Geopolitical Transformation in Eastern Mediterranean; Restructuring Role of Greece and the Impact of Abraham Accord

Published date01 April 2023
AuthorEhsan Bakhshandeh,Yasaman Yeganeh
Date01 April 2023
Subject MatterResearch Articles
International Studies
60(2) 231 –249, 2023
© 2023 Jawaharlal Nehru University
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/00208817231168003
Research Article
Transformation in
Eastern Mediterranean;
Restructuring Role of
Greece and the Impact
of Abraham Accord
Ehsan Bakhshandeh1 and Yasaman Yeganeh2
After the Arab uprising of the early 2010s which changed the geopolitical
shape of the Eastern Mediterranean, the Abraham Accords in 2020 marked
the second most momentous development of the past decade, which drove
more external players to the scene of geopolitics of the Mediterranean region.
The Abraham Accords improved Israel’s relations with some Arab states
of the Persian Gulf such as the UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and paved
their way, under the full support of the United States, to heavily partake in
geopolitical and geostrategic equations, mainly in energy and security nature,
of the Eastern Mediterranean formulated mainly by Greece under the Neo-
Democracy government. The present research explores the changing
character of geopolitics in the Mediterranean and how Greece is playing its
role in restructuring such a character. The findings of this research suggest that
Greece is playing a prominent and leading role in transforming the geopolitics
of the Eastern Mediterranean through security and energy initiatives for
protection against possible aggression from Turkiye. Considering the supreme
importance of the Mediterranean commercially and militarily for the United
States, this article argues that the new design of geopolitics in the region is
being shaped to protect Greece and Israeli interests in favour of the USA in
the Eastern Mediterranean.
Mediterranean, geopolitics, energy, security, Abraham Accords
2Islamic Azad University, Shahr-e Rey Branch, Tehran, Iran
1University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran
Corresponding author:
Ehsan Bakhshandeh, University of Tehran, 16th Azar St., Enghelab Sq., Tehran, Iran.
232 International Studies 60(2)
The Newly Emerging Eastern Mediterranean Structure
The Mediterranean Sea interconnects Europe, Asia and Africa and is directly
linked to America and Australia through the North Pacific Ocean, taking on
enormous geopolitical significance and privileges, especially for the European
Union and other world’s greatest powers (Tziarras, 2019, p. 6; van der Putten,
2016, p. 337). For the West, there exist vital interests in the Mediterranean which
are related to ‘energy security … regional stability, the containment of religious
extremism, the prevention of mass migration and the protection of Israel and other
friendly regimes’ (Dokos, 2000, p. 95).
After the First World War, the composition of countries and governments in the
Mediterranean region underwent grave changes and impacted, for the next
century, the geopolitical map of the Mediterranean region especially in its eastern
coasts that are stretched along Greece, Turkiye, Cyprus, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan,
Egypt and Palestine.
Right from ancient times, the Mediterranean Sea has been recognized as a
main strategic waterway and shipping route of the globe. In addition to its unique
connectivity privileges and transit links through water, the Mediterranean has
been bestowed with enormous hydrocarbon resources especially gas reserves,
doubling its geopolitical significance (Antreasyan, 2013, p. 29; Tsardanidis, 2019,
p. 74; Ulusoy, 2020, p. 425). According to an estimate by the US Geological
Survey, the Eastern Mediterranean held 1.7 billion barrels of oil and 3.5 trillion m3
of natural gas in 2010 (US Geological Survey, 2012).
The geopolitical significance of the giant gas reserves in the Mediterranean
including the Zohr Field (with estimated reserves of 850 billion m3), Leviathan
Field (with estimated reserves of 605 billion m3), Tamar Field (with estimated
reserves of 200 billion m3) and Sakarya Field (with estimated reserves of 540
billion m3), has been multiplied in recent years (Associated Press, 2019; Demiryol,
2020; Gorgulu and Dark, 2017, p. 130; Reuters, 2021a; Tanchum, 2020). For
example, Leviathan and Tamar gas fields which are among the largest deep-water
reserves found between 2001 and 2010 (Ozertem, 2016, p. 363), have provided
Israel with massive geopolitical advantages which could turn it into ‘a regional
gas power, significantly changing its geo-strategic position’ (Antreasyan, 2013, p.
29). A similar privilege is envisaged for Egypt that can turn the Arab country into
the energy hub of Africa and even the Mediterranean.
From amongst the Eastern Mediterranean littoral states, Greece and Turkiye
own the largest territory and possess the longest coastlines in the region;
notwithstanding, since the 1910s, they have been at loggerheads and serious
disputes over the sovereignty of some Aegean Sea islands, demarcation of
maritime zones and the issue of Cyprus. Such differences pushed the two countries,
on several occasions, to the brink of military confrontation. In fact, after the
collapse of the Ottoman Empire in 1922, its territories including in Eastern
Mediterranean were divided and became the source of disputes and tensions in the
region. The two world wars also led to geopolitical changes in the Mediterranean
as the Dodecanese Islands (such as Rhodes and Lesvos) were ceded to Greece

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