The sounds of new oil drills entering below the surface of the earth to excavate natural resources have often been met with mixed reactions from people in close proximity to the operation. In Cyprus, they are being met with Turkish warships. According to Ekathimerini, these ships are expected to perform military drills with live ammunition in Cyprus's exclusive economic zone.

This development is a blow to the international community who have spent a lot of time and money attempting to assist with unidi=fcation of Cyprus. Over the years since the mid-1970's, the USA has channeled more than $1 million in assistance to the two communities provides approximately $24 million annually to reduce tension and promote peace between the two communities.

What's Up With Cyprus?

Cyprus has been divided between a Greek south and Turkish north since 1974 when Turkish forces invaded following an attempted Greek coup. Decades of reunification talks seem to have gotten nowhere. Earlier this month, a conference called by Antonio Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General ended in disappointment as the two sides failed yet again to reach an agreement.

Even U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence could not bring about a consensus, despite speaking on the phone with leaders from both sides. The sting of this failure has only been heightened by the fact that Total, a French oil company, has begun drilling in oil fields in the Greek-Cypriot territory. Turkish Cypriots have not been allocated any share of the revenue, and thus Turkish warships loom in the foggy distance.

It is clear that the continuation of division between Greek and Turkish Cyprus will only leave dark clouds hanging over the island, and indeed, the international community. That’s why it’s critical to consider the facts on the ground that will govern any possible reunification. Unfortunately, in doing so, we find that these dark clouds will soon turn to full-blown storms as the prospects of reunification are quite dim.

The White House has called for "secure a settlement that would reunify Cyprus as a bizonal, bicommunal federation to the benefit of all Cypriots,” yet such a settlement seems further away than ever.

There's a new Turk on the block

Start first with Turkey. It is widely acknowledged that the government in Turkish Cyprus, led by Mustafa Akinci, answers primarily to the will of Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkey, after all, is the only country that recognizes its very existence. This means that Erdogan’s rapidly fraying relationship with the EU could get in the way of any reasonable settlement.

Previously, Turkey was willing to bring more chips to the negotiating table in Cyprus as a method of easing its accession to the EU. Yet Ankara’s remaining motivation to join the 24 other EU capitals is increasingly in doubt. After winning a referendum that would give him powers to dissolve parliament and appoint top-level officials, cementing his executive presidency, Erdogan seems comfortable to craft his country to his own preferences, not the EU’s.

This spells dark days for a potential peace agreement: if the EU cannot pressure Turkey to remove their troops from the northern half of the island perhaps.

However, it is unlikely that Erdogan will come to this decision of his own volition.

It's all Greek to these Cypriots

The next cause for concern lies on the island itself. Greek and Turkish Cypriots seem to have become desensitized to the ever-present conflict on their island. The reasons are clear. According to the Economist, 48 percent of young Greek-Cypriots have never even been to the Turkish side.

This sort of apathy makes reunification seem less important, and thus less likely to occur. It also interferes with politics. June talks failed after the Greek-Cypriot president, Nicos Anastasiades rejected a Turkish proposal to remove a significant number of troops off the island, on the grounds that Turkey could still intervene legally if it felt threatened.

Mr. Anastasiades is also facing a tough re-election battle in 2018. In an electorate filled with voters who are not terribly concerned about reunification, he knows that a less-than-perfect deal will not be accepted, and thus has adopted a hard line.

The Unites States and United Nations are no closer to finding a solution, but instead, use taxpayer dollars on an unsustainable stalemate. The storm clouds will only grow darker, as Greek and Turkish Cypriots fumble around in the abyss, searching for peace.