By Panagiotis A. Karampelas*
A controversial US decision to just “temporarily and partially” lift the arms embargo imposed on the Republic of Cyprus, was announced on Tuesday personally to the Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiadis, by the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
This was announced during a press conference, given by telephone to the Greek correspondents by the Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, Matthew Palmer and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Defense Trade in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM), Mike Miller.
The partial lifting will be valid only for one year -with just the possibility of renewal- and will concern exclusively “non lethal” systems…
According to the reports, the officials noted that the US approach will be step-by-step, not linked to developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, nor does it signal a -positive apparently- change in the US standing position on the Cyprus issue.
This decision, however, in this conjuncture in the Eastern Mediterranean, seems to transmit the exact opposite message to both the Greek side (Greece and Cyprus) and Turkey than the one the US is trying to communicate.
When Turkey is heartbeats away from shattering the south-eastern part of NATO, when even the usually absent in international affairs EU is ready to impose sanctions against Turkey, Washington, which has refrained from imposing sanctions in accordance to its own Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) for the Turkish S-400 deal with Russia, chooses to…wink at Ankara practically saying, “don’t pay attention to what I say to the others about you, I’ve got your back”.
Exactly, how concerned are the people in Ankara going to be when they read these news? Does anyone think that Erdogan and his people are going to be angry or worried? That they are going to scrap their aggressive plans for the Eastern Mediterranean?
Of course, they will whine about it and pretend they are alarmed, simply because they are spoiled and they preferred the full embargo, that will come back, though, in one year’s time anyway…
One can only wonder what are the “non-lethal” systems Cyprus is now allowed to buy from the US; high-tech military-grade windshield wipers? Military socks?
What is even more frustrating is the fact that the US actually attempts to “sell” this as a move the Greek side should genuinely be grateful for.
So, the question still stands: What is the terrible crime Cyprus has committed that the US still cannot find the heart to forgive? Being invaded by good Turkey?
The answer “Turkey is important” has seized to be relevant or convincing, especially after Ankara has demonstrated in no uncertain way that above all its unreliable, a liability and a destabilizing factor in the wider area of the Eastern Mediterranean, the Middle East, the Balkans as well as the northern Africa.
One thing is for sure, though: In times like these, people tend to count their true friends…
* Panagiotis A. Karampelas is a strategic analyst & crisis management specialist.