The conflict on the maritime corridors between the Mediterranean and the East

Originally published in the Greek weekly newspaper “Paraskinio”, issue 614, p. 39, on Jan. 20

The ocean corridors, dominated by the US after the Second World War and the end of the Cold War, have been and are still one of the main causes of wars and influence among international forces. Technological development has increased demand for energy, especially for oil and gas, creating a new world war, the most important being the one Washington started in Iraq, but also for developing US military bases in Saudi Arabia and other Arab Gulf countries. However, in recent years, the sea routes have returned as the cause of international conflicts, sometimes apparently and sometimes covert.

The Syrian crisis, which enters the seventh year, began with the aim of overthrowing the Assad regime and claiming freedom and democracy from the people of Syria. However, the reasons for its continuation are linked to other factors, one of which is the control of maritime routes. Moscow, which has its sole base in the Mediterranean, would have lost it if it did not intervene directly to maintain the Assad regime. The Russian presence in Syria is an extension of the Moscow corridor extending from the Crimea through the Aegean to the Mediterranean. The strength demonstrated by Moscow before the collapse of the pro-Russian Ukrainian regime confirms that it is well aware of the importance of maintaining its bases in the Crimea. Thus, the cold war in Ukraine between NATO and Moscow is not linked to democracy or the desire of the population in the east of the country and Crimea to join with Russia but is linked to NATO’s attempt to block Moscow’s road from the Black Sea in the south. The situation is steadily increasing and US support to the Ukrainian government with the provision of anti-tank missiles at the end of last year confirms that the battle has not yet begun.

The Yemeni conflict, which has entered the fourth year between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates Arab League to support a legitimate government against the Iranian-backed Huti militia, raises a number of issues. The Kingdom is afraid of the expansion of Iranian influence on its southern borders. However, the ocean corridor linking the Indian Sea and the Red Sea with the Mediterranean is the primary objective of this war. Iran and the UAE are fighting to control this major commercial corridor. Lastly, strengthening Turkey’s co-operation with Somalia and Sudan is also part of the Red Sea crossing game.

The melting of parts of the Arctic sea in recent years opens a corridor of particular significance for Russia, which is preparing for its activation to the European continent. This corridor is the main reason for the development by Washington troops in Norway and the announcement of selling it to a high performance B-52 aircrafts.

The Libyan crisis, already in its seventh year, is also linked to the country’s strategic position in the Mediterranean and its natural gas. This country is of great importance for Italy and France, while Moscow, by increasing its presence in the Syrian areas, has found the Libyan crisis a significant way to restore its influence on the Libyan territory after the loss of its former leader Gaddafi who has been an important ally for Russia.

The collision of the maritime corridors is part of a general international conflict that is linked to the desire of some superpowers to impose their influence. It is not enough to control oil and gas to dominate the economy but must also control the maritime corridors for transportation. Controlling an important sea corridor is a powerful paper that can be used to increase economic and political profits. The crucial question is when will these forces immediately collide and which is the next sea corridor that will be the source of a new world war?