Rearranging the Puzzle of Security in the Eastern Mediterranean

About Us 

Project Title: “Rearranging the Puzzle of Security in the Eastern Mediterranean: Mapping New Actors and Dynamics from a “Low Geopolitical Perspective” (LowGeo).

LowGeo is funded by the Internal Research Programme awards granted by the University of Cyprus for a two-years period (1/6/2021 to 30/4/2023) for advancing research in the field of Social and Political Sciences. The project seeks to enhance knowledge on the academic areas of geopolitical research and conflict studies with reference to the broader MENA Region (Middle East and North Africa). More particularly, the project focuses on the transnational political and security dynamics developing within the ethno-geographic subspace of the Eastern Mediterranean (EastMed). The project aims to produce, publish, and disseminate fresh knowledge accessible to both academics and policymakers.

First Glance
Developments in the 21st century have necessitated viewing the Eastern Mediterranean not only as the major “bridge” between the West and the East, but also as a distinct and “new” regional subspace with specific characteristics and self-generated dynamics. Comprised by Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Israel and the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Libya, Syria, and Turkey, the region is assuming increased significance in world diplomatic, security and energy affairs as a separate regional subset within the broader geographic space of the Middle East and North Africa. The Eastern part of the Mediterranean is indeed witnessing some of the most intriguing, worrisome and dangerous events in today’s world. The civil war raging in Syria, the rise of ISIS, the unraveling of Libya, the strength of Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, the outbreak of Islamic sectarian conflicts, the uncertainty about Egypt’s future (and that of the Arab Spring more generally), the ambition and unpredictability of Turkey, attest to the region’s growing significance. The geographical boundaries of the EastMed region create a distinct territorial and security block with its own regionally driven and internal geopolitical antagonisms and dynamics. The complex relations between states and sub-state actors in the region, including majority and minority ethno-religious organizations as well as militant formations, prompts us to examine the political manifestations and impact of the region’s complex multi-layered ethno-geographic synthesis. The transnational and inter-linked nature of interests reflected on the geographical proximity of cross-border ethnicity and political affiliations, and the importance of ‘regional interdependencies’ should be therefore emphasised to reveal the conditions shaping conflict and cooperation in the region.





One of the paradoxes of geopolitics in the Eastern Mediterranean is that, despite its inherent complexity, it is often interpreted through too simplistic explanations to understand the dynamics of regional instability and define the security challenges (“war for oil”, “Imperialism”, Islam vs. Christianity). Nevertheless, as the result of the dramatic chain events following the so-called “Arab Spring” (Syria-Libya-Egypt), broader international audiences have been gradually becoming more acquainted with the internal dangers and antagonisms stemming from the fragmented social fabric across the Eastern Mediterranean. Regional complexity and the existence of competitive sub-state systems mean that focusing exclusively on “high geopolitics” and “great power diplomacy” is not enough to understand the deep currents of change flowing across the region, without developing a deeper understanding of interactions between the indigenous state and sub-state actors.

Albeit state-centric security imperatives prevail in the shaping of foreign policy priorities, state sovereignty, national cohesion, and geographical boundaries are increasingly contested in the region. Thus, objectives sought by major state and sub-state actors in this highly interdependent region vary. It is vital therefore to include the “internal realities” and peculiarities of local actors while considering the interconnections between countries and societies in the region to understand the impact of dependencies and the cross-border character of activities in the region.


These ethnic, religious, and ideological inter-linkages provide the opportunities and constraints shaping state and sub-state security objectives. The proposed research examines the micro-picture of transnational linkages i.e. the competitive dynamics and prevailing interests that bring together or divide sub-state and state actors in order to understand the reasoning and prospects of alliance-building in foreign policy decision-making processes. The research develops in two different but interconnected levels of analysis: transnational and regional


  1. How do we account for the transnational impact of the major ethnic, religious, and ideological divisions/affiliations in the Eastern Mediterranean region and how do sub-state actors influence the reformulation of a new regional order?
  2. What are the competitive security objectives of key state actors in the region, and how is the region reconfigured into new “blocks of power”?