The nine chapters of Intractable Dilemmas deal with the timely topic of cooperation among the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean Basin (EMB: Israel, Egypt, Lebanon, Cyprus, Turkey, Greece). It centers on their tumultuous past and their desperate need to find a new path. Colonialism, clashes of identities, and competition over economic resources have prevented them from resolving their historical conflicts, let alone fostering regional cooperation. Discoveries in recent years of significant hydrocarbon resources in the Nile Delta Basin and the Levantine Basin have found the EMB countries unprepared for collaboration.
That countries of the EMB must exploit their energy resources is best shown in a chapter coauthored by editor Petasis and Theodoros Kyprianou: "In the absence of close cooperation, these countries are failing to reach their economic potential because they fail to understand their interrelatedness and the power of unity." Each country has an obvious reason to collaborate with its neighbors but, most often, does not. For instance, Cyprus is an ideal location for a liquefied natural gas facility, but it has been divided between rival Greek and Turkish nationalities since 1974.
The EMB countries' failure to cooperate on hydrocarbons has risen to a new height of ineptitude with Lebanese politicians who feud with Israel and fail to develop a national energy policy. Lebanon has, as Hilal Khashan reports, manufactured a dispute with Israel over the delineation of its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) despite mediators' conclusions that the two countries' maritime disagreement is insignificant and should not obstruct Lebanon's exploration and exploitation efforts. In the meantime, Lebanese sectarian warlords squabble over splitting the spoils of natural gas that has yet to come on line.
One shortcoming of the book is the absence of discussion about the potential of renewable energy in the EMB countries. Nevertheless, the volume is a must-read for all who wish to learn about the complexities of exploiting Eastern Mediterranean natural resources.