Right After Turkish Navy Kicks Israeli Vessel out of Cyprus’ Waters: Washington Angers Turkey by Ending Cyprus Arms Embargo

December 19, 2019

< 1 min read

Divine retribution? The U.S. Congress voted on Tuesday to lift an arms embargo on Cyprus, angering Turkey.

This decision comes just days after Turkish navy ships intercepted an Israeli research vessel in Cypriot waters two weeks ago and forced it away.

The move comes as part of a massive defense bill that U.S. President Donald Trump is likely to sign, the AFP reported.

The embargo on Cyprus dates back to 1987. It was meant to prevent an arms race between the island’s Greek majority and Turkish minority supported by the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) led the effort to end the embargo, with Menendez saying, “With Cyprus seeking to deepen its strategic partnership with the United States, it is in our national security and economic interest to lift these outdated decades-long arms restrictions that are no longer helping U.S. security objectives.”

Tensions in the Mediterranean have grown after Turkey concluded a maritime agreement with Libya, according to which it claims that portions of discovered gas reserves in waters claimed by Greece and Cyprus.

The bill would maintain restrictions on some weaponry and technologies unless Cyprus certifies that Russia is not allowed to dock its military vessels for servicing, noted the report.

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