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Energy: a shaping factor for regional stability in the Eastern Mediterranean?

16-05-2017

Since 2010 the Eastern Mediterranean region has become a hotspot of international energy discussions due to a series of gas discoveries in the offshore of Israel, Cyprus and Egypt. To exploit this gas potential, a number of export options have progressively been discussed, alongside new regional cooperation scenarios. Hopes have also been expressed about the potential role of new gas discoveries in strengthening not only the regional energy cooperation, but also the overall regional economic and ...

Since 2010 the Eastern Mediterranean region has become a hotspot of international energy discussions due to a series of gas discoveries in the offshore of Israel, Cyprus and Egypt. To exploit this gas potential, a number of export options have progressively been discussed, alongside new regional cooperation scenarios. Hopes have also been expressed about the potential role of new gas discoveries in strengthening not only the regional energy cooperation, but also the overall regional economic and political stability. However, initial expectations largely cooled down over time, particularly due to delays in investment decision in Israel and the downward revision of gas resources in Cyprus. These developments even raised scepticism about the idea of the Eastern Mediterranean becoming a sizeable gas-exporting region. But initial expectations were revived in 2015, after the discovery of the large Zohr gas field in offshore Egypt. Considering its large size, this discovery has reshaped the regional gas outlook, and has also raised new regional cooperation prospects. However, multiple lines of conflict in the region continue to make future Eastern Mediterranean gas activities a major geopolitical issue. This study seeks to provide a comprehensive analysis of all these developments, with the ultimate aim of assessing the realistic implications of regional gas discoveries for both Eastern Mediterranean countries and the EU.

Autore esterno

Simone TAGLIAPIETRA

Syrian crisis: Impact on Lebanon

30-03-2017

The crisis in Syria has had a significant impact on neighbouring countries over the past six years. Five million Syrians have fled to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt, putting host countries and communities under great pressure. Moreover, violence has spilled over into some neighbouring countries, including Lebanon. The impact of the Syrian crisis on Lebanon has been immense. Since the outbreak of the crisis in 2011, up to 1.5 million displaced persons are believed to have crossed the border ...

The crisis in Syria has had a significant impact on neighbouring countries over the past six years. Five million Syrians have fled to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt, putting host countries and communities under great pressure. Moreover, violence has spilled over into some neighbouring countries, including Lebanon. The impact of the Syrian crisis on Lebanon has been immense. Since the outbreak of the crisis in 2011, up to 1.5 million displaced persons are believed to have crossed the border into Lebanon, formerly home to around 4.5 million people. The population has grown by an unprecedented 30 % in under four years, making Lebanon the country with the highest per capita concentration of refugees worldwide. The situation in neighbouring Syria has exacerbated Lebanon's political instability, and led to political deadlock for the past three years. This, in turn, has made it impossible to tackle some urgent challenges arising from the refugee presence, and from underlying structural problems with the delivery of basic services to the Lebanese population. Moreover, there are concerns, particularly among Christians, Shias and Druze, that a large number of Syrian Sunni Muslims could upset the delicate sectarian balance in Lebanon's multi-confessional political system. In light of Lebanon's experience with up to 280 000 Palestine refugees, its population is united in its opposition to a lasting refugee presence in the country. The Lebanese government insists that the presence of refugees from Syria is 'temporary', despite the absence of reasonable prospects for their safe return to their homeland in the foreseeable future. The international community has stepped in to help countries in the region cope with the influx of large numbers of vulnerable people. Emphasis has shifted from traditional humanitarian aid to 'resilience building'. This implies creating the long-term conditions that will allow Syrians to build a future for themselves and their children in the region, including acquiring the skills and tools to re-build their own country once they are able to return. The EU is co-hosting an international conference on 'Supporting the future of Syria and the region' on 5 April 2017, which will assess where the international community stands collectively in helping the region cope with the crisis.

The EU and migration [What Think Tanks are thinking]

30-09-2016

The migration crisis has eased since the agreement in March between the European Union and Turkey closed one major route through which people had been trying to reach Europe. A long-term solution to a better management of migration flows still appears elusive, as the Turkey deal could still unravel and other migration routes become more widely used. EU member states are also divided over the issue of ‘redistributing’ migrants among themselves. A debate continues among policy-makers on how to overhaul ...

The migration crisis has eased since the agreement in March between the European Union and Turkey closed one major route through which people had been trying to reach Europe. A long-term solution to a better management of migration flows still appears elusive, as the Turkey deal could still unravel and other migration routes become more widely used. EU member states are also divided over the issue of ‘redistributing’ migrants among themselves. A debate continues among policy-makers on how to overhaul the current asylum rules and create a ‘Dublin IV’ while the EU ponders reaching an agreement with other countries similar to the one it has negotiated with Turkey. This note offers links to recent commentaries and studies on migration from major international think tanks and research institutes. More papers on the same topic can be found in a previous edition of 'What Think Tanks are thinking', published in May.

The Prospect of Eastern Mediterranean Gas Production: An Alternative Energy Supplier for the EU?

15-04-2014

Israeli gas discoveries in 2009 and 2010 have transformed the Eastern Mediterranean into a natural gas producing region and a potential energy exporter for European and Asian markets. However, the turbulent political situation in Egypt, the Syrian civil war, the tensions between Israel and Gaza, the long-lasting dispute between Turkey and Cyprus, and the maritime border disputes cast a shadow on this economic opportunity. Moreover, the gas industry in the Eastern Mediterranean is at an infant stage ...

Israeli gas discoveries in 2009 and 2010 have transformed the Eastern Mediterranean into a natural gas producing region and a potential energy exporter for European and Asian markets. However, the turbulent political situation in Egypt, the Syrian civil war, the tensions between Israel and Gaza, the long-lasting dispute between Turkey and Cyprus, and the maritime border disputes cast a shadow on this economic opportunity. Moreover, the gas industry in the Eastern Mediterranean is at an infant stage, and the countries concerned seem unable to coordinate their plans for future exports. Global actors are ready to exploit the Eastern Mediterranean’s strategic implications. Russia aims to safeguard its gas monopoly, the United States to support its business interest, and Europe to increase its energy security and reduce dependence on Russia in the light of the Crimean crisis. In this context, the European Union should back the strategic triangle of Israel, Cyprus and Turkey as a first step towards the construction of an Eastern Mediterranean energy corridor.

Syria: Weighing the Risks

09-09-2013

Following two and a half years of bloody civil war in Syria, world leaders remain uncertain how to staunch a humanitarian calamity that has left more than 100 000 Syrians dead, 6 million displaced and immeasurable material damage and human suffering. China and Russia have incapacitated the United Nations, and the military conflict in Syria is escalating dangerously. The chemical attack on civilian targets near Damascus on 21 August has refocused the attention of the international community on the ...

Following two and a half years of bloody civil war in Syria, world leaders remain uncertain how to staunch a humanitarian calamity that has left more than 100 000 Syrians dead, 6 million displaced and immeasurable material damage and human suffering. China and Russia have incapacitated the United Nations, and the military conflict in Syria is escalating dangerously. The chemical attack on civilian targets near Damascus on 21 August has refocused the attention of the international community on the crisis, and the United States and France – supported by the Gulf states, Turkey and Israel – are calling for a targeted and limited military intervention to punish the Assad regime. Such action would have unpredictable consequences for the country, the region and world politics. It is unlikely that it would improve the dire situation of the Syrian people or foster a peaceful and democratic future for the country.

The Role of Hezbollah in Post-Conflict Lebanon

16-07-2013

The Lebanese Hezbollah is a difficult organisation to grasp; it's several identities – be it as an Islamic movement, a political party, and armed resistance group or as a terrorist organisation – are nevertheless all intertwined at the Lebanese level. Born in a Lebanese context, operating from a Lebanese territorial point of view, Hezbollah has integrated the Lebanese political system and has built its existence on the liberation of Lebanon. That notwithstanding, its pan-Islamic outlook and its strong ...

The Lebanese Hezbollah is a difficult organisation to grasp; it's several identities – be it as an Islamic movement, a political party, and armed resistance group or as a terrorist organisation – are nevertheless all intertwined at the Lebanese level. Born in a Lebanese context, operating from a Lebanese territorial point of view, Hezbollah has integrated the Lebanese political system and has built its existence on the liberation of Lebanon. That notwithstanding, its pan-Islamic outlook and its strong narrative have contributed to its reputation as a fundamentally globally acting jihadi organisation. Although Hezbollah has managed to establish itself as a constant feature on the Lebanese political scene, its weapons’ arsenal are now questioned by other Lebanese, and its engagement in Syria fundamentally threaten Lebanese civil peace.

Autore esterno

Florence Gaub (European Union Institute for Security Studies, France / Germany)

Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries

16-05-2013

In the wake of the protracted internal armed conflict in Syria, growing numbers of refugees, predominantly women and children, have sought refuge in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt. Reception conditions vary considerably, and the unabated influx of refugees is putting tremendous strain on the socio-economic and political stability of Syria’s neighbouring countries.

In the wake of the protracted internal armed conflict in Syria, growing numbers of refugees, predominantly women and children, have sought refuge in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt. Reception conditions vary considerably, and the unabated influx of refugees is putting tremendous strain on the socio-economic and political stability of Syria’s neighbouring countries.

Regional Tensions Lead to a Power Vacuum in Lebanon

17-04-2013

Tamman Salam is in charge of forming a new cabinet in Lebanon after the resignation of Prime Minister Mikati on 22 March 2013. Prime Minister Mikati resigned over his government's failure to adopt a new electoral law and its refusal to extend the mandate of police chief Ashraf Rifi. With no agreement on a new electoral law, forming a new government coalition is impossible. The scheduled June date for elections also appears unlikely. Lebanon has maintained an official policy of disassociation from ...

Tamman Salam is in charge of forming a new cabinet in Lebanon after the resignation of Prime Minister Mikati on 22 March 2013. Prime Minister Mikati resigned over his government's failure to adopt a new electoral law and its refusal to extend the mandate of police chief Ashraf Rifi. With no agreement on a new electoral law, forming a new government coalition is impossible. The scheduled June date for elections also appears unlikely. Lebanon has maintained an official policy of disassociation from the Syrian civil war, but the country is seriously affected by the deteriorating crisis. More than 400 000 Syrian refugees reside in Lebanon, and the northern city of Tripoli has suffered from sectarian clashes that have spilt over from Syria. Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam is struggling to form a cabinet, while rival political factions fail to agree on a new electoral law. The current parliament's mandate could be extended beyond June 2013. The European Union should reiterate its support for Lebanon's independence, territorial integrity and national institutions.

Gas disputes in the eastern Mediterranean

28-01-2013

Discoveries of gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean have brought both opportunities and challenges to the entire region. Although political uncertainty has clouded the whole picture, energy is emerging as the dominant issue for the future of the region.

Discoveries of gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean have brought both opportunities and challenges to the entire region. Although political uncertainty has clouded the whole picture, energy is emerging as the dominant issue for the future of the region.

Humanitarian Crisis in Syria

11-09-2012

The political and military drama unfolding in Syria has become a large-scale humanitarian crisis, with 2.5 million Syrians in need of assistance. The EU is the most important donor of humanitarian aid for Syria. While the total number of refugees is currently near one quarter of a million, the figure is expected to more than double if hostilities do not cease. The Syrian regime appears willing to pursue a scorched earth policy, with the blessing of key supporters. The resistance may be courageous ...

The political and military drama unfolding in Syria has become a large-scale humanitarian crisis, with 2.5 million Syrians in need of assistance. The EU is the most important donor of humanitarian aid for Syria. While the total number of refugees is currently near one quarter of a million, the figure is expected to more than double if hostilities do not cease. The Syrian regime appears willing to pursue a scorched earth policy, with the blessing of key supporters. The resistance may be courageous, but also suffers from fragmentation and bickering. The EU seeks more stringent sanctions and an assistance programme.

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