Turkey is still occupying almost half of the island of Cyprus.

According to Wikipedia:

United States arms embargo on Turkey and the Republic of Cyprus

After the hostilities of 1974, the United States applied an arms embargo on both Turkey and Cyprus. The embargo on Turkey was lifted after three years by President Jimmy Carter, whereas the embargo on Cyprus remained in place for longer,[164] having most recently been enforced on 18 November 1992.[165] In December 2019, the US Congress lifted a decades-old arms embargo on Cyprus.[166]

Why did the USA revoke the arms embargo or sanction on Turkey only after 3 years of the invasion of Cyprus?

  • NYTimes "State Department said that repeal was “commendable and statesmanlike action” that would “allow the United States to proceed in an atmosphere of renewed trust to work toward strengthening of our relations with the countries of the eastern Mediterranean.”"
    – MCW
    Commented Jun 11, 2020 at 17:13
  • @MarkC.Wallace, makes no sense to me. The language is cryptic and doesn't tell the reason.
    – user44219
    Commented Jun 11, 2020 at 17:17
  • 1
    Here is a whole article about this "purposeful inconsistency". I'll answer if I have a chance to read it.
    – Brian Z
    Commented Jun 11, 2020 at 17:37
  • 2
    That's one of the reasons it is a comment, not an answer. I don't have time to develop a full answer, but I had a few minutes to start the research. My hypothesis at this point is that there are two key elements there. 1) State Department, and 2) strengthen our relationships. Apparently the administration prioritized our relationship with Turkey over that of Cyprus, probably because Turkey plays a stronger role in US cold war strategy. I would have to do research to support that hypothesis.
    – MCW
    Commented Jun 11, 2020 at 17:39
  • 1
    Here's another article. Seems pretty complex in the details but typical in essence. Contradictory policy priorities between executive vs. legislative branches, etc.
    – Brian Z
    Commented Jun 11, 2020 at 18:08

1 Answer 1


Turkey was and to a certain degree still is of pivotal strategic importance for US interests in the region. As a member of NATO,Turkey, among other considerations:

  • controls access between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean and thereby limits the potential of the Soviet Black Sea Fleet,
  • is proximate and increases military access to Middle Eastern oil fields, Persia and Israel, the latter of growing importance in US considerations for the region during the time,
  • is proximate to the Caucasus as a strategic route from the USSR towards the Middle East,
  • has considerable military power on her own, eclipsing Greece and/or Greek Cyprus. Greece leaving the NATO between 1974 and 1980 was the lesser of two evils.
  • held/holds NATO military and radar bases, missile silos etc.

Alienating an ally of such importance and perhaps even forcing her closer to the Soviet sphere of influence was not in the strategic interest of the US in the framework of the Cold War. An arms embargo, while perhaps temporarily necessary to placate other US allies and public opinion would undermine those interests.


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