The European Policy Brief “The EU and Geopolitics in the Mediterranean” is an analysis of the identified major global and regional powers within the Mediterranean geopolitics. The key powers are the United States, China, Iran, Israel, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey. The analysis tackles two primary questions: how do the powers construct geopolitical imaginations of the Mediterranean region? And how does this construction relate to the policies of these powers within the region? The brief seeks to answer the questions through an analysis of the policies of these key powers. Further, the brief aims to understand how these policies conflict, compete and converge with the policies of the EU in the Mediterranean. The goal of the brief is to develop a new regional perspective for the EU. The key findings are the following: 1) security drives policy, 2) the various powers have their own definitions of security, 3) the powers do not see the Mediterranean as a single or shared space, and 4) the regional and global powers’ approaches and priorities are vastly different in the area.
In understanding the security related policies of each power, the brief provided summaries. Russia sees certain regional conflicts as a means to limit its regional power by the west. Thereby, its policies seek to reinforce its power in the Mediterranean. China’s security concerns are related to a fear of a growth of radical Islam and how this relates to its business, economic and energy interests in the area. Israel’s security focus is deeply related to trade and ensuring it has continuous strong trade deals with the European Mediterranean. Saudi Arabia’s security concerns relate to the Arab Spring, and particularly the Muslim Brotherhood victory in Egypt. Qatar, like Saudi, paid close attention to the Arab Spring but in turn viewed it as a moment of opportunity to build and support new ties and challenge Saudi Arabia’s regional power. U.S. policies are most similar to the EU and many focus on security concerns related to terrorism, clearly seen in President Trump’s “Muslim Ban”. Iran’s policies and rhetoric seek to counter western narratives and to provide an example of a different world that exists in the Mediterranean, one that is portrayed quite differently by the west. Turkey’s policies seek to created “zero problems with its neighbors” which are numerous along its borders and regionally. However, Turkey, sharing a border with Iraq and Syria, has had a growth in the number of its security concerns and has experienced high migrant and refugee influxes. The analysis of the discrepancies that occur in regard to varying security concerns results to a clash in policies as there is not policy collaboration between all of the powers.
The policy approaches of the various powers also correlate in the way they imagine the Mediterranean region. For several of the powers, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, their construction of the region is not Mediterranean focused, yet revolving around the various, primarily Arab countries, that they align with and their particular stances towards Israel. China presents its involvement as a fellow colonized country and one that is interested primarily in economic matters. While Russia presents itself as a counter to the west. Given the above, the powers have contrary policies and approaches than the EU, as the EU imagines the Mediterranean as a region of its own. Israeli, Turkish and U.S. policies are much more likely to converge with the EU.
In conclusion, the Mediterranean region continuously experiences fluctuating and clashing policies from the various powers. This makes it difficult for the EU to align and thus it takes bilateral approaches, in varying capacities and strengths, with the powers discussed. The brief suggests that the EU involve to a greater level the non-Mediterranean powers in the Euro-Med contact group, as these powers have strong influence on the region. Security will continue to be the concern of most powers, including the EU, but the brief suggests a more holistic and different rhetorical approach to security that may allow for an easier path for the EU to work with the various power.