Regional maritime security in the eastern Mediterranean: Expectations and reality

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent developments in the eastern Mediterranean, such as significant gas finds; disagreements over the demarcation of maritime boundaries; large-scale violence and political instability following the Arab Spring; mass migration via sea routes; Great Power dynamics in the region; and environmental hazards, make the political entities along the shores of the eastern Mediterranean part of a regional security complex and create strong incentives for regional coordination on maritime security. Material international relations theories predict that growing security challenges (realism) coupled with expected gains (liberalism) will facilitate regional cooperation. Yet, the political entities in the region rely mainly on unilateral actions, or limited quasi-alliances in response to these challenges. The article shows the puzzling gap between the theoretical expectation and practical outcome in the region and explains why regional cooperation in the maritime domain fails to occur. It argues that cooperation on a regional scale fails to take place due to three complementing reasons: 1) lack of shared ideational features like cultural traits, set of values and regime type; 2) enduring rivalries between political entities in the region (Israel-Palestine; Turkey-Greece-Cyprus) coupled with internal strife within other regional political entities (Libya; Syria); and unequal political standing and lack of sovereignty of some of the political entities in the region (Northern Cyprus; the Palestinian Authority and the Gaza Strip).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)979-997
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Affairs
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Royal Institute of International Affairs. All rights reserved.


  • Cyprus
  • Israel
  • Mediterranean
  • Middle East
  • Turkey
  • maritime security

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


Dive into the research topics of 'Regional maritime security in the eastern Mediterranean: Expectations and reality'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this