On November 13th, Hudson Institute hosted Professor Efraim Inbar of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA) in Israel for a timely presentation on the shifting power dynamics in the eastern Mediterranean.
In early October, Turkish warships and surveillance vessels began to enter Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone, challenging Cypriot efforts to expedite its search for offshore natural gas. The incursions emerged against the backdrop of Italian oil giant ENI’s initial exploration drilling in the same zone, chaos in the Levant, and shifting alliances throughout the region. Israel and Cyprus hosted opposition exercises, the Greek navy increased activity off the coast of Cyprus, and Russia offered political support to Cyprus while hosting its own naval drills in the eastern Mediterranean. Egypt’s stated desire to purchase both Israeli and Cypriot natural gas, as well as provide political support for Cypriot offshore drilling efforts, has the potential to transform Egypt into a linchpin of both regional stability and the emergent energy market.
Professor Inbar analyzed the strategic implications of increased Russian presence and Turkish activism in the Mediterranean, growing terrorist movements in the Middle East, burgeoning regional conflict over energy, and the emergence of a Cypriot-Greek-Israeli security partnership. Seth Cropsey, Hudson Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for American Seapower, moderated the subsequent discussion.