The reason for the signing of the act on lifting the Cyprus arms embargo conditionally by Ronald Trump should be seen beyond the events that have taken place in the past few months. Turkey’s disagreement with a request by the US not to use S-400 missiles on the one hand and Ankara’s political resolve to continue its search operations and its decision to drill in the Mediterranean Sea to extract hydrocarbon resources on the other hand and, most importantly, to establish a Turkish Naval Air Base in northern Cyprus and dispatch of the first domestically made drone to Ganchi Qala Airport in northern Cyprus have finally raised eyebrows from the EU as well as the United States.
But despite all this, the most important factor that prompted Washington to lift the embargo is about provoking Israel’s and Egypt’s interests in the region, which led Turkey to conclude a security-military and border agreement with the Libyan government in recent weeks and establish maritime boundaries which prompted US allies in the eastern Mediterranean to exert political pressure on the White House, as Crete is considered the center of gravity of energy transmission lines, including electricity and gas between Israel, Egypt, Greece and Cyprus. According to the agreement signed between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Fayez al Sarraj of Libya, the island is in a passive position and the strategic goals of those countries will be harmed.
The Turkish National Assembly recently ratified the Ankara government’s security and military agreement with the Libyan National Unity Government signed on November 27 whereby the agreement assumed a legal and lawful status. The agreement also opened the way for Turkish troops to be heavily deployed in Libya and Turkey would be able to secure its national rights and interests under the maritime agreement. Of course, Sarraj is also under pressure and threats as a national consensus government by Khalifa Haftar. By supporting Sarraj, Turkey will have a physical presence to fight the forces opposed to the Libyan government and, most importantly, will be able to reach north of Africa from East Mediterranean and change the balance of power in its own favor.
As it is known since the events of the Turkish-Greek conflict in 1974 and the presence of Turkey in the north of the island, serious tensions have emerged between the two Turkish and Greek communities in Cyprus. Meantime, Athens and Ankara have not remained unaffected by this process. By dispatching UN peacekeepers to the area and preventing military build-up on the island, the United States had imposed a weapons embargo on the government of the Republic of Cyprus since 1987, but now, under the terms outlined, Trump has signed the act on energy cooperation and security in the eastern Mediterranean. He also lifted the sanctions on Cypriot arms sales, subject to certain conditions and had the Congress approve it as well.
What is very interesting is that the act emphasizes cooperation between the United States and the Greek government and the Republic of Cyprus and Israel in the Eastern Mediterranean. As the law states, the United States must ensure energy security among its allies. Considering the importance of constructing the South Line and the Adriatic Interconnect energy line that will reduce energy dependence on Europe via Russia is one of the key goals in the recent move, namely Turkey’s shift towards Russia and non-resolution of tension between Washington and Ankara plus Turkey’s explicit stance against Israeli political-security views have led the US to press Turkey.
The law also stipulates the presence of more than 40,000 Turkish troops on the Island of Cyprus and Ankara’s serious efforts to obtain advanced defensive-offensive and strategic weapons from Russia, as well as the Turkish government’s special commitment to remain on the island which has prompted the necessary support to the government of the Republic of Cyprus. On this basis, the United States has considered one condition for the lifting of the arms embargo of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus, which clarifies the basic meaning of the law. The condition is that the Government of the Republic of Cyprus does not grant the right to Russia military ships to use its ports.
Concurrent with the actions of the United States, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias also met and negotiated with Khalifa Haftar earlier this week in a trip to Benghazi, which is a serious response to the National Unity Government and cooperation with Ankara. It is noteworthy that the National Unity Government is recognized by the international community.
Finally, the results of evaluations show that the Western governments cannot tolerate the military-security-political empowerment of the Turkish government and consider its movements provocative. Therefore, it seems that the eastern Mediterranean waters are becoming hotter.