go to top

Over the Horizon: Sea Power and the Arab Spring

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

While the full story of the Arab uprisings -- and in particular the Libya chapter -- has yet to be written, sea power has thus far seemed curiously absent from the events of the Arab Spring. Although one Libyan warship apparently bombarded rebel positions in Tripoli and another may have defected, maritime power has not been central to the course of that country's revolution. Similarly, the Egyptian navy played no meaningful role in overthrowing Hosni Mubarak, and now remains at dock for lack of funding.

And what of NATO? In theory, the effort to relieve Libya and manage the chaos that has engulfed North Africa should be an easy call for the major Mediterranean naval powers. Navies have an almost unique ability to deploy influence and power in short order, especially in coastal areas. To be sure, there has been a Mediterranean response, but it has seemed languid given the massive potential for revolutionary change onshore in North Africa. The ability of European navies to respond has been hamstrung by general force reductions, a trend symbolized by the last mission of HMS Cumberland, a Royal Navy frigate destined for decommissioning that was sent to rescue British nationals from Libya a few days ago. Until very recently, the United States Navy has been almost entirely absent from the scene. ...

To read more,

enter your email address then choose one of the three options below.

Subscribe to World Politics Review and you'll receive instant access to 10,000+ articles in the World Politics Review Library, along with new comprehensive analysis every weekday . . . written by leading topic experts.