After centuries of marginalisation, the Mediterranean Sea is back in the international spotlight. A new Great Game is unfolding in its eastern part, similar to the 19th century machinations of the British and Russian empires in Central Asia.
Oil and gas discoveries off the coasts of Egypt, Gaza, Israel, Lebanon, Syria and Cyprus have added a new dimension to old, unresolved conflicts. The dispute between Greece and Turkey for control over the Aegean Sea, the division of Cyprus, and the issue of maritime boundaries between Lebanon and Israel are just a few examples.
Almost all of the countries on the Eastern Mediterranean’s shores claim conflicting and overlapping exclusive economic zones (EEZs) to exploit these resources up to 200 nautical miles from their coasts. A political and legal controversy – promising decades of work and fees for specialized international jurists and lawyers – is looming.