The U.S. Navy is conducting a major exercise in the Mediterranean at a time when tensions are worsening between Turkey and Cyprus over drilling rights.
The amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima arrived off the coast of Israel on March 6, to participate in exercise Juniper Cobra 2018.
The USS New York and USS Oak Hill are also participating in the exercise that will last until March 18 in a region stretching from northern Israel to southern Cyprus.
Although the exercise was planned months ago, some commentators speculate that the U.S. naval activity in the Mediterranean may be linked to ExxonMobil’s drilling for gas in Cyprus’ economic waters.
ExxonMobil is sending two exploration vessels to the waters off Cyprus where Turkey last month blocked an Italian ship from looking for new gas deposits.