Libya has been exercising its jurisdiction over the Gulf of Sirt for a long time.
Only some States have expressed their reservations to Libya’s above-mentioned claim.
The reasons for these reservations were either political as in the case of the US, the
UK, and Israel , or due to the fact that some of the countries such as Malta, Tunisia and Italy have a coast bordering the Mediterranean Sea close to Libya. Similar reservations were made by the US and the UK when Italy asserted a claim over the
Gulf of Taranto which, as with the Libyan claim, also reservations were made when
Russia and Canada asserted claim over Peter the Great Bay and the Hudson Bay respectively.
In this regard, the US Navy has conducted many manoeuvres within the Gulf, but
Libya had defended its rights in the Gulf, engaging in armed clashes with US.
In conclusion, geographical considerations may lead to considering the Gulf as
internal waters of Libya, since they are surrounded by Libyan land on three sides. The
geographical shape and history therefore supports the Libyan legal claim that it is
historical and internal water and part of Libya’s territory.
It is noteworthy that some Mediterranean States have recently undertaken national
initiatives to extend their jurisdiction by claiming an EEZ (Cyprus, Egypt, Morocco,
Syria and Tunisia). It is time for Libya to do the same and to proclaim a Libyan EEZ
extending up to 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the
territorial sea is measured. Where parts of the said Libyan EEZ would overlap with
parts of the EEZ of any other State having opposite coasts to Libya such as Italy,
Greece and Malta, the delimitation between the Libyan EEZ and the EEZ’s of other
States should be effected by agreement in order to achieve an equitable result. In the
event of the absence of an agreement, the Libyan EEZ should not extend beyond the
median line. This is, in my opinion, the only option remaining for Libya.