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The truth about the Cyprus problem > Beware of Israelis and Turks > I January 3, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Occupied.

What the world can learn from Cyprus
By Joel Bainerman   December 19, 2006
Joel Bainerman has been thinking about Middle East political and economic subjects since 1983. His research studies and published archive can be viewed at www.joelbainerman.com. Related Link > http://web.israelinsider.com/Views/10103.htm

While most Israelis have never given it much thought, one of Israel ‘s closest neighbors is by far its best friend in the region.

I just returned from a visit to the tiny nation-state of Cyprus and was amazed to find out how much the Cypriots not only like Israel, but admire our country. The two countries have something important in common: They think of themselves and aspire to be part of Europe (Cyprus already is a standing member of the European Community), and not “Middle Eastern”.

To better understand the Cypriots, we need to first explore what happened back in the summer of 1974. Why did Turkey invade the independent nation of Cyprus and continue to occupy it for the next 32 years? Why has there been no organized campaign to stand behind the Greek Cypriots and demand that Turkey remove its occupying forces? Why do the hearts of “liberals” worldwide not bleed for Cypriots as they do for “Palestinians”?

I never gave these questions much thought, such as how the 1974 Turkish invasion took place, until visiting Cyprus. The origins of the conflict in Cyprus were never high on the agenda in my high school or university history class.

For those of you in the same boat, here are the answers:

The “Cypriot conflict” began back in the mid-1950s when the British Colonial Office decided that Cyprus had immense geo-strategic significance. The British realized that he who controls Cyprus can dominate most of the Middle East’s air space (which was proven correct in the Anglo-French-Israeli invasion of the Suez Canal in 1956).

This geo-strategic significance put the British in conflict with a small, but well-motivated groups of Greek Cypriots who either wanted Cyprus to be independent, or to be merged into Greece as were other Greek islands. Ethnic conflict with the much smaller Turkish population (about 30% of the total island population) led to periodic fighting. At no time in its history did Cyprus ever belong to the modern nation of Turkey .

In 1959, the British cooked up a constitution for power sharing between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, but also generously granted themselves total sovereignty over a portion of the island. The result was the creation of the independent Republic of Cyprus . When fighting continued between Turkish and the Greek Cypriots in the mid-60s, the administration of U.S. President Lyndon Johnson got involved in the conflict. The United States saw Turkey (which had been part of N.A.T.O. since 1952) as being a more important future ally than Cyprus .

Another view of what happened is given by Brendan O’Malley, co-author with Ian Craig of “The Cyprus Conspiracy”, perhaps the only book every published to offer a true history of the events that took place in Cyprus from the early 1960s through the 1974 invasion by Turkey.

O’Malley claims: “While most people think the ‘ Cyprus problem’ begins when the Turks invaded in 1974, its origins are in the early and mid-60s when the U.S. began its involvement in the region”.

As Craig and O’Malley tell the story, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger conspired with the Greeks and the Turks to first foment a coup in Cyprus using right-wing groups aligned to the then military dictatorship in Greece, which enabled Turkey to invade the island on the grounds that they were “protecting the ethnic Turkish population” (none of whom were Turkish citizens).

At the same time, the Nixon administration had been paying Turkey not to grow opium, or at least that is what The New York Times told us, claiming it was part of the White House’s “war on drugs” (the first “war on drugs”, not to be confused with the Reagan-Bush “war on drugs” in the 1980s). Craig and O’Malley say that the Turks asked the U.S. if they would mind if Turkey invaded Cyprus . Kissinger then told the Greek military dictatorship that the U.S. would not mind if Greece invaded Cyprus. This is how the events unfolded.

In addition to occupying the entire top third of the island, as a result of the Turkish invasion about 70% of the Republic’s economic capacity was confiscated, about $4 billion (in l974 dollars). This included real estate, all major water resources, the main port, highly productive agricultural holdings, and hotel properties, much of that concentrated in the resort town of Farmagusta on the eastern coast.

Following the 1974 Turkish invasion over a third of the 650,000 Greek Cypriots became refugees. Embarking on what they called a “Reactivation Effort”, within seven years all of these refugees lived in permanent homes and were gainfully employed, without any U.N. agency involved in the process. (“Palestinians” could take a few lessons from the Cypriots when it comes to helping oneself not be refugees anymore and staying off the U.N. dole).

Despite Cyprus having been lost a third of its territory to a foreign invader ( Turkey ), within 20 years the Greek Cypriot nation built a prosperous and efficient island nation state which provided for all the needs of its million or so inhabitants and foreign residents. Cyrpus has a huge tourism industry, offshore financial industry, and a complete industry catering to retirees from the U.K. and Europe.

Cyprus’s rags to riches story is nothing short of a miracle. In just a few decades this tiny industrious nation with its highly educated population (Cyprus has the highest per capita number of university graduates in Europe and the third highest in the world) built world class industries in transportation, shipping, banking and telecommunications. Today the G.N.P. per capita income is over $15K. All of this was done with no external aid from anyone, least of all, the United Nations.

I hope that every “Palestinian” reads those last two sentences more than once.

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