as well as to leaders in the European Parliament. Eventually, Cyprus’s initiatives paid off and


The Eastern Mediterranean in Transition

led to the EU’s support of its sovereign rights to conduct research and extraction of hydrocarbons (Hurriyet Daily News, 2007d). The United Kingdom sent a clear message to Turkey over the energy resources. The spokesman of the Foreign Office stated that “the legal personality of the Republic of Cyprus and its rights, under international law, can not be questioned” (Antoniou, 2007). Also, a US spokesman stated that Cyprus as a sovereign state has the right to seek bids for the exploration of oil and natural gas within its EEZ, despite the opposition of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots. These statements did not go unnoticed in the Turkish press, where it was noted that the energy dispute with Cyprus was impacting negatively on Turkey’s relationship with the EU (Yinanc, 2007). Despite the political and diplomatic reactions, Turkey went on to use its military might and harassed ships conducting research on behalf of Cyprus (November 12, 2008). Cyprus reported the Turkish provocations to the United Nations, to the five permanent members of the Security Council, to the President of the European Commission, and to the European Council. Turkey, however, continued on November the 19, 21, and 24, 2008 (Press and Information Office, 2011), leading to a formal reaction from the US as one of the research vessels was partially owned by Americans (Papadopoulos, 2008, p. 15). Despite the reactions, the harassment of research vessels went on. This time Commissioner Olli Rehn stated that Cyprus, as a sovereign state, may conclude agreements with third countries for its EEZ, provided that they respect the EU acquis and international law (SigmaLive, 2009). Turkey also tried to prevent Lebanon from ratifying its 2007 and 2008 agreements with Cyprus. While on an official visit to Cyprus (October 21, 2010), the Lebanese Prime Minister spoke of his country’s intention to ratify the agreements, when the differences on the EEZ delimitation between Lebanon and Syria were solved (Saadhariri). The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs leaked to the press its discontent and reminded that “Greek Cyprus cannot strike deals that concern the interests of the whole island,” and the Lebanese friends “will take this into consideration” (Ozerkan, 2010b). At the end of 2010 Turkey declared that it had rights and interests in the region. (Hurriyet Daily News, 2010). It again warned neighboring countries that supporting the Cypriot moves would have consequences in the Cyprus negotiations (Hurriyet Daily News, 2011a), and it attempted to stop Cyprus to proceed with research (Küçükkoşum, 2011). Cyprus presented a formal protest to the UN and the EU, and requested from the latter to activate the mechanisms for the support and expression of solidarity to a threatened member state (SigmaLive, 2011b). It stressed that the EU had an obligation to act towards preventing any crisis provoked by Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean, and that this was a matter concerning the EU and its vital interests in the energy sector (I Kathimerini, 2011). Then, Turkey moved on to an illegal agreement of delimiting the continental shelf with the so-called “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus,” so as to carry out research into the area between itself and the northern coast of Cyprus (Hurriyet

“Smart” Leadership in a Small State: The Case of Cyprus


Daily News, 2011b). The Turkish Prime Minister threatened international oil and gas firms working on exploration activities with Cyprus with blacklisting, thus excluding them from participating in energy projects in Turkey. Turkey warned that the next step was to start exploring oil and gas off the coast of “Northern Cyprus” (Peker, 2011). Finally, Turkey tried again its military muscle and sent a research vessel and warships in the Cypriot EEZ (Natural Gas Europe, 2011), in order “to protect Turkish interests” (Yezdani, 2011). This bellicose behavior caused tension in the region and reactions on the part of Israel, the US, and the EU. The US Secretary of State made known to the Turkish Foreign Minister that the US “supports Cyprus’s right to explore for energy” and “doesn’t believe that (this) should undermine or interfere with the talks.” The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy urged Turkey to refrain from any kind of threat against Cyprus. The Commissioner for Enlargement and EU Neighborhood said that Turkey’s policy toward Cyprus in the Eastern Mediterranean was “irresponsible and needs to be condemned,” and Cyprus has the right to search for natural resources within its EEZ, and can conclude agreements with third countries for hydrocarbon exploration; he added that threats are not an option when it comes to solving problems between neighbours (Kucukosum and Yezdani, 2011). Moreover, the EU Council gave an explicit warning, urging Turkey to avoid “any kind of threat or action directed against a Member State, or source of friction or actions” and stressing the sovereign rights of EU Member States “to explore and exploit their natural resources” (Council of the European Union, 2011, p. 15). Turkey’s reaction to the announcement of the 2nd Licensing Round was initiated in the familiar way. The Foreign Ministry spoke of a “unilateral step, which is both irresponsible and provocative, taken by the Greek Cypriots despite all warnings,” and maintained that “certain sections of some of these blocks namely the so-called 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th blocks are overlapping with Turkey’s continental shelf areas in the Eastern Mediterranean”. It has warned that Turkey “will not allow under any circumstances foreign oil companies to conduct unauthorized oil/ natural gas exploration and exploitation activities in these overlapping areas and will take all necessary measures to protect its rights and interests in the maritime areas falling within its continental shelf” (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2012). As in the past, it has also threatened that companies cooperating with Cyprus in offshore oil and gas searches would not be allowed to participate in Turkish energy projects (Hurriyet Daily News, 2012a). Moreover, the National Security Council of Turkey discussed the creation of a naval force (“Mediterranean Shield”), based on the port of Ceyhan, in order to strengthen its naval presence in the region and break the axis between Israel and Cyprus (Athanasopoulos, 2012). Faced with the aggressive behavior of Turkey, Presidents Papadopoulos and Christofias kept throughout these years a firm position. At the same time they solidified the right of Cyprus to its resources and avoided any type of incident that would give Ankara the possibility to escalate to its own benefit.


The Eastern Mediterranean in Transition

D) Building Alliances and Bridges As cooperation between Israel and Cyprus was strengthened, and as the Turkish–Israeli relations were deteriorating, Israel’s cooperation with Cyprus has expanded to the political and defense areas. President Christofias visited Israel and met with his counterpart. The two Presidents agreed that the geographic proximity of Cyprus and Israel should lead to a close political cooperation, while Israel’s President said that the present situation in Cyprus was “not a matter of choice but of coercion” (O Fileleftheros, 2011e). In October 2011, the President of Israel Shimon Peres reciprocated the visit, and, progressively, Israel expressed its support to issues of Cypriot interest. The culmination of these high level contacts was the defense cooperation between Cyprus and Israel. Cyprus and Israel signed an agreement on defense cooperation and another on protection and exchange of classified information (O Fileleftheros, 2012b). Moreover, a “commitment” was made public by the Greek, Cypriot and Israeli power companies for an underwater link between Israel, Cyprus and Greece (O Fileleftheros, 2012c). After the announcement of the 2nd Licensing Round, the Prime Minister of Israel visited Nicosia. Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was exploring the possibility of building a joint pipeline with Cyprus to export some of the offshore gas deposits to Europe and Asia (Hurriyet Daily News, 2012b). Israel and Cyprus then signed a “Search and Rescue” agreement—reaching a total of 11 agreements—authorizing the two countries to enter the airspace of each other in the event of disaster (The Jewish Press, 2012; Keinon, 2012). Netanyahu’s visit was followed by that of his Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman. His purpose was the conclusion of agreements on joint development and exploitation of hydrocarbon reserves in the respective EEZs and, especially, on exporting gas and creating a common terminal in Cyprus or Israel. Most important, it was reported that he also discussed the possibility of creating a regional alliance for search and rescue, which would include Israel, Cyprus, Greece, Romania and Bulgaria (Keinon, 2012; O Fileleftheros, 2012d). Besides building a defense alliance, Cyprus functioned as a “bridge builder” (Mosser, 2001, p. 71). First, its cooperation with Israel opened the way for cooperation between Greece and Israel. The Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou visited Israel for the first time since its recognition from Greece, at a time when the relations between Turkey and Israel continued to deteriorate (Keinon, 2010). Ever since then, the relations between the two states have improved with the Israeli Prime Minister visiting Athens (Keinon, 2011a), and the heads of states respectively visiting Tel Aviv (Keinon, 2011b) and Athens (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2012). The establishment of trilateral defense cooperation between Greece, Cyprus and Israel was sealed with a two-day official visit of Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak in Athens, with reciprocal visits of Greek and Israeli officials (Athens News, 2011; Haaretz, 2012; Ronen, 2012; O Fileleftheros, 2012e), with the signing of memoranda of cooperation in the

“Smart” Leadership in a Small State: The Case of Cyprus


fields of security and common training, and with common exercises of the armed forces (Katz, 2012). Second, Cyprus tried to act as a bridge-builder between Lebanon and Israel. According to the Lebanese, the Cyprus–Israel 2010 memorandum of cooperation for surveying and mapping joint energy projects violates their maritime rights. On this issue, Lebanon informed the UN Secretary General and maintained that the delimitation presented by Israel to the UN violates the Lebanese EEZ (Gregoriou, 2011), while Cyprus has been asked to support Lebanon’s request at the UN (The Daily Star, 2012a). In this situation Cyprus played the card of its 2012 EU presidency. President Christofias said “that he would continue to seek an equitable solution for the maritime border zone dispute between the regional states” during the EU presidency (The Daily Star, 2012b). Finally, Cyprus, while making new friends, tried to maintain its bridges with its old friends from the Arab world, who, given the agreements with Israel, have expressed certain concerns. In 2012, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Erato Kozakou-Markoulli spoke of Cyprus as becoming the “neutral ground” of the Eastern Mediterranean, where the interests of the Eastern Mediterranean states could meet in order to better exploit their natural resources for the benefit of all. She specified that Cyprus did not see its relations with Israel as competing with its relations with the Arabs, that Cyprus sought balanced or symmetrical relations with all sides, and that its position on Palestine has not been differentiated at all since 1988, when it had recognized Palestine (SigmaLive, 2012b). The Cyprus Bailout Crisis While Cyprus has been moving towards the exploitation of its Mediterranean energy resources, the entire world has been informed that Cyprus has collapsed economically. How did this happen? The causes of the economic collapse are multiple. Admittedly, the first cause is the banking sector of Cyprus, whose size was considered disproportionate to its GDP, exceeding it by seven times (Buttonwood, 2013; BBC News, 2013a). For the last two decades all governments have allowed the banking sector grow in an uncontrolled manner. The banks placed the surplus funds in the construction field or in high risk investments, and funded the increase of consumption through loans. Still, this model of development was not questioned for as long as there were no borrowing needs from the state and the banks and the economy looked healthy and performing. The second cause relates with the expansion of the public sector and government spending by the Christofias government. In 2007, the last year of the Papadopoulos presidency, Cyprus had a surplus of €537 million or 3.5 percent of its GDP, the public debt has been reduced to 59.5 percent and public spending to 43 percent of the GDP. Only three years later, in 2010, the budget deficit was €926.1 million or 5.3 percent of its GDP, with the public debt increasing to


The Eastern Mediterranean in Transition

60.8 percent (€10.619 million) and public spending to 46.6 percent of the GDP (SigmaLive, 2011c). This situation was aggravated by an accident, the explosion at the Mari naval base, which in the midst of the tourist season of the 2011 summer, dismantled the energy base of Cyprus, and led to a further increase of the budget deficit and the public sector’s financing needs (European Investment Bank, 2012; SigmaLive, 2011c). The third reason is the economic crisis in Greece and the “haircut” of Greek bonds to which the Cypriot banks were exposed. This resulted in their losing about 4 to 5 billion euros, with the government of Cyprus not claiming protective measures for its banks similar to those adopted for the Greek situation (Famagusta Gazette, 2012). Finally, the last domestic cause is the long election campaign period, the political inability of Christofias to run for a second presidential term (I Simerini, 2012, p. 1), and the foreseen governmental change. In this context, the prospect of losing power, the Democratic Party’s departure from the governmental coalition, the ideological opposition of the government to adopt decisive and unpopular economic measures, plus the lack of political legitimacy to do so at the end of the presidential mandate, led Christofias to inaction in addressing any early, yet clear, warnings regarding the upcoming danger. Thus, Christofias, who had a strategy with regard to energy resources, did not have one for dealing with the economic crisis. To these domestic causes one should add the behavior of the eurozone’s stronger economic states, particularly that of Germany. These states’ fatigue in dealing with the economic crisis of their partners in the South, their fears for a potential spread of the crisis to other countries, and Germany’s election period, has led them to the adoption of sometimes arrogantly stringent lending conditions for their partners in need and to methods that were largely perceived as experimental (Peston, 2013; Mason, 2013). It is in this context that negotiations for the bailout of Cyprus started at the meeting of the eurozone’s Finance Ministers on March 15, 2013, leading to a 10-day crisis and to the economic disaster of Cyprus. During this 10-day period Nikos Anastasiadis and his government made a series of crisis management errors. Above all, the new government was completely unprepared, having no strategy at all. Government officials have publicly argued that the President, who took office on March 1, 2013, had little time to prepare in order to face the crisis (Cyprus Mail, 2013a). Yet, the economic situation of the island was well known to him as it was the main issue of the electoral campaign, and Anastasiadis had even pledged that he would never accept the “haircut” of deposits (I Kathimerini, 2013). In any event, the messages about the intentions of the eurozone’s more powerful members regarding the imposition of a levy on deposits had been flagged since 2012, including the new government since it took office. It is certain that the President was aware specifically of these intentions at March 14, 2013 European Council, one day before the eurogroup’s crucial meeting and there was no reaction at all (Cyprus Mail, 2013a).

“Smart” Leadership in a Small State: The Case of Cyprus


According to the relevant theory one should not enter negotiations without having an exit strategy (Kousoulas, 1985, p. 115), without any allies, and without in this case, given the presidential nature of the Republic’s political system, the agreement of the political forces so as to have a minimum of domestic support. None of this happened and the Cypriot side was put in a position where it had to decide before the dawn of March 16 whether to tackle the popular discontent of taxing all citizens or just those that had large deposits (Cyprus Mail, 2013b). Eventually, the Cypriot leadership chose to tax all the depositors from the first euro, thus losing the support of all inside the country and abroad (BBC News, 2013b). As for the political and economic leadership of the EU and the International Monetary Fund, they were aware of the “smallness” of Cyprus, and they adopted a very tough tactic (“bullying” behavior) (Cyprus Mail, 2013b) and eventually a draconian solution (Traynor, et al., 2013), quite far from the spirit of solidarity between EU member states. The approach adopted by the EU was one that was influenced by the knowledge that Cyprus needed cash and was short on allies. They felt that they had to do with a new President, ideologically closer to their views than the previous one, and having a very recent popular mandate. Thus, even though the size of the Cypriot economy is small compared to that of the eurozone and a different solution could be found, they tied the bailout with the “moral issue”: the lender is punished for recklessness and the debtor for living beyond his means (Buttonwood, 2013). Yet, the eurozone leadership did not take into account both the popular reactions and the presidential nature of the system in Cyprus, namely that MPs voting against the agreement would not find themselves faced with the spectre of elections. Following this decision, the leaders of Cyprus, moving within extremely pressing timeframes, continued without any plan, without addressing the situation calmly. The President, overestimating his domestic political influence, made a dramatized public address, inviting the Parliament to vote for the agreed bailout plan. Yet, this was another miscalculation, as his party did not have the majority of the MPs. The Parliament on March 17, 2013 has turned down the agreement unanimously, with the President’s party abstaining (BBC News, 2013c). Then a new series of efforts began in order to deal with the situation, efforts that came to be known as the “plan B,” whose main ingredient was Cyprus resorting to Russia. In fact, as there was no “plan A,” there was no “plan B” either. These efforts were based on the misreading by the Cypriot leadership of the international environment and especially of the possible role of Russia, which the leadership expected would come to the rescue of Cyprus, and on the overestimation of the energy resources’ value as a bargaining chip (Higgins, 2013). The misreading of the potential assistance from Russia concerns the true intentions and the tradeoffs that this country could have demanded for providing its financial support. Regarding the intentions, the Cypriot government had not determined whether Russia was interested to save the Cypriot banks or it was planning other ways to gain control over its citizens’ deposits in Cyprus. Neither had it determined whether Russia wanted, on the one hand, to disappoint a strong energy, trade and


The Eastern Mediterranean in Transition

occasionally political partner, such as Germany, or, on the other, to set aside its own energy policy priorities which are oriented towards the regions of Asia and not the Mediterranean. As for the trade-offs, the Anastasiadis government should have had calculated in advance whether Cyprus could afford to meet any Russian request to grant military facilities on the island. Thus, the Cypriot Minister of Finance made a trip to Moscow and came back empty handed (Reuters, 2013a). The result of this tragic management of the crisis, which began with the meeting of the eurogroup on March 15–16 and concluded at its meeting on 24–25 (Reuters, 2013b; Baker, 2013), is a tougher bailout agreement, which put an end to the country’s banking system, sank the economy into a long period of depression, and annihilated most of the gains earned with the strategy on the Mediterranean energy resources. It is a result which is due not only to the smallness of Cyprus, but also to the lack of leadership. Christofias did not take as early as possible the necessary measures in order to deal with the public deficit, and Anastasiadis, although he should have been prepared, did not have a strategy and made all possible mistakes in the negotiations within the EU and the management of the subsequent crisis. Conclusion It was not before the year 2003 that the leadership of the Republic of Cyprus has started conceiving a strategy for discovering and exploiting the energy resources of the then inexistent Cypriot EEZ. And it was not before 2006, under the Presidency of Papadopoulos, that this strategy and its tactics were fully unfolded. Cyprus, although small, has become the first state in the Eastern Mediterranean to pursue the discovery and exploitation of the maritime energy resources, thus opening the way for similar policies by other coastal and stronger states of the region, such as Egypt and Israel. The first task of this study was to demonstrate the importance of the leadership for a small state and suggest that the qualification “smart,” proposed earlier in the literature, should be attributed to leadership rather than to the small state, and it should be given broader meaning than just “flexibility” (Joenniemi, 1998, p. 62). To accomplish this task the study enquired how in the post-Cold War international system the leadership of a small state suffering occupation and facing the strenuous opposition of a neighbouring stronger power, and without any previous domestic or international institutional arrangements or alliances, succeeded in implementing its strategy. The successive leaders of Cyprus, in less than 10 years, led their country to be very close to start exploiting its resources. Additionally, they have succeeded for Cyprus: to upgrade its international prestige by attracting the support of bigger powers; to enhance its relative position within the EU as a possible gas producer; to enhance its security because of the invested interests of foreign actors; to enhance its defense, particularly after Israel’s involvement and their agreements; as a

“Smart” Leadership in a Small State: The Case of Cyprus


consequence, to find valuable allies within the United States and better its relations with the superpower; and, to face the threats and the bellicose behaviour of Turkey. The second task of the study was to enquire why the Republic’s strategy, up to now, has succeeded. The explanation advanced is that success is due to the (small) state’s leadership. Three consecutive Presidents from three different political parties have dealt with this issue and, to a varying degree, all three maintained the same attitude of engagement towards the aim of implementing their state’s strategy. Clerides is credited with the start-up of the delimitation agreements, right at the end of his mandate. Papadopoulos gets most of the credit for the tasks that were accomplished in the field of energy. In his five-year term a full strategy was elaborated, another delimitation agreement was signed and two more were initiated, all necessary legislation has been adopted, the geological surveys and the 1st Licensing Round have been completed, and strong international players have been invited. Christofias, a President with a communist ideological background, has shown pragmatism and is credited with the continuation of his predecessor’s policy, the delimitation and defense agreements with Israel, the management of the Turkish hostility, and the completion of the 2nd Licensing Round. The leadership’s smartness was to act decisively on the basis of a strategy, be determined not to be influenced from external opposition, to act discretely and flexibly when necessary, and without prejudice due to past perceptions or grievances with their Mediterranean neighbors. The leadership’s main actions were four: to respond fast and efficiently to any domestic or international institutional necessity that was dependent upon the government’s work; to attract and to bring into play powerful actors in the energy sector and in international politics; to use its diplomacy and its membership in international institutions in order to obtain support against the Turkish aggressiveness; to build political, economic and military alliances (external balancing) with those neighbors who were in pursuit of energy resources, particularly Israel. The results of these actions, especially the cooperation with a company of American interests, the support of the US, the United Kingdom and the EU to Cyprus on this issue, and the multifaceted cooperation with Israel in the pursuit of the Mediterranean energy resources mark a relative shift of the Cyprus foreign policy, which, since its independence, was rather favoring its relations with the Arab states of the region and avoiding pro-Western commitments. Obviously, such a relative shift forms the basis for further realignments in the region, with the alliance between Greece and Israel being just one of them. Having shown how the leadership of a small state may bargain with its assets and how it may deal successfully with stronger powers, the last task was to demonstrate a contrario the importance of the lack of leadership in a small state, or, in fact, in any state. This was done by presenting the causes that led progressively to the economic and bailout crisis, and particularly its failed management. In this case, the Cypriot leadership’s space of maneuver was determined by the state and the banking sector financial needs, created over time by the wrong political and management decisions. Yet, these needs were known and were much smaller in the


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summer of 2012, not to ignore the fact that they were inexistent earlier. The Cypriot leadership, contrary to the way it handled the Mediterranean energy resources issue, did not take the necessary measures immediately as it should have, did not search for allies when or where it should, and did not have a negotiations strategy or an alternative plan in case things did not go as planned. Overall, there are two images for the very same small state, one of success and one of failure. The small state did not change, however. What has changed is the way its successive leaders have handled the two issues. In the first they have been proven capable, permitting their state to accomplish a task above its power level. In the second they have failed. Thus, the qualification of “smart,” which for years is attributed by the literature to the small state, should be used to describe and qualify its leadership. Notes 1 The author thanks Styliani Gerani, Revecca Pedi, and Anthony Montgomery for research assistance and their comments.

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Chapter 8

Structure over Agency: The Arab Uprising and the Regional Struggle for Power Raymond Hinnebusch

Introduction The debate over the relative power of agency and structure is a perennial one in social science, reflected in IR, by that between realists who see states as trapped in unending anarchic patterns and those who accord more agency to states and movements to reshape structure. The Arab spring was widely celebrated as a triumph of agency over structure, of social movements spectacularly overthrowing long-entrenched dysfunctional structures. It was thought that democratization of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) could usher in a democratic peace, while the overthrow of client regimes could break the region’s debilitating dependency on the US (Freeman, 2011). However, three years into the Uprising, inherited structure—the “deep state,” historic identity cleavages, regional power balances, and enduring dependencies on the global “core”—appeared to have defeated the most powerful attempts in decades to transform regional politics. The longer term impact may turn out to be quite different, as revolutions often take many decades to play out; however, for the immediate term, the path dependency generated by structural residues looked set to sharply constrain agency. This chapter will analyze how the interaction of agents and structure shaped outcomes visible three years after the start of the Uprising. Dimensions of the Middle East Regional Power Struggle The Uprising erupted within a regional system characterized by enduring and endemic power struggles. These struggles ultimately arose from the insecurity deeply embedded in MENA by the Western imposition of a flawed states system after the fall of the Ottoman empire. In creating many “artificial” states violating trans-state identity, this fostered irredentism, making neighboring states threats to each other, and propelling their pursuit of military capabilities and alliances to defend their precarious sovereignty. Further, the regional system was embedded in a trans-state “public sphere” shaped by supra-state Arab and/or Islamic identity,


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with which weak states had to compete for the loyalties of their populations; this, combined with porous, often artificial, borders vulnerable to ideological penetration, encouraged inter-state discourse wars and subversion (Barnett, 1998). In parallel, MENA’s exceptional external penetration (Brown, 1984), manifest in the persistence of Western client regimes and economic dependency, stimulated periodic attempts by aspirant regional hegemons—Nasser’s Egypt, Khomeini’s Iran, Saddam’s Iraq—to challenge the regional status quo. Such efforts to unify the region against the West came roughly every decade after independence; just as regularly, they were turned back by some combination of regional anti-hegemonic balancing and external intervention (Hinnebusch, 2013). The main variation in the power struggle was in the instruments by which it was conducted and this was chiefly a function of variations in state consolidation: in times of state weakness, propaganda wars aimed to de-legitimize rival regimes and alliances, with resulting waves of instability reshuffling the power balance. These struggles were punctuated, in periods when arms races and rents empowered stronger states and upset power balances, by periodic wars in which bids for regional hegemony were made and defeated (Hinnebusch, 2003, pp. 73–90). Against this endemic revisionism, structure gradually hardened: internally, state apparatuses deployed rent to co-opt and divide society and reduce permeability; at the regional level, four or five regional powers, embedded in a multi-polar system, balanced against and blunted threats from irredentist neighbors (Walt, 1987). At the same time, the need of weak, often client, states for protection by an external global patron (David, 1991) enabled global powers to deploy material resources—bolstering clients, intervention against foes—to defeat MENA revisionist projects (Lustick, 1997). The paradox of the MENA region is that, even though instability was built into the fabric of the states system at its birth, making it highly vulnerable to challenge by revisionist agency, structure also proved highly resilient in turning back such challenges, with the fragmenting boundaries still intact and the conflicts and dependence they generated still seemingly intractable nearly a century later. However, the Arab Uprising, a deep and widespread revolt against the regional order, seemed to have the potential to sweep away many of these structural constraints. In destabilizing key Arab states, it partly reversed the state consolidation process of decades, making many states more penetrable by transstate discourse, often deployed by rival regional powers or by newly empowered trans-state movements. As regimes collapsed in some states, while others were left standing, the regional power balance, notably between the region’s two rival “moderate” and “resistance” coalitions, seemed on the verge of a radical shift. Even changes in the Post-WWI imposed boundaries seemed thinkable. But the actual outcome has been to intensify, without transforming, the traditional power struggle.

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The Uprising: Reshuffling the Regional Power Cards? Prior to the Uprising, regional order was being contested, in what was called the “New Arab Cold War” (Valjborn and Banks, 2007), by two main opposing coalitions. A pro-Western “moderate” axis led by Sunni Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and tacitly including Israel, supported Washington’s effort to impose a “Pax Americana” in the region. Iran led the opposing “Resistance” axis, heavily but not exclusively Shia, including Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas, against US regional hegemony. The regional balance was shifting toward the latter owing to the decline of the stature of Egypt and Saudi Arabia after their failure to stand against Israel in the Lebanon (2006) and Gaza (2009) wars; the tilt of Turkey and Qatar toward the resistance axis in these wars; and the US pull-back from Iraq and Lebanon, leaving them under Iranian influence. The leaders of the resistance bloc—Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah—were far more popular among Arab publics than their counterparts in US-aligned regimes. The immediate effect of the Uprising was to reshuffle the rivals in the power struggle into one of two categories, players or prizes of the struggle. Three regional powers, Saudi Arabia with the Gulf Cooperation Council, Iran and Turkey, emerged from the first half year of the Uprising with the potential agency to affect outcomes—significant material and soft power and sufficient invulnerability to the uprising. Two previous major players, Egypt and Syria, were the main prizes in this contest: while Syria’s collapse into a failed state cost it the hard-won agency of decades, the potential for Egypt was that it would throw off its debilitating dependency on the US and resume its historic Pan-Arab leadership. Bahrain, though tiny, was also crucial since overthrow of the Sunni monarchy in a Shia uprising could spread Shia revolt to the rest of the Gulf and empower Iran. Lesser prizes included Tunisia, Libya and Yemen, but also Iraq and Lebanon, where unconsolidated regimes and fragmented societies were highly vulnerable to external penetration. The post-Uprising struggle for power largely took the form of “competitive interference” in which rival powers sought to shift the internal power struggle inside the Uprising states so as to bring to power (or prevent the fall of) friendly forces, hence to expand (or protect) their alliances and spheres of influence. The Uprisings precipitated three-cornered domestic struggles among weakened state establishments and their associated crony capitalists, revolutionary youth, with their internet and street prowess, and Islamic movements best positioned to mobilize votes or armed men, each with distinct foreign policy and alliance preferences. In the first two years or so of the Uprising, mobilized publics had greater capacity to decide between these rival actors, but as new hybrid regimes or failed states thereafter emerged and publics fragmented along identity lines—Sunni vs. Shia and Islamists vs. secularists—rival elites or warlords largely used the masses in their power struggles.


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The Trans-State Ideological Struggle: Unleashing Identity Fragmentation The first regional manifestation of the Uprising was the unleashing of a transstate ideological struggle. The powerful contagion effect of the Arab Uprising showed the continuing exceptional permeability of the Arab states (Phillips, 2011). So did the waging of the power struggle via trans-state discourse wars, with the balance of soft power in the Arab/Islamic public space affecting states’ ability to destabilize rivals and win over allies. As states were weakened, transstate movements, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah and Al Qaeda that also had mass organizing and/or asymmetric warfare capabilities, become more important players in the regional power struggle. The relocation of media power from state controlled media to Gulf-financed satellite TV and the social media deployed by Westernized, often-expatriate, youth shifted the soft power balance against the Resistance Axis; while the Axis had benefited from the al-Jazeera effect when Qatar was aligned with it in the 2000s, after Qatar switched sides, it actively encouraged revolution in the republics (Hijjawi, 2011). The resistance axis narrative in which the main enemies of the Arabs/Muslims were US imperialism and Israel gave way to the claim that their enemies were repressive Arab regimes and later Iran and the Shiites. While the civil wars unleashed in Iraq and Lebanon in the 2000s by George W. Bush Jr.’s policies had seemed to discredit externally driven democratization, the demands of the youth movements in the Uprising were chiefly for democracy and freedom from repressive regimes (Tamlali, 2011). The Uprising marginalized the former discourse of anti-imperialism and anti-Zionism. Uprisings against the republican regimes created by the earlier Arab nationalist revolutions, notably in Syria, Arabism’s traditional heartland, and also the once unthinkable embrace by a major portion of Arab opinion of Western intervention under the banner of “responsibility to protect,” marked the eclipse of traditional Arab nationalism. Had the Uprising democratized the individual Arab states, enabling citizens to identify with them as “theirs,” hence reducing their need for a supra-state identity, this could have marked its final death; however, in the hybrid or failed states that actually resulted loyalties were more fractured than ever. Islamic identity filled the vacuum but it also was splintered and its rival variants unequally empowered. The main initial beneficiary was the Muslim Brotherhood whose electoral prowess, backed by Qatari money and media and Turkish support, propelled its simultaneous rise toward the levers of power in several states. In parallel, Saudi Arabia fostered conservative Salafis in Egypt and Syria. Deepening sectarian cleavages were opened by Riyadh’s use of Salafism against Iran as part of their geo-political struggle and the use of sectarian solidarity by the Syrian and Bahraini regimes against their uprisings. By the second year of the Uprising, sectarian conflicts were spreading insecurity and defensive sectarian solidarity in Lebanon, Syria, Bahrain, Yemen and Iraq. An initial main casualty of the Uprising was the unparalleled soft power formerly enjoyed by Hizbollah in the Arab world. Its support for the Assad regime

Structure over Agency


allowed rivals to depict it as a sectarian Shia movement serving Iranian interests; iconic was the burning of Hezbollah flags by anti-regime activists in Syria where Hezbollah had hitherto enjoyed vast popularity for its successes against Israel. Hamas, as a result of the Syrian uprising, could not retain its Sunni constituency without breaking with the Resistance Axis but, losing Syrian and Iranian support made it dependent on the pro-Western axis and with the fall of Morsi in Egypt, it was left adrift (Mohns and Banks, 2012). Al Qaeda’s revolutionary and anti-imperialist version of Pan-Islamism was initially marginalized by the peaceful overthrows of dictators, especially when its new leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri, denounced the principle of majority rule, defying the yearning of Muslim populations for democracy. In compensation, it enjoyed new opportunities in the failing states of Libya, Yemen and Syria, where, however, it faced competition from the Muslim Brotherhood and Saudi-sponsored Salafis. The empowering of Al Qaeda’s many avatars, as well as several Kurdish movements, operating across and contemptuous of borders in failing states no longer enjoying territorial control, such as Syria, Iraq and Libya, showed how porous were the regional states’ “artificial” boundaries and again raised the issue of their permanence; however, regimes continued, with external backing, to fight back against these highly revisionist and centrifugal forces. The Third Regional Cold War: Saudi–Iranian Mutual Counter-balancing While the “Second Arab Cold war” (2000s) had largely taken the form of propaganda wars, the Uprising so greatly intensified the struggle, with rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran manipulating what became virulent and militarized sectarian proxy wars against each other, that it can be seen as precipitating a qualitatively different “Third Cold War.” Yet, just like the former Cold Wars, it has largely stalemated. A) Saudi Arabia (and the GCC): A New “Holy Alliance” For the monarchies, the Uprising initially appeared a major threat. The loss of Mubarak’s Egypt, regime collapse in Yemen, and the possibly-contagious Shia uprising in Bahrain were perceived as opportunities for Iran. But the monarchies proved more resilient than the republics in dampening the threat of an Uprising at home via a combination of repression, most obvious in Bahrain; political concession, most obvious in Morocco, and economic blandishments to citizens, most obvious in Saudi Arabia where $5,000/citizen worth of jobs and benefits were promised (Shehadeh, 2011). The GCC was ungraded into a defensive “Holy Alliance,” de-facto incorporating Morocco and Jordan, with the rich GCC states transferring billions to the poorer monarchies to enable them to similarly appease discontent. For the Saudis, Yemen was becoming a failed state on their soft underbelly, where they and Iran backed opposing sides in the Houthi rebellion in the north, and Al Qaeda was also finding space to operate as the state further


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weakened; they engineered a controlled transfer of power in Sana that preserved the regime and their influence in the country. GCC military intervention stopped the uprising in Bahrain in its tracks. As they warded off threats, the GCC went on the offensive, seeking to use the Uprising to break the “Resistance Axis.” The GCC took advantage of its media dominance and its bloc vote in the Arab League to legitimize the Western intervention against old foe Qaddafi and then to urge it against Syria. Qatar and Saudi Arabia became major funders of Islamist movements in Egypt and armed insurgency in Syria. Yet, the GCC’s interference, via money and media power, precipitated a backlash in several countries, such as Tunisia and, in inflaming Islamist militancy and destabilizing anti-Shia sentiment, it risked generating blowback, notably facilitating the emergence of the expansive Al Qaeda avatar, the ‘‘Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.” A split between Qatar and Saudi Arabia over their sponsorship of rival (Muslim Brotherhood vs. Salafi) Islamists, put the GCC at cross-purposes and several smaller GCC states opted out of Riyadh’s anti-Iran campaign. B) Iran: Tenacious Spoiler Initially Iran welcomed the uprisings that overthrew pro-Western presidents in Tunisia and Egypt, but, as Syria’s Bashar al-Assad came under pressure from Sunni inspired rebels, it was put on the defensive. If its most important ally, Syria’s Assad regime, was replaced by Western or Turkish-based expatriates or hostile Salafis aligned with Saudi Arabia, Iran would be isolated and its connection to Hezbollah snapped (Goodarzi, 2011). Also, the Iranian regime appeared to be itself domestically vulnerable, having just turned back the Green Uprising, and its economy constricted by international sanctions. Iran lost its former soft power in the region from its support of Assad, the decline of Hezbollah’s regional standing and the break of Hamas from the Resistance axis. On the defensive, Tehran sought to create a protective land belt via Iraq (where, post-US occupation, the move of the Maliki regime against Sunni rivals made it more dependent on Iran) to Syria, and Hezbollah. By 2014, the combination of Iranian money and Hezbollah fighters had bolstering the Assad regime and tilted the balance against the insurgents. Then the beginnings of negotiations with the West over Iran’s nuclear program marginally relieved the siege to which Tehran was being subjected. The Struggle for Uprising States: Low Hanging Fruit—Bahrain and Syria— Proves Beyond Reach The two most vulnerable states, with the potential to dramatically shift the power balance, had minority-dominated regimes: the overthrow of Bahrain’s Sunni monarchy would shift the balance to the Shia axis and the overthrow of Syria’s

Structure over Agency


Assad would shift it to the Sunni axis. Yet, despite their vulnerability to mass protest, both regimes held on tenaciously. Having lost Iraq to Shia power, the Sunni Gulf monarchies feared Iran and Iraq would benefit from the Uprising in Bahrain. Bahrain was certainly the weak spot of the GCC. Less tribal, with a bigger middle class and a 90 percent literacy rate, demands for political participation were more intense. Ruled by a Sunni monarchy that discriminated against the Shia majority, Bahrain was also vulnerable to sectarian division. The Shia were excluded from the security forces and most government posts while the lower House of parliament, in which alWefaq, the predominantly Shia party, won a plurality of seats, was checked by a royal-appointed upper house. The royal family was the richest property owner and its neo-liberal model of privatization further enhanced class inequality that overlapped with the sectarian divide. Another big stake-holder in regime survival was the US, whose naval bases covered a fifth of the island. The Uprising, which grouped the Shia majority with secular Sunnis, began as demands for a constitutional monarchy and at one point mobilized over 200,000, 40 percent of the population. It was only turned back by GCC military intervention, escalating repression, and the regime’s use of Sunni solidarity to mobilize its supporters, inflaming Sunni-Shia tensions across the region (Hiltermann, 2012). Syria was the weak spot of the resistance axis. The Syrian Ba’ath regime had traditionally used its Arab nationalism and a populist social contract to build a cross-sectarian middle class and peasant constituency. However, its adoption of neo-liberal policies and growing class inequality provoked protests and the overreaction of the security forces turned demands for political reform into an Uprising for regime change. Yet, in Syria mass protest led not to presidential removal, as in the other republics, but to protracted civil war. The opposition sought to use massive civil unrest to undermine the economy and the regime’s alliance with business and make the country ungovernable. To succeed, this required that full-scale regime repression of civilians provoke outside intervention or at least defections from the security forces and regime collapse. The regime’s “security solution” did not spare civilians, and while this provoked some Sunni defections from the army and encouraged the rise of jihadists and the overall militarization of the uprising, the President’s clientele ties reached deeply into the security apparatus, which remained loyal. Russia blocked Western military intervention in the Security Council. Stalemate set in because there were enough grievances to fuel an uprising but only among a plurality of the population, with others adhering to the regime as a better alternative than civil war and the majority on the side-lines. The Uprising was geographically concentrated in the rural peripheries, small towns and suburbs, while Damascus, the center of power, remained loyal. Each side sought to break the stalemate by escalating the conflict. The opposition infiltrated and seized half of Aleppo, and the regime resorted to air and artillery attacks on urban areas. As order broke down, the “security dilemma” stimulated hatred of the “other” and spread the conviction on both sides that no political solution was possible, even


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though neither could defeat the other. Much of the population was trapped in the middle or exited the country. Syria became split between regime and opposition controlled regions, a failed state that became a regional battleground, with Sunni Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia on one side and Iran, Hezbollah, and Iraqi Shias on the other, each believing the outcome would shift the wider regional power balance. However, this merely escalated and prolonged the violence without overcoming the stalemate since each external patron provided enough support to its clients to hold out but not to win. The spill-over of the Syrian conflict inflamed sectarian animosities across the region. Game Changers—Blocked The Uprising set up the potential for two pivotal states, Egypt and Turkey, to assume regional leadership roles which, had they been realized, could have transformed regional politics; intractable structure however, deflected their bids. A) The Battle for Egypt: the Pivotal Arab Power Fails to Pivot Egypt, as the once and potential Arab hegemon might, had it restored its Arab leadership, checked the fragmentation of the Arab world. Post-Mubarak Cairo early signaled its intention to pursue such a role independent of the rival alignments in the region; moreover, the revolution was widely seen as Egypt’s chance to reassert its independence from the United States and the close relation this required with Israel, both of which sharply constrained Egypt’s Arab role (Mabrouk, 2011). In 2010, four-fifths of Egyptians held an unfavorable view of the US and most saw Israel as an enemy despite the Israel–Egypt peace treaty. Under Mubarak, Egypt had bandwagoned with the US to contain the Israeli and Islamic domestic threats. While no dramatic reversal of Egypt’s alliance with Washington was to be expected during the military dominated post-Mubarak transition, in a period of democratization, public pressures to break dependence on the US and end normalization of relations with Israel required all political contenders to rhetorically eschew Mubarak’s perceived submissiveness to Washington. With the 2012 election of the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Mohamed Morsi, as president, “Mubarakism” appeared on the way out. In his post-election visit to Washington, Morsi suggested that Egypt’s continued peace with Israel was conditional on whether the US would “live up to its own Camp David commitment to Palestinian self-rule.” (Kirkpatrick and Erlanger, 2012). Had Egypt’s foreign policy been transformed, the regional power balance would have shifted dramatically at the expense of the pro-Western axis in the region. Remarkably, however, despite widespread expectations in Egypt, the post-revolutionary change in leadership produced neither a realignment of Egypt’s alliances nor a restoration of Egypt’s Arab leadership. Actually pursuing an independent foreign policy was constrained by inherited dependencies on the US and the IFIs America dominated, which could withhold

Structure over Agency


crucial resources: the arms that sustained the bloated military, the economic aid that Egyptian governments needed to overcome the economic and foreign exchange crisis precipitated by the collapse in business and the tourist trade following the revolution. Egypt has to import 80 percent of its basic food, and with global prices rising, the post-Mubarak authorities had to raise subsidies. External debt repayment exceeded aid and more loans were being made conditional on further privatization that would allow Western and Gulf investors to buy up prime parts of Egypt’s infrastructure (Hanieh, 2012). The Muslim Brotherhood was caught between the anti-American sentiments of its rank and file followers and President Morsi’s need of IMF financial support. Nor were the intimate relations with Israel so easily jettisoned after Mubarak. Democratization and Egypt’s Arab role conception both generated pressures to reverse the normalization of relations and there were attacks on Israel’s Cairo embassy and on a pipeline delivering gas to Israel across the Sinai border. Yet good relations with Washington were contingent on sustaining Egypt’s peace with Israel and the military would not countenance challenges to it. While Mubarak had collaborated with Israel’s blockade of Gaza, Morsi’s government was under strong pressure from its constituency to defend Egypt’s Palestinian brethren in Gaza where a branch of the brotherhood, Hamas, ruled. The Gaza conflict of November 2012 was a test of whether Morsi could change Egyptian foreign policy: aside from rhetorical support, however, he actually pursued a Mubarak-like role in brokering a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel that, while supposedly easing the blockade of Gaza, also committed Egypt to intensify its own efforts, on Israel’s behalf, to stop arms deliveries via Sinai into Gaza. Morsi was constrained by the military which was hostile to Hamas and to Islamist militants in Sinai who could drag Egypt into conflict with its more powerful neighbour; indeed, the military saw a shared interest with Israel in stabilizing the common border. Post-revolutionary Egypt, with its new democratic legitimacy and under a president from the parent organization of the trans-national modernist Islam that was rising across the region, was potentially well positioned to deploy soft power on behalf of a regional role. Balancing between the pro-US and pro-Iranian camps would have maximized Egypt’s value to both. Yet, as Salem (2011) observed, contemporary Egypt is not that of Nasser’s day. The bi-polarity that had allowed Nasser to diversify dependency is a thing of the past. While Egypt was then the strongest state and largest economy in the Arab world, today’s impoverished Egypt is forced to court external donors. As a result, Egypt’s political process was penetrated by financial flows from without: the US funded the liberals and the military, Qatar the Muslim Brotherhood and Saudi Arabia the Salafis, giving all of them potential leverage over Egypt’s foreign policy. The imbalance of power with Israel, combined with dependency on the US, constrained Egypt’s ability to softbalance against Israel, hence stunting the capacity to defend Arab-Islamic causes that is needed for regional leadership. Morsi did try to diversify Egypt’s dependencies, for example by visiting China. Post-revolutionary Egypt’s jettisoning of Mubarak’s anti-Iran enmity and Morsi’s


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attempt to broker a settlement of the Syrian crisis via a contact group that would include Iran also appeared harbingers of an independent foreign policy. But the results were meagre (Salem, 2012). The Syrian initiative went nowhere, with the Saudi’s rejecting cooperation with Iran. Full diplomatic relations were not even reestablished with Tehran, blocked by the security forces and anti-Shia Salafis. Later, Morsi, to appease Islamist opinion at home, tilted toward support for revolution in Syria, a move that provoked the ire of the military. So did Morsi’s attempt to balance between Hamas and the views of the security apparatus, which saw Hamas as a threat. Thus, alterations in Egypt’s policy remained mostly symbolic and aimed at affecting the domestic power balance. Then, Morsi’s overthrow restored what could be called “Mubarakism without Mubarak,” with the new military authorities collaborating with Israel to squeeze Hamas in Gaza in parallel with their repression of the Brotherhood at home. The violent internal power struggle this unleashed was bound to further debilitate Egypt as a foreign policy actor. The expectations of realists that external constraints would sharply dilute pressures issuing from revolution and democratization for a foreign policy transformation in Egypt appeared to be validated. Three years after the overthrow of Mubarak, Egypt remained paralyzed by external dependency, external interference and it’s internal power struggle. B) Turkey: Failed Democratic Hegemon The year 2002 rise of the AKP government to power initiated a transformation in Turkey’s Middle East policy. By contrast to preceding Kemalist governments that had eschewed involvement in the Middle East and hard balanced against threats from it, the AKP pursued a policy of zero problems with its neighbors and perceived the Middle East as a natural sphere of influence where it would seek to ameliorate the interminable conflicts left behind by the fall of the Ottoman empire. It would export the liberal practices of the zone of peace though an active diplomacy of resolving disputes, projection of Turkey as a model of an economically successful Islamic democracy, and appeal to an Islamic civilization shared by Turks and Arabs, that had been artificially severed by borders imposed at the time of Ottoman collapse. Economic integration aimed to construct new cross-border “liberal” interdependencies that would also permit the export of Turkish business in need of regional markets. Going further, Turkey promoted its leadership as an alternative to the destabilizing consequences of the reckless US intervention in Iraq, forming a united front with Syria and Iran to deal, collectively, with the instability left behind by the US and seeking with Brazil to mediate the Iran nuclear crisis and head off another such war (Hinnebusch and Tur, 2013). The Arab Uprising initially upset Turkey’s strategy, which had prioritized economic integration with its Arab neighborhood regardless of their authoritarian governance. Turkey initially opposed NATO intervention in Libya where it had close business ties with the regime. But Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan switched his discourse to the championing of democratization as the region-wide

Structure over Agency


rise of kindred Islamist/business coalitions similar to the AKP in the apparently emerging Sunni democracies in Tunisia and Egypt provided new openings to Turkish soft power. The congruity of its political system—a democracy that incorporates Islamic forces—with regional popular aspirations, was demonstrated by the hero’s welcome given Erdoğan in his 2011 tour of these countries (Salem, 2011; Barkey, 2011). It was in Syria that Turkish policy encountered its main challenge. Syria had been the showcase of Turkey’s zero-problems strategy where trans-state issues of conflict, such as the disputed Turkish annexation of Iskenderun, Euphrates water, and Kurdish separatism, had been resolved amidst the opening of borders to free passage and free trade agreements, which were meant to be extended into the Levant and Gulf areas. However, when the Syrian Uprising started and Assad dismissed Turkey’s calls to contain it through political reforms and instead continued repressing protestors, Turkey sacrificed its ties with his regime, helped organize the Syrian opposition and gave it safe haven to operate an insurgency from Turkish territory. The AKP now saw repressive dictatorships as the most serious threat to its ambition for a pacific neighborhood and democracy as the solution; if, as Turkey expected, Syria’s minority Alawi regime quickly collapsed and was replaced by the Muslim Brotherhood opposition, the AKP could expect to enjoy special influence in Damascus. Three years after the Uprising, Turkey’s bid for regional hegemony had run aground on Syrian rocks. Erdoğan had grossly underestimated the tenacity of the Assad regime, bolstered by its allies in the resistance axis, Iran and Hezbollah. The fragile zone of peace Ankara had been constructing collapsed: economic ties with Syria were shattered and the borders remilitarized. Turkey appeared impotent even to manage the spill over of the crisis—refugee flows, Kurdish empowerment—on its borders. Its attempt to export democracy to its neighbor had the same effect as the earlier US attempt in Iraq: collapse into a failed state. In calling on the West to intervene in Syria, Ankara jettisoned its earlier notion of a Middle East zone of peace as an alternative to misguided American interventions. In deploying Sunni Islamic identity against the secular/Alawi regime in Damascus, Ankara contributed to the sectarianization that was destablilizing the region. Turkey was soon on bad terms with other Middle East states, too. It early damaged its good relations with Iran. Iraq’s Shia government objected to Ankara’s manipulation of its ties to Iraqi Sunnis and Kurds against Baghdad. When Turkey objected to the overthrow of President Morsi and to Egyptian moves to isolate Hamas in Gaza, ties with Cairo turned sour. Global Competitive Interference: Mutual Checkmating The Uprising provoked a “New Cold War” among global great powers. After its failed attempt under George W. Bush to impose a Pax Americana on the region, US power appeared, by mid-2000s, to be receding as the invasion of


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Iraq inadvertently empowered Iran and fatigue at highly costly interventions led the Obama’s administration to retreat to off-shore balancing. In parallel, Russia and China developed regional stakes in arms sales, energy and trade. The loss of Mubarak, a key Western client and later the empowerment of Al Qaeda in failed states were further challenges to the West. Yet no further rollback of the West in the region was in the cards. Even where pro-Western presidents were toppled (Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen), the countries were too economically dependent to go over to the resistance axis and the West benefited from the relative empowerment of the GCC within inter-Arab politics as a result of the Uprising. The Uprising, insofar as it was a revolt against global neo-liberalism, was a threat to the West but because the economic collapses accompanying it made regional states more economically vulnerable, Western dominated IFIs and cash rich Gulf states combined to further pry open regional economies to global finance capital, which severely limited the policy options of dependent states (Hanieh, 2012). The Uprising in Libya presented an opportunity to demonstrate the utility of US military force after the costly failure in Iraq and that in Syria to debilitate the Resistance axis. However, the result of the Libya intervention, a failed state, empowered Al Qaeda in North Africa. For the US (and Israel), a failed state in Syria where Hezbollah and Al Qaeda wore each other down, was more cost effective than another Iraq type effort at “nation-building,” but the spread of jihadism and the spillover of Syria’s conflict to its neighbors (Iraq and Lebanon) showed the costs of such neglect. The West saw the Uprising as an opportunity to roll back the regional influence of Russia and China as their clients in Libya and Syria came under pressure. Russia and China saw the norm of sovereignty and the authority of the UN Security Council as key to constraining such Western expansion into MENA (Blank, 2011); thus, after the West used a UN humanitarian intervention to effect regime change in Libya, Russia blocked a similar intervention in Syria. Their opposition to international intervention in Syria cost Russia and China standing in the region, but the West was unable to capitalize on this as long as its economic troubles constrained its interventionist impulse. Conclusion: The Resilience of Structure Three years into the Arab Uprising the regional order, although under unprecedented strain, remained resilient and the power bids of movements and regimes had largely checkmated each other. The Uprisings had unleashed street politics and sectarian conflicts that weakened states, which in several cases lost control of their territory and borders (Syria, Libya) to armed trans-state movements, which attained unprecedented agency (Hezbollah, ISIS). Yet, deep states and external dependencies were left standing as the high tide of mass peaceful protest receded, notably in Egypt, Bahrain and Yemen. The power

Structure over Agency


balance between the two opposing pre-uprising alliances was not decisively upset: the Iran-led Resistance axis had lost key allies (Qatar, Turkey, Hamas) and soft power but still survived. The weak spots of the opposing axes, Bahrain and Syria, had not changed sides; Egypt and Iraq, although loosened from their American moorings, avoided full alignment with either side. The traditional Arab powers, Egypt and Syria (and earlier Iraq) were debilitated, yet aspirant non-Arab regional hegemon, Sunni Turkey, initially expected to fill the gap, was checked by Iranian/ Hezbollah balancing in Syria and also, despite a potent synthesis of Islam and democracy congruent with rising Islamist movements, foundered on the rocks of deep state establishments, exemplified in Egypt. The GCC was empowered by the debilitation of the republics and its money and media power penetrated every Uprising state; but this provoked reactions and possible blowback and its cohesion unraveled. Thus, power balancing, entrenched state apparatuses and increasing fragmentation made it very hard for any regional power to sweep the board. Rival outside powers also found management of the region’s conflicts intractable, and settled for preventing victory by the other side. Deep structure appeared to have defeated agency. References Barkey, H.J., 2011. Turkey and the Arab Spring. Carnegie Middle East Center, [online] Available at: [Accessed June 14, 2014]. Barnett, M., 1998. Dialogues in Arab Politics: Negotiations in Regional Order. New York, NY: Columbia University Press. Blank, S., 2011. Russia’s Anxieties About The Arab Revolution, E-Notes. Foreign Policy Research Institute, [online] Available at: [Accessed June 14, 2014]. Brown, L.C., 1984. International Politics in the Middle East: Old Rules, Dangerous Game. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. David, S., 1991. Explaining Third World Alignment, World Politics, 43(2), pp. 233–256. Freeman, C., 2011. The Arab Reawakening and Its Strategic Implications. Middle East Policy Council, [online] Available at: [Accessed June 14, 2014]. Goodarzi, J., 2011. Syria and Iran at the Crossroads. Muftah, [online] Available at: [Accessed June 14, 2014]. Hanieh, A., 2012. International Aid and Egypt’s Orderly Transition . Jadaliyya, [online] Available at: [Accessed June 14, 2014].


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Hijjawi, A., 2011. The Role of Al-Jazeera (Arabic) in the Arab Revolts of 2011 in “Peoples Power.” Perspectives, May, pp. 68–73. Hiltermann, J., 2012. Bahrain: A New Sectarian Conflict?. The New York Review of Books, [online] Available at: [Accessed June 14, 2014]. Hinnebusch, R., 2003. International Politics of the Middle East. Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press. ——, 2013. Failed Regional Hegemons: the Case of the Middle East’s Regional Powers. Seton Hall Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations, 14(2), pp. 75–88. Hinnebusch, R., and Tur, O. eds, 2013. Turkey–Syria Relations: between amity and enmity. Abington, UK: Ashgate Publishers. Kirkpatrick, D.D. and Erlanger, S., 2012. Egypt’s New Leader Spells Out Terms for US-Arab Ties. The New York Times Online, [online] September 22. Available at: [Accessed November 9, 2012]. Lustik, I., 1997. The Absence of Middle Eastern Great Powers: Political “Backwardness” in Historical Perspective. International Organization, 51(4) Autumn, pp. 653–683. Mabrouk, M., 2011. Recalibrating a Relationship. Brookings Institute, [online] Available at: [Accessed June 14, 2014]. Mohns, E., and Banks, A., 2012. Syrian Revolt Fallout: End of the Resistance Axis?. Middle East Policy, 19(3), Fall, pp. 25–35. Phillips, C., 2011. Arabism after the Arab Spring. Christopher Phillips. Just another weblog, [online] July 31. Available at: [Accessed June 14, 2014]. Salem, P., 2011. Arab Spring’ has yet to alter region’s strategic balance. Los Angeles Times, [online] May 9. Available at: [Accessed June 14, 2014]. ——, 2012. Mursi Moves to Rebuild Egypt’s Mideast Leadership Role, Al-Monitor, [online] October 5. Available at: [Accessed June 14, 2014]. Shehadeh, N., 2011. Economic Costs, the Arab Spring and the GCC. Gulf Research Center Newsletter, November 24, 2011. Tamlali, Y., 2011. The “Arab Spring” Rebirth or Final Throes of Pan-Arabism? Perspectives, May, pp. 46–49. Morten, V., and Bank, A., 2007. Signs of a New Arab Cold War: The 2006 Lebanon War and the Sunni-Shi’i Divide. Middle East Report, No 242, Spring, pp. 6–11. Walt, S., 1987. The Origin of Alliances. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Chapter 9

Reorienting Turkish Foreign Policy: Successes, Failures, Limitations Ilter Turan

Introduction Turkey’s foreign policy since the founding of the Turkish Republic has been characterized by stability. This is not to say that it has not changed but that change has been infrequent, slow, deliberate if not always predictable. In this context, the intense activity and shifts of direction witnessed recently has produced bafflement and questions regarding the new directions of Turkish foreign policy. Is Turkish foreign policy undergoing major shifts; if so, in what direction and why? What results has the change produced? In attempting to offer responses to these questions, we will begin by reviewing the historical evolution of Turkish foreign policy and then turn to an examination of changes. In doing so, we will focus not only on structural changes in the international environment and in the domestic scene in Turkey, but also on agency, in other words the persons who have been involved in the making of foreign policy, and the mutual interaction of structure and agency in policy making and implementation. Turkish Foreign Policy during the Inter-War and the Cold War Period The Turkish Republic, established after the First World War and a subsequent war of national liberation in which it had emerged as the victor, had opted for a neutral foreign policy and a low level of involvement in international affairs in its early years. The countries that prevailed in the international order of the time were those against whom Turkey had fought while the losers were oriented toward a revisionism which did not interest Turkey since it had succeeded in signing an acceptable peace treaty after its war of liberation. Economic underdevelopment rendered more painful by the exhaustion that a string of wars had brought, on the other hand, did not encourage a multi-dimensional involvement in external politics, and led to choice of foreign policy instruments such as negotiations, litigation at the International Court of Justice and working through international organizations that did not require expending extensive resources. It is under these circumstances that Turkey was invited to become a member of the League of Nations in 1932 (Turan, 2013, p. 125; 2012, pp. 61–62).


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The gathering of war clouds between the status quo and revisionist powers in Europe rendered Turkish neutrality important in the eyes of both sides. This provided an opportunity for Turkey to have its sovereignty over the Turkish Straits restored through negotiating the Montreux Convention in 1936 and to have the territory of the Sandjak of Antioch and Alexandretta that the French had incorporated into their Syrian Colony rejoin Turkey in 1939, a year after the French had granted it independence. The possibility of war itself, on the other hand, led Turkey not only to try to develop a system of defensive regional alliances, but also to make similar arrangements with both the Axis and the Allies, a strategy that helped it stay out of the Second World War (Turan, 2013, p. 62). It is only as the outcome of the war and the basic features of the oncoming world order became known that Turkey began to consider a major shift in the way it related to the world. While it appeared that a bipolar world was emerging; the Soviet Union, as the leader of one of the poles, demanded changes on the regime of the Straits (Vali, 1972, pp. 59–81) as well as border revisions in the East. These changes in Soviet policy rendered the Turkish policy of neutrality unsustainable during the post-war period for reasons of security. In response, Turkey took the initiative in trying to persuade the Allies, particularly the United States, that it was under Communist threat and that it wanted to be on the side of the “Free World,” (as substantiated by making a transition to political competition in 1946–50). Such efforts culminated in its inclusion in Marshall Plan and then, three years after its establishment in 1952 in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Harris, 1972, pp. 1–48). Quickly, Turkey became a devout member of NATO. It acceded to American leadership and made its territory available for NATO weapon deployments, air bases and radars. In return, it insured its security and received both military and economic assistance. Economic aid was critical for Turkey’s industrialization under an import substitution oriented strategy that exposed Turkey to periodic shortages of hard currency, inability to pay debts and therefore inability to import. Accepting American strategic leadership and planning as a quid pro quo for achieving external security and receiving military and economic aid, were not without problems, however. There were constant irritants in the relationship, extending from the secret U-2 flights originating in Turkey and cruising over Soviet territory to heavy handed American interventions in the Turco‒Greek conflict over Cyprus. These frequently created stresses, sometimes bringing the relationship to near rupture (Harris, 1972, pp. 105–200). For Turkey, membership in the Atlantic security community was part of a broader strategy of becoming integrated to the West. Accordingly, Turkey tried to become party to all major institutional developments in Europe. It joined the Council of Europe and the OECD (initially OEEC). When the European Economic Community became a reality in 1959, Turkey, along with Greece, became the first country to search for a linkage that would lead to eventual membership. Ankara Treaty of Association in 1963 and the Additional Protocols of 1970 produced a plan for Turkey to become a member after a prolonged period of preparation. A

Reorienting Turkish Foreign Policy: Successes, Failures, Limitations


variety of developments both within the EEC (EC, EU) and Turkey has led neither party to deliver on all its commitments, yet it has proven possible to achieve a customs union in 1996 (Hale and Avcı, 2001, pp. 31–48). The international environment during the Cold War did not allow members of the Atlantic Alliance great autonomy in shaping independent foreign policies. Developing comprehensive relations with members of the rival camp was impossible. Until 1979, Turkey’s neighbors save Greece and Iran were either part of (Bulgaria) or closer (Syria, Iraq) to the rival camp. Regarding Turkey’s Middle Eastern neighbors, in addition those of the Cold War, three other reasons rendered Turkey hesitant in developing closer relations. First, there was the historical legacy. Some these lands that had been a part of the Ottoman Empire had made common cause with the British during the First World War to fight the Ottomans, generating a feeling of betrayal among both the Turkish public and policymakers. Second, the Turkish nation-state, in its efforts at nation building, had to establish its distinct national identity by dissociating itself from the neighboring Muslim populations with whom it had lived together as an Islamic ummah within the framework of the Ottoman Empire. In short, mutual distrust and lack of warmth stood in the way of getting closer. Under such conditions Turkish attempts at rapprochement during the late 1960s so as to end its isolation in the UN with regard to Cyprus had proven fruitless, confirming in the Turkish mind, if not fully fairly, that their initial feelings were accurate. Third, particularly following the decolonization of the area after the Second World War, these societies had undergone frequent turbulence, guiding Turkish policymakers to judge that it was best to keep away from getting entangled in the region. A) Winds of Change: The Beginnings of Reorientation Two developments in the nature of structural changes, one in the national and the other in the international domain set the stage for changes in Turkey’s foreign policy. The first, a decision by the Council of Ministers on January 24, 1980, to remove many of the foreign currency controls that came under banner of “Regulations to Protect the Value of the Turkish Lira,” in retrospect, turned out to be one that led to a fundamental transformation of the Turkish economy (Krueger and Turan, 1993). Because the decision was made during a severe economic crisis characterized by a lack of hard cash, it was not sufficiently appreciated at the time that this aimed at changing the country’s economic strategy from import substitution industrialization to export led growth, leading to the integration of the national economy to the global market system. The implication of the change for Turkey’s foreign policy was clear. Turkey would incorporate the search for new markets or the expansion of existing markets into its foreign policy planning and implementation. In contrast to the preceding periods in which security considerations were foremost in policymaking, economic considerations began increasingly to receive greater attention (Civan et al., 2013, pp. 11–117). The new orientation led Turkey to take renewed interest in its neighborhood and also to


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look for new connections in lands where there had been little previous contact (Turan, 2012; Hürsoy and Bağdadi, 2012, pp. 31–59). The second development needs almost no mentioning: the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and then the end of the Soviet Union. Owing to these two fundamental structural changes, security considerations moved to the back seat of foreign policy concerns. With the Cold War division of the world disappearing, the relevance of constraints on national policies of alliance members deriving from relations of bipolarity also declined. Developing close economic relations with Russia and other countries that had become independent in the post-Soviet space now became highly desirable. Expressed differently, the change provided opportunities for Turkey to forge close links with countries in neighboring regions including the Middle East, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Balkans, and of course, the Russian Federation. These two developments, then, initiated a process of reorientation in Turkish foreign policy. Policy became more autonomous, multi-dimensional and multiregional. It became more pragmatic than ideological; and more economics than security oriented. In the words of an astute observer, Turkey had become a trading state (Kirişçi, 2009, 45). The thrust of policy continued to be toward Europe and the United States, however. Turkey pursued its EU aspirations, and as indicated above, affected a Customs Union for industrial products with the EU in 1996. Turkey cooperated with it traditional allies to deal with the problems that the collapse of the Soviet Union and later the Yugoslav Federation had created for Europe. It sent troops to Afghanistan after 9/11 and to Somalia to help stabilize the turmoil there. An Alternative Foreign Policy Vision: The Origins Turkey had never lacked domestic debate in foreign policy. Yet, before the ascent of the AKP to power, the ruling coalition of politicians, bureaucrats and the military (which played the role of guardian in Turkish politics) had not raised fundamental questions about the general direction of foreign policy. Despite problematical dimensions that it might have entailed, the country would keep its pro-Western course, continue to be a part of the Atlantic Community, that is the West EuropeanAmerican world, but would act more autonomously within that framework. The basis of relations that were developed with the rest of the world, were expected to be basically economic. The only political movement that took exception to the general direction of Turkey’s foreign policy was the religious right. A series of political parties under the guidance of the same leader, Professor Necmettin Erbakan,1 regularly closed by the Constitutional Court for having engaged in activities in violation of the secular principles of the republic and for having used religion for political ends were critical of Turkey’s external orientation. The Islamic orientation, dubbed “National Viewpoint” to skirt legal challenges, argued that Turkey should work

Reorienting Turkish Foreign Policy: Successes, Failures, Limitations


with Islamic countries to form some sort of Islamic economic and political community (Hale and Özbudun, 2010, p. 6). Though never in a position of power to implement his visions, as a partner in coalition governments, Professor Erbakan was often in a position to prevent outcomes that deviated from his policy preferences. For example, when Turkey staged an intervention in Cyprus in 1974 as a response to a Greek engineered coup aiming to unite the island with Greece, Erbakan argued for the occupation of the entire island and rejected a compromise peace plan that Prime Minister Ecevit, the head of the coalition, had negotiated with Archbishop Makarios, the president of Cyprus. More significantly, he had stood in the way of Turkey’s making an application to become a full member of the European Union in 1977 when Greece had made an application, despite information that the applications of the two countries would enjoy the same fate. Later, a major allegation against the National Salvation Party that was brought up in court as evidence that led to its closing was its organizing a meeting in the province of Konya which had turned into a mass religious demonstration in which anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian rhetoric had prevailed. Later in 1996–97 when he served as the Prime Minister of a coalition government for a year before he was forced to resign under pressure from the military, Professor Erbakan spent considerable time hopping around the world to develop closer economic relations with countries possessing Muslim majority populations. He succeeded in 1997 in leading the forming of D-8, an organization with Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, and Pakistan that would work for enhancing economic cooperation among its members to make them a global economic force and defend their interests in a global system (Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Dışişleri Bakanlığı). Erbakan gave priority to Muslim countries and rarely visited Western European capitals or the United States. The Turkish public found his visit to Libya in 1996 where he was lectured in a condescending manner by Muammar Gaddafi about Turkey’s policies toward its Kurdish populations, its relations with Israel, its membership in NATO and so on, particularly offensive (Çevik, 1996). The end of Erbakan’s Welfare Party Coalition under military pressure in 1997 and the closing of the party by the Constitutional Court in 1998, to be followed by the closing of the successor Virtue Party in 2001 opened the way for a group of reformists to challenge the Erbakan’s leadership at the party convention. Although the reformist candidate, Abdullah Gül, failed to displace Recai Kutan, the candidate backed by Erbakan, he had had an impressive showing. Then, when the Virtue Party was also closed, the opponents of Erbakan established the Justice and Development Party or the AKP. The new party was found to be appealing by the voters. It received over 35 percent of the vote in the 2002 elections which, in a highly fragmented party system and wide dispersal of the vote, gave the AKP a clear parliamentary majority and allowed it to establish a one party government, ending a period of coalitions that had prevailed since the elections of 1991.


The Eastern Mediterranean in Transition

Foreign Policy under AKP Turkey’s foreign policy under the AKP evolved in three stages. I shall briefly name them as “Member of the Atlantic Community,” “Regional Leader with Global Aspirations,” and the “Lonely Hero,” and offer brief description and analysis of each stage. A) Stage I: Member of the Atlantic Community Although in 2002 the AKP had won a major electoral victory, the distribution of power in Turkish society imposed considerable constraints on the new government. The military had conducted a coup of sorts by forcing the resignation of the Erbakan coalition in June 1997 and ousting his Welfare Party from the next government. The Constitutional Court had then closed down the party in January 1998. Though emphasizing that their ideology was social conservatism, the AKP leadership was well aware that the Kemalist state establishment viewed them with suspicion. Under the circumstances, after they achieved power, they adopted a proWestern stance as a way of constraining the power of the non-elected state actors. By way of example, promoting relations with the EU offered the government double benefits. On the one hand, advancing the EU relationship was a policy line that the state establishment could not object since their professed goal was the building of a modern society that was a part of the Western world. On the other hand, the EU conditionality of deeper democratization included the establishment of civilian supremacy over the armed forces rendering the EU the AKP’s natural ally. The invitation in 2004 by the EU to start membership negotiations constituted a positive step on which to continue developing the relationship. Within NATO, Turkey was already involved in contributing troops to the peacekeeping in Afghanistan. A difficulty arose in 2003 when the Turkish parliament failed to accord permission to the United States that was intent on launching an invasion of Iraq to bring the government of Saddam Hussein down. Normally, such action would have done serious damage to the Turkish-American relationship, but both because there was limited support for the American action in Europe and because the two countries needed, in any case, to cooperate in maintaining peace in the region, damage was controlled (Turan, 2012, p. 68). Though constant irritants emerged in the relationship, each side worked to ensure that they would not lead to a higher level of tension. Ironically, since the Turkish military had stayed away from exercising its political clout in support of the American position, the US defense establishment blamed the Turkish military more than the government, thereby strengthening the position of the government vis-à-vis the commanders. During this period for which the elections of 2007 appear to be a convenient ending point, Turkey tried to improve its relations with its neighbors. The most important development in this regard was the change of policy regarding Cyprus where Turkey now encouraged the Turkish‒Cypriot side to accept the Annan Plan

Reorienting Turkish Foreign Policy: Successes, Failures, Limitations


for the reunification of the island. In a referendum held just prior to the accession of Cyprus into the European Union in 2004, in separate polls, the plan was accepted by two thirds among the Turkish-Cypriots and rejected by 75 percent of the GreekCypriots, however, leading to the continuation of the status quo. B) Stage II: Regional Leader with Global Aspirations Until the elections of 2007 that led to a bigger victory of the AKP than when it first got into power, the foreign policy of the AKP was in harmony with the general direction of policy of the preceding Turkish governments. Following the elections of 2002, except for a brief period at the very beginning, Abdullah Gül had served as the foreign minister. A cautious person by nature, Gül had maintained the general direction of Turkish foreign policy. But following the elections of 2007, in a reorganization of the cabinet, he continued as the vice premier, leaving the foreign ministry (Turan, 2012, p.6; Han, 2013, pp. 55–70). In the meantime, the European connection was not developing in a favorable direction. In addition to a decision of the European Court of Human Rights (not an EU agency) decision that the Turkish state could ban the wearing of headscarves for university students, the more critical development was the large scale expansion of the EU in 2004 that reduced interest in incorporating a large, relatively poor and culturally different country into the Union. Gradually, the EU–Turkish relationship began to cool. The remarks of some leading EU leaders suggesting that Turkey’s membership was neither likely nor wanted, invited reduced interest on the Turkish side. It is under such circumstances that the star of Professor Ahmet Davutoğlu began to rise. He had been serving as foreign policy adviser to the Prime Minister since 2002. He began to assume a critical role in the making of foreign policy by advising the Prime Minister after the elections of 2007. Then in 2009, he was made the foreign minister without holding a parliamentary seat, a position he still holds, but as a member of parliament after the 2011 elections (Turan, 2012, p. 69). Under Davutoğlu’s stewardship, three impulses seem to have been prominent in the formulation and implementation of Turkish foreign policy. The first one is a continuation of the tradition of maintaining its place in the transatlantic community—which for Turkey has meant NATO and the EU. This impulse has already been spelled out above. The second is that of becoming a regional leader, a country that maintains the regional order and peace, and helps solve intra-regional conflicts. The third impulse is one of challenging the current global distribution of power and the global system of governance (Davutoğlu, 2008, p. 77). While all these impulses continue to influence Turkish foreign policy, their prevalence has changed over time. While “Member of the Atlantic Community” was more prevalent until the 2007 elections, regional leadership and challenging the global distribution of power came to prevail until coming of the Arab Spring, mainly in 2011, a development that opened the way to the third stage of the “Lonely Hero.”


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It is generally agreed that Davutoğlu’s orientation and thinking is reflected in a book he authored in 2001 called Stratejik Derinlik (Strategic Depth) in which he “identifies geography, history, culture and Turkey’s economy as elements that make Turkey a candidate for regional leadership. Turkey is a part of several regions. Turkey can build a zone of stability and prosperity by helping solve regional problems.” (Turan, 2013, p. 128). In this way the dominating power of the West will be balanced (Walker, 2007, p. 34). The economic opening having its origins in the two final decades of the last century that had preceded AKP’s rise to power constituted a background on which Professor Davutoğlu’s broader goal of achieving regional leadership would be built. The AKP’s and his understanding of what regional leadership means and how that would be achieved has evolved and got redefined over time. Initially, it involved developing closer relations with the countries in the regions surrounding Turkey. Growing economic relations were cemented with intensifying political contacts such as state visits, cooperation between government agencies, and announcements of strategic partnerships. The new, pro-active approach to relations with neighbors was symbolized in the Davutoğlu expression of Zero Problems with neighbors (Davutoğlu, 2008; Turan, 2012, p .69; 2013, pp. 131–132). The most notable attempt was that of initiating relations with Armenia in 2009, a decision which Turkey had to reconsider in view of strong protests by Azerbaijan that no agreements should be made before Armenia withdrew from the territories it occupied during the Nagorno-Karabagh war. The more general orientation was that Turkey would employ peaceful means to address any outstanding problems that it might currently have or arise with neighboring countries. In addition, efforts were made to mediate disputes among neighbors. Two outstanding examples of this policy was the near successful undertaking in 2008 of getting the Syrians and the Israelis to agree on the Golan Heights and getting the Saudis and Syrians back on talking terms. A third example would be helping facilitate the resumption of relations between Bosnia and Serbia.2 The failure to bring about a Syrian–Israeli peace mainly on account of Ehud Olmert’s going home, giving the impression that he would put the finishing touches on the agreement, but instead engaging in one of the heaviest bombardments of the Gaza Strip caused a major disillusionment in the Turkish government, particularly Prime Minister Erdoğan and Davutoğlu. This event led them to turn totally hostile to Israel and become a deeper supporter of Palestinian causes (Turan, 2013, pp.135–136). In this way, a vicious circle was initiated. The hardline talk and actions of the Turkish government proved highly popular on the Arab streets where governments were seen as corrupt and ineffective. With his predisposition to enjoy street popularity and his aspirations to regional leadership of countries with mainly Muslim populations in the Middle East, Erdoğan could not resist the temptation to escalate his anti-Israeli rhetoric, further undermining Turkish-Israeli relations. A low point came in May 2010 when Israeli commandoes boarded the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara that was carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza, killing nine Turkish citizens on board in the scuffle. The collapse of Turkish–Israeli relations was the first step in the deterioration of Turkey’s aspirations to play the role of regional

Reorienting Turkish Foreign Policy: Successes, Failures, Limitations


leader. Then came the Arab Spring which, as shall be recounted later, brought an end to Turkey’s regional aspirations (Ovalı and Bozdağlıoğlu, 2012, pp. 1–28). Along with aspiring to regional leadership, during this second stage, Turkey also began to express its dissatisfaction with the world system of governance as had been shaped under mainly American leadership after the Second World War (Kardaş, 2011, p.37). Initially, Turkey’s desire seemed to be to have a greater say in world affairs. Such a position was in line with the thinking of Davutoğlu who had argued in his earlier mentioned book Strategic Depth, that Turkey’s location would allow it to adopt a more pro-active strategic role in global affairs (Turan, 2011, p. 45). Aiming for an enhanced role, Turkey, for example, pushed and succeeded in increasing its voting share at the International Monetary Fund. It then proceeded to campaign successfully to win a temporary seat at the United Nations Security Council. It also worked to develop closer relations with other rising powers, notably Brazil and China, as well as making inroads into Africa by opening embassies in nearly all African capitals, conducting high level state visits, and introducing economic and technical assistance programs; all intended to strengthen its say in international affairs. In the process of working to wield greater influence in the international arena motivated mainly by its greater economic prosperity and prowess, Turkey soon came to realize that there existed “a world order with its assumptions, philosophy, values, codes of conduct an institutions, all favoring the victors of the Second World War,”(Turan, 2012, p.74). A particularly frustrating experience emerged on when Turkey’s successful efforts along with Brazil to broker an agreement between Iran and those permanent members of the UN Security Council that objected to Iran’s developing of nuclear capabilities failed on account of a change of mind on the part of the US administration regarding the terms of the agreement. In protest, Turkey alone cast a negative vote against the imposition of sanctions on Iran, drawing the wrath not only of America but its allies in the Security Council. On many later occasions, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, angry at what happened, has offered harsh criticisms of the world order, referring to its inconsistencies, insufficiencies and double standards. Such rhetoric which has sometimes been referred to as “Third Worldist” and at other times as “Gaullist” (Bozdağlıoğlu, 2008, p. 70 et passim; Turan, 2012, p. 74) has had to be ignored in daily politics, however, where matters of concrete and common interest tend to prevail over arguments of principle. Turkey’s aspirations of becoming a regional leader and enhancing its role in global politics, and the ensuing policies have not been without results. Turkey has developed new or closer ties with other rising powers, it has broadened the community of nations with which it interacts and it has become a more visible country in world politics. Its external trade continues to grow while its foreign aid programs have gained in importance. Yet, both structural and agency related difficulties as well as unexpected developments have not allowed Turkey to achieve its aspirations of regional or global leadership.


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C) Stage III: “The Lonely Hero” Turkey took a mild interest in December 2010, when the Arab Spring broke out with a revolt in Tunisia. But with the outbreak of anti-government demonstrations in Egypt, Turkey’s position began to assume a strongly pro-change character. The AKP had connections with the al-Nahda and the Ikhwan, and there developed hopes that the wave of change would bring into power Islamic oriented governments which Turkey might act as a leader and mold into some kind of Islamic community. In view of the country’s existing economic interests in Libya and the reasonably good relations with Muammar Gaddafi, PM Erdoğan displayed hesitation in joining the West in forcing political change there. But when it became apparent that a British-French intervention would take place anyhow, Turkey sought for ways to become involved in the process of change and extended support to the establishment of a new government. Then came the events in Syria. Turkey and Syria had started from a very hostile state of affairs in 1998 and developed very close relations. Leaders called the new relationship a strategic partnership; they met frequently, they talked about common projects for the future and ever closer relations. Therefore, the initial Turkish reaction was limited to recommending to Bashar al-Assad that the opposition be accommodated and reforms be introduced. The Syrian President agreed to do so in bilateral meetings but continued to treat the opposition with unrestrained cruelty. With the members of the Atlantic community supporting the opposition, Turkey judged that Assad’s days were limited. Joining forces with its traditional allies, it decided to support the moderate opposition. This opposition, however, proved ineffective, the initiative moving increasingly to radical Islamic elements. Concerned that Al Qaeda and similar movements might get in control of Syria, Western powers reduced their commitments. On the other hand, Russia and Iran extended extensive support to the Baathist regime. Frustrated, Turkey joined the Saudis, the Qataris and their local clients to bring about change but failed. The tragedy continues. The death blow to Turkey’s leading an Islamic Middle East, however, came with the return of the military in Egypt to terminate the inept and increasingly authoritarian regime of Muhammad Mursi. While the military intervention could hardly be welcome, the Turkish government’s reaction was to insult the new regime. Turkey’s relations with Egypt have come down nowadays to their lowest. The Turkish government has justified its posture vis-à-vis Egypt and Syria as being principled, but this is not persuasive for two reasons. First, Turkey has not been noted for promoting democratization in other parts of the Middle East or elsewhere. Second, recently, the Turkish government itself has displayed significant signs of becoming authoritarian (Dereli, 2009, p.27 et passim). The end result has been the country’s growing isolation in its region and weakening relations with its traditional allies. This is the period of the “Lonely Hero;” that is, a country that argues that its policies are “right” even when no other country is in full agreement.

Reorienting Turkish Foreign Policy: Successes, Failures, Limitations


Conclusion At the beginning of this chapter, we asked the questions of whether major shifts have been taking place in Turkish foreign policy in recent years, and if yes, in what direction. We have noted that with the changes in the Turkish economy and the end of the Cold War, Turkey’s external relations had become broader (more countries and regions), more comprehensive (covering more areas) and multi-dimensional but remaining within the Atlantic Community mold. A departure from this line began around 2007. The desire to assume a regional leadership role, mediate the conflicts in the region and address problems that existed with its neighbors was initially successful. Turkey managed to maintain equal distance with all parties, enjoyed their confidence, and mobilized support of the international community. Its relations with its neighbors also improved. The success, however, was short lived. Exaggerating the country’s power and ability to shape outcomes alone, and the rising ascendance of ideology and emotions over pragmatism have undermined the role Turkey has been trying to achieve, reducing it to being mainly a regional actor with declining global influence. It also seems that this negative trend has been supported by the government’s lack of judgment on how bringing changes in Turkey’s relations with one country affects its relations with others. For example, Azeris reacted strongly to an attempt to advance relations with Armenia, Turkey had to put that undertaking on hold, experiencing some embarrassment. Good relations with Russia have not stopped the Russians from invading Georgia or extending support to the Syrian regime, much to the unhappiness of the Turkish government. Good relations with Iran and bad relations with Israel have created complications in the Turkish-American relationship. Other examples are easy to find. In the introduction of this chapter, it was pointed out that changes in Turkish foreign policy were slow, deliberate and predictable. After 2007 but much more so after 2011, this has changed. There has been rapid, frequent and not well considered policy shifts. The makers of foreign policy have displayed stubbornness, overconfidence, emotional approaches and they have rendered inaccurate judgments such that rather than a consistent change in orientation. What has emerged are zigzagging policies that represent temporary responses to immediate situations. These are likely to continue under the current leadership. Notes 1 The string of parties began with the National Order Party, continued with the National Salvation Party until 1981 military intervention dissolved all political parties in 1981. After 1983, the party reappeared as Welfare Party, Virtue Party and finally as Felicity Party. The currently governing Justice and Development Party (AKP by its Turkish acronym) originated in the Felicity Party as a faction that eventually broke off to form its own party in 2001. Until his death in 2011, Professor Erbakan was the charismatic


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leader and the ideological force behind the Felicity party if not always its formal leader for legal reasons. 2 Sometimes, the aspiration to become a regional leader has been referred to by outside observers as neo-Ottomanism. While it is true that Turkish leaders make references to history as a way explaining Turkey’s interest in the surrounding regions, Turkey as is, is large enough in population and economy to aspire to regional leadership without historical explanations. To describe policy as neo-Ottoman seems to me to be erroneous.

References Bozdağlıoğlu, Y., 2008. Modernity and Turkey’s Foreign Policy. Insight Turkey, 10(1), pp. 55–76. Çevik, I., 1996, Erbakan returns to a country angered by Moammar Gaddafi. Hurriyet Daily News [online], October 9. Available at: [Accessed June 4, 2014]. Civan, A., Genç, S., Taşer, D., and Atakol S., 2013. The Effect of New Turkish Foreign Policy on International Trade. Insight Turkey, 15(3), pp. 107–122. Davutoğlu, A., 2008. Turkey’s Foreign Policy Vision. Insight Turkey, 10(1), pp. 77–96. Dereli, Z., 2009. A Movement for Change: Forging a Bright Future on Firm Principles. Turkish Policy Quarterly, 8(4), pp. 27–39. Hale, W., and Avcı, G., 2001. Turkey and the European Union: The Long Road to Membership. In: B. Rubin and K. Kirişçi, eds. 2001. Turkey in World Politics: An Emerging Multiregional Power. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers. Hale, W., and Özbudun, E., 2010. Islamism, Democracy and Liberalism in Turkey: The Case of the AKP. London: Routledge. Han, A.K., 2013. Paradise Lost: A Neo-Classical Realist Analysis of Turkish Foreign Policy and the Case of Turkish-Syrian Relations. In: R. Hinnebusch and Ö. Tur, eds. 2013. Turkey-Syria Relations: Between Enmity and Amity. Farnham: Ashgate. Harris, G.S., 1972. Troubled Alliance: Turkish-American Problems in Hıstorical Perspective, 1945–1971. Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute and Stanford, CA: the Hoover Institution. Hürsoy, S., and Bağdadi, I., 2012. Turkey’s Economic and Foreign Policy Challenges in the Middle East. Turkish Yearbook of International Affairs, 43, pp. 31–59 Kardaş, Ş., 2011. Turkish‒American Relations in the 2000s. Perceptions, 16(3), pp. 25–52. Kirişçi, K., 2009. The Transformation of Turkish Foreign Policy and the Rise of the Trading State. New Perspectives on Turkey, 40, pp. 29–57. Kruger, A.O., and Turan, I., 1993. The Politics and Economics of Turkish Policy Reforms. In R.E. Bates and A.O. Krueger, eds. 1993. Political and Economic

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Interactions in Economic Policy Reform: Evidence from Eight Countries. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. Ovalı, Ş., and Bozdağlıoğlu, Y., 2012. Role Theory and Securitization: An Agency Based Framework for Decoding Turkey’s Diplomatic Offensive against Israel. Turkish Yearbook of International Affairs, 43, pp. 1–28. Turan, İ., 2013. One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: Success and Failure in Turkish Foreign Policy. Austral, 2(3), January‒June, pp. 123–144. ——, 2012. From an Underdeveloped Country to a Regional Power: The Turkish Transformation. Russia in Global Affairs, 10(1), January‒March, pp. 60–76. ——, 2011. Strange Bedfellows or New Allies? Brazil and Turkey’s Nuclear Adventure in Iran. HLO Quarterly, 1 (Winter), pp. 40–47. Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Dışişleri Bakanlığı, Gelişen Sekiz Ülke (D-8). [online] Available at:

[Accessed April 24, 2014]. Vali, F.A., 1972. The Turkish Straits and NATO. Stanford: The Hoover Institution Press. Walker, J., 2007. Learning Strategic Depth: Implications of Turkey’s New Foreign Policy Doctrine. Insight Turkey, 9(3), pp. 32–47.

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Chapter 10

Vernacular Security in the Eastern Mediterranean after the Arab Spring: The Cases of Egypt and Jordan Stacey Gutkowski

Introduction National and regional security issues have been of paramount importance to International Relations analysis of the post-2010 Arab uprisings. However, how danger and safety have been conceived and negotiated by citizens in the Middle East has received less attention. Following anthropologist Farha Ghannam’s (2012) exploration of Egyptian citizens’ “structures of feeling” (Williams, 1977) about their security in early 2011—for example their collective lived experience in a particular time and place—this chapter briefly explores two contrasting cases, Egypt and Jordan. While the Libyan and Syrian civil wars are the more obvious regional examples, I have chosen Egypt and Jordan as case studies through which to excavate some less headline-grabbing manifestations of violence and nonviolence. I suggest that liminality and moderation are, respectively, important structures of feeling within the security assemblages that have emerged in the space of struggle and consensus between these regimes and their citizens. In doing so, this chapter aims to build on the emerging literature on “vernacular security” in IR, calling attention to phenomenologies of violence. Additionally, the security assemblage is a useful rubric for exploring vernacular conceptions of security as it allows for multiple possible relationships between ontologically and politically heterogeneous phenomena. This chapter aims not so much to fill a gap as to prompt further discussion among critical IR scholars of how safety and danger have been conceived by those living through the uprisings. Vernacular Security, Violence and the Arab Spring In recent years scholars have explored “vernacular security” or what Lemanski (2012) calls “everyday human (in)security,” drawing attention to the importance of local, quotidian understandings of safety and danger. This echoes an impulse within critical scholarship of security to study “real people in real places” (Wyn Jones, 1996, p. 214). Bubandt (2005, p. 276) defines it as the “contradictory


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outcome” of processes of interaction between global, national and local representations of security problems. This approach is, as Jarvis and Lister (2013, p. 161) argue, grounded both in an acknowledgement of many states’ limitations as providers of security and a normative call “to amplify the voices of marginalised actors.” They also suggest that this approach may reveal not only conceptions of danger that diverge from what the regime denotes as danger but also “under-recognised potential for forms of political encounter or imagination” within shared understandings of safety (Jarvis and Lister, 2013, p. 170). To this burgeoning literature I propose two additions: attention to material violence and assemblage as an analytical rubric. First, studies of vernacular security have mainly explored the ways in which self and collective identities are framed (Stern, 2006) or the discourses through which perceived ontological threats are articulated (Jarvis and Lister, 2013). What could be usefully added to this conversation, I contend, is more careful definition and delineation of material manifestations of violence. Certainly during the Arab uprisings, political and collective identities have been secured and securitized within the context of multi-faceted contestation of state power. The role of Islamism as a threat to or securing political identities in the region has attracted significant scholarly notice. However, in their illuminating account of the ambiguities the Egyptian Revolution provoked for Copenhagen securitization theorists in real time, Greenwood and Waever (2013, p. 496) similarly noted that “nontraditional security threats were seemingly both highlighted and shoved into the background by the Egyptian revolution.” While it is normatively perilous to posit hierarchies between categories of insecurity, the ongoing bloodshed caused by civil war and regime crackdown across the region lends a certain urgency to physical injury. By violence I mean what Thomas (2011) calls direct violence. In her account of violence as an under-attended concept in International Relations, she invokes Keane’s (2004, p. 35) narrow definition as: the more or less intended, direct but unwanted physical interference by groups and/or individuals with the bodies of others, who are consequently made to suffer a series of effects ranging from shock, speechlessness, mental torment, nightmares, bruises, scratches, swellings, or headaches through to broken bones, heart attacks, loss of body parts, or death.

The myth of “bloodless revolution” in Egypt and Tunisia has been exposed by violent crackdowns and assassinations, as well as terrorist attacks and anti-Copt violence in Egypt. The civil wars in Syria and Libya and violent suppression of street protest in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states also suggests that one of core features of the period since January 2011 is direct violence. Indeed the Arab uprisings involve what Aradau (2012) calls “a continuum of violence’: rape and sexual assault, stabbings, bludgeonings, bombings, shootings, muggings, assault,

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riots and hand-to-hand combat (Trew, 2013; Jones, 2014 Joyce and Smahdi, 2014; Hamouchene, 2012). In IR, “violence,” “war,” and “security” are essentially contested concepts subject to considerable debate (Aradau, 2012). I share Thomas’s resistance to Galtung’s (1969) expansion of the definition of violence to include social justice (structural violence). However, a phenomenological approach (Arendt, 1970) which takes seriously the experiences of victims and perpetrators reveals that actors themselves differentiate between direct violence which causes injury and systematic social injustice, while at the same time recognizing how each facilitates the other. It is the case that there are multiple competing political projects and visions of the state being contested across the Arab world. This begs precise delineation between incidents that do immediate physical harm to human bodies through injuring (Scarry, 1985) and those—including poverty, disease and underdevelopment—that are important but do not. Security Assemblages after the Arab Uprisings Two concepts—vernacular security and security assemblage—can be usefully thought through together. Indeed critical IR scholars have explored airports, private security companies and biometric surveillance as sites of manifestation of a “global security assemblage” that has been visible since 9/11 (Abrahamsen and Williams, 2009). The assemblage is a useful rubric for studying violence in the Arab uprisings for four reasons. First, it is particularly suitable for studying political transition because movement and change is inherent to the concept of assemblage. As Tampio (2009, p. 394) has noted, “a political assemblage … has some coherence in what it says and what it does but it continually dissolves and morphs into something new.” Writing on the Egyptian case and following Turner, anthropologist Walter Armbrust (2013, p. 846) has stressed the liminal quality of the Arab uprisings, characterized by a period of “anti-structure without familiar socio-political practices to contain it.” For example, changes in the region have provided opportunities for actors to perpetuate new forms of regional, national and individual insecurity, such as the expansion of criminal networks across the region and increased smuggling of drugs, arms, people and antiquities (Reitano, 2014). Second, as assemblages can lead to order or disorder without a synthetic resolution (Legg, 2011, p. 129), the concept fits well the empirical case of the Arab uprisings which are marked by both attempts by regimes to govern and resistances and subjectivities of citizens which elude these. Third, it is particularly useful for exposing what Buzan and Hansen (2009, p. 14) call “security’s adjacent concepts,” in conjunction with and beyond traditional modes and sites of security (policing, prisons, the Army, the border), acknowledging that possible relations between parts of the assemblage are always in a state of becoming and not fixed. Jarvis and Lister (2013) also point to the importance of adjacency in a “vernacular” approach. The assemblage, Legg (2011)


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points out, aims “to disassemble bordered thinking,” useful as we think through significant transitions in the region. Fourth, building on Aradau’s call for critical IR to analyze a “continuum of violence,” it makes sense to carry this impulse through to its natural conclusions. We should be able to analyze manifestations of violence without needing to posit a precarious boundary between, say, a rebellion and an insurrection, or indeed to delineate the role of opportunistic crime or sexual assault within these. While a full account of the evolution of security assemblages in Egyptian and Jordanian history (as well as regional and global interconnections) lies outside the scope of this article, it is helpful to offer some (admittedly quite limited) empirical description. Assemblages are ontologically heterogeneous. For example, Legg (2009) calls the trafficking of women and children in the interwar years “an assemblage of actual movements, policies, novels, rumors, myths, desires, and places of disembarkation, slavery, purchasing and policing.” Following Legg’s example, during the Mubarak era, the security assemblage in Egypt included but was not limited to: Mubarak and his ministers, soldiers and policemen, laws, the judiciary, the security settlement with Israel following the Camp David Accords, Gamaa Islamiyya, prisons, torture practices, humanitarian intervention, Hamas, confrontations between the police and young men in the ashwa’iyyat, the building of gated communities to insulate the middle classes, the Sinai, the Nile, bribery, Kefaya, internet activism against the regime, the mukhabarat, Bright Star combined and joint training exercises with the US, and the We are all Khaled Said online protest movement. Since 2011, the security assemblage in Egypt has seen the doing away of some of these related to the Mubarak regime and the inclusion of such things as Tahrir Square, unrest in Alexandria, carjacking, sexual assault, pride in an ancient Egyptian civilization which must be defended at all costs, the Copts, the Muslim Brotherhood, the contentious constitution-writing process, police reform, democracy and mass death sentences. There has been a less profound shift within the Jordanian security assemblage during the same period but some changes can be seen. Prior to 2011 the Jordanian security assemblage included but was not limited to: the Hashemite regime, the 1970–71 civil war, the 2003 Iraq War, Iraqi and Palestinian refugees, oil, property prices in Amman which rose with the influx of Iraqis after 2003 and which led to tension with the local population, the Iranian-led “Shi‘a Crescent” which King Abdullah II identified as a major security risk to the region in 2004, Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories, the General Intelligence Directorate, violent protests in Ma’an province against attempts by security forces to question an Al Qaeda-connected suspect in the assassination of USAID employee Laurence Foley, the Jordanian head of Al Qaeda in Iraq Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Afghanistan, the State Security Courts, protests against structural adjustment and economic austerity measures, Hamas, and the three Amman hotels bombed by Al Qaeda in 2005. After 2011 the following aspects also became salient to the Jordanian security assemblage: the joint US military exercises Eager Lion, the stationing of US Patriot missiles and F-16s near the Syrian border, the Press and Publications

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law which has cracked down on dissent, Dakhiliya circle (a site of violent protest against the regime), the pace of political reform, Zaatari camp, unregistered Syrian refugees, President Assad, and al-Herak and 7iber (instruments of protest against the regime). The Liminal Egyptian Security Assemblage The crackdown on dissent since the July 2013 overthrow of former President Mohammed Morsi has seen unprecedented levels of violence in Egypt, with over 1,000 deaths and at least 16,000 imprisoned, according to state officials (Kingsley, 2014). Crime rates have also risen radically since January 2011. According to official figures from the Ministry of the Interior, homicides tripled in the period 2010 to 2012, home invasions went up 63 percent car-thefts and kidnapping for ransom increased four-fold and armed robberies 12-fold over this period (Daragahi, 2013). Still, violence in Egypt related to the protests has been geographically limited and archipelagic, occurring in other cities and towns but most prominently in Cairo and Alexandria, and then within limited areas in those (OSAC, 2012). Primary regional security challenges have been the trafficking of weapons from post-Civil War Libya and activity by militants in the Sinai aiming to pressure new Egyptian governments to renegotiate the settlement with Israel. Sectarian attacks against the Copts as well as between the Muslim Brotherhood and its rivals indicate that group political identities are an increasingly salient feature of the security landscape. While Egypt has avoided foreign military interference, the United States actively negotiated with the Army during the initial Tahrir protests. Israel has also observed government changes uneasily since August 2011 cross-border attacks. While scholars have explored the continuation of military rule after the July 2013 coup and consequences of the revolution regional politics, there has been far less written explicitly on how danger and safety are conceived and negotiated by citizens since late 2010. One exception has been anthropologist Ghannam (2012, p. 32), who has written about how the “structures of feeling” of the residents of the largely low-income neighbourhood of al-Zaqiya al-Hamra in northern Cairo were shaped by the “interplay between local cultural meanings and values and broader national struggles and events.” While residents were initially supportive of the regime in January 2011, fearing a threat to their livelihoods and having access only to televised government propaganda, this changed on February 2, 2011 over Mawqi’at el-Gamal, the battle of the Camel (Ghannam, 2012, p. 33). Men loyal to and almost certainly hired by elements of the Mubarak regime rode horses and camels into Tahrir Square, attacking protestors with knives, clubs, stones, whips, firebombs and guns. The Mubarak regime had used the term baltaga (one who impose[s] his will on others to further his personal interests) to denote Islamist leaders during the 1980s and early 1990s and later young men vying with government forces for control over urban quarters. In 2011 the term was


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appropriated by local residents to mean the Mubarak security forces (Ghannam, 2012, p. 34–35). The psychological novelty of violence in Egypt is critical to understanding how citizens conceive security. Layla Labib, a 19-year-old student who was mugged in Cairo in March told the Financial Times, “He had a knife he cut me with on the arm. It was the first time I experienced anything like that. Honestly, I’ve never seen this much violence in Egypt. It was always chaotic, but not violent” (Daragahi, 2013). Notably, this seeming paradox—chaos as a kind of stability, of expected regularity—on the local, urban level contrasts significantly with the Western geopolitical imagination of Egypt as a fixed point, securing the border with Israel. This psychological novelty extends from the individual and urban levels up through the national level. The International Crisis Group (2013, p. 13) noted that the “use of violence as a means to achieve political ends is being routinized to a degree unprecedented in recent Egyptian history.” At the same time, what citizens identify as “security” is highly contested. The population’s support both for the regime’s use of violence to quell protest and for supporters’ use of violence against the regime has become increasingly malleable (ICG, 2013, p. 14). While what security measures the citizenry is willing to tolerate has grown increasingly fluid since late 2013 at national level, local understandings of the fluidity of security have been a feature since early 2011. Describing how people protected their homes in Cairo in January 2011 from looters and prisoners released by the regime, anthropologist Sherine Hamdy (2012, p. 45) describes this as an “oscillation” between “resilience and vulnerability.” New physical insecurities have cut across class lines and political affiliations. The urban middle classes who have enjoyed significant personal security for decades, including within gated communities on the edges of Cairo, have found themselves subject to personal security concerns which plagued those in the lower classes for decades. The poor, however, have suffered disproportionately from multiple overlapping insecurities. As an elderly woman living in the slums of Cairo’s Masr al-Qadima put it in a June 2013 interview with the International Crisis Group (2013, p. 4), “we thought Morsi was one of us and was going to change our lives for the better. But we are only getting poorer and poorer. Now thugs are roaming our neighborhoods, forcefully evicting defenceless people like me and taking over their residence. There is no police.” In this narrative frame, the liminality of the transition from the routinized brutality of the Mubarak police state to the post-Mubarak era (under both SCAF and the Brotherhood) has produced new forms of vulnerability, born of irregularity, inconsistency and uncertainty. The uprising in Egypt has both produced new physical vulnerabilities and new ways of tackling those, beyond recourse to state security forces. A demonstrative carjacking incident from October 2011 demonstrates the oft-cited notion by critical scholars that security produces insecurity. Alaa Abdel El-Monem, deputy managing editor at Rosal Yousef’s daily newspaper, described this account on the Mehwar highway to Al-Ahram:

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My car broke down at 2:30am, so I had to stop until the engine cooled off. Three men appeared out of the blue asking me whether I needed help. I said ‘No thanks,’ started the engine and drove 100 metres before the car once again grinded [sic] to halt. Then I saw these three men running towards me holding blades. I pulled out my licensed gun and shot at them. I couldn’t injure any of them but they ran away. I later drove my car another short distance to find a police checkpoint. I told them what happened and blamed them for leaving such a dangerous spot on the road unsecured. They just told me that citizens should do whatever it takes to protect themselves, stressing that I must gun down any thug who tries to attack me (Tarek, 2011).

In this incident, the victim was “responsibilized” by state forces to produce his own security through not only the threat but the actual use of violence. This retreat of the state has produced feelings of insecurity among middle class professionals who previously enjoyed significant physical safety. This retreat is fuelled in part by the number of government transitions which have weakened the security apparatus. At a local level, many police in Egypt have been sensitive to popular opprobrium at the actions of some of their numbers and feel they lack legitimacy to enforce the law. Security-by-neglect is not, however, a revolutionary phenomenon in Egypt. In Dorman’s account of the “ashwa’iyyat (informal districts) in Cairo during the 1990s, these were both the subject of demonization and security intervention to root out ‘terrorism’ as well as, seemingly paradoxically, substantial neglect by Mubarak-era security services (Dorman, 2009). The liminal revolutionary period has also opened up new opportunities for bottom-up security conceptions and practices. At the same time as the Army has perpetuated a Mubarak-era state monopoly over security, the liminal revolutionary scenario has also led to devolved responsibilities for security to local police forces and to citizens themselves. Citizens have sometimes stepped into the breach, as described by Hamdy (2012), while others, through crime, in the political and legal vacuum have perpetuated new forms of insecurity. Authoritarian regimes have long been quick to denounce the actions of their political opponents as ‘criminal’ and vice versa. Greenwood and Waever (2013) have argued that in the weeks prior to Mubarak’s abdication, the regime first securitized “chaos,” then “diffused threats from ‘foreign powers,’” then the revolutionaries as spurred on by Arab-Zionist or Iranian conspiracy, and then finally the Muslim Brotherhood. They note that subsequently “the dominant securitizations became increasingly destructive de-legitimizations of political opponents,” with all sides to blame (Greenwood and Waever, 2013, p. 495). Additionally, in post-2010 Egypt, where the rule of law is in flux, even the definition of crime which is not explicitly the product of political action—such as carjacking—has grown increasingly contested. Criminologist at the National Centre for Social and Criminological Research in Cairo Mohammed Bastami noted, “now we have the problem of people violently expressing themselves in what they consider freedom of expression … we consider what they’re doing a crime but they don’t” (Daragahi, 2013). Crime


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has also become a method for achieving individual and familial security. In the context of the ongoing economic crisis some people have turned to criminal acts to survive, and the flow of weapons from post-civil war Libya has allowed this to take on increasingly violent dimensions. Phillips (2006) has argued that for Deleuze an assemblage is a combination of event-ness, sense and becoming; is defined by blending and joining; and is a whole which cannot be reduced to its component parts. Overall, in the Egyptian case, the fundamental character of the security assemblage (at least at the time of writing in mid-2014) was liminality. It has been marked by the chronological and spatial coexistence—not merely the ebb and flow, as some commentators have suggested—of seemingly paradoxical forces—democracy and authoritarianism, secularism and Islamism, wealth and poverty, criminality and legality, citizenship and security subjecthood. As such, security and insecurity coexist, individually, locally and nationally, generating and conditioning one another. The Moderate Jordanian Security Assemblage The Jordanian security assemblage looks markedly different. Since the start of the Tunisian uprisings in December 2010, there have been periodic Friday street demonstrations in Jordan, though limited in size compared with Egypt and Tunisia. These protests have featured a broad number of actors including leftists, the Islamic Action Front and youth-based (al-Herak) movements, calling for further political liberalization as well as changes to Jordan’s neoliberal economic policies (Ryan, 2014, p. 144). Since King Abdullah II came to power in 1999, Jordan has experienced several rounds of street protests but nothing on the level of the threat to regime security as the 1970–71 civil war. Jordan did however experience rioting in November 2012 in protest against economic austerity measures brought in to comply with the regime’s obligations to the International Monetary Fund, echoing similar, limited rioting in 1989 and 1996 (Ryan, 1998). However, since 2011 the largest threat to Jordan’s external and internal security has been the Syrian civil war on its northern border. In addition to the overflow of refugees during a time of severe economic downturn in Jordan, the Hashemites have feared at various times a potential border attack by the Assad regime, the overflow of rebel fighters into its territory, violence in Zaatari camp, or the import of violence to Jordan by Ba’athist sympathizers or returning jihadists. While the border between Iraq and Syria has seen the increasingly free flow of ISIS fighters since late 2013, Jordan has so far managed to secure its own eastern border against this flow. The regime had also worried about a potential Muslim Brotherhood government in Syria agitating its own Islamic Action Front domestic opposition. Jordan’s request for US Patriot missiles and F-16 fighter jets to remain on its soil after the Eager Lion joint military exercise in summer 2013 provoked condemnation by both pro-regime and pro-reform forces in the kingdom. The Hashemites have had to strike a delicate balance between shoring up their border,

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resisting both forces in the kingdom urging them to support Assad and external allies such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the US urging them to do more to support the rebels, and placating those feeling the pressure of austerity measures, sensitive to what they have seen as unfair provision of limited resources to refugees over Jordanian nationals. Though the regime still faces significant internal and external pressures, including increasing unity across pro-reform factions, it has felt more secure in 2013–14 than it had the previous two years (Ryan, 2014, p. 151). Though calls for reform have been intense at various moments since late 2010, King Abdullah II enjoys relatively high levels of legitimacy across the population in comparison with other states in the region. What is the basis for what the regime has tried to convince its Western allies is the moderate “Jordanian exception”? Korkmaz (2007) has suggested that Bubandt’s use of the term vernacular security does not illuminate well the convergence (and indeed whether there is a convergence) between state and societal visions of security. The Jordanian case is one in which stability is a key area of political convergence between regime and population and across various segments of the population. This is the case even if the regime’s approach to achieving security is highly contested by segments of the population. For example, the use of State Security Courts to prosecute street protestors has been severely condemned by elements of Jordanian civil society as well as international human rights organizations (Human Rights Watch, 2014, p. 563). Draft amendments to the Anti-Terrorism Law 2006 have recently attracted the ire of those who fear the law will make it easier to prosecute street protestors and online activists. One noted “Who in their right mind would start a social platform and register it in Jordan, when he/she will be easily associated with terrorism just by providing the medium?” (Al Masri, 2014). Still, a fragile consensus holds among pro-reform factions to restrain from violence, particularly in the capital. This stems from both a consensus around moderate means and a fear of the security services. For several decades, “unity” and “moderation” have been the defining features of Hashemite security discourse after a delicate political balance was struck between East banker and Palestinian populations in Jordan following the 1970–71 civil war. “National unity” is an important security discourse in Jordan, though falling short of a securitizing one. It promotes social coherence and stability while at the same time denoting the object to be secured as the Jordanian state as a whole, around which the population can rally, without explicitly referencing regime security. For example, in 2002 in response to protests over the Israeli crackdown on the Al Aqsa Intifada, interior minister Qaftan Majali noted, “for Jordan, national unity is sacred and we cannot tolerate any tampering with it” (Schwedler and Fayaz, 2010, p. 288). For example, after the Dakhiliya protests on March 27, 2011, in which 58 policemen and 62 civilians were injured, King Abdullah II the called on the people to “avoid any behaviour or attitude that would affect our unity” (Al Jazeera, 2011). This discourse of unity-through-moderation has become increasingly prominent since the November 2005 Al Qaeda hotel bombings in Amman which killed


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60 and injured 115. This convergence between regime and societal conceptions of nonviolence-as-moderation since 2005 both conditions and is produced by the Jordanian version of what Brumberg (2002) calls “the grey zone of liberalized autocracy.” Since 2011 the regime has periodically signalled its willingness to reform. While many are frustrated with its speed, an unstable mix of trust and fear of attracting the attention of Jordan’s efficient internal security apparatus has been sufficient to stem significant violent challenge. Scholars have noted that the Hashemites have traditionally secured regime stability through the reshuffling of governments and prime ministers, thus giving a range of elites a stake in the status quo (Ryan, 2014). However, Tobin (2012) has also argued that the “aspiring cosmopolitanism” of the emerging Ammanbased middle class has helped to stem revolutionary protest in Jordan since late 2010 and encourage maintenance of the status quo. Reflecting the elite discourse, Jordan as the Nation of Security and Stability (Belad al-Amn wa al-Istighrar) is an oft-repeated trope among the securely- and aspiring-middle classes. In Tobin’s view there has been a two-way process. On the one hand, the regime has used the sacking of governments as a distracting form of political theatre and encouraged citizens to look to its unstable neighbors for a vision of what would happen if the Hashemites fell. On the other hand, the aspirational middle class has concluded that national, ethnic and religious divisions in Jordan would likely lead to Syrianor Iraqi-style civil war instead of Egyptian-style revolution. They have not wanted to put their burgeoning economic and social status at risk (Tobin, 2012, p. 107). Middle class Palestinians have also not been willing to protest over and above what the East Bank Jordanians middle class has done. Many in the middle classes—prostatus quo or pro-reform—have two core beliefs in the Hashemites as political technocrats which Cook and Cook (2012) identify as essential for political trust: confidence in Hashemite technocratic reliability, backed by political legitimacy (with relatively few calls for the full abolition of the monarchy). The regime has shown just enough willingness to reform and flexibility in allowing for (highly regulated and surveilled) protest (Schwedler and Fayaz, 2010, pp. 203–204) while at the same time maintaining the threat of coercive force, particularly outside of Amman. Thus the convergence of Western attention, violence on two borders, an economic crisis, and protestors’ restraint have produced a post-2010 security assemblage conditioned strongly by pragmatic, nonviolent moderation across a range of actors. This balance—partly consensual, but also reinforced by the two wars next door—is not so much static as flexible enough to have so far allowed a few limited, violent shocks to the system. Still, Li (2007, p. 287) has emphasized contingency, “the ever-present possibility that an assemblage may disintegrate under the weight of its own contradictions or reassembled” in different forms.

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Conclusion This chapter has used the Egyptian and Jordanian cases as a window into the “structures of feeling” of citizens living through the uprisings, within the context of the emerging post-2010 security assemblages in these two countries. These cases suggest that feelings of citizen safety may overlap with but are by no means congruent with regime security measures or state stability. Additionally, “looking up” from the individual and popular levels to the national and regional also reveals much about security during the Arab uprisings which is not apparent through a top-down approach. For example, much has been made of state repression of popular uprisings in the Gulf, but the Jordanian case suggests that further enquiry could be made into acquiescence, nonviolence and flexibility in conscious and unconscious grassroots security strategy. Space precludes this, but further analysis is also needed to connect the processes of fracturing and reorganization of social trust and rituals of safety between citizens and state security forces with broader state and regional political reconfigurations. A mounting tally of brutality done and pending across the region—including the sensational sentencing of 683 members of the Muslim Brotherhood to death in Egypt in April 2014—lends urgency to this. References Abrahamsen, R. and Williams, M.C., 2009. Security beyond the state: global security assemblages in international politics. International Political Sociology, 3, p. 1–17. Al Jazeera, 2011. Jordan’s King calls for national unity. Al Jazeera, [online] March 27. Available at: [Accessed May 4, 2014]. AlMasri, R., 2014. Jordan’s anti-terrorism law: a choice between security or speech. 7iber, [online] April 30. Available at: [Accessed May 1, 2014]. Aradau, C., 2012. Security, War, Violence—The Politics of Critique: a reply to Barkawi. Millennium—Journal of International Studies, 41(1), p.112–123. Arendt, H., 1970. On Violence. New York: Harcourt Publishers. Armbrust, W., 2013. The Trickster in Egypt’s January 25th Revolution. Comparative Studies in Society and History, 55(4), pp. 834–864. Brumberg, D., 2002. The Trap of Liberalized Autocracy. Journal of Democracy, 13(4), pp.56–68 Bubandt, N., 2005. Vernacular Security: The Politics of Feeling Safe in Global, National and Local Worlds. Security Dialogue, 36(3), pp.275–296. Buzan, B., and Hansen, L., 2009. The Evolution of International Security Studies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


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Cook, K.S., and Cook, B.D., 2012. Social and Political Ttrust. In: G. Delanty and S.P. Turner, eds. 2012. Routledge International Handbook of Contemporary Social and Political Theory. Abingdon: Routledge. pp. 236–247. Daragahi, B., 2013. Egyptians become victims of soaring crime rate. Financial Times, [online] May 1. Available at: [Accessed April 28, 2014]. Dorman, W.J., 2009. Informal Cairo: Islamist Insurgency and the Neglectful State?. Security Dialogue, 40(4–5), pp. 419–441. Galtung, J., 1969. Violence, Peace, and Peace Research. Journal of Peace Research, 6(3), pp. 167–91. Ghannam, F., 2012. Meanings and Feelings: Local Interpretations of the Use of Violence in the Egyptian Revolution. American Ethnologist, 39(1), pp. 32–36. Greenwood, M.T., and Waever, O., 2013. Copenhagen-Cairo on a Roundtrip: a Security Theory Meets the Revolution. Security Dialogue, 44(5–6), pp. 485–506. Hamdy, S.F., 2012. Strength and Vulnerability after Egypt’s Arab Spring Uprisings. American Ethnologist, 39(1), pp. 43–48. Hamouchene, H., 2012. Algeria and the Arab Spring. Open Democracy, [online] May 25. Available at: [Accessed June 1, 2014]. Human Rights Watch, 2014. World Report 2014. [pdf] New York: Human Rights Watch. Available at: [Accessed May 2, 2014]. International Crisis Group, 2013. Marching in Circles: Egypt’s Dangerous Second Transition. [pdf] Brussels: Middle East North Africa Briefing No. 35. Available at: [Accessed May 2, 2014]. Jarvis, L., and Lister, M., 2013. Vernacular Securities and their Study: A Qualitative Analysis and Research Agenda. International Relations, 27(2), pp. 158–79. Jones, S., 2014. In Egypt, Arab Spring gives way to military winter. The World Post, [online] January 21. Available at: [Accessed June 1, 2014]. Joyce, R., and Smadhi, A., 2014. Tunisia’s Arab Spring: Three Years On. Al Jazeera, [online] January 15. Available at: [Accessed June 1, 2014]. Keane, J., 2004. Violence and Democracy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Kingsley, P., 2014. Egypt Police Captain Jailed for 10 years over Death of 37 Prisoners Gassed in Van. The Guardian, [online] March 18. Available at: [Accessed May 1, 2014]. Korkmaz, V., 2007. How the Understanding of Security Changes over Space and Time: The Role of Identity in International Relations. Prostranctvo I Bremya

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v Mirovoy Politike I Mejdunarodnix Otnosheniyax, Materialni 4-go Konventa RAMI, Tom 2, Identichnost I suverenitet, Novie Podhodi k ocmicleniyu ponyatiy, Moskva. Legg, S., 2011. Assemblage/apparatus: using Deleuze and Foucault. Area, 43(2), pp.128–133. ——. Of scales, networks and assemblages: the League of Nations apparatus and the scalar sovereignty of the Government of India. Transactions, 34, pp. 234–253. Lemanski, C., 2012. Everyday Human (in)Security: Rescaling for the Southern City. Security Dialogue, 43(1), pp. 63–78. Li, T.M., 2007. Practices of Assemblage and Community Forest Management. Economy and Society, 36(2), pp. 263–93. OSAC, US Department of State. 2012. Egypt 2012 OSAC Crime and Safety Report, [online] February 18. Available at: [Accessed June 1, 2014] Phillips, J., 2006. Agencement/Assemblage. Theory, Culture and Society, 23(2–3), pp.108–109. Reitano, T., 2014. Poisoning the Arab Spring: emerging criminal markets. New York: The Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime. Available at: [Accessed January 31, 2014]. Ryan, C.R., 1998. Peace, Bread and Riots: Jordan and the International Monetary Fund. Middle East Policy, 6(2), pp. 54–66 ——, 2014. Jordanian Foreign Policy and the Arab Spring. Middle East Policy, 21(1), pp. 144–53. Scarry, E., 1985. The Body in Pain: the Making and Unmaking of the World. New York: Oxford University Press. Schwedler, J., and Fayaz, S., 2010. Locating Dissent: Space, Law and Protests in Jordan. In: L. Khalili and J. Schwedler, eds. 2010. Policing and Prisons in the Middle East: Formations of Coercion. New York and London: Columbia University Press and Hurst Publishers, pp. 275–94. Stern, M., 2006. “We” the Subject: The Power and Failure of (in)Security. Security Dialogue, 37(2), pp. 187–205. Tampio, N., 2009. Assemblages and the Multitude: Deleuze, Hardt, Negri and the Postmodern Left. European Journal of Political Theory, 8, pp. 383–400. Tarek, S., 2011. Egypt’s police after the revolution: Brutality Combines with Lack of Security. Al-Ahram Online, [online] October 27. Available at: [Accessed April 17, 2014]. Thomas, C., 2011. Why Don’t We Talk about Violence in International Relations? Review of International Studies, 37, pp. 1815–1836. Tobin, S.A., 2012. Jordan’s Arab Spring: The Middle Class and Anti-Revolution. Middle East Policy, 19(1), pp. 96–109.


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Trew, B., 2013. Egypt’s sexual assault epidemic. Al Jazeera, [online] August 14. Available at: [Accessed June 1, 2014]. Williams, R., 1977. Marxism and Literature. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Wyn Jones, R., 1996. “Travel without maps”: Thinking about security after the Cold War. In: M.J. Davis, ed. Security Issues in the Post-Cold War World. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. pp. 196–218.

Chapter 11

Twitter vs. Penguens on TV: #GeziParkProtests, Social Media Use, and the Generation Y in Turkey Aslı Tunç

Introduction The summer of 2013 for Turkey was particularly a hot one. The initial, small scale environmentalist protest to resist urban development plan and to protect Gezi Park at Taksim Square in Istanbul ended up as the biggest anti-government uprising that lasted for months. The days of intense street protests about various injustices such as environmental destruction, urban transformation, economic injustices, and political repression around the country became a turning point in Turkish political history. The protests have brought together people from a broad political spectrum, as well as those who had no history of political activism at all. Students, unions, NGOs, women’s organizations, LGBT groups, Turkish secularists, Kurds, and even rival football fans joined forces and kept united for weeks against excessive police brutality. The origins of this new civility that the country has never witnessed before has been called “Gezi Spirit.” Most of the Gezi protestors were so young that they had only experienced an environment where a moderate Islamist party capitalized on the failures of other political alternatives. The uprising posed a fundamental challenge to the discourse of apathy that has dominated thinking about youth in Turkey over the last four decades. The young always came to be seen as a cause of disappointment and frustration for the more politically involved older generations. Young people were often accused of lacking ideals, knowledge, and the will to get involved in the political life of the country by the intellectuals and politicians. Unlike Kurdish youth who had found themselves in a highly politicized environment in the post-1980 era in the midst of a war between the Turkish military and the Kurdistan’s Worker’s Party (PKK) in the Eastern Anatolia, urban youth was brought up in a highly depoliticized environment. Especially parents who had taken part left or right student movements and paid high prices after the 1980 coup d’état, played a central role in bringing up the next generation with apathy, fear and disgust of politics. They kept their children away from politics and guided them to focus on their careers as students and professionals. The youth who were against the government’s


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increasingly authoritarian and conservative vision were not visible in protests as much as “the religious youth” that AKP government set out to cultivate. Gezi uprisings were the first event for the young where widespread disdain and cynicism turned into open protest. The concept Generation Y or the Milennial Generation has gradually penetrated the Turkish academic milieu where youth’s media patterns were drastically changing. In what has become common parlance, members of Generation Y are called digital natives, rather than digital immigrants (Prensky, 2001; Selwyn, 2009). They are the first generation to have spent their entire lives in the digital environment—information technology profoundly affects how they live and work. Turkey mostly came familiar with this concept during Gezi Park protests. Generation Y has always been the center of fascination to marketing and advertising sectors, however, their patterns of social media use for social movements have never been thoroughly analyzed before Gezi. There are various research about how college students spend time in consuming social media content (Pempek et al 2009), create and actively to the content (Dye, 2007), how Generation Y use social media for information, leisure or entertainment (Park, et al. 2009), for socializing and connecting with the community (Valkenburg, et al. 2006), and for staying contact with friends while caring about their privacy (Lenhart, et al. 2010). However, generation Y’s social media use in the USA and in many developed countries immensely differs due to disparities in technological infrastructure and differences in culture. In any case, the common cross cultural feature of Gen Y is that these digital natives are extremely technologically savvy and the most visually sophisticated than any previous generation (Palfrey and Gasser, 2008). Besides, Generation Y, in fact, has a political identity which combines insistence upon negative freedom from state intrusion with positive freedom to make personal choices. Millennials consider freedom a basic need and believe that personal freedom should be unlimited. Generation Y’ers are strong advocates of social tolerance and pluralism, as well as rebels against hierarchy, including in the family. Turkish Youth, Social Media and Political Participation Unlike rapidly aging Europe, Turkey is a very young society, According to 2014 data of Turkish Statistical Institute (TUİK, 2014), in total population of 76.7 million, 28 percent of the whole population is between the ages of 10–14, and 17.2 percent is between the ages of 15–17. According to Eurostat data, Turkey has the youngest population compared to the EU countries with 18.8 million within the age group of 15–29. Overall Turkey has 16.6 percent of young population whereas the young population in the combination of 28 countries within the EU is merely 11.5 percent. Besides, Turkish children (6–15 age group) start using computer at the age of eight and get online at nine. As reported in Anadolu Agency

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(2014), the age for starting to use mobile phone is 10. Within the same age group 24.4 percent owns a computer, and 13.1 percent owns a mobile phone. Turkey has a vibrant Internet community with 36,455,000 internet users with 31.1 percent. Twitter penetration rate and with 11,337,500 active Twitter users and the country ranked eighth in internet penetration for Twitter (Minto 2013). According to March 2011 data from comScore Media Metrix, which monitors internet traffic, 16.6 percent of internet users over the age of 15 use Twitter in Turkey. The existing literature on Generation Y extensively emphasized young people’s active content production on social media, creation and mashing such as combining of content from multiple sources (Dye 2007; Rawlins et al. 2008). In that context, according to a research conducted before Gezi Park protests by Pew Research Center (2012), Turkey ranked among the countries where the majority of social media users express opinions about community issues (63 percent) and politics (57 percent). During Gezi Park protests, Twitter has become a useful source of news for the Turkish public. While the violent clashes between protesters and the police were taking place on the streets in the midst of tear gas all over Taksim Square and major neighborhoods, the mainstream news channels, like NTV and CNNTurk were airing documentaries on penguins or cooking shows.

Figure 11.1 Frequency of internet access among young people in Turkey in 2013


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In the meantime, the total number of tweets sent daily in Turkey skyrocketed from 9–11 million to 15.2 million on May 31, the day when the events sparked (Ergurel, 2013). However, if we look at the Internet use of the Turkish youth one month prior to Gezi, findings of the research called Şebeke Project on Youth Participation in Turkey would be enlightening.1 Before discussing the young generation’s social media use in Gezi Park protest, it would be useful to take a look at the general overview of the young’s media pattern nationwide. Şebeke Project with the help of KONDA2 research team conducted an extensive research on Turkish youth in May 2013. 2.508 young people between the ages of 18–24 have been face-to face interviewed. Those interviews took place in 114 towns and 203 villages in 36 cities with a high level of representation of the regions and population distribution in the country. According to this extensive research, Figure 11.1 shows that 88 percent of females and 97 percent of males have access to Internet whereas one in every eight young women, and one third of married women are not online. There is also an ethnic (Kurdish and Zaza 85 percent) and income level difference (Low income 85 percent) in terms of Internet access. Almost all university students (99 percent) are online. Young people who have been previously participated in any protest and demonstration and made a donation for earthquake victims in Van are more likely to be online than the ones who have not done so.

Figure 11.2 Use of communication tools among young people in Turkey in 2013

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As Figure 11.2 indicates 84.3 percent of the youngsters use mobile phones in addition to 70.1 percent of texting and Facebook use with the same percentage. According to other indicators, these rates vary according to demographics and youth political participation especially when it comes to Twitter and WhatsApp use. The frequency of different communication tools varies according to demographics. For instance, the tools apart from the mobile phones are much more used by males. The frequency of Twitter and WhatsApp use sharply differs in low and high income groups since these applications are mostly used on smart phones. Additionally, education level also a significant indicator in the use of communication tools. As education level increases, so does the extensive use of online applications. As anticipated, Twitter and e-mail use is widely common among young people who live apart from their families.

Figure 11.3 Purpose of internet use among young people in Turkey 2013 Figure 11.3 indicates various purposes of the Internet use among youth in Turkey. Communication and chat play an important role despite there are differences in urban/rural areas. In cross tabulation analyses, it has also been found that there is a correlation between the education level and the frequency of chatting. The percentage of online chatting in married couples within the same age range is as low as 38 percent whereas as high as 75 percent among students. One in every six young people (14 percent) uses Internet to participate into political discussions and debates. At first sight, it might seem a low rate when it is compared to other purposes, yet it becomes meaningful within the argument of youth’s being apolitical. When this rate is combined with the group who gets news from the Internet (45 percent), this finding can easily be interpreted as online sites’ playing


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a significant role as news source in young people’s lives. Following news online begs further analysis since the demographics of the users vary considerably. Male students who stay at university dormitories are more likely to follow news online. In the age group between 18 and 22, the percentage of following news online increases up to 52 percent whereas between 22 and 24, it takes a sharp dive to 47 percent. However, there is an uncertainty whether those young people get their news from other sources or do not follow news in general. There is also a direct correlation between income level and getting news online. For instance, while 29 percent of low income group is following news online, the percentage increases to 49 percent in upper-middle income group.

Figure 11.4 Membership to a political party among young people in Turkey, 2013 According to Figure 11.4, 9 percent of the participants in the research indicates that they have a political affiliation or a membership to a political party. Additionally 12 percent points out their willingness to join a political party although they have not yet been a member. If those subsets are combined with 3 percent of a group who has been member of a political party but left, the share in youth’s political involvement increases to one fourth of the whole. However, the most striking finding is the majority of participants’ not being a member of a political party and their reluctance to join a youth branch. Also politics is still seen as a male domain since among the ones who are party members 71 percent is male and 29 percent is female. Generation Y, Gezi Park Protests, and Social Media Although what Turkey went through in June 2013 was not a revolution in the classical sense of knocking down the government, it was definitely a revolution of consciousness. Especially young people who have been suffering from the antidemocratic consequences of the AKP government saw that an alternative was

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possible. Those young people, who had been dismissed for decades as ignorant and apolitical, were in the forefront. After taking a overall look at their general profiles and their Internet use patterns, a more thorough analysis of this generation’s social media use during Gezi Park protests will be discussed. According to an extensive KONDA research conducted during June 6–8, 2013 just at the early days of Gezi Park protest, 4,411 participants have been face-toface interviewed. The 30-hour long interviews took place in various parts of Gezi Park to get a representative sample. As Figure 11.5 indicates the age average of Gezi Park occupiers is 28. According to TÜİK’s data, the age average of Istanbul residents is 30.1, and the age average nationwide is 30.3. At first sight, this might seem as a representative sample, yet, if the age distribution is analyzed further, the age group 21–25 and 26–30 have been overrepresented when compared to Turkish census and age above 35 has been underrepresented. In the light of Figure 11.5, it would be fair to conclude that Gezi Park protests were a youth movement.

Figure 11.5 Age distribution of Gezi Park Occupiers (KONDA Gezi Park Research 2013) When compared to the education level of the residents of the city and the country, Gezi occupiers were definitely more educated than both. This indicator has always been the most striking one. A mere 0.3 percent indicated that they were illiterate in Gezi whereas this rate is 6 percent in the country and 4.7 percent in Istanbul. On the other hand, Gezi Park hosted quite an educated group of protestors in the turmoil of June 2013. In every three people out of five had at least a high


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school diploma (42.8 percent was university graduate, 12.9 percent had masters or PhD). According to the census, one tenth of the country’s population is university graduate while in Gezi this rate was more than half. While the demonstrations were going on, the mainstream Turkish media have at best shied away from covering the protests and at a worst ignored them completely. The international and Turkish media simultaneously were presenting a stark contrast of two irreconcilable worlds. Gezi demonstrations have shaken the Turkish media to a core with protesters often directing their ire at the news media specifically and accusing of a moral bankruptcy. Unlike any previous protests, this has been a jarring wake-up call for an embattled industry and a threatened profession. Almost every mass-media outlet in Turkey is owned by the same large conglomerates that also do significant business with the government and vie for the lucrative urban renewal, energy and construction projects which have fueled Turkey’s economic growth. These outlets almost never publish anything critical of the government and have been known to come out with identical (governmentfriendly) headlines on certain critical days. The last newspaper to publish a story on economic corruption by the AKP was hit by a surprise, multi-billion US-dollar tax fine—which was later “forgiven” by the government after the paper toned down its critical coverage.

Figure 11.6 Education level of Gezi Occupiers (KONDA Gezi Park Research 2013)

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Young people gathered in Gezi Park have been protesting not only against the government, or the Prime Minister, but against the media as well. They have marched to the headquarters and offices of a number of TV stations and media outlets and voiced their strong indignation against this kind of betrayal of the cause of the media. Generation Y had lost their faith in extremely partisan mainstream news media long ago, yet, Gezi has been a vivid example of disappointment among a technologically savvy generation (Tunç, 2013).

Figure 11.7 Getting the initial news (KONDA Gezi Park Research 2013)

In Gezi Park research, occupiers were asked their initial source of receiving news. 69 percent of the participants indicated that they got the news from social media. Only 7 percent got the news from television although on a national level this rate is 10 times higher (71.3 percent). Age and education level are two main indicators when it comes to media consumption. Only 5 percent of the participants above the age of 44 got the news from social media, 2 percent from the online news sites, and 88 percent from television. The profile of a participant who got the news from social media can be listed as university graduate (30 percent), under the age of 28 (68 percent), defining himself/herself as “modern” (63 percent), having middle and upper-middle income and on the other hand, the profile who got the news from television on nationwide is above the age of 44 (45 percent), not having a high school diploma (66 percent), mostly housewife (35 percent), wearing a headscarf (70 percent) and defining herself/himself as “religious” (67 percent). While the traditional mainstream media in Turkey lost its journalistic reflexes, social media have become a crucial source from which young Turks learn about breaking and unreported news. This informative role of the social media was


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particularly noticeable when the Gezi Park protests began to accelerate on Friday, May 31. The findings of the research verify this argument. Unsurprisingly, social media, especially Twitter and Facebook have emerged as key protest and information conduits. Most people heard of what was going on in the park during the initial police attack (when the protest was small, the police moved in, burned the tents and started cutting down the trees) via Twitter and Facebook and went to protect the park. In the meantime The Prime Minister called Twitter a “menace” (or curse) to society, ironically, all his top lieutenants have always been very active on social media during election campaigns. However, AKP government tended to lean toward censorship and propaganda on social media. On May 31 the photos in the social media which demonstrated the disproportional use of force by the police was very effective to mobilize young people. Young people frequently shared their locations and reported breaking news from there. The popular hashtag transformed into #direngeziparki (resist Gezi Park), which was followed by growing support for the protests. In the meantime Amnesty International Turkey and its supporters tweeted the mobile phone numbers of lawyers volunteering legal assistance to those who had been arrested by police. Some hotels, cafes and bars close to Taksim Square, in which Gezi Park is situated, have tweeted that they welcome protesters, offering them food, water and shelter.

Figure 11.8 The occupiers’ use of social media (KONDA Gezi Park Research 2013) Local residents have also posted the passwords for their personal wireless internet connections so that protesters can stay online. The supporters of AKP blamed the protesters for the clashes. They began to spread their own comments under the hashtag of #oyunagelmeturkiyem (“do not get fooled, my country”) on Twitter.

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As Figure 11.8 shows, social networking sites provided platforms for the entanglement and integration of public-political and private spheres, engendering a mode of citizen journalism dedicated, directly and indirectly, to activism. Protesters’ interactive use of Facebook and Twitter by sharing news, spreading verbal and visual information, combatting disinformation, offering solidarity, sharing organized legal and health support, and documenting and exposing the human rights abuses has been witnessed for the first time in Turkish history. The literature on Generation Y, who are digitally savvy and more likely to engage in social media activities that include blogging, tweeting, positing messages and other web 2.0 activities, confirms these findings.

Figure 11.9 Protestors’ moment of decision (KONDA Gezi Park Research 2013) There have been a variety of reasons what initiated and popularized the groundbreaking protests in Taksim Square ranging from the regulation of public consumption of alcohol, and knocking down old city landmark (Emek movie theater), to media censorship and journalist arrests and the uncompromising rhetoric of the Prime Minister. However, seeing police brutality has been the most traumatic one. Almost half of the participants (49.1 percent) decided to come to the park after seeing the police violence on social media and those were mostly ordinary citizens. In fact the protests started out as a response to the AKP’s project of urban transformation or urban renewal, yet, urban questions quickly took a backseat as the protests became massive. The protests quickly turned away from the ongoing environmental destruction and turned into political repression. The confrontations instantly became to be about “so much more than a park.” The hundreds of banners that almost completely wrapped some of the trees in the


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park have been a testament to the ingenuity of this generation that has chosen wit and humor over violence. The Gezi Spirit was rooted in “disproportionate use of intellect” coined by the protestors and sympathizers themselves as opposed to the “disproportionate police force” who attacked protestors with water cannons, pepper gas and plastic bullets. In sum, in Turkey, there is still no political party or institutional infrastructure which reflects this generation or this emerging pluralism. The Gezi Spirit came as a result of an effort to find a name for an unprecedented and unlikely political coalescence. Thus, pluralism and tolerance have been perhaps the most significant political values emerged in the postGezi politics.

Figure 11.10 Occupiers’ defining identities (KONDA Gezi Park Research 2013) Despite the government’s effort in portraying the occupiers as militants, political marginals, and terrorists, the participants did not even emphasize allegiances to any political party (Figure 11.10). When the Prime Minister, Erdogan called the protesters “çapulcu” (looters), it did not take long for the young people to spin the meaning of the term and give it a positive connotation. “Çapulcu,” as the base of many slogans in the protest, is now taking root in popular terminology as a group who champions the environment and personal freedoms. Figure 11.11 and Figure 11.12 show that 40 percent of the occupiers who defined themselves as “ordinary citizens” have been participated in a previous protest and also 16 percent who have been a member of group or party and had experience in a demonstration. This indicates that one in every two people has been directly involved in a social event.

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Figure 11.11 Political participation of the occupiers (KONDA Gezi Park Research 2013)

Figure 11.12 Occupiers’ participation in previous protests (KONDA Gezi Park Research 2013)



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Conclusion The findings of both research conducted on youth prior to Gezi and during the protests showed that despite their self-proclaimed disinterest in politics, young people do in fact talk about politics, have ideas about politics and politicians, and adjust their expectations according to the performance of governments. Therefore, contrary to the widespread belief, young people in Turkey were not apolitical, or apathetic, but rather cynical. The word “apathy,” from Greek apatheia, meaning without pathos, feeling, or suffering, hardly captured the strong expressions of contempt for politicians, the distrust in politics, and the sense of powerlessness against their rulers. In this light, Gezi demonstrations can be seen as an eruption of disbelief and disgust to authoritarian and corrupt politicians, ineffective institutions, and the grave problems in media and judicial system. Besides, the common denominator of youth was their consensus on the absence of communication channels to express their problems and to influence politicians and politics in the country. Also with another online survey3 showed that Generation Y’s democratic understanding has gone beyond conventional party politics where political parties could not satisfy their democratic demands as citizens. For the Gezi youth, democracy is not just election results but also a system of checks and balances to guarantee constitutional rights and protect individuals from the tyranny of the majority. After a year passed after months of gripping drama, the death toll was five and over 8,000 people injured including protesters losing their eyes by tear gas canisters. Yet, Gezi’s impact was immense on politics, media, and society. While the “Gezi Spirit” has failed to spread to the wider population, it has also proven too salient and stubborn for AKP to oppress and also could be rejuvenated by any tiny spark. One of the most compelling outcomes of Gezi was Generation Y’s being is a refreshing new voice in Turkish politics—a voice that is secular, yet not insisting upon the rigid state secularism. Rather, Generation Y are truly pluralist demanding that neither religious nor non-religious values be imposed on the people. Also, they believe in the power of citizens and creating their own news. If the mainstream media do not function, they initiate social media activism to make the political establishment be accountable for their action. They redefine the function of media as the “fourth estate.” The Generation Y’ers in Gezi practiced a new kind of politics. Following the protests, evening forums started be organized in neighborhood parks across Turkey. As a symbolic resistance to the Prime Minister’s authoritarian attitude, the young has been in search for open debate for the public and new platforms to express their thoughts and aspirations. All the discussions on the forums have been transmitted via social media. Thus, Gezi Spirit created an authentic deliberation and consensus that young people had been longed for. Belonging to a generation, as German sociologist Karl Mannheim points out, is at some level to be conscious of a generational identity derived from a combination of shared temporal, historical and socio-cultural location (Longhurst, 1989).

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In the first anniversary of Gezi, intensive security measures were once again intact around Taksim Square with a government ban on gatherings in force around the park. Similar to the previous year, the extreme police tactics—targeting individual protesters with tear gas canisters and water cannons, vicious beatings of detainees being dragged away—were captured on smart phones and instantly shared on social media with the rest of the world. Apart from all the chaos, turmoil, police brutality, Generation Y proved that a new political culture can emerge from Gezi Park. The Rumi poem “Sen de Gel,” inscribed in his shrine in Konya perhaps best reflects the Gezi Spirit that left a taste of freedom, pluralism and tolerance in the mouths of Generation Y: Come, come, whoever you are, Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn’t matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.4

Notes 1 Şebeke, is an EU funded project run by Istanbul Bilgi University NGO Training and Research Center with the partnership of Youth Studies Unit of the same university (http:// 2  KONDA Research and Consultancy is a public opinion research and consultancy company established in 1986 by Tarhan Erdem. For over 25 years KONDA’s aim has been to provide scientific, robust and, most importantly, reliable information on society in Turkey and it has thus proven its success in countless elections. Merited for its accurate, unbiased and bulls-eye election polls for a quarter of a century, KONDA continues to venture on untrodden ground with not only political but also sociological research. Data set on various research has been kindly shared with the author upon her request. 3  Gencim, Özgürlükçüyüm, Ne İstiyorum? #direngeziparkı Anketi Sonuç Raporu (I am Young, I am Pluralist, What’s My Wish? Report on #resistgezipark Survey by Esra Ercan Bilgiç and Zehra Kafkasli, Istanbul Bilgi University Publications, 2013. This is an online survey conducted during Gezi to learn about the profile of the participants of Gezi Park protests. The results also supported KONDA’s extensive Gezi research. 4  Translation: Coleman Barks.


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References Anadolu Agency, 2014. Türkiye Nüfusu 76.7 Milyon Kişi (Turkey’s Population is 76.7 million). Anadolu Agency, [online] January 24. Available at: [Accessed June 15, 2014]. Bolton, N.R., Parasuraman, A., Hoefnagels, A., Migchels, N., Kabadayi, S., Gruber, T., Loureiro, Y. K. and Solnet, D., 2013 “Understanding Generation Y and Their Use of Social Media: A Review and Research Agenda,” Journal of Service Management, 24(3), 245–267. Dye, J., 2007, “Meet Generation C: Creatively Connecting Through Content,” E Content, 30(4), 14–38. Egin, O. 2013. Tweeting Turks Sidestep Mainstream Media. Al Jazeera English, [online] June 4. Available at: [Accessed June 6, 2014]. Ergurel, D. 2013. The Role of Social Networks in #OccupyGezi Protests. Zaman Daily, [online] June 2. Available at: [Accessed June 6, 2014]. KONDA, 2013. Gezi Raporu: Toplumun “Gezi Parkı Olayları” Algısı/ Gezi Parkındakiler Kimlerdi? (Report on Gezi: The Public Perception of “Gezi Park Incidents’/ Who were the Gezi Occupiers?). Available at: [Accessed June 15, 2014]. Lenhart, A., Purcell, K., Smith, A., and Zickuhr, K., 2010. Social Media and Mobile Internet Use Among Teens and Young Adults, Pew Internet and American Life Project. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center. Longhurst, B., 1989. Karl Mannheim and the Contemporary Sociology of Knowledge. New York: St. Martin’s Press. Minto, R. 2013, Twitter’s EM Uphill Battle, Financial Times, Available at: [Accessed June 21, 2014]. Palfrey, J. and Gasser, U., 2008. Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives. New York: Basic Book. Park, N., Kee, K.F. and Valenzuela, S., 2009. Being Immersed in Social Networking Environment: Facebook Groups, Uses and Gratifications, and Social Outcomes. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 12(6), pp. 729–733. Pempek, T.A., Yermolayeva, Y.A., and Calvert, S.L., 2009. College Students’ Social Networking Experiences on Facebook. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 30(3), pp. 227–238. Pew Research Center Global Attitudes Project, 2012. Social Networking Popular Across Globe: Arab Publics Most Likely to Express Political Views Online. [online]. Available at: [Accessed June 6, 2014].

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Prensky, M., 2001, “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants,” On the Horizon, 9(5), 1–16. Rawlins, C., Indvik, J., Johnson, P.R., 2008, “Understanding the New Generation: What the Millenial Cohort, Absolutely, Positively Must Have at Work,” Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications & Conflict, 12(2), 1–8. Sebeke Project, 2014, “Youth Participation in Turkey” (Türkiye’de Gençlerin Katilimi) in collaboration with KONDA, Istanbul Bilgi Publications, Istanbul. Selwyn, N., 2009, “The Digital Native—Myth and Reality,” Aslib Proceedings, 61(4), 364‒379. Taptuk, E., 2013. Taksim Gezi Park Protests: Birth and Backlash of a Political Sphere. In: B. Gökay and I. Xypolia, eds. The Reflections on Taksim—Gezi Park Protests in Turkey. Keele European Research Centre. England: Keele University. Tunç, A., 2013. Turkish Mainstream Media’s Mask has Finally Slipped. The Conversation, [online] Available at: [Accessed June 15, 2014]. TÜİK- Turkish Statistic Institute, 2014. İstatistiklerle Gençlik (Youth by Statistics). Available at: < > [Accessed June 15, 2014]. Valkenburg, P.M., Peter, J., and Schouten, A.P., 2006, “Friend Networking Sites and Their Relationship to Adolescents’ Well-being and Social Self-Esteem,” CyberPsychology & Behavior, 9(5), 584–590.

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Chapter 12

Beyond Hegemony: Cyprus, Energy Securitization and the Emergence of New Regional Security Complexes Constantinos Adamides and Odysseas Christou

Regional Security Complex Theory (RSCT)—A Brief Overview The concept of Regional Security Complexes (RSC) was first developed by Barry Buzan (1983) in the seminal People, States and Fear and advanced further in subsequent works (Buzan, 1991; Buzan, Wæver and De Wilde, 1998; Buzan and Waever, 2003), focusing on the idea that the structure of international security could be understood better from a regional perspective. Originally Buzan (1983, p. 106) defined security complexes as “a group of states whose primary security concerns link together sufficiently closely that their national securities cannot reasonably be considered apart from one another.” The concept developed by shifting emphasis towards securitization relations, resulting in the revised definition of “a set of units whose major processes of securitization, desecuritization or both, are so interlinked that their security problems cannot be reasonably analyzed or resolved apart from one another” (Buzan, Wæver and De Wilde, 1998, p. 201).1 “States” were substituted with “units”—allowing for analysis beyond the state level—and the focus shifted to the interdependence of securitization processes rather than security interests (Huysmans, 1998, p. 498). States’ involvement in security complexes under anarchy is not necessarily a negative development (Buzan, 1991, p. 196–197). “A security complex exists where a set of security relationships stands out from the general background by virtue of its relatively strong, inward-looking character, and the relative weakness of its outward security interactions with its neighbors” (Buzan, 1991, p. 191). Thus, the driving force of security complexes is the enmity and amity relationships among states within the complex rather than the balance of power (Buzan, 1998, p. 2). These relationships generate a number of possible formations ranging from regional conflict formation to regional security integration (Buzan, 1991, p. 218). The distribution of power defines the polarity of RSCs (Buzan and Waever, 2003, p. 55); however, the distribution of power within the RSC is determined by the perceptions of states within the complex (Buzan, 2007, p. 161), which may be intensified by pre-existing amity and enmity relationships. That said, states do not limit their interactions to states within their complex; on the contrary, they


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may form security alliances or to counter disturbances in the balance of power. RSCs also co-exist with sub-complexes, insulator and buffer states as well as great and super powers. Sub-complexes are smaller complexes subsumed within larger RSCs. Insulator states are states located in an area where large security dynamics stand adjacent (Buzan, 2007, p. 41), with Turkey being a prime example. Lastly, buffer states are states that are located at the center of strong patterns of securitization (Buzan, 2007, p. 41), but are not themselves actively involved in these securitization dynamics and cannot determine the outcome of the confrontations within the complex. Energy Security and Energy Securitization Energy security refers to the ability of states to maintain uninterrupted energy supply relative to demand at affordable and relatively stable prices without sudden and significant price increases (Winzer, 2011; Deutch and Schlesinger, 2006, p. 3; International Energy Agency2 (IEA)). Energy insecurity, therefore, is the interruption of supply or sudden price fluctuations that could result from terrorism, oil nationalism and political instability in oil and gas producing regions such as the Middle East and the Caucasus (Kalicki and Goldwyn, 2005; Mabro, 2008). Therefore, energy diversification leads to more security as it reduces overreliance on a single supplier and on a single form of energy (such as fossil fuels). Energy security, especially for industrialized states, inevitably entails a foreign policy dimension as observed by the meetings of George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin for more energy cooperation and those of China’s President Hu Jintao with several African states’ leaders and energy firms. Similarly, energy security also entails a military dimension as demonstrated by the ongoing US efforts to protect friendly energy-supplying regimes, such as Saudi Arabia, and energy routes such as the narrow Straits of Hormuz (Klare, 2004). Thus, states that have energy-related interaction inevitably deepen their securitization or desecuritization relations in the political and potentially even military sectors. This is especially the case within RSCs where securitization relations are already in place. In the securitization literature energy security remains a largely under-explored area with some notable exceptions (McGowan, 2011; Kirchner and Berk, 2010). Buzan, Wæver and De Wilde (1998, p. 116). The Copenhagen School3 essentially treats energy as an economic referent object, tradable in the global market and subject to market forces. Due to the relative abundance of this commodity, energy insecurity does not pose an existential threat beyond the economic sector (Buzan, Wæver and De Wilde, 1998). Others however argue that energy security could be defined in political, military, technical and economic terms and theoretically examined in the associated sectors of the securitization security agenda (Natorski and Herranz-Surralles, 2008, p. 71). Contrary to the Copenhagen School position that treats energy strictly as an economic referent object (Buzan, Wæver and De Wilde, 1998, p. 116), we agree

Beyond Hegemony


with Natorski and Herranz-Surralles (2008, p. 71) that energy could be a referent object in most of the five sectors. Specifically, we have argued elsewhere that it is energy security’s inherent characteristics—namely that the impact of energy insecurity could be both imminent and immediate—that are important factors for securitization processes as they can simultaneously influence the securitization of non-energy referent objects in other sectors (Christou and Adamides, 2013). Imminence refers to the fact that energy insecurity can occur at any time and easily escalate from minor to existential threat. This escalation is likely to result from factors beyond economic considerations; indeed, political and military factors only tangentially relevant to energy frequently lead to energy insecurity. Energy insecurity is also unique because of the immediate and severe impact it can have on the functioning of a state. As demonstrated by the 2009 Russia-Ukraine gas dispute, energy insecurity had a direct and immediate impact on Ukraine as well as several EU member states, leading them into an energy crisis within a few days. Energy securitization therefore rarely takes place independently of other security processes; on the contrary, it tends to be subsumed by political, economic and even military threat discourses, frequently acting as a multiplier on the existing securitization relations (Christou and Adamides, 2013). Energy can also significantly influence cross-sector securitization through an intensification effect by reinforcing and broadening the existing securitization processes in the political, military and economic sectors (Christou and Adamides, 2013). Specifically, in cases with securitized political and military sectors due to border or sovereign contestations—as is the case of Israel with Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinian authorities—energy becomes an additional contestation issue leading to the heightening of securitization in the two sectors. Indicatively, the Lebanese, and more specifically Hezbollah, have intensified their arguments regarding the demarcation of their maritime borders with Israel arguing that they will defend their country’s natural resources (Bahgat, 2011), with the Israeli Minister of Defense responding that Israel will safeguard its national interests with any means necessary (Zacharia, 2010). Israel’s response is an indication of how energy-related issues may easily become securitized in the military sector. Conversely, where political and military securitization relations are relatively normalized—such as the case of Cyprus and Israel—or de-escalating—such as the case of Israel and Egypt—energy could reinforce desecuritization trends in the political and military sectors. Once again, the impact of these characteristics is usually further exacerbated within RSC and among states with already established securitized relations, as is the case for instance with Russia and Ukraine and Israel and Lebanon. We explore both positions by using the problematic Turkey-IsraelCyprus triangle as a case study to demonstrate on one hand the impact of energy on securitization relations in the political and even military sectors, and on the other to highlight underexplored areas of the RSC theory, namely the interaction and linkage among states from different RSCs and insulator states.


The Eastern Mediterranean in Transition

Transformation of the Regional Balance of Power The Eastern Mediterranean region and more specifically the Turkey-Israel-Cyprus triangle is particularly interesting for the theory of Regional Security Complexes given that the prospect of the formation of energy-related alliances for exploitation purposes alters and potentially intensifies securitization trends in the existing relations among states from two different RSCs (Israel and Cyprus) and an insulator state (Turkey). Subsequently, the formation of this troubled triangle formulates a sub-complex; this, however, is not firmly embedded within a larger RSC, as the theory would argue. On the contrary, it is geographically and politically situated at the edge of two RSCs and an insulator state. The potential intensification of the aforementioned securitization relations among the three units is closely linked to the Israeli energy exploitation options. Israel, we argue, faces three alternative scenarios, namely: (i) unilateral exploitation of its resources without any third country involvement, (ii) cooperation with Cyprus and (iii) cooperation with Turkey. It is noteworthy that the security, and more precisely, the securitization relations among the three states have become intertwined and mutually exclusive as a result of the salience of the energy factor. Given that security relations between Turkey and Cyprus have been enduringly characterized by constancy and inflexibility with respect to an invariably heightened level of tension, Israel can be regarded as the key state in terms of variability of securitization levels that can effect changes in securitization relations within this triangle. Any improvement or deepening of relations between Israel and any one of the other two states is likely to be automatically perceived as a negative development by the third country within a framework of zero-sum characterization of tripartite relations. Concurrently we observe attempts from several great powers to influence the securitization developments in the region, especially from the perspective of the United States. While US relations with both Israel and Turkey have been characterized by enduring support from the Western superpower, increased tensions between the two regional actors have problematized the pursuit of a cohesive American regional strategy. The emergence of Cyprus—as detailed in the analysis of bilateral relations below—presents new challenges but also opportunities for the United States as exemplified by the recent visit by Vice President Biden to the island state, which he described as “poised to become a key player in the Eastern Mediterranean, transforming the region into a new global hub for natural gas” (Financial Mirror, 2014). As a result, energy cooperation is pushed to the top of the agenda (Smith, 2014); however, as illustrated above, political normalization may be a precondition to energy cooperation rather than the reverse. The recent souring of US-Israeli relations over the American intention to bargain with a Hamas-led Palestinian government clearly illustrates that overarching disputes embedded in long-standing patterns of political securitization are unlikely to be surpassed by economic incentivization (Landler, 2014). However, the stakes for the United States are high, as cooperation among the three Eastern Mediterranean states will have regional consequences in securing a basis

Beyond Hegemony


for regional stability and, even more importantly, a US-friendly environment in a region traditionally mired by instability (Ozbudak, 2014). The scenarios presented below discuss the dynamics among the relevant regional actors in order to consider whether such facilitating conditions are in place and likely to foster cooperation. Scenario I: Israeli Excludes Turkey and Cyprus Israel, with its confirmed reserves of 17–20 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of natural gas in the Leviathan field and 9.7 Tcf in the Tamar field (Darbouche, El-Katiri, and Fattouh, 2012, p. 4), is the only one of the three states that currently has realistic options of unilaterally pursuing energy exploitation, with or without cooperation with other states in the region. However, the high construction cost for land or floating LNG terminal(s) as well as the inability to fully safeguard the terminal and the pipelines from potential attacks are deterring factors for Israel to proceed unilaterally. Taking into consideration the instability and hostile environment of the Middle Eastern RSC, coupled with the relatively unstable relations with Turkey and the non-resolution of the Cyprus conflict, Israel has yet to finalize its energy export strategy. Despite the regional complexities, Israel has reached agreements for natural gas exports to a number of neighboring states in need of energy, namely Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Authorities. However, these agreements only involve relatively small quantities that would not generate heavy dependency on a single buyer or supplier (Adamides and Christou, forthcoming). They also do not jeopardize the country’s energy security which, due to the unique Israeli energy needs, is also considered as an issue of national security (Shaffer, 2009, p. 5380). Lebanon and Syria are effectively excluded from the potential for such agreements as the deeply securitized bilateral relations with Israel essentially obstruct any potential collaboration for either direct imports or for transit purposes. Subsequently Israel’s options for significant exports are limited to: i) local construction of an (F)LNG terminal, ii) additional exports to Egypt, and iii) collaboration with Cyprus and/or Turkey. This last eventuality would create an interesting triangle with two regional security complexes, the Middle Eastern and the European, and Turkey as an insulator state between the two. In the event that Israel chooses the first or the second option there will be no conflation of the two RSCs and, as a result, energy should not be expected to have a significant impact on the securitization status quo among the states within the triangle. More specifically, if Israel proceeds with its own LNG terminal or with more exports to Egypt there will be no major impact on the already desecuritized relations with Cyprus as neither side will have any motivation to change the stable status quo. At the same time, such a development would not afford Cyprus with any choice other than to follow unilateral strategies such as the development of its own LNG when and if its proven reserves are deemed sufficient and financially viable to support one. It is taken as a given that any collaboration with Turkey should not be considered as a realistic option prior to a settlement of the conflict.


The Eastern Mediterranean in Transition

However, the cost of producing an LNG terminal is significant for the Republic of Cyprus (RoC) and the confirmed Cypriot reserves and international outlook with respect to gas prices do not make this a particularly profitable option. Unlike Israeli-Cypriot relations that are likely to remain unchanged, the scenarios that exclude Turkey are likely to influence its bilateral relations with Israel. For Turkey any energy cooperation with Israel would have both financial and geopolitical benefits, which are particularly important to Turkey’s stated goals of becoming an energy hub and a regional hegemon. Any energy agreement with Israel would also enhance Turkey’s role as an insulator state of the three RSCs and allow Turkey to position itself as a regional facilitator with the potential to determine regional energy and political agendas. The Turkish elite are aware that, without the consent of the RoC, Israeli natural gas is highly unlikely to be transported to and through Turkey. As a result, Cyprus’ regional role has been elevated not only due to its own hydrocarbons but also because it has the capacity to hinder Turkish-Israeli energy relations. Turkey is also aware that a common Israel‒Cyprus terminal will empower the RoC’s political position while simultaneously negatively impacting Turkey’s goal of becoming an energy transit state, not least because Cyprus will assume part of that role. Subsequently, an Israeli decision that excludes Cyprus from regional cooperation is perceived as a positive development for Turkey or at least one that does not run counter to its long-term policy objectives. This scenario would, at worst, distance Israel from Cyprus and, at best, increase Turkey’s relative power and influence over Cyprus in the region. At the same time, without Israel’s involvement Cyprus is less likely to develop into a regional energy hub, thus leaving Turkey’s goals and options relatively unaffected. Scenario II. Israel–Republic of Cyprus The second Israeli scenario involves cooperation between Cyprus and Israel with the potential inclusion of Greece; however, the inclusion of the latter is not a determining factor for the advancement of securitization and/or desecuritization relations within the triangle. Such collaboration in the form of common exploitation of the reserves between the two states, makes financial sense and increases the viability of investments. However, the financial factor may not be Israel’s primary driving force for choosing this option; indeed, it is may be the non-financial security of the investment that could carry most of the weight in the decision-making calculus for Israel, as a terminal situated in Cyprus will be less vulnerable to potential attacks. The reasons that Israel has not, so far, agreed to proceed with the development of a common terminal with the RoC are not public knowledge; Israel may be exploring more profitable options or it may be skeptical of the political consequences of such an agreement. Unlike the aforementioned scenario, any form of collaboration between Israel and Cyprus is likely to change significantly the securitization status quo of the region and potentially

Beyond Hegemony


generate unrest within the triangle. The already heightened political and partially military links between Israel and Cyprus will deepen further, inevitably linking the two RSCs and challenging the neutrality and role of Turkey as the regional insulator state. Such an agreement would be the best possible scenario for the RoC for a number of financial and political reasons. Firstly, an LNG terminal in Cyprus would become a viable investment if natural gas from Leviathan supplements the one found in Block 12. At the same time the RoC’s role as a major regional energy actor will be upgraded in absolute terms but also relative to that of Turkey’s, while an alliance with Israel will strengthen the Greek Cypriot position on the Cyprus conflict. However, strengthening the Greek Cypriot position vis-à-vis Turkey is not an Israeli goal in itself. An Israeli cooperation with Cyprus is a challenge and a dilemma for Israel as it could irreversibly disturb the regional balances and securitization relations with Turkey. What is argued in this paper is that for Israel the cost of this option is not financial but political, as it should expect heightened securitized relations with Turkey, while having to cope with security issues within its own RSC. Turkey, as an aspiring regional hegemon and regional energy hub, is likely to react to any Israeli‒ Cypriot agreement for common hydrocarbons exploitation, as such an agreement will become an obstacle to Turkey’s regional hegemonic goals. The development of an Israel–Cyprus-based energy environment in the Eastern Mediterranean, one that does not require Turkey’s input, will inevitably lead to the sidelining of Turkey as an essential regional energy actor. Provided that cooperation of all three actors in the triangle is not a possibility without a settlement to the Cyprus conflict as a precondition to normalization, there exists a zero-sum environment where any potential benefits for Cyprus due to an alliance with Israel are automatically perceived as a loss for Turkey. In sum, this scenario is entirely negative for Turkey as it is left with no alternatives to view an Israeli-Cypriot energy alliance in a positive or even in a neutral way. If the aforementioned political benefits for the Greek Cypriot side are taken into consideration, then it becomes clear that Turkey’s relative power over the RoC will diminish or at least it will not continue to grow. It is not surprising therefore that Turkey would like to see an Israeli‒Cypriot collaboration fail, as opposed to the RoC that should and does have this scenario as a primary goal for economic and more importantly political reasons. In the event that this bilateral agreement takes place intensification of the securitized relations between Turkey and the RoC should be taken for granted. This development however is not particularly important given that the two states’ relations are already deeply securitized; in other words, we will not observe a change in the securitization status quo. Thus the question is not whether we will see further securitization, but rather whether Turkey, in an attempt to ensure and promote its regional hegemony, will threaten the other two states in the triangle to the degree that it will destabilize the region and even promote the reaction of the international community, destabilizing at the same time both RSCs.


The Eastern Mediterranean in Transition

Whether Israel is willing to place itself in the middle of another intractable conflict with unknown consequences is also questionable. Israel’s decision-making calculus is likely to be influenced by the current and potential Turkish securitizing moves and whether they are significant enough to prevent Israel from choosing this scenario over an alternative one. The already strained relations between the two states have created an environment where further intensification may take place with relative ease and immediacy with unknown consequences both on a bilateral and a regional level. A rational approach would be for Israel to attempt to desecuritize its relations with Turkey on issues unrelated to energy prior to any agreements. Political desecuritization would increase the prospects for energy agreements between the two states if and when this is politically and financially possible, while it will also reduce the possibility for heightened securitization in case Israel excludes Turkey from its energy plans. From a theoretical standpoint, Turkey’s attempts to assert its dominance, especially with regards to the RoC‒Israel relations, pose theoretical challenges to the RSC theory and more specifically to the role of insulator states. An IsraeliCypriot energy alliance would bring two RSC closer. Interestingly, energy can influence positively the inter-RSC relations between the two actors from each RSC—Cyprus and Israel—by supporting desecuritization processes, while at the same time an insulator state is in a position to reverse this and heighten the securitization processes between itself and each of the state in the two RSCs. Scenario III. Cooperation between Israel and Turkey The third scenario presents the possibility for an agreement between Israel and Turkey, excluding the direct involvement of the Republic of Cyprus. Such an agreement makes financial sense for both Israel and Turkey, as the latter is an energy-hungry state and the former would like to have a buyer with the capacity to buy—for itself or for transit purposes—a significant amount of natural gas. In addition, the cost of exporting from Israel to Turkey with pipelines is a relatively cheap option compared to the construction of LNG terminals with the same export capacity (Natural Gas Europe, 2014). More interesting, however, is the political aspect of such an agreement, which could act as a convincing trust-building measure that would help desecuritize the two states’ tense relations of the post2006 period. Turkey’s decision to recognize Hamas as the government of the Gaza strip in 2006 (Migdalovitz, 2010, pp. 13–14) challenged the future of Turkish‒ Israeli relations. It was, however, the Mavi Marmara incident in 2010 and the death of nine Turkish activists by Israeli Special Forces that is perceived as the main causal factor for the deterioration of their relations. Since then the two states have not managed to normalize their relations despite the significant efforts of the United States. It was this change in the political status quo that facilitated the development of a political alignment between Cyprus and Israel (Adamides and Christou, forthcoming).

Beyond Hegemony


If Israel and Turkey overcome their mutual concerns and reach an energy agreement it would be the least beneficial scenario for Cyprus and the most favorable one for Turkey as it facilitates on the one hand the neutralization of any Cypriot efforts to become a major energy hub, and on the other it enhances Turkey’s role as a major energy actor and regional political hegemon. It is worth noting that bilateral heightened securitized relations is not the only obstacle the two neighbors face. A major concern that could potentially derail any efforts for a Turkish-Israeli bilateral agreement is whether an Israeli pipeline must necessarily traverse the Cypriot Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The signing of the Memorandums of Cooperation between Delek and the Cypriot government in June 2013 and between Israel, Greece and Cyprus in August 2013 essentially make it impossible for a pipeline that connects Israel to Turkey to pass through the Cypriot EEZ prior to the settlement of the Cyprus problem (Tsakiris, 2013, p. 5). As a result, a pipeline connecting the two states must bypass the Cypriot EEZ and the only ways to achieve this is either exclusively via the Lebanese EEZ or via the EEZ of both Lebanon and Syria. The first option requires an arrangement of all the outstanding bilateral maritime border disputes between Israel and Lebanon, while the second is even more improbable given the unstable situation in Syria. Thus, it is unlikely that Israel will be willing to forgo an increasingly stable environment of interaction with Cyprus for the unstable alternatives that request, at the very minimum, the quick and effective political and military desecuritization in a RSC that has for decades remained deeply securitized. The fact that Cyprus is politically located in a European RSC but has geographical proximity to the turbulent Middle Eastern RSC and the relative isolation of Israel in this geopolitical environment provide an inherent advantage to the RoC. At the same time, the intractability of its political problem limits the potential benefits for the RoC. Indeed, as Greek Cypriot political elites have repeatedly argued, the RoC is not willing to sacrifice the fairness of a negotiated settlement to the island’s dispute for the sake of greater energy-related earnings, meaning that the RoC will reject any possibility for pipelines via Turkey prior to a settlement (Evripidou, 2014; Stevenson, 2014). The RoC’s firm position on this issue, coupled with the aforementioned Israeli inability to reach directly Turkey’s coast without Cypriot consent, sends a clear message that the future of the trilateral relations will determine to a large extent on the degree of conflation between the two RSCs and the identity of the regional insulator state. Conclusion Based on above cases, it seems that instead of an insulating effect from the presence of Turkey in the middle of the two RSCs—both geographically and politically—there is a conflation of the two regions that is intensified as a result of the impact of energy as an intervening variable. Therefore, the analysis of


The Eastern Mediterranean in Transition

this trilateral case study presents a serious challenge to the existing theoretical framework on Regional Security Complexes that requires further exploration. From a substantive standpoint, Israel’s political decision-making stands to determine the framework of interaction among the three states, at least in the short-run, especially given its position as a first-mover. At the same time, the fact that Israel possesses the most proven reserves among these regional actors largely determines the scope of available strategies for the remaining states in this trilateral framework and delimits the range of possible policy outcomes. As a result, the possibilities of future alterations in securitization relations can be expected to co-vary accordingly as a result of Israel’s chosen course of action. Lastly, external pressure on the three states of the regional triangle suggests a broader consensus on the benefits of desecuritization of energy-related political decisions within the triangle. However, these benefits are unlikely to be realized on the basis of energy-related cooperation in the absence of sufficient political normalization which we argue represents a necessary precondition. Such pressure comes primarily from the United States but can be characterized within a more extended framework of interaction with the West, especially given the growing prominence of energy in the security discourse of the European Union amidst geopolitical developments in its broader neighborhood that are likely to further shift focus to the Eastern Mediterranean and push for normalization. Notes 1 See also Buzan (2007, p. 160) for a similar definition. Securitization is the intersubjective establishment of an existential threat that is salient enough to have significant political effects (Buzan, Wæver and De Wilde, 1998, p. 25). The widened security agenda is divided into five sectors of specific security discourses, namely political, military, societal, economic and environmental, all of which have distinct referent objects that are subject to empirical observations of securitization discourses (Buzan, Wæver and De Wilde, 1998). 2 3  The term Copenhagen School, coined by McSweeney (1996) refers to the Copenhagen Peace Research Institute (COPRI) scholars who are credited with the development of the theory of securitization.

References Adamides, C., and Christou, O., forthcoming. Energy security and the transformation of regional securitization in the Eastern Mediterranean. In: S. Katsikides and P. Koktsides, ed. Forthcoming. Societies in Transition: Economic, Political and Security Transformations in Contemporary Europe. New York and London: Springer Dordrecht Heidelberg.

Beyond Hegemony


Bahgat, G., 2011. Israel’s energy security: regional implications. Middle East Policy, 18(3), 25–34. Buzan, B., 1983. People, States and Fear: The National Security Problem in International Relations. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. ——, 1991. People, States, and Fear: An Agenda for International Security Studies in the Post-Cold Era. 2nd ed. Boulder: Lynne Rienner. ——, 2007. People, States, and Fear: An Agenda for International Security Studies in the Post-Cold Era. Colchester: ECPR Press. Buzan, B. and Wæver, O., 2003. Regions and Powers: The Structure of International Security. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Buzan, B., Wæver, O., and De Wilde, J., 1998. Security: A New Framework for Analysis. Boulder: Lynne Rienner. Christou, O., and Adamides, C., 2013. Energy Securitization and Desecuritization. Security Dialogue, 44(5–6), 507–522. Darbouche, H., El-Katiri, L., and Fattouh, B., 2012. East Mediterranean Gas: What Kind of a Game-Changer? [online] Available at: [Accessed May 14, 2014]. Deutch, J., and Schlesigner, J.R., 2006. National Security Consequences of US Oil Dependency. [online] Available at: [Accessed March 20, 2014]. Evripidou, S., 2014. European Council Ready to Play its Part. Cyprus Mail, [online] March 22. Available at: < european-council-ready-to-play-its-part/> [Accessed April 23, 2014]. Financial Mirror, 2014. Cyprus to Become Key Player in East Med, says US VP, Financial Mirror, [online] May 22. Available at: [Accessed May 22, 2014]. Huysmans, J., 1998. Revisiting Copenhagen: Or, on the Creative Development of a Security Studies Agenda in Europe. European Journal of International Relations, 12(1), 479–505. Kalicki, J., and Goldwyn, D.L. eds, 2005. Energy and Security: Toward a New Foreign Policy Strategy. Washington: Woodrow Wilson Center Press. Klare, M., 2004. Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America’s Growing Dependency on Imported Petroleum. New York: Metropolitan Books. Kirchner, E. and Berk, C., 2010. European Energy Security Co-operation: Between Amity and Enmity. Journal of Common Market Studies, 48(4), 859–880. Landler, M., 2014. Hamas Looms over Latest Israel-US Dispute, New York Times, [online] June 4. Available at: [Accessed June 5, 2014]. Mabro, R., 2008. On the Security of Oil Supplies, Oil Weapons, Oil Nationalism and All That. OPEC Review, 32(1), 1–12. McGowan, F., 2011. Putting Energy Insecurity into Historical Context: European Responses to the Energy Crises of the 1970s and 2000s. Geopolitics, 16(3), 486–511.


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Migdalovitz, C., 2010. Israel’s Blockade of Gaza, the Mavi Marmara Incident, and Its Aftermath. Congressional Research Service. Available at: [Accessed May 23, 2014]. Natorski, M., and Herranz-Surrales, A., 2008. Securitizing Moves to Nowhere? The Framing of the European Union’s Energy Policy. Journal of Contemporary European Research, 2(2), 70–89. Natural Gas Europe, 2014. The Likelihood of a Leviathan-Turkey Pipeline. Natural Gas Europe, [online]. Available at: [Accessed June 1, 2014]. Ozbudak, C., 2014. What Turkey’s Energy Politics Mean for the World. Al Arabiya, [online] May 24. Available at: [Accessed June 2, 2014]. Shaffer, B., 2011. Israel—New Natural Gas Producer in the Mediterranean. Energy Policy, 39, 5379–5387. Smith, H., 2014. US Vice-president Joe Biden Pushes Energy Cooperation in visit to Cyprus. The Guardian, [online] May 22. Available at: [Accessed May 22, 2014]. Stevenson, P., 2014. Lakkotrypis: No Pipeline to Turkey without Cyprus Solution. Cyprus Mail, [online] February 21. Available at: [Accessed February 28, 2014]. Tsakiris, T., 2013. Potential Unfulfilled? What Lies Ahead for Cypriot‒Israeli Cooperation in 2013. ELIAMEP Briefing Notes 01/2013. Athens: ELIAMEP. Winzer, C., 2011. Conceptualizing Energy Security. EPRG Working Paper 1123, Cambridge Working Paper in Economics 1151. Zacharia, J., 2010. Offshore Gas Discoveries in Israel Prompt Squabbling over Royalties. Washington Post, [online] August 29. Available at: [Accessed April 23, 2014].

Chapter 13

A Most Vicious Weapon: Rape, War and Civil Strife in the Arab World Amikam Nachmani

Introduction Since early times wars were waged, among other reasons to capture women. Above all, ancient ethnic communities as well as modern states, went to war to commit feminization: by killing the enemy’s men; by raping the enemy’s men; and by raping the enemy’s women—these were the strategies that were used to bring about the feminization of societies along history. Feminization results from the mass killing of the enemy’s men: the surviving society is from now composed mainly of women. The rape of men—a known Biblical and classical times’ custom or strategy—practically proves that the enemy’s men are no better than women: the sovereignty of both has been violated by their bodies being penetrated. The rape of women is interpreted and presented as the failure of the community’s men to protect their women. Men are expected to use their power and physiology to defend their women; when they do not they prove that they are physically weak. Physical weakness is a trait traditionally attributed to women. The Waging of War to Capture Women Biblical stories describe situations in which men fighters, who participated in wars, enjoyed the booty of women. Judges (Chapters 4 and 5) tell us the story of Sisera the commanding officer of the forces of the Canaanites, and Yael the wife of Hever the Kenite. We learn from the dialogue between Sisera’s mother and her “wise ladies” about the women—booty that men enjoy in war. Sisera is described as participating in an orgy (or Bacchanalia, not of alcohol but a dairy one), enjoying several women he got hold of during the war (Italics added): And Devora, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidot, she judged Yisrael at that time. … And she sent and called Baraq the son of Avinoam out of QedeshNaftali, and said to him, Has not the Lord God of Yisrael commanded, saying Go and gather your men to Mount Tavor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naftali and of the children of Zevulun? And I will draw out to


The Eastern Mediterranean in Transition thee, to the wadi [creek] of Qishon, Sisera, the captain of Yavin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him into thy hand. So Baraq went down from Mount Tavor, and ten thousand men after him. And the Lord confounded Sisera, and all his chariots, and all his host, with the edge of the sword before Baraq; so that Sisera alighted from his chariot, and fled away by foot. … [A]nd all the host of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword; there was not a man left. But Sisera fled away by foot to the tent of Yael, the wife of Hever the Qenite. … And Yael went out to meet Sisera, and said to him, Turn in, my lord, turn in to me; fear not. And when he had turned in to her into the tent, she covered him with a blanket. And he said to her, Give me, I pray thee, a little water to drink; for I am thirsty. And she opened a bottle of milk, and gave him drink, and covered him. … Then Yael, Hever’s wife, took a tent peg, and took a hammer in her hand, and went softly to him, and drove the tent peg into his temple, and fastened it to the ground: for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died. … Sisera lay dead, and the peg in his temple. Then sang Devora and Baraq the son of Avinoam on that day saying, / … Blessed above women is Yael / the wife of Hever the Qenite, / blessed is she more than women in the tent. … [S]he hammered Sisera, … she crushed and pierced his temple./ At her feet he bent, he fell, he lay down:/at her feet he bent, he fell:/ where he bowed, there he fell down, bereft of life./ The mother of Sisera looked out at the window, / and moaned through the lattice [window] / Why is his chariot so long in coming? / Why are the hoofbeats of his steeds so tardy? / Her wise ladies answered her, / she even returned answer to herself, / Have they not found booty? Have they not divided the prey; / to every man a damsel [young, unmarried woman] or two; / to Sisera a booty of divers colours, / a plunder of many coloured needlework, / dyed double work garments for the necks of the spoilers. /

Rash’’i, Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (1040–1105, Latin: Salomon Isaacides), probably the greatest ever of Biblical exegetes and commentators, interpreted the verbs bent, fell, lay down, bent, fell, bowed, and fell down, as alluding to seven intercourses that Sisera forced on Yael. A meaningful difference that probably inspired Rash’’i is that contrary to the above English translation of “At her feet,” the Biblical Hebrew wording is “Between” Yael’s feet A) Treatment of a Captive Woman The Bible was very specific about her fate: her captor should know that she was not supposed to acquiesce immediately to his lust. He could have her, but only after a month, and after she did her utmost to make herself ugly as a headshaven-woman with cut-nails—an attempt to repulse her captor from her (Rash’i’s commentary). When her efforts to deter her captor failed, she is permitted to him.

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If divorced she was not going to be treated and sold as a slave: she has already been tormented enough: Deuteronomy 21:10–14 When thou goest forth to war against thy enemies, and the Lord thy God has delivered them into thy hands, and thou hast taken them captive, and thou seest among the Captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire to her, that thou wouldst have her as thy wife; then thou shalt bring her home to thy house; [A]nd she shall shave her head, and pare her nails [Rashi: to defile and make herself ugly]; and she shall put the raiment of her captivity from off her, and shall remain in thy house, and bewail her father and her mother a full month: and after that thou shalt go in to her, and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife. And it shall be, if thou have no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go where she will; but thou shalt not sell her at all for money, thou shalt not treat her as a slave, because thou hast humbled her.

There are Biblical examples pertaining to war and the ensuing feminization. The instruction to kill all males and to spare the women is in Deuteronomy 20:10–14 (italics added): When thou comest near a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace on it. … And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it: and when the Lord thy God has delivered it into thy hands, thou shalt smite every male of it with the edge of the sword: but the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and that all that is in the city, all the spoil of it, shalt thou take for thyself.

Captive men were in risk of being raped, certainly in classical and Biblical times. Lot; the angles that came to warn him that the city of Sedom was to be destroyed by God; the demand of the Sedomites to “know” the angles; Lot’s two maiden daughters that were offered as a substitute to the Sedomites who demanded to “know” the two angles; the threat to deal in a harsher way with Lot—all show that the fate of captured enemy men was not better or different from women captives. Rape, that bodily invasion, awaited both: Genesis 19:1–13 And there came two angles to Sedom at evening, and Lot set in the gate of Sedom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face to the ground; and he said, behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant’s house, and tarry [sleep] all night, and wash your feet, and you may rise up early, and go your ways.


The Eastern Mediterranean in Transition And they said, No; but we will abide in the street all night. And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in to him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat. But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sedom, compassed the house round, both all and young, all the people from every quarter: and they called to Lot and said to him, Where are the men who came in to thee this night? Bring them out to us, that we may know them. And Lot went out at the door to them, and shut the door after him, And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly. Behold now, I have two daughters who have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do to them as is good in your eyes: only to these men do nothing; seeing that they have come under the shadow of my roof. And they said, Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow [Lot] came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge [?] [N]ow will we deal worse with thee than with them. And they strongly urged the man, Lot, and came near to break the door. But the men [the angles] put out their hand, and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut the door. And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door.

Rape as a Weapon: Historical Examples Waging war to capture women was a known method to increase the demography of the community, for example to parent children with these captive women and increase the community’s manpower. By this was augmented the community’s chances to defeat its enemies. Soldiers were tempted to go to war by promising them that rape was among the joys and booty that they might enjoy. Leaders who could not pay the soldiers, promised them the enemy’s women. To convince soldiers and potential supporters to join them, the Crusaders described the beauty of the enemy women and the pleasures that await their captors. Slavery in America raised the issue whether the rape of a slave woman is indeed a crime: one is entitled to do whatever he wants with his property. Also, during the time of the Russian Czars, descriptions of the joy of having fun with Jewish women predated the pogroms committed against Russian Jews. Czarist Russia in the nineteenth century and Communist Yugoslavia in the 1990s show us that when regimes become weaker and disintegrate, a prevailing phenomenon would be the mass rape of women. In the Second World War, Nazi Germany defined the rape of a Slav woman a disciplinary offence committed against the purity of a German soldier’s body. The Slavs were at the bottom of the German “Race Ladder,” on par with husbandry animals. Hence, having intercourse with a Slav woman was perceived as pollution of a German man’s body. The punishment was usually prison. On the other hand,

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rape for example, of a French woman by a German soldier—the French stood much higher than the Slavs on the Race ladder—was treated as a capital offence. One of the greatest ironies of history was the mass rape of German women in the Second World War. Other things being equal, the Second World War evolved around the desire for the cleansing and purification of the Germans from unwanted elements. From the German point of view, the war was waged to purify the Arian Race from various ethnic, physical and biological contaminations that polluted it: Jews, Gypsies, Slavs, invalids, cripples, the mentally ill, and so on. Yet the Russian Red Army on its way from Moscow to Berlin, allegedly raped 3 million women, 2 million or more were German. Thus, the Slavs, the most inferior of races according to the Nazi Race Ladder, heavily contaminated the Arian race and polluted its origins—perhaps the epitome of the ironies of history. Rape: Cultural Aspects Since time immemorial women were considered property. Therefore, there could not be a crime named rape that was performed against women in the relationship between an owner/master/employer and his women: the former could do to the latter whatever he wished. What is now considered rape, was usually perceived as an economic offence conducted against the property of the woman’s master. Also, legally speaking there could not be an act of rape among married couples. From the very fact that a woman became married and a wife she was expected to obey her master/husband. Thus, there could not be forced-sex among married couples. In took ages to correct this: in various Western countries and in different times as late as the 1980s and 1990s (Israel–1988; in Germany–1997) laws were modified and asserted that legally there could be an act of rape among married couples. Alas, as of the year 2006, in 53 countries it was still impossible to sue a husband for the rape of his wife (Harari, 2013, pp. 151–152). The perception that there could not be an act of rape at all, for example that there is not such a thing as forced-sex, still prevails in various orthodox and conservative cultures. The assumption is that when intimate relations took place both sides agreed to it. Many women paid with their lives for this perception that there is not such a thing as rape. The Biblical rule is somewhat incomplete, perhaps there is a lacuna when it comes to women’s rape. You should believe a woman who complains that she was raped while she was in the woods and fields, tilling the land, grazing the sheep and the cattle, far from home, etc. Nobody could have seen her resisting; nobody could have heard her screaming and shouting. But if she complains that she was raped while being at home, inside a village, in a town, or in an urban “built-up” area, but nobody has heard her screaming, then you should not believe her claim that notwithstanding her resistance and loud protest, she was raped. The Biblical assumption is that with no physical resistance or noisy protest, there could not be forced sex.


The Eastern Mediterranean in Transition Deuteronomy 22:23–27 If a girl that is virgin be betrothed [engaged] to a husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them with stones that they die; the girl, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he has humbled his neighbour’s wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you. But if a man find a betrothed girl in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then only the man that lay with her shall die: but to the girl thou shalt do nothing; there is in the girl no sin worthy of death: for as a man rises against his neighbour, and slays him, even so is this matter: for he found her in the field, and the betrothed maiden cried out, but there was none to save her.

I used the words incomplete and lacuna because modern law does not demand physical or noisy resistance to rule that forced-sex did happen. For instance, when intimate relations take place between a commander and his women soldiers; between a teacher or professor and his female students; between an employer and his women employees, for example.; then it could be that the victim preferred to remain silent and passive in-front of a superior hierarchy. The risk, for example, of being punished, down-graded, fired, or becoming unemployed, is indeed a strong enough incentive to cause the victim to shut up and remain inactive. Rape in Daily Life, Rape in Times of War In daily life, rape is a usually a planned act and only seldom anonymous: in the majority of cases the victim is known to the rapist and vice-versa. Anonymity hardly prevails here. In times of war the victim is mostly unknown to the enemy’s soldiers; from the soldiers’ point of view, enough that she is a woman, enough that she belongs to the community of their enemies. Total anonymity prevails: I did not know you before; I will move on and leave you alone to your miseries afterwards. It was your bad luck to be a woman at a certain place and at a certain time. The enemy’s society is the target; the enemy’s women—girls and older ones—are the vehicles to run over the society and crush its fabric: The [Syrian] regime has made women their first target. … They are aimed at, as such, by snipers, especially pregnant women. They serve as human shields, like in the Ashria neighborhood, in Homs, in February 2012, when the army forced women to walk in front of the troops, or even made them board tanks during patrols. They are also subject to kidnappings for ransoms or exchanges. Systematically raping them, whether they are 9 or 60 years old, is a way to destroy the entire social fabric over the long-term (Cojean, 2014).

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In daily life, a rapist is usually considered disturbed, aggressive, violent, a pervert, perhaps a person who experiences difficulties in socializing. In war—by definition an event where violence is used, blood is shed, and people are killed—soldiers become aggressive and vicious, even beastly, the moment they carry a gun. These very soldiers behaved normatively before they carried guns and committed atrocities. Also, soldiers act as a unit, as a group, and the individual fighter is absorbed and assimilated within a larger body. Here a community of men fighters creates a certain atmosphere, a certain esprit de corps, vis-a-vis the enemy and its women. The latter are dehumanized and the prevailing atmosphere encourages the individual soldier to act accordingly. Eventually, this enables the individual soldier to commit a crime in the name of a body stronger, larger and bigger than him. The soldier expects this body to absorb and defend him afterwards. Alternatively, in daily life the rapist is usually a lone wolf and acts individually. Only when we have gang or mass rape we get similar behaviors seen in military units: the group encourages the individual to behave in a certain way and covers for him. It should be added that as from 2014 there is an international ambitious campaign to declare the hurting of non-combatant populations in times of war—specifically the rape of women—a crime of war, atrocities on par with the use of chemical, biological and atomic weapons. In time of war the motives behind rape are to defeat and humiliate the enemy, to terrorize him, to take avenge, to pollute the enemy’s origins, to commit genocide by reducing the group of would—be mothers. In daily and ordinary life the motives behind rape are totally different. Hurting the ethnic group, humiliating its men, spreading feminization among them and creating genocide are not the motives behind daily cases of forced sex. Instead, sex motives, aggression against a weaker person, the desire to humiliate, to control, or to rule, are among the reasons found for daily cases of rape. Who is the target? In daily life the woman is the target. In time of war it is not the raped woman who is the main target but her community, her ethnic group, her nation. More specifically: it is the community’s men who are targeted as the prime aim of the rapist soldiers. These men proved to be feeble and weak—they certainly exhibited physical weakness—by not defending their women. Physical weakness is a woman’s trait, certainly in comparison to a man’s trait. Thus, the rape of the community’s women does feminization to the ethnic group, in particular to the community’s men. Intermingling of women and men is forbidden in many orthodox and conservative societies. It is certainly so in regards to men and women from different ethnic groups. Rape of women in time of war by men soldiers from another ethnic group is thus strictly taboo and constitutes a huge violation of intercommunity conduct. It is considered profanity, desecration of the sacrosanct, to conduct intimate contacts between men from one ethnic group and women from another. Hence, when inter-ethnic, forced-sex does happen, it is much more than usual contacts. This is, literally, an entrance of men from one group into the most precious class of the other group. Up to this event, such entrance and contacts


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were considered totally incomprehensible and out of bounds for the men from the attacking group. Rape cases by African soldiers of white women from the ex-Western colonial powers (for example, as happened in Algeria and Congo in the 1950s and 1960s against French and Belgian women) bears this connotation of the strictly taboo inter-ethnic contacts, and of the accession of colonial subjects into the hither to out of bound jewel of the white master. The Rape of Women in the Yugoslav 1990s Civil War The issue of ethnic purity is considered a very high value in the Balkans. Unless encouraged to do so (like in the Communist era), ethnic groups usually did not intermarry, did not mix, and did not intermingle. Hence polluting one’s origin, polluting one’s family, polluting one’s pedigree by having mixed parents is considered a heavy blow, a stain, a defect. Rape of women in the 1990s Yugoslav civil war was a common weapon used by various sides, though the majority of cases were performed against the Bosnian Muslim community. Numbers vary enormously: evidence emanating 20 years later from the Syrian civil war (see below), tells us why statistics is so incomplete and misleading when talking about rape and war: Dr. Manal Tahtamouni is the director of the Institute for Family Health, a local NGO funded by the European Commission … in Zaatari refugee camp [in north Jordan, opened July 2012, population July 2013: around 150,000 Syrian refugees]. When asked, she says most women will not admit to being raped. They will say they have seen others being raped. “This is a conservative area. If you have been raped, you wouldn’t talk openly about it because you would be stigmatized for your entire life. The phenomenon is massively under reported, Tahtamouni says. Only after a long process of building trust through one-on-one counseling sessions might a rape survivor talk (Greenwood, 2013, p. 19).

International and European sources quote the number of more than 26,000 women who were systematically raped during the Yugoslav civil war. Lately the Bosnian Ministry of Health and Margot Wallstroem, the UN Special Representative on sexual violence, have given information about more than 60,000 Bosnian women who were raped during the civil war (Associated Press, 2010). We have information of women who were gathered and brought to “Rape Centers.” However, rape was not the ultimate aim but pregnancy. If a raped woman in the Yugoslav civil war did not become pregnant she was declared “anti-this,” or “antithat” ethnic group (depends on whose side she was). Before being killed she was given another “opportunity to be raped” and conceive a mixed child. Her life was spared if she became pregnant and gave birth to these Mulattos (come from the word “mule” which is a cross between a male-donkey and a female-horse, a mare).

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The reason for this rare mercy applied towards raped pregnant women who would produce mixed children: a mixed child is a living proof for the pollution of the purity of the community and of the contamination of the ethnic group. More so: the mixed child would be a living proof for the weakness of the community’s men, for their inability to protect their women, that is, for their physical impotence and for them being not better than their women. The Mulatto adds to the perception that a “Fifth Column” has been produced: the child’s mother is from “our” ethnic group, his father belongs to the enemies. Is the child reliable? Could we talk secrets in his or her presence? The assumption is that the ethnic group has been weakened and its purity and strength severely damaged because of the birth of these mixed boys and girls. We deal with wars that are mainly internal ethnic civil wars. These wars evolved and revolved around the issue of ethnic purity and the wish to become ethnically clean. In that case ethnic pollution is the ultimate of weapons, rape is the ultimate weapon to commit ethnic pollution, and a mixed offspring is the ultimate proof that a large-scale pollution has taken place. It is interesting to note that at the beginning of the twenty-first century, side by side with the sophistication, the ultra-modern weapon technologies, the cyberwars that nations use when they go to war, etc., one notices the resurgence and revival of very primitive warfare means. You take an airplane and crush it in midst of an urban area or on high-rise building (9/11). You have a belt or a coat full of explosives and you blow yourself in a bus full of passengers; and you use your intimate organ as the ultimate weapon to destroy and ruin your enemy. Rape and Genocide Rape is considered the ultimate weapon because it produces genocide (MacKinnon, 2005). Women are perceived as the human group in charge of the demography of the ethnic group. Living in orthodox, conservative, or traditional cultures and communities, a raped woman is usually deducted from the women group with whom the community’s men parent children. The demography of the community then decreases. Men refuse to marry raped women; parents refuse to let their sons marry raped girls. These are all elements that allude to a pre-planned act to eliminate or to reduce the enemy’s population, for example through genocide. A) Ethnicity and Nationalism Cultures and customs, for example ethnicity, are stronger than laws and national declarations. In many places the political and religious authorities issue declaration that raped women should not be excluded and boycotted; that men could marry and parent children with them; and so on. Still, ethnicity, culture and custom persist in dictating that a raped woman is not a proper person to get married to, let alone to


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parent children with. The community’s men avoid the raped women, and married women who were raped, have to be divorced. It is worth repeating the rule that ethnicity—that is customs and cultures—is always stronger than political, or religious, or official declarations and national laws that declare and say the opposite. In-spite of official declarations that raped women should not be boycotted and are permitted to the community’s men, raped women are boycotted by their community’s men. Incidentally, the rule that ethnicity is stronger that nationalism (laws and official declarations), is also valid when we examine women circumcision: in the majority of the countries where women circumcision is performed, there are specific laws against it. B) What Happens Next? The raped woman continues to be a battlefield even after the rape, even after the war has officially ended. The raped woman is boycotted; most probably her family is boycotted as well. With no men to get married with, with families that ignore them, these women have to care for themselves and for their children (if the latter were not killed before by their mothers or by their mothers’ families—see below). With no other means to sustain themselves, these women are pushed to the margins of society, and often resort to prostitution. We have reports that following the 1990s civil war in Yugoslavia, the price of a contact with a prostitute has plummeted to one third of what it has been before the war. This information sustains the economic law of supply and demand: when the supply surpasses the demand, the price goes down. Women who prefer to stay with their families often suffer from increased violence and suppression by their men. As mentioned earlier, rape is perceived by men as humiliation; it proved that men were physically weak; it means that men were no better than women. As often happens, these men’s wrath, anger and shame are eventually channeled and directed against their poor raped women. The latter are being criticized for being raped; in fact they are perceived as collaborators with the enemy, with all the consequences that such blame bears. We have reports that in Ex-Yugoslavia raped women have been marked by a most monstrous way: one of their little fingers was cut off to warn men from marrying them. This raises the issue of physical reduction of women. Finger amputation is another example for the physical, not only mental reduction that various cultures apply against their women. The foot-binding in China; the women-circumcision done to almost 90 percent of African women; the persistent demand and expectation from women to be thin and lose weight; the exaggerated preoccupation by many cultures with women’s hymen; and now the 1990s amputation of the little finger of the raped women in the Yugoslav civil war.

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C) The Killing of Children of Raped Women A recent Syrian religious verdict pertaining to children of raped Syrian women reads (Perri, 2012, p. 12): “You should not allow this stinking fruit to reach the age of 40 days. You should find a way to erase this obsolete and redundant thing.” Also: “A woman who preserved her dignity during her life time should not be punished by forcing her to raise the child of a wild beast.” Indeed, the killing of children who were born to raped mothers was rampant in the war in Yugoslavia, and it is not rare in the war in Syria. In the city of Der’aa newborn babies were found abandoned in back alleys. In Latakia a woman committed suicide because she was not able to abort. In other places children were immediately drowned after birth. It might be that the number of pregnancies and births emanating from rape in the Syrian war has not been high because of the secret help offered to Syrian women. Amazingly, detained Syrian prisoner women in Damascus who experienced repeated rape cases were secretly offered birth control pills by a doctor nicknamed “Cetamol.” This doctor also went around the cells to note the dates of every woman’s period; in case there was a delay he gave the women pills that generated abortions (Cojean, 2014). The Civil War in Syria [Syrian] Refugee women have it hardest of all. Many fled the horrific war, only to be raped on the way. “The conflict in Syria is increasingly marked by rape and sexual violence employed as a weapon of war” (Dominique Hyde cited in Boms, 2014). The body of the 13 year old boy Hamza Hatib of Dera’a was thrown in-front of his parents’ house. He was the “leader of the revolt” in his town against President Bashar al-Assad. The police tore off his penis; signs of burning cigarettes were on his back and legs. When his father cried and wept, the regime’s vigilantes told him: “Forget the dead boy and make another one. If you can’t, bring your wife and we’ll teach you how to make children who are loyal to the regime” (Perri, 2013, pp. 10–11).

The 1990s and the beginning of the twenty-first century have already furnished us with several examples of internal strife, mass rape and genocide. Suffice it to mention the Yugoslav civil war; the war in Darfur, Sudan; and the present Syrian beastly civil war. There are more than 150,000 documented deaths in Syria. This means that records were found, or names, or pictures, or comments in large databases appeared about the way a certain person was killed. However, those who count in the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, believe the actual figure is closer to 220,000 (Boms, 2014). “Moderate” estimations quote the figures of 8,000–20,000 Syrian women who have been raped by both sides (rebels


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and President Assad’s army alike). Syrian human rights organizations estimate that over 50,000 women have been raped in Bashar al-Assad’s prisons since the beginning of the riots in Syria in 2011 (Cojean, 2014). An unknown number of these raped women had been killed by their families, specifically because they were raped. We have reports of four daughters of one Syrian family (the Zwidan family from Homs, Syria), who were raped by agents of the Shabiha (the pro-Syrian President militia).The family fled to Turkey. The raped daughters were hidden and given shelter at a Turkish hospital, lest members of their family would kill them. “Raped daughters become a stain that has to be erased. Their future has been destroyed; hence it is better to get rid of them” (Perri, 2012, p. 12). Rape is a deliberate strategy in the Syrian civil war. The majority of the Syrian refugees (more than 2.5 million in January 2013; in addition to more than 7 million displaced Syrians) report that danger of rape is the number one reason for their flight from Syria. Thus rape has become the number one reason for the phenomenon of refugees in the recent Middle Eastern civil wars (Barel, 2013, p. 17). Mass rape by both sides’ soldiers—in many case families are forced to watch how their daughters and women are raped; in other cases cameras record the rape and copies are sent everywhere to terrorize the population and defame the rapees’ families—has become a routine in this civil war. Rape of Syrian women has become a common phenomenon also at the Syrian refugee camps in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon. Permission for families to cross the border from Syria into Jordan, for example, is conditioned by the family leaving of one or two daughters at the border, for future use by the Syrian military guards as “comfort women.” Permission to enter the refugee camps in Jordan is conditioned by rape of one or two daughters. Cannibalism has also become noticed in the Syrian civil war. TIME Magazine found that the justification for the televised eating of a Syrian soldier’s lungs and liver by an anti-President Assad rebel was: “[H]e [the rebel] claims to have found a video in the dead soldier’s cell phone showing ‘a woman and her two daughters, fully naked, and he [the dead soldier] was humiliating them and sticking a stick here and there’”(Baker, 2013, pp. 16–17). Families in Syria have been known to kill raped female members, or to divorce raped wives. If women survived rape, they are not eligible to marry. Alternatively, parents were quick to marry their daughters to the first man who agreed, to spare their families the shame had these girls were kidnapped and raped, or the ensuing miseries of remaining permanently single with poor reputation and miserable status within her community, (if not first killed for defiling their families’ honor). (Perri, 2013, pp. 10–11). Thousands of cases are reported of child brides who are married off as early as 12 or 13 years old, for the price of about $1,000 (Boms, 2014). Spending time in prison, hence becoming highly susceptible of being raped there, was enough to deter future husbands from marrying these Syrian women. In Homs, Syria’s second largest city, scores of hymenoplasty operations were

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performed on girls aged from 13 to 16 who had been raped. The procedure was thought to be the only way to save these girls’ lives (Cojean, 2014). Recently, a group of Syrian men have decided to challenge that custom by pledging to marry women who have been victims of rape, including four sisters from Sumeriya, a town near the Turkish border, who were allegedly raped by pro-government Shabiha militiamen (Flock, 2011). It remains to be seen whether there would be a change in the deep rooted cultural and ethnic norms pertaining to raped women. One way or another, Syrian women’s rights have been hit badly in a country torn apart by three years of civil war that has killed more than 160,000. “Women are suffering the most; … Many men died and women are playing the role of men to take care of their children,” said Susan Ahmad, an opposition activist who works in Damascus. “The only thing women want now is to be safe,” said a woman who was a student in Damascus University when the revolt first broke out in March 2011 (Bayoumy, 2013). Libya A similar story of rape as a weapon of war has occurred in Libya. An investigation by the International Criminal Court in early June 2011 found evidence that Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi ordered mass rapes, and that rape was used excessively during Qaddafi’s desperate attempt to remain in power. The findings followed an event in which a Libyan woman named Iman Al-Obeidi burst into a Tripoli hotel to tell the audience of foreign journalists that she had been raped at the hands of the Qaddafi’s militia (Flock, 2011). This directed the international spotlight to the Qaddafi regime’s use of rape as a tool of political repression. There are persistent reports that throughout Qaddafi’s fight to remain in power, his regime ordered soldiers to go into villages and rape the female adults and children, some as young as 8 years old, in front of family members. Condoms and Viagra were found in pockets of dead Qaddafi soldiers. Children were described of being forced to watch as their fathers were murdered and their mothers raped. Benghazi journalists reported seeing the ground littered with Viagra after troops had been through (Marcus, 2011). Atrocities against women were not limited to the battles in Libya. In June 12, 2014, the radical ISIS Sunni combatants (ISIS = Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) who brutally fought the Shiites in Iraq, issued a decree demanding that the nonmarried women in the city of Mosul, Iraq, should step forward and play their share in the Jihadi war to liberate their country. According to Reuters the non-married women were demanded to fulfil their Muslim Shari’a duty to fight the infidels and support their “Jihadi fighting brotherly mujahideen” by conducting “Jihadi sex relations” with them (Geller, 2014).

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Conclusion Rape of girls and women is a vicious weapon used lavishly and abundantly in times of international war and civil strife. The results are monstrous and discussed in our article. I chose to conclude with a Midrash, a chapter from the Jewish Talmud, which epitomizes some of the ideas mentioned here about rape and war. God’s anger, fury and wrath that led to the Destruction of the Jewish Temple, are directly linked to an act of rape: Babylonian Talmud, Gittin, 58, A: Said Rabbi Yehuda, said Rav: this is a case about a person, an apprentice, who trains himself to become a carpenter, by working together with his mastercarpenter. The apprentice fell in love with the wife of his master. Once the carpenter needed money. Said the apprentice to his master: send me your wife and I will give her a loan. The carpenter agreed and sent his wife to the apprentice. He has not heard from her [she disappeared] for 3 days. The carpenter came to the apprentice and asked: where is my wife whom I sent to you three days ago to be given a loan? Replied the apprentice: I gave her the money and immediately sent her back, but I heard that on her way back she was raped by young thugs. What should I do now, asked the shocked carpenter. Replied the apprentice: you have to divorce your wife. Said the carpenter: but according to her Ketubah [her marriage certificate], in case I divorce her I have to pay her a huge amount of money. Said the carpenter: I will give you a loan. The carpenter took the loan and divorced his wife. Immediately the apprentice married the divorcee of the carpenter. The time for the repayment of the loan has arrived, and the carpenter did not pay the loan. Said the apprentice to the carpenter: in case you can’t pay me back the loan, you have to work for me. The apprentice and his new wife [the carpenter’s divorcee] sit to the table, eat and drink, and the carpenter stands and serves them as a waiter, and pours wine to their glasses. And his tears drop from his eyes directly into the cups of the apprentice and his new wife. At that very moment God decided on the verdict of the Temple, i.e. the destruction of the Second Temple.

References Associated Press, 2010. UN official: Bosnia war rapes must be prosecuted. [online] Available at: [Accessed June 23, 2014]. Baker, A., 2013. The YouTube War. Time, May 27. pp. 16–17.

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Barel, Z., 2013. Syria Out. Haaretz, January 21. p. 17. Bayoumy, Y., 2013. Analysis: Arab Spring Nations Backtrack on Women’s Rights, Poll Says. Reuters, [online]. Available at: [Accessed June 23, 2014]. Boms, N., 2014. Syria’s Mind-Boggling Numbers. The Wall Street Journal, [online]. Available at: [Accessed June 23, 2014]. Cojean, A. Syria’s Silent War Crime: Systematic Mass Rape. [online] Worldcrunch. Available at [Accessed June 23, 2014]. Flock, E., 2011. Women in the Arab Spring: The other side of the story. Washington Post, [online]. Available at: [Accessed June 23, 2014]. Geller, P., 2014. The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria Orders Unmarried Women to ‘Jihad by Sex.’ Atlas Shrugs, June 22. [online] Available at: [Accessed June 23, 2014]. Greenwood, P., 2013. Rape and Domestic Violence Follow Syrian Women into Refugee Camps. The Guardian, July 25. p. 19. Harari, Y.N., 2013. A Brief History of Mankind. Or Yehuda. [In Hebrew] MacKinnon, C.A., 2005. Legal Feminism in Theory and Practice, Tel Aviv: Resling [In Hebrew]. Marcus, E,. 2011. Rape and the Arab Spring: The Dark Side of the Popular Uprisings in the Middle East. Center for American Progress, [online]. Available at: [Accessed June 23, 2014]. Perri, S., 2012. The Tears of Salma; and of Soumaya; and of Ramziya. Yedioth Aharonoth, June 15. p. 12. [In Hebrew]. ——, 2013. The Neighbors’ Lost Children. Yedioth Aharonoth, March 21. pp. 10–11.

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Chapter 14

Reasserting Normalcy in Iran’s Foreign Policy Realm: Continuities, Challenges and Opportunities Ghoncheh Tazmini

Introduction To gauge change or continuity in Iran’s foreign policy, we need to stand back and look at recent developments on a broader historical timeline. This chapter broaches Iranian foreign policy from the prism of Iran’s history of modernization and reform: specifically, the history of large-scale exercises of socio-economic engineering and political transformation since the early twentieth century. This approach will bring to the light the multiple dimensions of Iranian foreign policy and will support the claim that current president, Hassan Rouhani’s pragmatic agenda is likely to temper foreign policy practices and interactions. This shift in orientation, I argue, was set in motion under the presidency of Seyyed Mohammad Khatami (1997–2005) when Iran underwent a fundamental conceptual and methodological shift: a transition from revolutionary-style politics to a “politics of normalcy” with palpable implications in the foreign policy realm (Tazmini, 2009, p. 20). While Khatami’s presidency was characterized by a systemic conceptual transition, acting president, Hassan Rouhani’s project can be understood as one of systemic consolidation. In order to explain how Iran reached this juncture, the first strand of analysis will describe broader tectonic shifts that have taken place in Iran’s modern history. These deeper subterranean shifts can tell us a lot about the topography of Iranian foreign policy. With this consideration in mind, the first strand will provide a brief survey of Iranian socio-economic transformation and institutional development in order to demonstrate how the pushes and pulls of Iran’s history have brought to the surface a president who understands that the developmental experiences and conflicts of the past have been exhausted. What has become patently clear is that Iran needs a more sophisticated political formula in order to respond to domestic and international pressures. This historical backdrop, which takes the form of a dialectic progression, will explain how Iran arrived on path to normalcy. We can speculate all we like about Iran’s strategic choices and the country’s role in the region and on the global stage. There is certainly no dearth of analyses on this theme—especially now with a moderate president at the helm. The


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common thread in most of these expositions is skepticism over Rouhani’s ability to bring about substantive change, given the fact that the more contentious foreign policy objectives are deeply embedded in the heart of the 1979 Constitution. It is especially challenging to gauge the nature and future of Iran’s role in the international arena, particularly when we see departures or inconsistencies—the most obvious example being Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s volte face after Khatami’s era of the “Dialogue among Civilisations.” Khatami advocated an inclusive global discourse through his “Dialogue among Civilisations” thesis, a kind of antidote to Samuel Huntington’s confrontational “Clash of Civilisations” notion positing the idea of an inevitable future clashes between cultures (Huntington, 1993). Khatami’s thesis, which advocated tolerance, peace and understanding, set the tone for Iran’s rapprochement with the international community and internationalization of the Iranian economy (Petito, 2004, p. 12). Having said this, I argue that while Ahmadinejad did drift off-course, the peculiarities of his presidency—such as his fiercely revolutionary fervor and inflammatory public oratory—were the growing pains associated with Iran’s entry into full adulthood.1 The aim of this historical survey is to support the claim that the path of normalcy has been irrevocably paved, and that on this trajectory, Iran’s foreign policy behavior is likely to be more constructive and less confrontational. The second strand details Iran’s strategic objectives. For 34 years, Iran’s foreign policy has been buttressed by a number of priorities, essential to its revolutionary narrative. While policies do not suddenly shift with a change in administration, the leadership’s overall orientation or mindset can have a subtle, yet tangible impact on foreign policy articulation and behavior. The second strand will show that Iran’s strategic priorities are influenced by a set of four core principles that have guided various Iranian heads of state since the 1979 revolution; these are: republicanism, development, justice and independence. The degree to which these factors have been instrumentalized reflects the overarching political orientation of the leadership in power. Rouhani’s leadership, and by extension, foreign policy articulation, is a reflection of the prioritization or the interplay of these four guiding principles. As we will discuss in the following paragraphs, Rouhani’s presidency reflects an effort to strike a balance—a “nokhteh taadol”—between these four factors and this has positive implications on Iran’s role on the international stage. Out of this, I anticipate that a somewhat deeper theoretical appreciation of the multiple factors shaping Iranian foreign policy will emerge. The third part of the analysis will tie the two strands together in order to make the case that in order for Iran to continue its pursuit of the politics of normalcy, and to play a constructive role in regional and global affairs, the dominant powers can be instrumental in encouraging Iran’s integration into the international community. While Rouhani and his cabinet are working to normalize relations with the west and regional powers, relations remain fundamentally abnormal. As Abedin has argued, the language of boycotts and threat by external and rival powers only obstruct Iran’s course to normality and compromises the fragile domestic political consensus on Iran’s foreign policy orientation (2011).

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Iranian Development: To Be or Not to Be Like the West Development in Iran has been beset by a dilemma: the question of orientation. Iranian history reflects the struggles of an ancient state seeking to chart a distinctive developmental path based on its historical, religious, revolutionary experience, and its national and civic identity (Tavakoli-Targhi, p. 102). However, Iranian leaders of the past have invariably demonstrated ambivalence toward Western norms and institutions. In the early twentieth century, Reza Shah Pahlavi, and later, his heir, Mohammad Reza Shah, embarked on a vast Westernization program aimed at creating a more modern Iran (Tazmini, 2012, pp. 57–60). Modernization was fast paced, state-sponsored and limited to producing the outward manifestations of modernity; political repression persisted and the autocracy remained undiluted (McDaniel, 1991, p. 5). Both Pahlavi shahs adopted a brand of Westernization that led to a pattern of “modernization without modernity.” The contradictions besetting this peculiar brand of modernization were legion. They triggered widespread socio-political discontent, which in the presence of ideological channels and fateful sparks, contributed to the 1979 revolution. In the 1960s and 1970s, broad sectors of the population began to attribute their economic and political grievances to Mohammad Reza Shah’s Westernization campaign. This resistance spawned a cultural movement that romanticized Iranian and Islamic traditions. What transpired was the birth of nativism—the glorification of native culture, particularly amongst intellectuals who criticzed the Shah for being imperialistic and despotic in an age of republicanism and nationalism (Hanson, 1983). They believed that Westernization had contaminated Iran’s intellectual and social climate and called for a national awakening and resistance to the hegemony of what they perceived to be an alien culture. This culture, they believed, was slowly eroding Iran’s cultural authenticity, political sovereignty and economic stability. It was in this ideational milieu that Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s antiWestern, anti-Shah platform gained popularity. In many ways, the Iranian–Islamic revolution and the system that followed can be interpreted as a revolt in defense of culture and tradition, and an effort to embrace modernity through emphasis on the Islamic inheritance. This took the form of an Islamic republic: a blend of divine rule, theocracy and democracy. Through the practices and rhetoric of Shi’a revolutionary activism, Khomeini set about creating a distinctly nonWestern variety of modernity in the form of an Islamic republic. What is significant here is that historically, Iran’s developmental trajectories—imperial or revolutionary—diverged from those of the west, whether by accident or by design. Transcending the Developmental Dilemma Having passed through the labyrinth of social contradictions, Iran reached a point where it had to transcend the logic of development of the twentieth century. In the 1990s, an estimated 70 percent of Iran’s population was under 30 years of


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age; this restless “youth bulge” called for progressive change and rallied support behind Khatami who, in 1997, secured a landslide victory on a reformist platform (Khajehpour, 2002). Khatami ushered in a conceptual revolution—a shift in orientation—by vowing to initiate a civilizational upgrade by pushing Iran into the twenty-first century by reconciling two cosmologies: one being the Shi’a Muslim, theocratic-democratic, indigenous realm and the other, the Western world (Tazmini, 2009, p. 38). While Iranian leaders of the past struggled to preserve the country’s distinctive historical genotype—Persian, Islamic, revolutionary or messianic—the country had to respond to the popular calls for democratic reform. The country’s population was rapidly undergoing change, largely in response to the pressures of urbanization, migration, economic integration, globalization, cultural exchange and diffusion, and the technological revolution Iran was at a fateful historical juncture: the pressures “from below” were pushing the country to explore a more sophisticated approach to development (Smith, 2000, p. 51). In the first 10 years after the revolution, with Khomeini as the Supreme Leader, Iran’s foreign policy was predicated on two ideological principles: (1) “Neither East nor West but the Islamic Republic,” which created enemies on both camps, and (2) “Export of the Revolution,” in order to free both Muslim and nonMuslim countries from “oppressive and corrupt rulers.” Rakel explains that during Rafsanjani’s presidency, a more pragmatic approach prevailed, focusing almost exclusively on post Iran-Iraq war economic reconstruction and the country’s reintegration into the international economy (2007). All things considered, the post-revolutionary days were tumultuous, “extraordinary” times. Khatami’s approach was to transcend the sharp turns and revolutionary breaks that have characterized Iran’s modern history. Khatami tried to move Iranian politics towards a regular mode of politics and to instigate a “return to normalcy.” The notion of a return to normalcy was the slogan popular in the United States after the First World War and reflected the desire for peace and a nation tired of military exertions. In the Iranian context, the politics of normalcy reflected a country seeking to avoid diplomatic isolation and to rid itself of revolutionary-style politics, self-reliant economic policies, a confrontational foreign policy and rigid social mores. On the international stage, a break from the past entailed a policy of détente. Wastnidge (2011) explains that Khatami’s conciliatory approach translated into three priorities: first, a policy of not exporting the revolution that had initially been implemented by Rafsanjani and Khamenei following the death of Khomeini; second, promoting rapprochement with Arab states, particularly those neighboring Iran, something that can be partly linked to the first point as Iran was officially no longer actively supporting subversive Shi’a movements in the region; and, third, promoting normalization of relations with European Union states. Khatami demonstrated this shift in orientation—the repudiation of ideologically charged, revolutionary-style politics—by assuring the world that Iran was not bent

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on regional dominance. Within six months of taking office, he hosted a summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. This was the first effort to end Iran’s regional and international isolation and to help improve relations with the Arab world. Using this summit to make new friends, Khatami spelled out his domestic and foreign policy agendas to one of the largest gatherings of Muslim leaders who met to discuss political, economic and social issues. The summit was followed by his famous interview with Christiane Amanpour on CNN in January 1998, where he called for American-Iranian cultural exchanges among scholars, artists, athletes and tourists. He proclaimed admiration for American political traditions assisted in the war against terror, and revoked the fatwa (religious decree) ordering the death of Salman Rushdie, author of the controversial book, The Satanic Verses (Tazmini, 2009, p. 85). Khatami’s methodological shift is ingrained Rouhani’s orientation and worldview. Since his investiture, Rouhani has explored a more dynamic and creative logic of engagement, while repudiating the politics of resistance and confrontation. In Rouhani’s Iran, we are witnessing the revival of the politics of normalcy where ideological radicalism is giving way to Iran’s broader mundane, day-to-day national interests. Locating Rouhani Rouhani summed up the discursive foundation of his foreign policy agenda during the 2013 presidential campaign: constructive and dignified engagement with the world (Kazemzadeh, 2014). The question is whether Rouhani and his administration will have the executive steering power to deliver these campaign promises. Sceptics point to the conservative onslaught and institutional constraints that severely hampered Khatami’s program for change. Between 1997 and 2005, reform efforts were stifled amidst intra-elite wrangling between hardliners, who dominated the traditional economic and cultural sources of power, and the reformorientated elements of society (Amuzegar, 2006). Today Rouhani is confronted with a deep-seated conservative resistance, particularly in relation to his stated desire to resolve the nuclear impasse and to open up political and cultural space in Iran in line with his campaign pledge to de-securitize the political environment. The historic nuclear deal brokered by President Rouhani and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif known as the “Joint Plan of Action” between Iran and its P5+1 interlocutors on November 24, 2013 was met with criticism: hardliners argued that nuclear negotiations were tantamount to betrayal of the revolutionary values that lay at the core of the Islamic Republic (Mahapatra and Dadwal, 2014, pp. 259–260). As Ganji (2013) explains in Foreign Policy Magazine, hardliners have actually transformed the negotiations into an excuse to dilute the credibility of the Rouhani administration. They reject the interim Geneva accord claiming that Iran has made every concession, with nothing in return. They claim that the most crippling economic sanctions are still in place


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and may not be lifted for years, even if a final agreement is reached. They have even gone so far as to claim that the Rouhani administration has colluded with the Western powers. Will Rouhani’s agenda be stifled by an overwhelming conservative resistance? What can Khatami’s experience tell us about the potential barriers to substantive change in Iran’s foreign policy approach? In order to address this question, a few words on Iran’s complex power structure are pertinent here.2 The Iranian political mosaic is as complex and as interwoven as the design of the most intricate Persian miniatures or carpets. The closer one looks at the minute details, the more one sees that what appears on the surface as a confrontation between two camps is in fact a network of rivalries within the framework of the system. Khatami and his reformist supporters were faced with resistance well beyond a simple, traditional conservative legislative opposition typical of any Western liberal democracy. The movement was confronted rather by the interpenetrating contradictions of the Iranian political system, which is generally characterized by a multitude of loosely connected, generally competitive power centers—both formal and informal. The former are grounded in the Constitution and in governmental regulations and take the form of state institutions. The latter include religious-political associations, martyr’s foundations and paramilitary organizations aligned with various factions of the leadership. The president, as chief executive, is responsible for the everyday running of the country. He does not determine the general guidelines of Iranian domestic and foreign policy, nor does he control the armed forces or security apparatus. The political system, with overlapping centers of power with deep policy differences, frustrated Khatami’s efforts to push forward with progressive legislation. The legislative and judiciary branches had the power to obstruct—or to expedite—the implementation of Khatami’s liberalization measures. Owing to their staunchly conservative political orientation, these entities did not cooperate with the reform-orientated president. Khatami found himself in an institutional gridlock, and unable to manoeuvre around the political structure or to reconcile the political rifts that impeded his program for change (Tazmini, 2009, p. 2). Rouhani straddles both sides of the moderate-conservative fence, and this gives him a freer hand in negotiating and implementing change. Indeed, this is a luxury of leadership Khatami knew. Rouhani is as much a conservative, establishment figure as he is a moderate figure. Before the 1979 Revolution, like many religious-minded scholars, Rouhani was drawn to Ayatollah Khomeini. Heard mentioning the Ayatollah in a Tehran mosque, he became a target of Mohammad Reza Shah’s dreaded intelligence service. He was forced to leave the country, eventually joining Khomeini in exile in Paris. Since the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s, in which he played a strategic role in the military command, Rouhani has not been excluded from core regime institutions. Unlike many reformist and centrist leaders before him, he still enjoys a relationship of trust with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Rouhani’s approval by the Guardian Council in the 2013 presidential elections, while centrist Hashemi-Rafsanjani was disqualified, is a

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testament of his impeccable revolutionary credentials. Thus, it is safe to say that Rouhani is cut from the same cloth as establishment figures. What sets Rouhani apart from his predecessors is his brand: that is, being neither a reformist nor a hardliner. In many ways, Rouhani represents the reconciliation of contending and competing ideological camps. With more steering power that his predecessors, the Iranian president is closer to bringing harmony to the Byzantine labyrinth of Iranian politics, and of acting as an antidote to a socially-divided Iran. Almost a year into his presidency, at the time of writing this chapter, Rouhani has demonstrated that while he is committed to the aspirations of the electorate that voted for progressive change, he remains sensitive to the concerns of the conservative establishment. Striking a Balance There are great variations in Iran’s foreign policy behavior: even a layperson limited to snippets from mainstream media can recognize the difference in foreign policy articulation under Khatami, Ahmadinejad or Rouhani. What accounts for this variation? Is Rouhani going to follow Khatami’s footsteps or is this a simplistic assessment? What clues can we bring together in order to solve the puzzle of the nature of Iran’s foreign policy? Domestic politics can never be divorced from foreign policy, particularly in Iran’s case. As a post-post-revolutionary state and society, Iran’s approach to global and regional affairs is very much influenced or determined by the prioritization, instrumentalization or sometimes the interplay of four guiding principles or national/strategic priorities. The first pillar is the concept of republicanism and participation (mosharekat). The emphasis is on popular sovereignty (mardom salari), civil society, (jameh madani), and pluralism. This pillar was central to Khatami whose movement focused on consolidating the rule of law and stimulating civic activism. While Rouhani can be considered a reformist in many ways, this pillar is not as central to his political agenda as it was for Khatami. Democratization and institutional reform are not as pivotal to Rouhani’s agenda as that they were for Khatami: indeed, this may come as a surprise to observers that have been quick to label Rouhani a reformist. It is more prudent to regard Rouhani as a pragmatist who is more urgently driven to bring about normalcy on the foreign policy front than in the domestic realm. The emphasis is undoubtedly on the nuclear issue and getting further sanctions relief which, in combination with better economic management, could ensure palpable improvements in the economy and consequent political popularity. The second pillar is economic development (tose’eh). This was the cornerstone of Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani’s presidency in the 1980s and the early 1990s. Described as a pragmatic centrist, Hashemi-Rafsanjani surrounded himself with technocrats in an effort to revive the post-war economy. Going further back, in


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the late 1920s and 1930s, economic restructuring was the linchpin of Reza Shah Pahlavi’s state-sponsored modernization program. The third pillar is economic justice (edaalat). The pursuit of justice was one of the main pillars of Ahmadinejad’s political platform, which was predicated on tackling poverty and corruption, and redistributing wealth. His personal former website Mardomyar or the “People’s Friend,” epitomized this mission. The fourth pillar independence and freedom (azadi). The emphasis is on resistance of foreign interference and encroachment. This was the cornerstone of Mohammad Mossadeq’s short prime ministership in the 1950s. The democratically elected, nationalist prime minister insisted that his country’s fight for possession of its oil resources was not only a quest for profits, but a fight for liberty. This was also the leitmotif of Ayatollah Khomeini’s revolutionary slogan—‘Esteghlal (independence), Azadi (freedom), Jomhouri Islami (Islamic Republic).’ Iranian leaders of the past leaders have tended to focus on one pillar alone. Rouhani’s challenge aim is to strike a balance between these four competing objectives and to achieve a balancing point.3 As we will discuss below, this is one of the ways in which Rouhani can achieve consensus in a politically divided country. Foreign Policy Landscape Above we have presented the historical and conceptual factors that impinge on Iranian foreign policy formation. This serves as a backdrop for understanding Iran’s approach to the practical issues it is confronted with on the global stage and in its immediate backyard. Rouhani is facing a far more complex and fluid situation than his predecessors. The Middle East and North Africa have experienced unprecedented uprisings, and Syria—Iran’s sole Arab ally is embroiled in a bloody civil war. Monshipouri and Dorraj (2013) explain that upheavals have been a mixed blessing for Iran. They argue that on the one hand, they have presented a setback for the Iranian model of governance. The victory of nonviolence, spearheaded by the youth professing secular ideas of liberty, social justice and economic security demonstrated a triumph over grand ideological narratives such as pan-Islamism. On the other hand, the electoral victories of the Muslim reformist al-Nahda party in Tunisia and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt were seen as a real opportunity. Iran’s conservative ruling elites interpreted this victory in terms of an Islamic rather than an Arab awakening. The July 3, 2013, Egyptian army coup against President Mohammed Morsi failed initially to evoke a drastic reaction from the Islamic Republic. Following the dramatic rise in violence and unrest, however, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, rejected any foreign interference in Egypt’s internal affairs, arguing that it runs counter to the goals of peaceful democratic change. He also called on Egypt’s religious scholars as well as political and staterun institutions to help end the violence (Monshipouri and Dorraj, 2013, p. 141).

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Iran bears all the burdens of a near-moribund economy; however, it has remarkable potential for economic development as it sits astride close to 10 percent of world oil reserves and 15 percent of gas reserves. The issue for Iran relates largely to where it seeks to develop its economic and political alliances. To the immediate east, the borders with Afghanistan and Pakistan are hugely significant, especially in the case of Afghanistan where opium and refined heroin smuggling across the border has cost the lives of Iranian border and patrol guards. Iran is deeply suspicious of Pakistan because of radical Sunni Islamist elements within the state, its long-term support for the Taliban, its close security ties to Saudi Arabia and the precarious security predicament of the Pakistani Shi’a community. Still, Iran seeks to improve relations, not least through exporting gas and the proposed Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline (Anjali and Roshandel, 2010, pp. 76–77). Iran will further increase its links with Afghanistan, where it has greatly increased aid in recent years. India and China are both significant importers of Iranian oil and gas. China is particularly important to Iran in two respects: first, long-term investment in the development of new oil and gas fields; and, second, China’s supply of carefully selected weapons, especially shore-based anti-ship cruise missiles (Hong, 2014). Iran will maintain close ties to China, but it will not eschew improved relations with India, seeing it as a useful counter-balance to Pakistan. While the links with southern and eastern Asia are significant, Iran is also keen to explore the prospects for natural gas collaboration with Cyprus: Iran’s Ambassador to Nicosia, Ali Akbar Rezaei expressed an interest in cooperating with Cyprus, not only to produce gas but to engage Cyprus as a pivotal gateway for exporting gas to Europe or as he put it: “a country with a face to the region and a face to Europe and the European Union (EU).” However, he explained that these ventures largely depend on the future of Tehran’s relations with the EU. Rezaei explained that the election of a moderate president has increased the possibility of expanding cooperation in oil and gas in the eastern Mediterranean. Rouhani’s election, he highlighted, should encourage the EU to “reset and redefine” its relations with Iran, leading to more stability and prosperity in the volatile region east of Cyprus (Evripidou, 2014). One of Iran’s foreign policy priorities is relations with neighboring Turkey. Hashem (2014) explains that this became evident in the meeting between Foreign Ministers Zarif and Ahmet Davutoglu in Tehran in November 2014. There is no doubt that the Syrian crisis rattled the harmony between Tehran and Ankara, but according to Hashem (2014), security officials of both countries have met frequently and shared information vital to national security—a shared concern for both countries. Turkey is now convinced that a political solution is the only exit from the bloodshed. Moreover, it is feeling the heat as Islamic radical groups dominate its shared border with Syria, threatening its security and possibly its economic and political stability. Another consideration is that Turkey is being pushed out of Syria by other regional powers. Even its allies in the Syrian opposition are losing


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influence, and on the ground, the main fighting factions—besides the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS)—are moving closer to Saudi Arabia. Turkey and Iran share the same regional rivals and the same security concerns. Thus, a Turkey/Iran connection will be more important to Tehran than the much vaunted Lebanon/ Syria/Iraq/Iran “Shi’a crescent.” This is complemented by the mainstay of bilateral relations between Iran and Turkey: trade and commercial activity. Iran is Turkey’s second biggest gas supplier after Russia (Larabee and Nader, 2013, pp. 8–10). Further improvement in relations with the United States and Europe will remain a priority, but Iran will not exclusively look to the west to ensure its standing in the world: India, China and Turkey will be more important partners in the long-term. Iran’s rivalry with Saudi Arabia remains pervasive and is a crucial proxy element in the Syrian conflict but Rouhani’s personal links with Saudi diplomats in the past, combined with Iran’s need to see the war scaled down, means that even here there may be potential for progress. Improving relations with Saudi Arabia holds significant implications for Iraq, Bahrain, Lebanon, Yemen and Syria. Accordingly, Rouhani highlighted the importance of improving relations with Saudi Arabia as a “neighbor and brother” in his first news conference following the election (Aman and Scotten, 2013). Under the Rouhani administration, Iran’s overall policy of expanding cooperation in the region and of engaging with new global partners suggests an easing of tensions and the expansion of economic relations, and cooperation on security concerns that Iran shares with its neighbors. Engaging Iran Since its emergence in 1979, the Islamic Republic of Iran has remained a conundrum for international observers. The debate over the dynamics of Iranian foreign policy has become ever more closely tied to controversy over the regime question—the nature of the hybrid democracy-theocracy. The pivotal question is: can the Iranians be engaged in constructive dialogue given a political system deeply rooted in theocracy? From a strategic point of view, the Iranian government is very much guided by national interests, and is therefore sensitive to opportunities to gain strategic allies, to minimize its risk through the use of proxy agents, to enhance its military capacity and deterrence measures in the interests of national security. Rouhani and his team have shown themselves to be pragmatic, interest-driven strategists amenable to serious negotiations. Moreover, behind the veil of clerical power in Iran, there is a growing and increasingly influential technocracy that injects strong doses of realpolitik into Iranian decision-making. As such, the claim that the Islamic Republic Iranian is consumed with a messianic message and on triggering a nuclear “Judgment Day” does not correspond to precedent or to current developments. These caricatures are deleterious to diplomatic engagement, particularly at a time when promising signs of détente are timidly emerging.

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It would be imprudent for the West to continue with its policy of containment. For almost 35 years, the antagonistic language and tactics aimed at isolating Iran and undermining its government have not produced the desired outcomes. On the contrary, the language of force and hostility have played directly into hands of hardline elements in the Iranian ruling establishment, recasting their reactionary anti-Americanism and inflexibility as standing up to a global bully. While the conservative camp and their espoused philosophy in Iran benefit from the existence of enemies, real or imagined, a fair-handed approach will conversely strengthen the moderates and their agenda for reform. In other words, Rouhani and his camp need the west to cooperate; or as Ganji (2014) pleas in an article in Foreign Policy Magazine: “lend Rouhani a hand.” Tehran is fixated on the possibility of external threats to its national security from regional and world powers. A distinct political system, the Islamic Republic of Iran has no precedent in history. In many ways, it is a work in progress, perpetually evolving and adapting out of political expediency. Crippling sanctions, threats of military intervention, cyber-warfare, regime change efforts, and covert actions to destabilize the government, only serve to radicalize even the most moderate elements of society. This approach only breeds a sense of insecurity, which impinges on institutional development and integration into the international community. Concluding Remarks This chapter began by describing the broader subterranean shifts that have taken place in Iran’s modern history. The survey of the paradox of transformation and change in Iran reflects the historical baggage Iran carries with itself. However, today the country is in the throes of an historical “moment” where the developmental experiences and conflicts of the past have pushed the leadership to explore a more integrative approach to development—one that is less “revolutionary” and more “normal,” one that is not only autonomous but also adaptive. Rouhani and his cabinet are struggling to consolidate a model of normality that combines Westerninspired reforms with something broader, taking into account Iran’s distinctive culture, history and place in the world. This new constellation has important ramifications on Iran’s international behavior: while Iran’s strategic priorities remain unaltered, these broader historical subterranean shifts will have a positive impact on foreign policy articulation and behavior. Social and political change in the Islamic Republic will remain an on-going process of interaction between universal value patterns and specific cultural codes. The west can support Iran’s trajectory by engaging Iran and by fostering a more pluralistic understanding of development: one that takes a much broader view of the modernization process by placing it in the long-term context of cultural adaptation of civilizational complexes to the challenge of modernity. Only then can we envision meaningful and long-term rapprochement.


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Notes 1 It is simplistic to reduce Ahmadinjad’s presidency as nothing more than an era of revolutionary revivalism with apocalyptic scenarios. The international setting played a crucial role in determining Iran’s hardline U-turn. It was during Khatami’s presidency when he was extending an olive branch that Iran was brandished as a pariah on an “axis of evil.” This radicalized many elements within Iran, who lost faith in the reform project, and ultimately ushered the way for Ahmadinejad to take the helm. 2  For a complete account of Iran’s power structure see Buchta, W., 2000. Who Rules Iran? Washington: Washington Institute for Near East Policy. 3  These four pillars and the proposed solution were presented to me by Iranian sociologist, Dr Gholamali Khoshroo, who served as Mohammad Khatami’s Special Advisor. At the World Public Forum Conference—Dialogue of Civilizations. Rhodes, October 3–6, 2013.

References Abedin, M., 2011. The Domestic Determinants of Iranian Foreign Policy: Challenges to Consensus. Strategic Analysis, 35(4), pp. 613–628. Aman, F., and Scotten, A., 2013. Rouhani win could Reduce Iran-Saudi Ttensions. Al-Monitor, [online] June 21. Available at: pulse/originals/2013/06/rouhani-election-reduce-saudi-iranian-tensions.html [Accessed May 28, 2014]. Amuzegar, J., 2006. Khatami’s Legacy: Dashed Hopes. Middle East Journal 60(1), pp. 57–74. Anjali, S., and Roshandel, J., 2010. The Iran–Pakistan–India Natural Gas Pipeline: Implications and Challenges for Regional Security. Strategic Analysis, 34(1), pp. 74–92. Evripidou, S., 2014. Iran Says it Could Cooperate on Gas. Cyprus Mail, [online] June 28. Available at: [Accessed May 28, 2014]. Ganji, A., 2014. Lend Rouhani a Hand. Foreign Policy Magazine, [online] Available at: [Accessed May 29, 2014]. Hanson, B., 1983. The Westoxication of Iran: depictions and reactions of Behrangi, Ale Ahmad, and Shariati. International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 15, p. 9. Hashem, A., 2014. Turkey shifts toward Iran on Syria. Al-Monitor, [online] January 17. Available at: turkey-iran-reset-syria.html [Accessed May 27, 2014]. Hong, Z., 2014. China’s Dilemma on Iran: Between Energy Security and a Responsible Rising Power. Journal of Contemporary China, 23(87), pp. 408–424.

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Huntington, S.P., 1993. The Clash of Civilizations? Foreign Affairs 72(3), pp. 22–49. Kazemzadeh, M., 2014. Hassan Rouhani’s Election and its Consequences for American Foreign Policy. American Foreign Policy Interests, 36, pp. 127–137. Khajehpour, B., 2002. Protest and Regime Resilience in Iran. Middle East Research and Information Project, [online] December 11. Available at: http:// [Accessed June 16, 2014]. Larabee, S., and Nader, A., 2013. Turkish-Iranian Relations in a Changing Middle East. Santa Monica: Rand Corporation. McDaniel, T., 1991. Autocracy, Modernization, and Revolution in Russia and Iran. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Mahapatra, C., and Dadwal, R., 2014. New Directions in Iranian Foreign Policy: Impact on Global Energy Security. Strategic Analysis, 38(3), pp. 259–264. Monshipouri, M., and Dorraj, M., 2013. Iran’s Shifting Foreign Policy. Middle East Policy, 20(4), pp. 133–147. Petito, F., 2004. Khatami’s “Dialogue among Civilizations” as International Political Theory. Journal of Humanities, 11(3), pp. 11–29. Rakel, E., 2007. Iranian Foreign Policy since the Iranian Islamic Revolution: 1979–2006. Perspectives on Global Development and Technology, 6, pp. 159–187. Smith, P., 2000. Between the Indigenous and the Imported: Khatami’s Iran. Washington Quarterly, 23(2), pp. 35–53. Tavakoli-Targhi, M., 2001. Refashioning Iran: Orientalism, Occidentalism and Historiography. NY: Palgrave. Tazmini, G., 2009. Khatami’s Iran: the Islamic Republic and the Turbulent Path to Reform. London: I. B. Tauris. ——., 2012. Revolution and Reform in Russia and Iran: Politics and Modernisation of Revolutionary States. London: I.B. Tauris. Wastnidge, E., 2011. Détente and Dialogue: Iran and the OIC during the Khatami Era. Politics, Religion and Ideology, 12(4), pp. 413–431.

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Chapter 15

The Call of the Sea: Strategic Opportunities and Challenges for Israel in the Eastern Mediterranean Aharon Klieman

Introduction A renewed twenty-first century maritime rivalry for strategic assets and geopolitical leverage is presently underway in the formerly Ottoman Near and Middle East. Once again the otherwise becalmed offshore waters of the southern Mediterranean basin are becoming roiled in a replay of the ceaseless contest for influence, prestige and comparative advantage. When framed in a dual historicaltheoretical perspective the current dynamic is entirely in keeping with the pattern of swirling changeability traditionally assigned the Mediterranean Sea in world history and politics (Abulafia, 2011, p. 648), but also consistent with classic Balance-of-Power theory. This realignment of political forces in the eastern Mediterranean, mixing competitive with collaborative behavior, has among its principal contestants Greece, Cyprus and Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria, NATO and the European Union, the United States and Russia, plus major energy producers and consumers. Whether their balancing act will have a positive or negative, centripetal or centrifugal effect on relations among all 21 Mediterranean littoral countries, as well as on the global balance, is as yet altogether unclear. What can be stated with confidence is that none of the other regional and great power competitors in this escalating and widening competition have a larger stake in its outcome than the state of Israel. Nor are any of the stakeholders more determined than Israel to protect and, wherever possible, actively promote its vital national interests—offshore as well as on land—through the prudent application of both economic statecraft and gunboat diplomacy. Israel’s Mediterranean Reset For the first time in its modern history Israel is beginning to act like a maritime nation. Instead of focusing almost exclusively on Arab world developments, Israel’s regional outlook is becoming less unifocal and more expansive, with the


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Persian Gulf at one extreme and the Mediterranean Sea at the other. After nearly seven decades of nearly undivided attention to political-security issues along land borders shared with five destabilized or potentially destabilizing Arab neighbors (Egypt, the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan), today there is heightening concern at developments closely proximate to Israel’s territorial waters and on the international high seas beyond. From a purely Israeli perspective, this turn to the sea implies a dramatic sea change in Israeli military strategy and foreign policy. Anything but a play on words, by pivoting toward its western as well as eastern (for example Iran) perimeter Israel is in effect broadcasting the eastern Mediterranean’s paramount rather than peripheral importance. Recalibrating toward the Mediterranean Sea and away from the shifting political sands of the Middle East needs to be understood in both conceptual and Israeli terms as a function of two distinct yet mutually-reinforcing influences. The Logic of Necessity coupled with the Logic of Opportunity alerts Israeli strategic planners to political crosscurrents surfacing all along the southern and eastern rims of the Mediterranean Sea. So, too, do these dual considerations—pushing and pulling policymakers in Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv decidedly seaward from opposite directions—invite speculation about the potential for either peaceful functional cooperation or conflict among the European, North African and Middle Eastern countries fronting on the Mediterranean, plus the two extra-regional Great power actors, the United States and Russia. At one end we observe the negative push effect of contemporary Middle Eastern and inter-Arab politics (see for example Luttwak, 2007, p. 5; Auerswald, 2007, pp. 19–27). Simply put: the Zionist idea of triumphantly restoring a dispersed Jewish people to their ancestral homeland has had the attendant effect of embedding modern geopolitical Israel in a notoriously tough, inhospitable, uncompromising and violence-prone neighborhood. Arab social and political instability in its backyard, stretching from Libya to Iraq, and the double menace of Islamic radicalism and Iran’s ascendancy, signal a possibly “new” but hardly inspiring Middle East region. Recent strained relations with a former close strategic ally, Turkey, only further compound the situation. Singularly disillusioning is the continued absence of a definitive negotiated endgame for the seemingly intractable Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Fading as well is the logical concomitant—peace-building—often dangled before the Israeli public by would-be peacemakers: a comprehensive rapprochement enabling normalization of relations with the Jewish state, and its full acceptance, however grudging, into a modernizing, progressive Arab-Muslim dominated regional sub-system as hinted at in the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.1 Instead, signs point ominously not only to the implosion of civil society in Egypt, Iraq and Syria but to the breakdown of the Arab state system as a whole, accompanied by the radicalization of Arab politics and by Islamic extremism. Adding to this apprehensiveness over the multiple challenges arising on its southern, northern and eastern land borders is the lack of certainty about America’s staying power

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in the Middle East and degree of commitment to the Jewish state, its security and survival. Absent peace, stability and democratization, and the Middle East—Israel’s natural geophysical habitat and logical integrative framework for fruitful exchange and collaboration—offers little promise and boundless cause for concern.2 Anxiety verging on despair over regional trends is thus one of the two drivers forcing Israel to distance itself from its immediate Arab hinterland while at the same time compelling it to go abroad—to go overseas—in seeking alternative options for guaranteeing its present and its future. At the other end Israel is encouraged in its drive to the sea by the Logic of Opportunity. Here, the magnetic pull of the Mediterranean is motivated by a number of positive incentives. Among these inducements are: (1) favorable conditions for attaining a high degree of energy independence; (2) meaningful trade relations, especially with its largest trading partner, the European Union; (3) social, cultural, scientific and technological networking made possible since 2010 through formal accession to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD); (4) security-in-depth as a major non-NATO ally since 1989; (5) averting diplomatic isolation while asserting its broader regional affiliation and status as a link between Europe and Asia by active participation in the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership or “Barcelona Process” launched in 1995. In sum: circumstances, threat assessments and geo-strategic openings redirect attention toward the wider Mediterranean arena. Encouraging this foreign policy reset, in particular, are: the intensifying competition among rival claimants over offshore oil and natural gas deposits, lucrative commercial trade prospects, Russia’s restored naval presence and Israel’s own upgraded naval capabilities. Consequently, how this game of “offshore balancing” in the eastern Mediterranean proceeds in the short-term and ultimately plays itself out could potentially satisfy three of Israel’s highest priorities. First: the longstanding imperative from the day of statehood on May 14, 1948 to do everything in its power to leap over the so-called Arab-Muslim “wall of hostility.” Second: its diplomatic outreach program of meaningful bilateral relationships with as many countries as possible in frustrating attempts at isolating and delegitimizing it. Third: enhancing its international ranking as a small state with goals, capabilities and global reach of a middle-range power. Homeland Insecurity: A Personal Note on a National Obsession Young and enterprising Israelis today look upon the adjacent Mediterranean Sea as a promising zone of opportunity—more bridge than barrier. Too easily forgotten are the decades of anxiety experienced by the previous generation. Borrowing from the author’s own personal experience, I recall in mid-career attending the opening session in March 1993 of yet another experiment in “Track Two” informal conferencing aimed at bringing Middle East adversaries together


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under academic auspices and in the guise of people-to-people diplomacy. The venue was La Jolla, California; and as luck would have it I found myself seated at the conference table across from a picture window fronting on the blue-water Pacific Ocean seascape. As is customary the host asked each of us briefly to introduce ourselves, and when my turn came, after matter-of-factly citing my TelAviv University affiliation, in a momentary fit of inspiration, I ad-libbed that for me, as an Israeli, it was especially refreshing not to find myself with my back to the sea! Even my otherwise stony-faced Arab colleagues had to smile. I must subconsciously have been giving voice to deep-seated Israeli collective insecurities. Israel besieged. In the immediate post-1948 period national life was permeated by an overriding existential sense of encirclement and vulnerability. Confined to a thin slice of sovereign territory fringing on the eastern Mediterranean, and schooled to take Arab rhetoric seriously (“what the Arabs say is what they mean”), ordinary Israelis found it impossible to dismiss Arab pledges borrowed from the Crusader precedent and echoing the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood’s vow that “If the Jewish state becomes a fact, and this is realized by the Arab peoples, they will drive the Jews who live in their midst into the sea” (al-Banna, 1948). Daily life was premised on this worst-case scenario, even when retrieving a semblance of normalcy by basking in the Mediterranean sun or enjoying the bracing Mediterranean breeze on summer evenings. Gazing enviously over the distant horizon at imagined European tranquility, the sight of Israeli naval patrol vessels slowly passing before our eyes while silently guarding the exposed coastline against hostile infiltration still serves as a reminder. Nor are these anxieties exaggerated, or the vigilance unwarranted. For starters, there are the telltale demographics. As of 2014 over 4,320,000 people—57 percent of Israel’s population—live in the coastal plain, most of them in the Tel Aviv and Haifa metropolitan areas, Ashkelon, Ashdod and Netanya. Secondly, individual and collective insecurity is understandable when authoritative military sources assert that at any given moment 170,000 or more rockets and missiles are pointed at Israel by enemy states and non-state actors.3 In addition to which, time and again Israel and Israelis have been subjected to threats from the sea; and a heavy price extracted for being caught either off-guard or ill-prepared. Etched in the collective memory are earlier scenes from the 1940s of Jewish refugees from Holocaust Europe desperately attempting to reach the Mediterranean shores of Palestine aboard unseaworthy vessels only to be detained by the British Royal Navy, turned back or lost at sea. Offsetting this feeling of helplessness, valiant pre-state efforts at “ha’apala,” illegal immigration in defiance of England’s naval cordon, represent the first chapter in modern Israel’s maritime history. The following decades have offered further instruction as to just how permeable were and still are Israel’s shore defenses. Already in 1953 the precedent was set for repeated later attempts by Palestinians at striking Israel from the sea. Shortly thereafter, the sole permanent gain Israel could claim from its Sinai military campaign during the 1956 Suez Crisis was capture of an Egyptian destroyer,

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the Ibrahim al-Awal, duly recommissioned the INS Haifa. But only after successfully entering Haifa bay and shelling the city with impunity for 20 minutes. The 1960s are a constant reminder of the risks and terrible human costs involved in defending Israel from the sea. In the first instance, on the fourth day of the 1967 Six-Day War air force jet fighters and navy motor torpedo boats attacked the USS Liberty, an American technical research ship, in international waters north of the Sinai Peninsula, killing 34 crew members and wounding 171 others. The mishap has left a stain on the otherwise close bilateral relationship. Then, in January, 1968 the INS Dakar submarine lost radio contact and disappeared between Crete and Cyprus with all 69 crew members aboard. One memorable exception to this image of the sea as menacing came nearly two years later in “Operation Noa.” On December 24, 1969 five Sa’ar 3 class boats commissioned and paid for by the Israeli government but undelivered due to an imposed French arms embargo were secretly spirited out of the port of Cherbourg and across the Mediterranean to safety in Israel. Yet even this boost to public morale by such a daring sea escapade proved short-lived once the 1970s exposed a definite weak spot in Israel’s coastal protection system. The 1975 attack on Tel-Aviv’s beachfront Savoy Hotel, killing three, and the 1978 massacre of 38 people on the Tel-Aviv-Haifa highway, sandwiched between two raids on the northern coastal city of Nahariya in 1974 and 1979, leaving a total of seven civilians and one soldier dead—all four assaults launched by Palestinian operatives from the sea. Further attempts at landing terrorists from Gaza and Lebanon in small craft or inflated rubber boats or by smuggling weapons continued unabated, one primary example coming in May 1990, when the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF) launched an abortive attack on Israel’s Nitzanim beach near Tel-Aviv, aimed at killing tourists and Israeli civilians. This cursory survey underlining Israel’s longstanding defensive posture towards its 190-kilometer long sea front with the Mediterranean and tireless efforts at sealing it against aggressive Arab intents needs to be updated by incidents of more recent memory.4 In 2006 a C-802 missile fired by Hezbollah struck an Israeli warship, the INS Hanit, 16 kilometers off the Lebanese coast while on patrol, killing four. This type of danger has only increased with the acquisition of more sophisticated and accurate longer-range surface-to-sea-missiles by Israel’s enemies. The same holds for illicit weapons transfers. In January, 2002 Israeli forces apprehended a Palestinian freighter, the Karine A, carrying a cargo of some 50 tons of weapons intended for unloading clandestinely on the coast off the Gaza Strip and earmarked for use against Israel. In November, 2009 the Israeli navy took over the Francop, an Iranian vessel, off the coast of Cyprus, seizing 320 tons of contraband weapons intended for Palestinian militants in Gaza. In a similar incident outside Israel’s territorial waters but sanctioned under international maritime law, in March 2011 the navy intercepted the Liberian-flagged Victoria as it was making its way from Alexandria to the Gaza coast with a 50-ton arms shipment aboard. Again, in March 2014 Israeli naval commandos preemptively seized the Klos C in the Red Sea with a cache of


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surface-to-surface rockets, mortar shells and ammunition similarly destined for militant groups in Gaza. Left for separate mention because of its profound repercussions for the Mediterranean balance of power is the controversial Mavi Marmara affair, which on May 30, 2010 saw Israeli commandos forcefully board and seize in international waters a passenger ship en route to Gaza in contravention of an Israeli-imposed legal blockade of the Gaza Strip. What might have been planned as a limited provocation directed at forcing Israel’s hand over the status of the Gaza Strip escalated when in the violent clash that ensued nine Turkish activists were killed and dozens more injured. Acting unilaterally, Turkey abruptly terminated formal ties between the two countries as well as most joint projects, including in the military sphere, until such time as Israel might concede to Ankara’s threefold demands: a formal apology, compensation for the victims’ families and lifting the Gaza blockade.5 The prolonged crisis in bilateral relations has only further contributed to the unsettling disequilibrium in both Middle Eastern and Mediterranean affairs. Israel’s Old–New Frontier: Answering the Call of the Sea Stability in the eastern Mediterranean has been anchored, in succession, by the US-USSR Cold War naval standoff; followed by the undeclared de facto Israeli-Turkish condominium. With the latter axis unhinged, the region has now entered a period of geopolitical complexity and uncertainty. Bearing witness, the Mediterranean is itself increasingly crowded with cruise liners, warships, oil tankers, fishing craft, merchant marine vessels, underground cables and pipelines, and natural gas drilling rigs. While no single actor pretends to exclusive rights to a Mare Nostrum, the conflicting claims being asserted and aggressively pursed at different levels by multiple teams of rivals in diverse yet overlapping spheres of interest are threatening to unbalance the status quo. In facing both the challenges and the opportunities now facing it Israel might well consider adopting a variant form of “offshore balancing,” The concept as originally developed by John Mearsheimer (2001) offers realism’s prescription for a more cautious and selective American foreign policy, enabling it to assert global influence without becoming enmeshed in protracted land engagements. As applied here with reference to Israel, “offshore balancing” represents an outgoing and forward commitment; a policy of even-handed engagement in order to promote a more stable equilibrium in the eastern Mediterranean. From Israel’s perspective the race is open, the race is on, and the prize worth vying for. Major increments of soft but especially hard power are there to be had from a reinforced presence in the Mediterranean. Indeed, by its very presence Israel is making a statement both to itself and to the international community. To itself: by redeeming an unfulfilled legacy as a seafaring nation—a theme often evoked by David Ben-Gurion. In customizing present generations to the

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fact that while “beleaguered on land” the sea is “our main route of free access to the Diaspora [world Jewry] and of contact with the world’ (Ben-Gurion, 1954, pp. 298–313). Israel’s Bible-quoting first prime minister did not hesitate to enlist in the cause King Solomon, the ancient port of Jaffa, the prophet Jonah and Psalms (107, 23–24): They that go down to the sea in ships, That do business in great waters – These saw the works of the Lord, And His wonders in the deep … .

To itself: by looking to statecraft and to the future more than to the past. By confidently engaging with the world, as one of Ben-Gurion’s successors, Yitzchak Rabin put it, “lest we be the last to remain, all alone, in the station.” More realist than psalmist, Rabin provided the wider, globalist context for Mediterranean activism when he told the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, and the nation: “ … it is our duty, to ourselves and to our children, to see the world as it is now.” Yet even he could not resist citing Jewish sources for inspiration. “No longer are we necessarily ‘A people that dwells alone,’ and no longer is it true that ‘the whole world is against us.’ We must overcome the sense of isolation that has held us in its thrall for almost half a century.”6 To itself: by working to incorporate Mediterranean culture or, more precisely, Mediterranean cultures as part of modern Israel’s identity. For a country rooted in the Jewish heritage yet positioned geographically, historically and culturally between Europe and Asia—Occident and Orient—and still in the process of constructing its own distinctive collective national identity, the “Mediterranean Idea” could prove extremely helpful. As of 2014 reports that construction of the so-called “Red-Med” Project was about to begin, with Chinese backing and with the aim of opening a 300-kilometer rail link between Eilat on the Red Sea and Ashdod on the Mediterranean.7 Once inaugurated, this land connection between the two continents would certainly give concrete expression to the notion of Israel as a cultural crossroad, just as it would enhance the Mediterranean’s strategic value for Israel. “Mediterraneanism,” yam tichoniyut, has even greater merit. Integrating Israel’s pluralistic and multi-ethnic society into a similarly multi-cultural Eurasian-North African community would fortify its self-image as a social bridge between East and West (Ohana, 2011; Tal, 2013). A Mediterranean influence is already felt in Israeli diet, literature, popular music, architecture and the visual arts. At the same time it unfolds an umbrella under which Israelis and their Arab neighbors “are not alone with each other, but work together in a broader context and partnership” (Ohana as cited in Nocke, 2009, p. xv). Lastly, membership in regional and world forums is in itself an element of soft power; a symbolic form of showing the flag. Acceptance and status in the 43-member Union for the Mediterranean offer Israel entrée into multilateral


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conference diplomacy, allow for participation in the workings of its parliamentary assembly and four standing committees, and permit Israel’s voice to be heard in this growing Mediterranean dialogue.8 Consequently, in terms of self-interest, Israel benefits a great deal by identifying as Mediterranean in other than just the cultural sense. And it stands to gain considerably more as this imagined, embryonic maritime community and society-in-the-making strives—as a geopolitical arena—to balance its conflicting sets of priorities and interests. Turning to the more tangible elements of national power, two components have moved to the fore in Israel’s Mediterranean calculus. Intimately interconnected, one is economic, the other military. The first presents a golden opportunity for a country known for its gross deficiency in natural resources to achieve energy sufficiency, whereas the second poses the formidable challenge of securing this energy security. With the discovery of substantial natural gas fields in the Levant basin encompassing Cyprus, Israel, Gaza, Lebanon and Syria, the eastern Mediterranean has gained strategic prominence as a major source of global energy supply. Experts forecast these gas deposits together with the eastern Mediterranean’s location between the chief oil producers of the Middle East and major demand markets in Europe could very well transform the area into a key energy transit hub. But so, too, does this make it a prospective zone of regional competition. Since 2010 rival petitioner governments have been establishing claims to proprietary rights over hydrocarbon deposits deemed critical for their energy independence in what each regards as its territorial waters while aggressively seeking to expand their zones of exclusive ownership. A) Mediterranean Opening for the Israeli Economy As oil and gas exploration in the Levant basin intensifies estimates vary over the area’s potential versus proven capacity.9 From discoveries to date the region could be approaching a time when it can meet its own hydrocarbon supply needs as well as generating export. The same holds true for Israel. Almost all of the largest offshore natural gas fields exposed over the past decade have been in the Levant basin; most of them in Israel’s territorial waters. The largest discovery to date, for example, the Leviathan field, holding 18 trillion cubic feet in estimated recoverable resources, is located only 80 miles off Israel’s coast. Consequently, while the national figure for gas reserves totaled 10 billion cubic feet in 2000, by January of 2013 that total had multiplied to 9.5 trillion cubic feet, and continues to rise.10 In Israeli terms the effect is extraordinary, at once radically modifying the country’s energy profile, putting it at the epicenter of energy exploration in the region, rendering it capable of satisfying growing domestic consumption and on track to begin exporting as soon as 2017.11 Such good fortune comes with a price, however. One of the earliest and biggest beneficiaries of this twenty-first century Mediterranean “gas rush,” Israel must learn to utilize this competitive advantage wisely and to the fullest, which

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mandates a coherent eastern Mediterranean strategy for the next decade. A threepronged strategy beginning with a rational energy policy for the future; then pursued through economic statecraft and diplomatic balancing; and, not least, projecting an extended deep-sea, warm-water naval military reach. Because the energy windfall has come as something of a surprise, Israel has only belatedly begun to formulate clear guidelines. Among the issues under debate: Are Mediterranean oil and gas subject to state ownership, or shared ownership with foreign companies? Come under strict government regulation, or deregulated? Should these new-found and potential natural gas resources be set aside for domestic consumption, or, considering the mounting worldwide demand curve for fossil fuels, better sold on the lucrative international market? If both, then what percentage should be allocated for export, and what percentage kept as strategic reserves? As a start-up nation (Senor and Singer, 2009) with an impressive rate of economic growth12, Israel’s hopes for longer-term economic viability are vitally tied up with energy exploration and, therefore, with the Mediterranean. So that even as answers to these questions are being worked out, from an economic standpoint two things already seem evident. One, Israel cannot afford to sit back idly in the face of any threat from any source to interrupt exploration, production, transit or trade, be it disputes over maritime boundaries or terrorist attempts at sabotaging Israeli installations such as its offshore drilling platforms. Nor, two, can it allow itself to be out-maneuvered or worse, excluded from the competition; or from participation in regional energy infrastructure projects underway for building international oil and natural gas pipelines, liquefaction plants, and petroleum terminals in the eastern Mediterranean. This much is certain. The anticipated energy bonanza puts Israel in a different league. And judging from the mix of economic, political and security considerations at stake, Israel will ask for, and fight for its fair share. How it proceeds to assert this right becomes the ultimate test of sound economic, commercial and energy policy. Realism lies in conceding from the outset that it possesses neither the huge investment capital nor the technological skills and expertise to “go it alone” in the oil and gas field. Instead, Israel is advised to pursue its economic goals as an energy source in the eastern Mediterranean and as an energy supplier via the Mediterranean Sea through partnership. Phrased differently, no matter how enterprising, economic statecraft can only succeed if accompanied by adroit diplomatic balancing backed by a high state of military preparedness. B) Mediterranean Horizon for Israeli Diplomacy That no single Great Power dominates the eastern Mediterranean and so many players are scrambling for position offers Israel a range of foreign policy choices and partners to choose from in leveraging its emerging energy status.


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At one extreme, unilateralism, discouraged above as unadvisable and arguably beyond Israel’s capacity, might nevertheless be dictated by circumstance. For example, Cyprus and Turkey each claim proprietary rights over some of the same stretches of water and to extracting recoverable offshore and seabed fuels. Closer to home, Israel is itself involved in an unresolved legal battle with Lebanon, their respective claims to Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) overlapping by 330 square miles. In both instances, political enmity prevents a resolution of differences through compromise, while the absence of an equitable solution only increases the likelihood of hostilities.13 By the same token, unbridled, free-for-all competition is inopportune for all concerned and hardly conducive to creating a stable, attractive investment environment. Abiding political tensions, in turn, discourage the opposite extreme of progressing toward a comprehensive regional economic security regime covering the entire Mediterranean basin, and guaranteeing Israel its fair share. Mediterranean union—even on environmental issues of shared concern—is an idea whose time has yet to come. It leaves both the area and the energy sector unregulated, and Israel with offshore balancing as its default option for the present. Like its European continental model, contemporary Middle Eastern balancing and Mediterranean maritime balancing in particular put a premium on diplomatic flexibility in navigating the troubled waters between rival parties and shifting coalitions. This confronts Israel’s Mediterranean diplomacy with a number of dilemmas, and its downgraded Ministry of Foreign Affairs with a crushing list of assignments. Topping the agenda at the time of writing are the polarizing Palestinian–Israel–Arab dispute and three related irritants: the deadlocked peace process, EU displeasure at Israeli policies on the disputed West Bank and Israel’s enforced quarantine of Hamas-controlled Gaza from the sea. Not related directly to Israel but still muddying the waters in the southern Mediterranean and serving as the context for choices needing to be made in Jerusalem are the lingering GreekTurkish divide over Cyprus, Turkey’s erratic behavior under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Syria’s civil war, Hezbollah’s militancy and veto power over Lebanese policies, and Nasser-like authoritarianism revisited in Egypt. Balancing politics depend upon flexibility, constant maneuver and attracting alliance partners based upon mutual or shared interests. Alliance formation is itself merely one of the tactics available to any would-be balancer, along with arms racing, “divide and rule,” spheres of influence and numerous other techniques found in the statesman’s toolbox. Proof that Israeli statesmen are not reluctant to play by these rules or unschooled in the application of these balancing mechanisms can be seen by their deftness in bouncing back after 2010 from Turkey’s suspension of its tacit understandings with Israel by forging a counter-alliance with Greece and Cyprus (Guzansky, 2014, pp. 99–116; Stavris, 2012, pp. 87–102; Wurmser, 2013). Nevertheless, Thomas Jefferson’s (March 4, 1801) foreign policy prescription for “Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none” might serve Israel in good stead. Likewise, Lord Palmerston’s (March 1, 1848) corollary, “We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual

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enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.” What if in the instance of the eastern Mediterranean countries national interests coincide rather than contradict? Surely finance ministers and energy company CEOs in Ankara, Athens and Nicosia cannot be any less attuned than their counterparts in Tel-Aviv to the great potential for offering Europeans an alternative source of price-competitive energy to Russia, but only by working together rather than at cross-purposes. All the more reason, therefore, why restoring confidences with Ankara is so critical for Israel. It is one key to implementing its “offshore balancing” strategy for easing tensions in the Mediterranean basin, and proceeding from there to promoting confidence-building gestures and measures. For example: the lack of communication between the two countries has inhibited plans for an energy corridor featuring a 500-kilometer long pipeline pumping Israeli gas via Turkey to the large European market.14 A return to close strategic cooperation, especially if reconciliation with Turkey could be effected without forsaking ties to Greece and Cyprus, further opens the way to eastern Mediterranean stability and progress. Indeed, through its “good offices” Israel could serve as an indispensable link in forming a broader coalition, for purposes of stabilizing the situation and mitigating sticking points like the one over partitioned Cyprus and, again, over offshore drilling rights, thereby enabling all four parties to share in the energy boom. By way of summary, Israel’s eastern Mediterranean foreign policy has its work cut out for it. As part of a forward-thinking proactive diplomatic initiative, Israel should be: • First, putting relations with Turkey back on a sound footing; • Second, negotiating a utilization agreement with Cyprus, drawing a clear demarcation line between their respective Leviathan and Aphrodite fields; • Third, calling for negotiations aimed at ending excessive claims to enlarged territorial waters and exclusive economic zones; • Fourth, lobbying for a naval code of conduct to regulate interactions at sea; • Fifth, urging the reconvening of the 1991 Madrid multilateral working groups directed at functional cooperation among Middle Eastern countries on five critical issues of immediacy and of common concern, including the environment and economic development;15 • Sixth, supporting broader institutional cooperation. One such multilateral body is the Mediterranean Dialogue, initiated in 1994 for the expressed purpose of contributing to regional security among NATO’s seven partners to the south and east, Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia. Another is The Union for the Mediterranean, meant to serve as a catalyst for economic, trade and financial cooperation, social and cultural cooperation and regular dialogue on political and security matters. This forum


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could and should be doing more to facilitate intra-regional dialogue and functional collaboration, political differences notwithstanding. Equilibrium, normalized relations, Mediterranean connectedness and partnering with others are Israeli diplomatic goals rather than geopolitical givens. Prudence and pragmatism thus make it incumbent upon Israel to look to its own defenses, so that military preparedness represents the third pillar guaranteeing Israel a place for itself in eastern Mediterranean affairs. C) Mediterranean Challenge for the Israeli Defense Forces In February 2012 Israeli strategists and military planners received a new wake-up call when two Iranian warships passed through the Suez Canal and entered the Mediterranean Sea for only the second time since the 1979 Islamic revolution. Whether mere saber rattling, part of the war of nerves with Israel, a demonstration of support for the embattled Syrian regime of President Bashar al-‘Asad or a signal of Tehran’s strategic intent, this port visit to Latakia was seen in Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv as a provocation. Even without Iran’s forward thrust, the eastern Mediterranean military balance threatens to become destabilized (see for example Zhukov, 2013; Anzinger, 2013, pp. 1–8). For a defense-conscious country like Israel interested in strategic equilibrium the implications are severe; the number of unknowns only adds to the uncertainty. At the sub-regional level, does the absence of minimal consensus among the littoral states on mutual concerns presage a descent into local water wars for sea control over rival spheres of economic interest? Can peaceful commercial intercourse across the congested Mediterranean really be safeguarded in the absence of adequate safety measures against accidental collisions; terrorism and piracy; illegal immigration, drug- and arms-smuggling? What is the significance of Turkey’s maritime force expansion, heralded by construction of a multi-purpose amphibious assault ship functioning as an aircraft carrier? Will attempts by international activists at forcefully breaking through Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip gain momentum? Is Iran determined to redouble efforts at surreptitiously supplying Hamas and Hezbollah proxies with sophisticated missiles for attacking Israeli targets and cities? Will the United States reduce its Sixth Fleet presence—owing to budget cuts or to its recessional from the Middle East—creating a power vacuum and further encouraging Russia’s reentry? Or will the two Great Powers resume their Cold War struggle for mastery or, alternatively, exercise some form of condominium? That Israel is awake to dangers surfacing directly to the west, transforming its sea front into a military front, is evidenced by a number of discreet actions and decisions taken of late at two levels: doctrinal and operational. Statements from within the defense establishment make it clear that the Mediterranean Sea is no longer being dismissed as a side-show. That it is not simply subordinate to Red Sea efforts at maintaining unimpeded access to the southern port of Eilat. That the Israeli Navy’s mission goes considerably beyond routine coastal patrol. And

The Call of the Sea


that the navy and its procurement needs can no longer be neglected in favor of other IDF (Israel Defense Forces) branches; the air force and armored corps in particular.16 Both for Israel and for its navy the Mediterranean is fast becoming a primary operational theater. Mirroring revised IDF strategic thinking and planning, the Mediterranean Sea is gaining fuller recognition as Israel’s lifeline to the outside world.17 This is explainable, of course, due to excitement over recent and continuing underwater energy discoveries. But also because the overwhelming percentage of Israeli imports and exports are transported across the sea, making its maritime space key to continued globalization. Moreover, intelligence estimates and threat assessments further obligate Israel to establish a forward presence in the eastern Mediterranean which can only achieved by means of a navy capable of going deep and far. As this conception of offshore balancing through sea power becomes institutionalized the day may soon be approaching when Israeli officer cadets will be as familiar with Alfred Thayer Mahan and his writings on naval strategy as they are with those of Carl von Clausewitz. In Israel’s case, maintaining a naval fleet and acting as a maritime nation and sea power must be tailored to its size, budget and needs which do not necessitate a large fleet but one equipped for rapid response, distance, swiftness of execution and versatility. These criteria derive from the missions the Israeli Navy is called upon to carry out, first and foremost to guard the country’s maritime borders and extensive Mediterranean coast. Additional assignments, in keeping with the times, will now extend to protecting the offshore drilling installations, to shielding merchant vessels in transit on the Mediterranean’s sea lanes from various forms of harassment, interdiction or sabotage, and to responding to emergencies. That the Israeli Navy, long regarded as the Cinderella service of the IDF, is finally coming of age and making strides to improve both its professionalism and its preparedness is illustrated in several ways. First, by paying closer attention to strengthening ties with like-minded countries; such as the military agreement signed in 2012 with Cyprus, allowing Israel to use the island’s territorial waters and airspace. Second, by Israel’s participation in joint naval exercises with the Canadian and Italian navies in 2013 as well as annual trilateral maneuvers with Greek and US warships (codenamed “Noble Dina”) that in 2014 went beyond search-and-rescue drills to include port protection and anti-submarine warfare (Stergiou, 2013; Opall-Rome, 2014). Third, by having an Israeli liaison officer permanently assigned to NATO’s Allied Maritime Command in Naples. Important as these markers are, the naval modernization and procurement program is the strongest single sign of Israeli earnestness. Trusting on a combination of submarines, Sa’ar missile corvettes, Shaldag fast patrol vessels and an elite Shayetet 13 underwater commando unit to assert Israel’s forward Mediterranean presence, the Defense Ministry and the IDF are in the midst of upgrading the navy’s assets. Having pioneered in the development of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), the Israeli defense industry is now working on unmanned drone submarines which, if operational, would serve as a welcome force


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multiplier (Makor Rishon, May 10, 2013). Similarly, Israel Shipyards is designing a sophisticated Sa’ar V model. More immediate, a deal has been contracted to buy two advanced frigates from Germany, Israel’s leading supplier. And three additional-German-made Dolphin-class submarines, intended to supplement three already on station, are on order and scheduled for delivery within a few years. As a separate item the expanded submarine fleet is counted upon to undertake sustained missions at sea and to present a credible deterrent against a nuclear first strike attack from distant Iran. In the aggregate, these acquisitions stand to make Israel’s small navy not only a potent force in the eastern Mediterranean but among the most technologically advanced. Conclusion The eastern Mediterranean: hospitable or inhospitable? In the terminology of cultural geographers: a frontier of inclusion or a frontier of exclusion?18 Defying any simple answer, in coming years the Mediterranean could perform either function or, for that matter, simultaneously fulfill both. Like offshore balancing, the scales can tip either way, depending on circumstances outside Israel’s control. But no less upon how Israel itself (a) acts on behalf of its own interests, (b) reacts to situational changes and (c) interacts with fellow (or sister) Mediterranean countries. In this seascape of great uncertainty one is nonetheless confident in concluding that the eastern Mediterranean is moving in mid-decade to the center of Israel’s geopolitical map. In the quest for cultural affinity, for sustained economic progress, for comity and reciprocity among nations, and for robust security, Israel and Israelis have greater respect for the eastern Mediterranean as not only their natural habitat but principal outlet to the outside world. The Mediterranean as Idea, as Community, as Marketplace, as Diplomatic Arena, as Theater of Operations—in each of its manifold roles the Great Sea is an integral part of the Jewish State’s future and hence of the Jewish people’s destiny. Notes 1 As a quid pro quo for Israel’s full turnover of the contested West Bank and Gaza Strip to an independent Palestinian state the Saudi-inspired plan adopted by the Arab summit in Beirut, 2002 pledged the Arab countries would consider the Arab-Israeli conflict ended, enter into a comprehensive peace agreement with Israel, and establish normal relations. For the full text, see: com/arab/docs/league/peace02.htm. 2 Physically and indisputably part of the Middle East, if it is to survive and prosper Israel must ultimately make its peace with this fundamental geopolitical reality, and with its Arab co-regionalists. That Israel plays a number of roles in Middle Eastern affairs despite the surface absence of normalized relations, and that Israelis must continue to see themselves part of the Middle East is argued in (Klieman, 2013, pp. 26–50; Podeh, 2013).

The Call of the Sea


3 The 170,000 figure was revealed by the head of Military Intelligence, Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi in a public lecture in January 2014. The Jerusalem Post (January 29, 2014). 4 The reader interested in a more thorough examination of the subject is encouraged to consult the well-researched study by Lorenz (2007). 5 Despite the proliferating number of journalistic exposés, inquiry bodies and reports generated by the episode, even several years after the confrontation accounts differ widely as to what exactly transpired aboard the Mavi Marmara. No authoritative and impartial full study of events before, during and after the sea clash is yet available. The discerning reader is therefore advised to approach all available sources with caution. See, for instance: “Gaza flotilla raid,” June, 2013. Expedia Of greatest import for eastern Mediterranean stability and for Israel’s ability to pursue an evenhanded policy toward the neighboring countries has been the slow process of “mending fences” with Turkey. 6 Presentation of the New Government, Address to the Knesset by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, July 13, 1992, in Eisenberg and Caplan, (1998, pp. 205–209). 7 “Israel–China Alliance Moves Forward With $2 Billion ‘Red-Med’ Freight Rail Link Alternative to Suez Canal,” the algemeiner, March 24, 2014. http://www.algemeiner. com/2014/03/24/israel-china-alliance-moves-forward-with-2-billion-red-med-freight-raillink-alternative-to-suez-canal/. 8 The four committees are empowered to deal with political affairs, security and human rights; economic, financial and social affairs and education; promotion of quality of life, human exchanges and culture; women’s rights in the Euro-Mediterranean countries. 9 In a 2010 report, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) estimated that the Levant Basin has mean probable undiscovered two oil resources of 1.7 billion barrels and, more significantly, mean probable undiscovered natural gas resources of 122 trillion cubic feet (Tcf). This is before the discovery of large deposits by Cyprus and Israel. 10 The figures, as of August 2013, are taken from a survey and analysis of the Eastern Mediterranean region conducted by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. See: 11 Exaggerated expectations in the past about oil prospects counsel against prematurely projecting too bright a picture of Israel as energy-rich, independent and having a major impact on global energy. Cf. Herman (2014) and Mills (2011). See: http://www. 12 From 1996 through 2013 Israel’s GDP annual growth rate has averaged 3.92 percent. It ranks 16th among 187 world nations on the UN’s Human Development Index, 17th among the world’s most economically developed nations and, as of 2012, 26th in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report. 13 Suggestive of the zero-sum mindset informing these territorial disputes, the Lebanese leader Nabih Berri was quoted as pledging, “We will not compromise on any amount of water from our maritime borders and oil, not even a single cup,” while Hezbollah


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warned Israel to stay out of the disputed zone. The Christian Science Monitor (December 19, 2012). 14 Details of the suspended talks over the Israel–Turkey energy corridor deal and renewed speculation are provided in the Turkish English-language newspaper, Today’s Zaman, (February 19, 2014). 15 The other three issue-areas addressed by the Madrid workshops are: water, arms control and refugees. 16 Unclassified sources indicate the Israeli Navy’s small size has prohibited it from undertaking wider sustained missions. Anzinger, for instance, lists the navy as possessing just three corvettes, 10 missile boats, three operational submarines and 42 patrol boats which must cover both the Mediterranean and Red Sea zones. 17 The rationale for this reorientation toward the Mediterranean is outlined by Eiran and Zur (2013). Their description of Israel’s maritime strategy—that it “remains largely an afterthought”—seems rather harsh. More accurately: after long being restricted to coastal defense and preventing closure of the strategic Bab al-Mandab straits leading from the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean, the strategy has been revised in meeting the new challenges. 18 The terms are borrowed from the writings of Mikesell, M. (1960, pp. 62–74).

References Abulafia, D., 2011. The Great Sea. A Human History of the Mediterranean. London: Penguin Books. Al-bab, 2002. Arab Peace Initiative, 2002. Al-bab [online]. Available at: [Accessed June 13, 2014]. al-Banna, H., 1948. Aim to Oust Jews Pledged by Sheikh; Head of Moslem Brotherhood Says US, British “Politics” Has Hurt Palestine Solution. New York Times, 2 August. p. 4, [online] Available at: [Accessed June 13, 2014]. The algemeiner, 2014. Israel–China Alliance Moves Forward With $2 Billion ‘Red-Med’ Freight Rail Link Alternative to Suez Canal [online]. Available at: [Accessed June 13, 2014]. Anzinger, N., 2013. Will the eastern Mediterranean become the next Persian Gulf?. Middle Eastern Outlook (American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research), No. 3 (July), pp. 1–8. Ben-Gurion, D.,1954. The navy, Israel and the sea. In: D. Ben-Gurion. 1954. Rebirth and destiny of Israel. New York: Philosophical Library. pp. 298–313.

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Blanford, N., 2012. Lebanon, Israel take step toward claiming big oil, gas deposits. The Christian Science, [online] Available at: [Accessed June 13, 2014]. Eiran, E., and Zur, Y., 2013. Israel’s missing naval strategy. Foreign Affairs, [online] Available at: [Accessed June 13, 2014]. Guzansky, Y. (2014). Israel’s periphery doctrine 2.0: The Mediterranean plus, Mediterranean Politics, 129, 1, pp. 99–116. Herman, Α., 2014. Will Israel be the Next Energy Superpower?. Commentary 137 (3), pp.17–25. The Jerusalem Post, 2014. Intelligence head: 170,000 rockets and missiles threaten Israel. [online]. Available at [Accessed June 13, 2014]. Klieman, A., 2013. Israel and the Middle East: on the unresolved matter of Israel’s foreign policy orientation. In: D. Tal, ed. 2013. Israeli identity: between Orient and Occident. London: Routledge Press. pp. 26–50. Lorenz, Α.J., 2007. The Threat of Maritime Terrorism to Israel. International Institute for Counterterrorism, [online]. Available at: [Accessed June 13, 2014]. Mearsheimer, J.J., 2001. The tragedy of great power politics. New York: W.W. Norton. Mikesell, M., 1960. Comparative studies in frontier history, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 50(1) (March), pp. 62–74. Reprinted in Hofstadter, R. and Lipset, S.M. eds., 1968. Turner and the Sociology of the Frontier. New York: Basic Books, pp. 152–171.) Mills, R.B., 2011. The land of gas and honey. Foreign Policy, [online]. Available at: [Accessed June 13, 2014]. Nocke, A., 2009. The place of the Mediterranean in modern Israeli identity. Leiden and Boston: Brill. Ohana D., 2011. Israel and Its Mediterranean Identity. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Opall-Rome, B., 2014. Israel, Greek and US navies kick off annual Med sea drill. Defense News, [online]. Available at: [Accessed June 13, 2014].) Podeh, E., 2006. Israel in the Middle East or Israel and the Middle East. In E. Podeh and A. Kaufman, eds. Arab-Jewish relations. From conflict to resolution? Brighton and Portland: Sussex Academic Press. Rabin, Y., 1992. Presentation of the new government, Address to the Knesset. In: L.Z. Eisenberg and N. Caplan, 1998. Negotiating Arab-Israeli peace: patterns,


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problems, possibilities. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Appendix 11, pp. 205–209. Senor, D. and Singer, S., 2009. Start-up nation: the story of Israel’s economic miracle. New York: The Council on Foreign Relations. Stavris, G. (2012). The new energy triangle of Cyprus–Greece–Israel: casting a net for Turkey? Turkish Policy Quarterly, 11(2), pp. 87–102. Stergiou, A., 2013. Greece, Cyprus and Israel change the military balance in the Mediterranean. GIS, Geopolitical Information Service, [online] Available at: [Accessed June 13, 2014]. Tal, D. ed., 2013. Israeli Identity: Between Orient and Occident. London and New York, Routledge. Today’s Zaman, 2014. Israel, Turkey step up gas exports negotiations [online]. Available at: [Accessed June 13, 2014]. Wurmser, D., 2013. The geopolitics of Israel’s offshore gas reserves. Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, [online] Available at: <> [Accessed June 13, 2014]. Zhukov, Y.M., 2013. Trouble in the eastern Mediterranean sea. Foreign Affairs, [online] Available at: [Accessed June 13, 2014].

Chapter 16

The Israeli–Greek Rapprochement: Stability and Cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean Aristotle Tziampiris

Introduction: Israeli–Greek Relations Since the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, bilateral relations with Greece were characterized by suspicion, mutual recriminations and even enmity (Nachmani, 1987). Athens’ at times staunchly anti-Israeli and consistently proArab stance lasted for about half a century. Slow change was evinced only after Greece’s 1981 accession to the then European Economic Community (E.E.C). Diplomatic relations with Israel were upgraded in 1987, though still falling short of full recognition. Furthermore, Greece increasingly pursued relations with the Arab world through the prism and on the basis of European policies. Eventually, on May 21, 1990, under the liberal-conservative Nea Demokratia administration headed by Greek Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis, Athens proceeded with the de jure recognition of the state of Israel (Konstantinou, 2010). As a result, Greek policy gradually became more balanced towards both the Middle East and Israel (Athanassopoulou, 2010, p. 228). However, the overall improvement has to be judged as limited. It did not include any persistent or significant political, security or economic aspects. There were no common political initiatives, few high-level political visits, no important joint military exercises and rather restricted cooperation among the Greek and Jewish Diaspora groups. A meaningful, multi-faceted rapprochement would eventually take place only after 2009. Without any doubt, it required the deterioration of Israeli-Turkish relations (something that no decision-maker in both countries with which this author has talked to disputes in private)1; and it was further evinced at a period when Ankara was aiming to become a rising regional power (Litsas, 2014) while Greece faced a multifaceted sociopolitical and economic crisis (Lavdas, Litsas and Skiadas, 2013), with many speculating about the country’s exit from the eurozone and even the European Union.2 The coming of Israeli-Greek cooperation was publicly signaled by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s historic visit to Greece. He arrived in Athens on August 16, 2010, thus becoming the first incumbent Israeli Prime Minister to visit Greece more than 60 years after the creation of the State of Israel. After a meeting


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with Greece’s Prime Minister George Papandreou, the two Premiers gave a joint press conference. In many ways, it represents the template for all the joint actions and plans that were to be pursued during the subsequent years. An ambitious scope for bilateral cooperation was declared that was to include: Joint ventures in areas such as telecommunications, information technology, water technologies and desalination … .as well as cooperation in renewable sources of energy, in the fields of agricultural technologies and … of course … in security. (Press Office of the Prime Minister [George Papandreou], 2010).

The political willingness to proceed along this path was palpable, but often events do not move beyond even well-intentioned declarations. But this was not to be the case with the Israeli-Greek rapprochement that was subsequently tested in action. More specifically, on December 2, 2010, the State of Israel confronted the worst natural disaster in its history. Wildfires erupted at Carmel Forest in the northern part of the country near the city of Haifa. Strong winds and dry conditions contributed to the death of 42 people, the evacuation of 17,000, the burning of 12,500 acres and some 4 million trees. (Kershner, 2010) Ill-prepared to deal with “a disaster of unprecedented proportions,” (Calev and Ackerman, 2010) and with only 1,500 firefighters at his disposal, Netanyahu immediately recognized that soliciting international assistance was essential and thus acted accordingly and swiftly. He subsequently called Papandreou and within only a few hours Greece’s contribution to the effort was ready to fly to Israel. The Greek rescue effort at that point included four Canadair CL-415 planes and one C-130 Hercules transport plane. It eventually totaled 70 firefighters and pilots, five Canadair CL-415 firefighting aircrafts, two C-130 Hercules transport planes, one Gulfstream airplane and one B-412 helicopter. Their contribution in extinguishing the wildfires was considerable and widely recognized by Israel’s public and political leadership. Thus, the success of the Greek mission had wider political ramifications, proving Athens’ willingness to come closer to Jerusalem. A second example was soon to follow. On May 9, 2011, almost a year after the deadly events of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla connected to the Israeli raid on the Mavi Marmara, it was announced that a second flotilla was being organized with the aim to break the Israeli Gaza embargo. Organizers of the Freedom Flotilla II collected a small amount of humanitarian aid: about 3,000 tons that included 400 soccer balls. Only two ships were to carry the aid; the rest would be boarded exclusively by activists. (Pouliopoulos, 2011). This fact strongly suggests that the primary goal of the operation was political. Preparations were made to have about seven ships with 500 activists start their risky journey to Gaza from the port of Piraeus. This plan did not take into account the Israeli‒Greek rapprochement that was underway. It also utterly failed to anticipate the reactions of the Greek government, despite the fact that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had publicly attempted to dissuade the activists.

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In fact, Athens never had any second thoughts about opposing the Freedom Flotilla II. Apparently, Greek inspectors were urged by their political masters to be exhaustively diligent and strict in their reviews of the flotilla vessels. This guaranteed that they would not be permitted to leave the port of Piraeus on safety grounds. Furthermore, the propeller of the Swedish ship Juliano was damaged under suspect circumstances. Finally, on July 1, 2011 Greek authorities announced that Greece was banning all flotilla ships, regardless of whether they had a Greek or foreign flag, from embarking towards Gaza from any Greek port. The Greek government then took an initiative that provided the political coup de grâce to the activists. Athens announced that it was willing to undertake itself, with Greek ships or [using] other appropriate manners, the transport of humanitarian aid through existing channels [to Gaza]. (Calev and Petrakis, 2011). Mahmoud Abbas “considered the proposal positive and expressed his support.” (Koutantou, 2011). UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon “expressed support for the Greek initiative” (United Nations Regional Information Center, July 3, 2011) while Israel viewed the development as “very positive.” (Ben-David and Petrakis, 2011). The flotilla activists, though, rejected Greece’s offer (Voice of America, 2011). They were thus exposed to accusations that their political and ideological stance took precedence over the delivering of humanitarian aid to Gaza; and they were certainly isolated by the international community. For all practical purposes, their endeavor had ended in failure.3 The political intention in Athens and Jerusalem to strengthen bilateral ties was also reinforced by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the militaries of the two states in September 2011 (it involved strictly peacetime cooperation) and the conduct of several joint military exercises involving the Army, Navy and Air Force. Extensive plans were also made for cooperation in renewable sources of energy and agricultural technology. Furthermore the rise of Greek exports to Israel reached 184.8 million euros in the first half of 2013 (Naftemporiki, 2013 [In Greek]) while there were many instances of high quality cultural and educational cooperation, as well as efforts to coordinate Diaspora groups, especially in the US Furthermore, longstanding plans to hold a G2G joint Cabinet meeting in Israel were finally actualized in October 2013. In discussing the rapprochement in action, it is also significant to note that between 2009 and 2011, an almost 200 percent increase was evinced in the number of Israeli tourists coming to Greece, a feat that came close to being replicated in 2012. In fact, the number of Israeli citizens visiting Greece rose from about 84,000 in 2008 to some 500,000 during 2013. Thus, for the first time ever, the peoples of the two states started coming into contact in significant numbers. This development also involved a positive financial outcome for Greece at a time that the country was facing a severe economic depression.


The Eastern Mediterranean in Transition

The Energy Dimension In addition to all of the above, the existence of natural gas and oil deposits in Israel and Cyprus and the plans to exploit them, possibly with the assistance of Athens, constitutes perhaps the most significant aspect in the emergence of IsraeliGreek rapprochement. This development took place during a period in which the European Union produces enough natural gas to cover only half of its needs: “30 percent is imported by pipeline from Russia, Algeria, and Libya; and 20 percent is imported as LNG.” (Deutch, 2011, p. 87). Thus, the existence of undeveloped natural gas findings in regions close to Europe are not without significance and clearly enjoy a “comparative advantage … . [due to] their proximity” (Sheffler, 2012, p. 10). Hence, the potential importance for Europe of energy findings in the Levantine Basin. Crucially, in 2012, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) estimated that For undiscovered gas, the total mean volume is 122,378 billion cubic feet of gas (BCFG), with a range from 50,087 BCFG to 227,430 BCFG … . These estimates represent technically recoverable oil and gas resources; no attempt was made to estimate economically recoverable resources. (Schenk et al, 2010, pp. 3–4).

The Greek government is also convinced that western Greece holds as much as 4.7 trillion cubic meters of natural gas (Terzis, 2013 [in Greek]); and there is also a distinct possibility for the existence of natural gas off the coast of Gaza. (Knell, 2013). However, in terms of proceeding with efforts to utilize this potential energy-related wealth, it is the Republic of Cyprus and Israel that are ahead of all other regional states. Cyprus divided it’s EEZ into 13 Blocks, with the aim to allow the Exploration and Production (E&P) of what appear to be significant natural gas deposits. In late December 2011, the President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetres Christofias announced: That the offshore find [in only one of the Blocks—Block 12] was estimated to amount to 7 trillion cubic feet (within a range of 5–8 TCF) in volume … . Industry sources consider that this estimate could well turn out to be conservative. (Emerson, 2012, p. 3).

It remains to be seen what amount of natural gas the other blocks may contain. Israel might be in possession of even larger amounts of offshore natural gas within its EEZ. Gas production at the Tamar field began in March 2013, the expectation being that it “will supply 50 to 80 percent of Israel’s natural gas consumption needs over the next 10 years” (Kershner, 2010). Also, another nearby field was subsequently discovered, called Tamar Southwest, estimated “to contain about 0.7 trillion cubic feet, or about 19 billion cubic meters of natural gas.” (Udasin, 2012). However, the Tamar fields cannot compare to the 2010

The Israeli–Greek Rapprochement


discovery of the Leviathan gas find. It has been estimated to hold some 18 Tcf. (World Oil, 2013). Israel also has other smaller gas fields such as Dalit (0.5 TFC), Tanin (1.2TFC) and Dolphin (0.1 TFC). (Henderson, 2012, p. 6). More recently, another natural gas discovery was made at the Karish prospect, with resources “estimated to range between 1.6 and 2.0 trillion cubic feet with a gross mean of 1.8 TFC.” (PennEnergy, May 23, 2013) In addition, it is now calculated that Israel may also be in possession of oil within its EEZ, possibly as much as 1,538 MMBoe [Million Barrels of oil equivalent]. (Tsalakos, 2013). Taken together, the country’s natural gas finds (excluding oil) could Cover … .domestic demand for gas for at least the next 25 years, and still leave hundreds of billions of cubic feet for sale abroad. The government take from the gas fields alone is forecast to reach at least $140bn over the next three decades – a staggering sum for a relatively small economy such as Israel’s. (Buck, 2012).

During Netanyahu’s historic visit to Athens in August 2010, the Israeli Prime Minister suggested to Papandreou that part of the enormous natural gas finds in the Tamar and especially Leviathan fields could perhaps be exported via Greece to Europe through the construction of a pipeline. Papandreou was positive, but it should be stressed that their meeting only sketched potential ways of moving ahead on energy exports without taking any specific decisions. (Luft, 2010). Energy discussions were continued among the two states, especially during the visit of Greece’s Minister of State, Haris Pamboukis, to Israel on January 20, 2011. In an interview with Reuters, he revealed that he had held Explanatory discussions [given that] the Israelis have found big quantities of offshore gas in the Mediterranean. We are trying to see how Greece could be seen as a transportation hub and a services centre, since it is on a natural road to the Balkans and Europe. (Koutantou, 2011).

Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon arrived in Athens on November 22, 2011 for a two-day visit that received considerable and favorable media attention. Energy was at the very center of his meetings. As Ayalon explained, “We’re going to talk about making Greece and Cyprus distribution centers for Israeli gas to Europe, which needs to diversify its sources.” (Shefler, 2011). At the same time, officials in Jerusalem, Athens and Nicosia started discussing the signing of an Memorandum of Understanding regarding cooperation in fields of energy and water. It was eventually concluded and signed in August 2013. This tripartite collaboration was further confirmed in March 2012 when the building of an electricity cable project linking Israel with Cyprus and Greece through Crete at an originally estimated cost of 1.5 billion euros was officially launched. (Udasin, 2012). “At 540 miles long, and lying at a depth of more than 6,000 feet, the cable would be the longest in the world” (Henderson, 2012, p. 6).


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Turkey did react to all these developments by sending various vessels to the area and even hinting at times to the possibility of taking military actions. However, by Summer 2012, its hard line stance and threats had largely failed to achieve their objectives. At the same time, an “energy triangle” between Greece, Israel and Cyprus was clearly being created, with Athens an integral, if junior, partner. Even though no definitive decisions were reached on how precisely to export the natural gas findings, the potential of collaboration on energy matters was absolutely vital for the emergence of Israeli-Greek cooperation. Greece’s (Soft) Balancing Act In order to explain the largely unexpected Israeli–Greek rapprochement, we will argue that a Realist approach focusing on the importance of states, the pursuit of national interests, rational decision-making, relative gains, as well as balancing, and especially on soft balancing, proves of great utility. Indubitably, states were the most important actors in the Israeli-Greek rapprochement. Both the European Union and the United Nations were at best of marginal significance in the process of Greece’s foreign policy re-orientation. Both were overall supportive but of little consequence. Essentially, they never went beyond declaratory diplomacy. At the same time, non-state actors do make some appearances related to the Gaza flotillas to the extent that they were acting independently, but could clearly not overcome concerted state actions. Rather, it was Greece, Israel, Cyprus, Turkey and the United States that were the main actors in the emergence of cooperation between Athens and Jerusalem. Greek decision-makers attempted to act rationally on the basis of cost-benefit calculations centering on how to best serve the national interest. Non-rational or civilizational concerns are not detected in the cooperative relations and actions with Israel. A Realist approach is, however, primarily useful because it captures more accurately the way in which Athens viewed and dealt with Ankara. It was Greece’s domestic weakness in connection with the fear of a rising Turkey and Ankara’s deteriorating relations with Jerusalem that provided the impetus for change towards Israel. In understanding the way in which Athens responded to Turkey, Stephen Walt’s approach and arguments about balancing prove particularly helpful (Walt, 1987; Walt, 1988; Walt, 1997). Thus, Walt emphasizes the importance of geographic proximity: Geographic proximity is an important factor in determining which threats will prompt states to seek allies … .most of the alliances formed by these states will be to counter a threat from another local actor, not to balance one or the other superpower … . threats from states nearby are of greater concern than are threats from the strongest powers in the international system. And these threats almost always provoke balancing rather than bandwagoning behavior. (Walt, 1987, pp. 153 and 158).

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Greece clearly paid particular attention to neighboring Turkey. First, the two states share a tangled history that has included traumatic episodes, linked to several wars, disputes and conflicts. For example, wars have been fought in 1897, 1912, 1919–22 and most recently in 1974, while near conflicts took place in 1976, 1987 and 1995. (Chircop, Gerolymatos and Iatrides, 2000; Heraclides, 2010; International Crisis Group, 2011; Kouskouvelis and Litsas, 2013; Nachmani, 2009, pp. 165–200; Rozakis et al, 1991 and Tsakonas, 2010).4 Common borders and the fact that both countries have coastlines in the Aegean Sea are clearly of relevance and consequence. Secondly, the increasing aggregate power of next-door Turkey was closely monitored. The improvement of Turkey’s various power indicators took place while Greece faced a serious economic and political crisis. The rise of Turkey was perceived as buttressing Ankara’s overall offensive power and aiding any possibly aggressive intentions against Greece in the future. In other words, the bilateral divergence in power was experienced in Athens as a potential threat. Of equal importance, this author has not managed to detect any instances of Greek bandwagoning towards the rising regional power of Turkey. Perhaps the best examples of Athens’ preferred approach can be seen in the response to Turkey’s reaction and threats over natural gas exploration and exploitation by Cyprus. Greece did not mollify or humor Turkey but supported Nicosia and tried to negate Ankara’s intensions though closer relations with Israel. For Greece, internal balancing was near impossible given the severity of the sovereign debt crisis. Hence, external balancing was the only realistic option in the short and possibly medium term. Athens’ turn towards Jerusalem also offers support for Stephen Walt’s prediction that when a state sees another geographical proximate state as a threat coupled with an increase in the neighbor’s aggregate and offensive power, the most likely result will not be bandwagoning, but balancing (Walt, 1987, p. 5; p. 29 and p. 173).Furthermore, the fact that balancing behavior was evinced in the Eastern Mediterranean provides credence to (Art, 2005/2006, p. 184) that balancing need not only involve the world’s Great Powers or a rising hegemon, but can also take place among less powerful states at a regional level. Ultimately, though, the balancing behavior towards Ankara that Athens opted for comes closer to the concept of soft balancing. The concept is defined in contradistinction to hard balancing, which includes policies such as the conclusion of alliances or substantial new military expenditures aimed at checking the power of a certain state. Soft balancing is pursued within a framework that does not incorporate any formal alliances but involves actions that are primarily non-direct and non-military in nature, the emphasis usually being on diplomacy, international law, economics and institutions. (Pape, 2005, p. 17 and Paul, 2005, p. 3 and p. 47). In effect: Soft balancing do[es] not directly challenge a unipolar leader’s military preponderance, but they can delay, complicate, or increase the costs of using that extraordinary power. Nonmilitary tools, such as international institutions, economic statecraft, and strict interpretations of neutrality, can have a real, if indirect effect on the military prospects of a unipolar leader. (Pape, 2005, p. 17).


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Robert Pape has further identified a series of specific strategies that soft balancers can adopt. They include: “territorial denial, entangling diplomacy, economic strengthening and signals of resolve to balance.” (Pape, 2005, pp. 36–37). Turning to Greek foreign policy in the Eastern Mediterranean, it becomes apparent that Athens did not try to hard balance Turkey with which it actually remains formally allied through common NATO membership. Significantly, no formal alliances were concluded that could have been viewed as targeting Turkey. As a result, it was much harder for Ankara to express enmity and retaliate against what Athens was doing, when Greece was apparently actively trying to patch up differences between Turkey and Israel. In other words, Greece was trying to minimize the chances that Turkey would try to reverse the new relationship with Israel. This turns out to be a central aspect and concern of Greek soft balancing towards Turkey. Greek decision-makers opted for an approach towards a rising Turkey that did not incorporate hard balancing aspects but focused on non-direct and primarily non-military in nature actions. This type of soft balancing was not viewed as a prelude to hard balancing, at least not in the short term, but rather as the only feasible strategy prior to the return to a more stable but rebalanced relationship with Turkey. At the heart of Athens’ strategy was the decision to pursue the rapprochement with Jerusalem. this was done foremost in the realms of diplomacy and economics. Athens and Israel successfully organized a series of high-level, high-profile visits by heads of state, prime ministers, cabinet ministers and top politicians. These visits and the concomitant meetings and agreements that they produced were both symbolically significant and substantive in terms of policy. They sent a clear message to Ankara that the two states were willing to cooperate on multiple levels. In essence, they provided clear signals that Athens and Jerusalem were willing to address and alter the current distribution of power in the Eastern Mediterranean characterized to a significant degree by the rise of Turkey. However, these being soft efforts, it was usually exceptionally difficult, if not impossible, for Turkey to counteract them. Consider the following examples: By increasing the number of Israeli tourists visiting Greece and concluding various trade and joint ventures agreements, Athens strengthened its economy at a time when doing so was imperative. But Turkey could hardly object to private citizens deciding their vacation destination or businesses people in the private sector making investment decisions with their own funds. Furthermore, Greece and Israel concluded a number of bilateral treaties and agreements in fields such as aviation that were necessary preconditions for the subsequent explosion in tourism. If Turkey attempted to block them, directly or indirectly, it would have been universally condemned as sabotaging actions that contribute to regional stability and prosperity. It is also noteworthy that the increased military and security cooperation between Athens and Jerusalem did not elicit any serious reactions from Turkey. This does not negate the importance of the many joint military exercises or the

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MOU that was signed. Rather, it provides further proof that these were limited, peacetime actions that were not part of a hard balancing strategy. On the other hand, Ankara did object to the energy cooperation pursued between Nicosia, Jerusalem and, eventually, Athens. The willingness of these three states to proceed with the exploration and exploitation of substantial natural gas findings should also be considered as part of a soft balancing strategy. After all, it was firmly rooted in the realms of economics, international law and international cooperation. It did not involve much of a military dimension, actively or at least directly, and it is not coincidental that no security or military agreements were signed between Israel and Cyprus even at the height of their energy cooperation. Although Turkey did make threats that hinted at some kind of military action, in retrospect these should be judged more as exercises in saber rattling; they absolutely failed to reverse the emerging energy triangle of Greece, Cyprus and Israel. In fact, a version of what soft balancing theorist Robert Pape calls “territorial denial” (Pape, 2005, p. 36) can be witnessed in these efforts for energy cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean. In effect, Cyprus managed to deny Turkey the ability to successfully interfere or block decisions within its own EEZ; and it could well be the case that a similar scenario might be evinced in the near future within Greek territorial waters. By focusing on common interests, opting for limited security and military cooperation, and pursuing closer political, diplomatic, economic and energy ties with Israel, Greece managed to formulate a soft balancing strategy towards a rising Turkey. It is thus within this theoretical framework that the Israeli-Greek rapprochement should be understood. The Future of the Israeli–Greek Rapprochement Given the history of Israeli-Greek bilateral relations, it is fair to contemplate whether the emergence of cooperation between Athens and Jerusalem may eventually prove a short-lived development. Of course, to quote the sagely baseball player Yogi Berra, “it is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future” (Berra, 2002, p. 159); and the eminent British historian A.J.P. Taylor has cautioned that “we have a hard enough time predicting the past.” (Stove, 2013). Still, it is possible to identify both domestic and international factors that could prove detrimental to improved bilateral relations between Athens and Jerusalem and try to assess their potential significance. Turning to domestic political considerations first, Greece has been experiencing the reprehensible rise of the Golden Dawn neo-Nazi party. In the May 2014 elections for the European Parliament, the party convincingly came in third, getting 9.40 percent of the vote.5 There can be absolutely no doubt that it’s ideology is drenched in virulent anti-Semitism. (Psarras, 2012). However, the prospects of Golden Dawn winning an outright majority in parliament are simply non-existent. Furthermore, given the inevitable international outcry and condemnation, there


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is no chance that any major political party in Greece entering into a government coalition with Golden Dawn; and at any rate, they all publicly condemn and refuse to have official relations with the neo-Nazis. Thus, the conclusion is inescapable that Golden Dawn might remain an embarrassment; perhaps a source of violence and probably a cause for a more debased political discourse. But Golden Dawn will not determine Greek foreign policy. There is also concern in some quarters that Anti-Semitic perceptions in Greece, not necessarily related to any political party, may ultimately prove detrimental to Israeli-Greek relations. Possibly of significance is a multi-country survey conducted by the Anti-Defamation League during July 2013‒February 2014. It concluded that “in Europe … . Greece [was] the most anti-Semitic country, at 69 percent.” (Gladstone, 2014).6 The results of this survey are regrettable but it is important to stress that they cover attitudes and not acts of violence. (Rabinowitz, 2014). They certainly suggest the need for a renewed effort in the Greek educational system concerning this issue. However, it is also the case that the same attitudes existed during the Israeli-Greek rapprochement; and crucially they did not hinder or cancel it. Hence, it is more likely than not that general anti-Semitic notions in the wider Greek public will not affect the specific decision-making processes of Greek diplomacy vis-à-vis Israel. Israeli-Greek cooperation has been pursued through successive Greek administrations comprised by specific political parties (Nea Demokratia, the socialist PASOK and, for a brief period, the far-right LAOS). In democracies, there is inevitable turnover in the parties that govern; and it is not unlikely that the leftwing SYRIZA party could at some point win the national elections and form a coalition administration. SYRIZA has been consistently (and publicly), more critical of close relations with Israel. However, for several reasons, it is unlikely that the party would simply cancel the rapprochement with Jerusalem. First, as it grows in popularity, SYRIZA has been moving to the political center with a concomitant tempering of its more extreme rhetoric and positions, Second, Greek foreign policy (and foreign policy in general) rarely witnesses radical changes because a different party wins the elections (partisan pronouncements to the contrary, continuity is in reality far more pronounced). Third, close relations with Israel enjoy the support of the United States and the European Union, a fact that simply cannot be ignored. Fourth, the regional power configuration will not be altered because of a SYRIZA victory. The party will still have to contend with the rise in power and importance of neighboring Turkey. Finally, the great likelihood (if not certainty) that a coalition of two or more parties will be necessary to secure a majority in the Greek Parliament suggests that there might be additional political forces that will temper any attempts to steer Greek diplomacy towards a more radical (and unpredictable) course. A SYRIZA victory may affect the symbolism and certain public aspects of the Israeli-Greek relationship, but it is unlikely that it will alter its substance. Turning to international factors, it is first important to stress the almost deafening silence of the Arab world concerning the rapprochement between Jerusalem and Athens. Simply put, and with limited exceptions (some announcements by Hamas

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and Syria’s dissatisfaction with Netanyahu’s historic visit to Athens), there have been no real objections. It is unlikely that they will emerge in the future. The Arab world is currently more preoccupied with the aftermath of the Arab Spring and especially with events taking place in Syria, Iraq and Egypt. Furthermore, Athens has never abandoned its diplomatic and material support to the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people—a stance that consistently enjoys widespread public support. The (apparently persuasive) Greek argument to the Palestinian side has been that they now have a friend who can speak on their behalf with credibility to Israel. The emergence of Israeli-Greek cooperation was integrally related to the new, ambitious “neo-Ottoman” regional foreign policy pursued by Ankara. (Kouskouvelis, 2013; Murinson, 2006; Murinson, 2012; Pope, 2010). The deterioration of Israeli–Turkish relations and Greece’s decision to pursue a soft-balancing approach towards a rising Turkey provided both the opening and the framework within which relations with Israel were improved. It is hence inescapable to attempt to assess the effects of a potential improvement of relations between Israel and Turkey. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind that following the personal diplomacy and intervention of US president Barack Obama, on March 22, 2013 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and apologized for Israel’s role in the deadly Mavi Marmara incident (Rudoren and Landler, 2013). However, at least in the medium run, this development will not easily negate the Israeli-Greek rapprochement. First, it is far from certain that the apology will lead to a return to the close bilateral relations evinced in the past (Inbar, 2001). At best, a degree of normalization is more likely but far from certain. Secondly, it is doubtful that Jerusalem will trust again Ankara to a degree that will allow Turkey to be the key determinant of any Israeli political or energy projects (e.g. building a pipeline transporting Israeli natural gas via Cyprus to Turkey). Furthermore, it is interesting to note that Greek decision-makers are not opposed to improved (but not too close) Israeli-Turkish relations. This is because such an outcome would contribute to stability in the Eastern Mediterranean and thus possibly help Athens pursue its own energy exploration plans. Conclusion In the final analysis, the Israeli‒Greek rapprochement is gradually assuming its own raison d’être irrespective of what happens with Ankara. The pursuit and institutionalization of cooperation in the fields of defense and security, the impressive rise in tourist flows, the starting of various business projects, quality cultural and educational activities and the several energy projects that are being implemented (even if a pipeline bringing Israeli gas to Greece is never built), strongly suggest that the relationship is strong and should continue, at least in the short and medium term. Ultimately, this constitutes a positive development contributing to stability in the Eastern Mediterranean.


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Notes 1 This essay has benefited and is partly based on an ongoing research project on Israeli-Greek relations that has included dozens of interviews with top Israeli and Greek decision-makers conducted by the author. 2 The possibility of Greece’s departure of the eurozone was real and demonstrates that the rapprochement with Israel was pursued at a time when the country faced a truly formidable and even existential financial crisis. For example, elaborate plans were secretly formulated for the case of Greece did exit the eurozone (See Spiegel, 2014). Furthermore, former US Secretary of the Treasury Timothy F. Geithner has revealed that in a meeting during Summer 2012 he was told by German Federal Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble “that there were many in Europe who still thought kicking the Greeks out of the eurozone was a plausible—even a desirable—strategy. The idea was that with Greece out, Germany would be more likely to provide the financial support the eurozone needed, because the German people would no longer perceive aid to Europe as a bailout for the Greeks. At the same time, a Grexit would be traumatic enough that it would help scare the rest of Europe into giving up more sovereignty to a stronger banking and fiscal union. The argument was that letting Greece burn would make it easier to build a stronger Europe with a more credible firewall. I found the argument terrifying. Letting Greece go could create a spectacular crisis of confidence, regardless of what Europeans committed to do afterward. It wasn’t clear why a German electorate that hated the Greek bailouts would feel much better about rescuing Spain or Portugal or anyone else. And the flight from Europe once it got momentum, might be impossible to reverse.” (Geithner, 2014, p. 483). 3 It is significant to stress that the actions of the Greek government towards the Freedom Flotilla II were met by widespread international public approval. 4 The studies mentioned above are also indicative of the often radically different academic approaches and vehement debates surrounding Greek-Turkish relations. 5 For the official election results see the Internet Site: 6 For example, 60 percent of Greeks agreed with the statement that “Jews are more loyal to Israel than to [this country/the countries they live in]” and 38 percent that “Jews are responsible for most of the world’s wars.” See The ADL Global 100: An Index of AntiSemitism at Internet Site:

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Buck, T., 2012. Field of dreams: Israel’s natural gas. Financial Times, [online] August 31. Available at: [Accessed June 24, 2014]. Calev, B.D. and Ackerman, G., 2010. First Foreign Planes Arrive in Israel to Help Put Out Fires That Killed 41. Bloomberg, [online] 3 December. Available at: [Accessed June 24, 2014]. Calev, B.D. and Petrakis, M., 2011. Greece offers to transfer aid from detained flotilla to Gaza. Bloomberg, [online] July 3. Available at: [Accessed June 24, 2014]. Chircop, A. Gerolymatos, A. and Iatrides, O.J. (eds). 2000. The Aegean Sea after the Cold War: Security and law of the sea issues. London: Macmillan Press. Deutch, J. 2011. The good news about gas: the natural gas revolution and its consequences, Foreign Affairs, 90 (1), pp. 82–93. Emerson, M., 2012. Fishing gas and more in Cypriot waters. Global Turkey in Europe, Policy Brief 02, pp. 1–8.) Geithner, F.T. 2014. Stress test: Reflections on financial crises. New York: Crown Publishers. Gladstone, R., 2014. 26 percent of world’s adults are anti-Semitic, survey finds. The New York Times. [online] May 13. Available at: http://www.nytimes. com/2014/05/14/world/26-percent-of-worlds-adults-are-anti-semitic-surveyfinds.html?_r=0 [Accessed June 24, 2014]. Henderson, S. 2012. Energy discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean: Source for cooperation Or fuel for tension? The case Of Israel, The German Marshall Fund of the United States, Policy Brief, pp. 1–10. Heraclides. A. 2010. The Greek‒Turkish conflict in the Aegean: Imagined Enemies. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Inbar, E. 2001. Regional implications of the Israeli‒Turkish strategic partnership, Middle East Review of International Affairs, 5(2), pp. 48–65. International Crisis Group, 2011. Turkey and Greece: Time to settle the Aegean dispute. Europe Briefing No. 64, pp. 1–20. Kershner, I., 2010. Israel credits outside help as deadly fire is contained. The New York Times, [online] 5 December. Available at: [Accessed June 24, 2014]. Kershner, I., 2013. Israel Taps an Offshore Natural Gas Field. The New York Times, [online] March 31. Available at [Accessed June 24, 2014]. Knell, Y., 2013. Gas finds in East Mediterranean may change strategic balance. BBC News, [online] May 13. Available at: [Accessed June 24, 2014]. Konstantinou, D., 2010. The recognition of Israel by our country: A history of the de jure process of recognition. Diplomatiko Periskopio, [online] Available


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[Accessed June 24, 2014]. [ in Greek]. Kouskouvelis, I.I. 2013. The problem with Turkey’s “zero problems,” Middle East Quarterly, 20 (1), pp. 47–56. Kouskouvelis, I.I. and Litsas, Sp. N. eds., 2013. Strategic depth and Turkey, Athens: Poiotita [in Greek]. Koutantou, A., 2011. Greece offers humanitarian aid to Palestinian authority after Gaza flotilla ban. Reuters, [online] July 3. Available at: [Accessed June 25, 2014]. Lavdas, K.A., Litsas, Sp. N., Skiadas, V.D., 2013. Stateness and sovereign debt: Greece in the European conundrum, Lanham: Lexington Books. Litsas, Sp. N., (2014). Bandwagoning for profit and Turkey: Alliance formations and volatility in the Middle East, Israel Affairs, 20(1), pp. 125–139. Luft, G., 2010.A geopolitical game changer. Haaretz, [online] June 11. Available at: [Accessed June 25, 2014]. Murinson, A., 2006. The Strategic Depth doctrine of Turkish foreign policy, Middle Eastern Studies, 42(6), pp. 945–964. Murinson, A., 2012. Turkish foreign policy in the twenty-first century, Ramat Gan: The Begin Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Mideast Security and Policy Studies, No. 97, pp. 1–31. Nachmani, A. 1987. Israel, Turkey and Greece: Uneasy relations in the East Mediterranean, London: Frank Cass. Nachmani, A. 2009. Turkey: Facing a new millennium: Coping with intertwined conflicts, Manchester: Manchester University Press. Naftemporiki. 2013. Panhellenic association of exporters: Encouraging signs for exports to Israel [in Greek]. [online] October 10. Available at [Accessed June 26, 2014]. Pape, A.R. 2005. Soft balancing against the United States, International Security, 30(1), pp. 7–45. Paul, V.T. 2005. Soft balancing in the age of US primacy,” International Security, 30(1), pp. 46–71. Pope, H. 2010. Pax Ottomana? The mixed success of Turkey’s new foreign policy, Foreign Affairs, 89 (6), pp. 161–171. Pouliopoulos, Y., 2011. Freedom flotilla: ‘Gaze here we come.’ To Vima, [online] June 27. Available at: <> [Accessed June 25, 2014]. [In Greek]. Press Office of the Prime Minister [George Papandreou], 2010. Statements of Prime Minister George A. Papandreou and the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu after their Meeting. [press release] August 16. Available at: [Accessed June 24, 2014] [in Greek].

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Psarras, D. 2012. The black book of golden dawn, Athens: Polis. [In Greek]. Rabinowitz, G., 2014. Why is Greece the most anti-Semitic country in Europe?. The Times of Israel, [online] May 22. Available at: [Accessed June 25, 2014]. Rozakis, C. Kazakos, P. Veremis, T. Alexandris, A. Coufoudakis, V. and Tsitsopoulos, Y. eds., 1991. Greek-Turkish relations,1923–1987, Athens: Gnosi [in Greek]. Rudoren, J. and Landler, M., 2013. With Obama as broker, Israelis and Turkey end dispute. The New York Times, [online] March 22. Available at: < http:// html?pagewanted=all> [Accessed June 25, 2014]. Schenk, J.C., Kirschbaum, A.M., Charpentier, R.R., Klett, R.T., Brownfield E.M., Pitman K.J., Cook A.T., and Tennyson E.M. 2010. Assessment of undiscovered oil and gas resources and gas resources of the Levant Basin province, Eastern Mediterranean, US Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2010, pp. 1–4. Sharon, U., 2013. Tamar field partners find new gas reservoir nearby. The Jerusalem Post, [online] August 21. Available at: [Accessed June 24, 2014]. Shefler, G., 2011. Israel asks to export gas to Europe through Greece. The Jerusalem Post, [online] November 22. Available at: [Accessed June 25, 2014]. Spiegel, P., 2014. Inside Europe’s Plan Z. Financial Times, [online] May 14. Available at: [Accessed June 25, 2014]. Stove, J.R., 2013. A.J.P. Taylor is History, The American Conservative, [online] September 12. Available at [Accessed June 26, 2014). Terzis, P.Y., 2013. Background and unknown conversations in the Oval Office. Kathimerini, [online] August 11. Available at: [Accessed June 24, 2014]. Tsakonas, J.P., 2010. The incomplete breakthrough in Greek-Turkish relations: Grasping Greece’s socialization strategy. London: Palgrave Macmillan. Tsalakos, G.T., 2013. Oil [worth] 60 bill. euros for Cyprus. Ta Nea, [online] December 18. Available at: [Accessed June 24, 2014]. [In Greek]. Udasin, S., 2012. Israel, Cyprus, Greece sign electric cable deal. The Jerusalem Post, [online] March 4. Available at: [Accessed June 24, 2014].


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Voice of America. 2011. Activists reject Greek offer to send flotilla aid to Gaza, [online] July 2. Available at [Accessed June 26, 2014]. Walt, M.S. 1987. The Origins of Alliances, Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Walt, M.S. 1988. Testing theories of alliance formation: The case of Southwest Asia, International Organization, 43(2), pp. 275–316. Walt, M.S. 1997. The progressive power of realism, American Political Science Review, 91 (4), pp. 931–935. World Oil. 2013. Noble energy raises Leviathan resource estimates to 18Tfc after appraisal drilling. [online]. March 3. Available at [Accessed June 26, 2014].


Abbas, Mahmoud 241 Abdollahian, Hossein Amir 214 Abdullah II 154–155 Afghanistan 10, 36 Ahmadinejad, Mahmud 121, 208, 218 al Assad, Bashar 38, 86–87, 121, 123, 142 Al-Jazeera effect 122 al-Nahda 142, 214 Al Qaeda 53, 57, 86–87, 122, 142 pan-Islamism 123 presence in North Africa 130 Al-Wefaq 125 Alexander the Great 10 Algeria 80, 198, 231, 242 Anastasiadis, Nikos 94, 104, 106 Annan, Kofi 40 Annan plan 96, 138 Arab League 124 Arab Peace Initiative (2002) 222 Arab Spring 10, 14–15, 38, 52, 54, 59, 63, 66, 80, 83, 88, 119, 139–140, 142, 249 Archbishop Makarios 137 Armitage, Richard 56 Asia Pacific 15 Assad, Hafez 86 Ayalon, Danny 243 Bahrain 85, 121–122, 124, 130, 148, 216 Shia uprising 123 balance of power 8, 25 balancing 244–245 soft balancing 245–246 bandwagoning 244–245 Barak, Ehud 102 Ben Ali, Zine El Abidine 54, 84–85 Ben-Gurion, David 226 Berri, Nabih 235 Biden, Joe182

bipolarity 2, 9, 11–13, 22 conventional bipolarity 12 stability 25 Brazil 10, 141 Britain 10 Akrotiri military base 66, 68 Dhekelia military base 68 naval strategy 21 Royal Navy 224 Brown, Gordon 32 Buazizi, Mohamed 85 Bush, George W. Jr 8, 52–54, 83, 122, 129, 180 opposing the Russian EU energy agenda 32 Carthage 12–13 Cast Lead Operation 72 Cem, Ismail 39 Chao Liu, General 68 Cheney, Dick 55–56 China 10, 15, 22, 26, 52, 141 foreign policy in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Levant 63–65, 67–68, 70, 72, 74, 130 navy 66 relations with Hamas 72 relations with Hezbollah 72 relations with Libya 67 Christofias, Dimitris 94, 97–98, 104, 106–107, 242 Churchill, Winston 15 civil war 203 civitas maxima 28 Clausewitz, Carl von 3, 233 Clerides, Glafkos 94, 96, 107 Clinton, Hilary 54 Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) 248 containment strategy 21


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Cyprus 15, 26, 32, 64, 66, 68–69, 93, 181–182 LNG 184 Davutoglu, Ahmet 139–140, 215 Democratic Peace Theory 4 Diocletian 10 Eastern Mediterranean 2, 14–15, 21, 23–24, 26, 28, 31–35, 37–38, 44, 65–66, 88, 106, 182, 188, 234 global energy supply 228 main actors 221 Ecevit, Mustafa Bulent 137 Egypt 32, 34, 55, 64, 86, 121, 130, 147, 181, 249 bandwagon with the United States 126 fall of Mubarak’s regime 123 IMF financial support 127 relations with Israel 150 entropy 15 Erbakan, Necmettin 136–137, 143 Erdoğan, Tayyip Recep 84, 128, 140–142, 172, 230 European Union 32–33, 36, 52, 94, 105, 188, 244 fiscal crisis 63 Facebook 170–171 friction 13, 22 Gadaffi, Muammar 54, 124, 142 Gates, Robert 54 Gaza Strip 64, 225–226 Geithner, Timothy F. 250 geographic proximity 244 Georgia 32 Golden Dawn (Xrisi Avgi) 247–248 Greece 15, 26, 64, 67 accession to the EEC 239 antisemitism 248 as a Russian Trojan Horse 43 economic crisis 104, 250 energy triangle (Greece, Israel, Cyprus) 244 foreign policy in the Eastern Mediterranean 246 historic relations with Turkey 245

reaction towards Freedom Flotilla II 241, 250 relations with Israel 239–242 relations with the Palestinian Authority 249 Gül, Abdullah 137, 139 Gulf Council Cooperation 121, 125, 130, 131 as a Holly Alliance 123 military intervention in Bahrain 124 Hamas 123–124, 230, 248 relations with Iran 232 Hezbollah 122–124, 130, 181, 230, 235 relations with Iran 232 Syrian Civil War 126 Hobbes, Thomas 2 Hussein, Sadam 120 Imia crisis 15 India 10, 70, 216 importer of Iranian oil and gas 215 International Court of Justice 133 International Law 2, 5–6 Iran 28, 38, 41, 64, 85–86, 121,123, 124 co-operation with Cyprus 215 foreign policy 207–208, 213, 216, 232 relations with Afghanistan 215 relations with China 215 relations with India 215 relations with Pakistan 215 relations with Saudi Arabia 216 relations with Turkey 215–216 relations with the United States 211 Syrian Civil War 126 Iraq 5, 8, 10, 80, 82, 216, 249 Iraqi army 55 Iraqi Shias 85, 126 Iraqi Sunnis 129 Islam 10 Dar al-Islam 15 Dar al-Harb 15 radicalism 35 Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/ Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIL/ISIS) 55, 124, 130, 203, 216

Index Israel 15, 26, 28, 32, 34–35, 64, 93, 121, 130, 181–182 Arab‒Israeli conflict 66 Barcelona Process 223 bombing Syria 37 Dalit 243 Dolphin 243 maritime nation 221, 232–234 Mavi Marmara incident 226, 240 Mediterraneanism 227–228, 231 “Noble Dina” 233 offshore balancing 223, 226, 231 Operation Noa 225 Red-Med Project 227 relations with China 71, 73 relations with Cyprus 102, 184–187 relations with Egypt 127, 183 relations with Greece 187, 239, 244, 248–249 relations with Jordan 183 relations with the Palestinian Authority 183 relations with Turkey 183–185, 239 Sinai campaign 224 Six Day War 225 start-up nation 229 war against Hezbollah 123, 225 Ivanov, Igor 39 Japan 52 Jintao, Hu 67, 180 Jordan 64, 72–73, 85, 123, 147, 156 Jordanian civil war 155 relations with the United States of America 154 Justice and Development Party (AKP) 39, 137, 162, 165, 168, 170, 174 foreign policy 138–140 zero problems policy 128–129, 140 Kerry, John 58, 84 Khatami, Mohammad Seyyed 207, 210–212 dialogue among civilizations 208 Khomeini, Ayatollah Ruhollah, 120, 212, 214 anti-Western platform 209 foreign policy 210 Ki-moon, Ban 241


Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) 40, 161 Kutan, Recai 137 Kuwait 80 Laertes 79 Lavrov, Sergey 38, 42 Lebanon 32, 64–65, 121–122, 183, 216 Leviathan field 183, 185, 243 Libya 28, 57, 85–86, 121, 123, 130 civil war 203 Mahan, Thayer Alfred 233 Markouli-Kozakou, Erato 103 Mediterranean Dialogue 231 Medvedev, Dimitry 35, 37 Middle East 10, 33, 37, 63, 73, 129, 222, 228 Mitsotakis, Constantine 239 Mo-zi 7 Montreux Convention 134 Morsi, Mohammad 58, 86, 126, 128, 142, 214 Turkey objects his overthrow 129 visit to China 127 Mubarak, Hosni 54, 84–85, 127, 150, 151 multipolarity 2,9, 13–14, 22, 26, 52, 120 Muslim Brotherhood 58, 79, 86, 122, 124, 150, 157, 214 Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) 12–13, 15 Nasrallah, Hassan 121 Nasser, Gamal Abdel, 34, 120, 127 NATO 34, 39, 63, 66, 74, 221, 231 Allied Maritime Command in Naples 233 Nea Demokratia 248 Netanyahu, Benjamin, 41, 58, 65, 102, 239, 243, 248 call to Erdogan 249 new world order 24 nuclear deterrence 12 Obama, Barack 51, 54, 84, 249 foreign policy 56–57, 80–81, 130 Obama Doctrine 55–56 “red line” 86 speech in Cairo 53


The Eastern Mediterranean in Transition

Odyssey 28, 79 Olmert Ehud 140 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) 223 Pahlavi, Reza Shah 209 Pamboukis, Haris 243 Panhellenic Socialism Movement (PASOK) 248 Papadopoulos Tassos 94, 96–98, 101, 107 Papandreou, Giorgos 102, 240, 243 peace 1–4, 7, 15 perpetual 14 Penelope 79, 88–89 People’s Orthodox Rally (LAOS) 248 Peres, Shimon 72 Valley of Peace initiative 72–73 planetic 22 polarity 9 Putin, Vlaidimir 31, 33–34, 39–41, 44, 65, 180 visit to Egypt 35 Qatar 121–122, 124 Syrian Civil War 126, 156 Rabin, Yitzchak 227 “rally round the flag” policy 4–5 Red Sea 34 Rice, Condoleezza 52, 55, 57 Rice, Susan 54 Roman Empire 10 Rome 12 Roughead, Garry 64 Rouhani, Hassan 207–208, 211–214, 216–217 Rushdie, Salman 211 Russia 10, 15, 22, 26, 181 agreement with the US on the elimination of the Syrian chemical weapons 38 energy security 33 foreign policy 31, 125, 130 naval doctrine 34 relations with China 65 relations with Greece 42–43 relations with Israel 41–42 relations with Syria 36–38, 65, 87

relations with Turkey 39–40, 87 Sadat, Anwar 35 Saudi Arabia 38, 64, 80, 86, 121, 123, 124, 148, 180 involvement in the Syrian Civil War 126 Schauble, Wolfgang 250 Schulz, Martin 72 security 149 energy security 32, 180 security dilemma 1 vernacular security 148 self-help 3, 26 Shanghai Cooperation Organization 64 Shia crescent 216 small states theory 93–95 smart power 52, 56–57 Socrates 6 Soviet Union 12, 21, 136 Black Sea Fleet 34 change of the regime of the Straits 134 Fifth Escadra 33 Pasha Liman 33 relations with Egypt 34–35 relations with Syria 35 Tartus 33–34 Sparta 10, 12 state sovereignty 22 Stavridis, James G. 64 Stevens, Christopher 84 Sub-Saharan Africa 15 Suez Canal 66–67, 69 Suez Crisis 224 Syria 28, 32, 34, 58, 64, 85, 123, 183, 216, 249 cannibalism 202 civil war 26, 41, 52, 55, 66, 86, 230 failed state 121 proxy war 87 rape 201–202 security dilemma 125 systemic mimesis 10 systemic stability 1, 4, 8–9, 11–12, 14, 22 Tahrir Square 86, 150 Taliban 57, 215 Tamar field 183, 242–243 Thatcher, Margaret 5

Index Thebes 10 Themis 6 Thrasymachus 6 Thucydides 2, 5, 22, 27 traditional paradigm 27 Tunisia 55, 85, 121, 130, 142 Turkey 15, 28, 64, 87, 121, 133, 182, 244 against sanctions in Iran 141 Arab Spring 142 becoming a NATO member 134 Gezi Park protest 161, 162, 164, 167, 169–170 involvement in the West Bank 73 joins the Council of Europe and OECD 134 Marshall Plan 134 NATO member 134, 137–138 opposing NATO intervention in Libya pre-Civil War relations with Syria 129,142 relations with Cyprus 95–96, 137 relations with Egypt 142 relations with Hamas 186 relations with the US 138, 143, 182 soft power 129 Syrian Civil War 126 Turco‒Greek conflict over Cyprus 134 war of national liberation 133 Y Generation 162, 163, 169, 171, 174–175 Twitter 163, 165, 170–171 Ukraine 181 Union for the Mediterranean 231 unipolarity 2, 9, 11 unipolar moment 52


United States 4, 9–12, 15, 21–22, 28, 32–33, 35–36, 39, 188 Afghan war 53–54, 81, 83 Egyptian elections 127 exceptionalism 53 fiscal crisis 63 invasion of Iraq ix, 53–54, 81, 83, 128, 130 post-9/11 foreign policy 55, 58–59, 64–66, 74, 81, 84–85, 125, 130 relations with Israel 87, 182 Sixth Fleet 33–34, 65–66, 232 Utopian thinking 25 Vulcans 52 war 1–2, 4–7, 9, 11, 149 Cold War 9–13, 21–22, 31–32, 85, 95, 135, conventional war 13 Defensive War 6–7 Falklands War 5 large-scale war 12–13 Peloponnesian War 12 Punic Wars 10, 12 rape in war 191, 193–196, 198, 200 total war 1, 13–15 Yugoslav Civil War 198, 200 Warsaw Pact 136 Westphalian system 21–22, 27 World Trade Organization 40 Yeltsin, Boris 36 Yemen 121–122, 130, 216 Houthi rebellion 123 Zarif, Javad 211, 215 Zawahiri, Ayman al 123

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