‘We may shoot Turkey’
At a recent meeting in the Greek Cypriot presidential office, the topic of discussion was cooperation between Israel and Greek Cyprus in hydrocarbon riches off the island. Eager to get onboard with the Israelis in the “we spit farther” contest with Turkey, Greek Cyprus made whatever compromise was demanded by the Israelis long ago. Natural gas was found; though the quality and for now the quantity were lower than originally hoped for. The time has come to discuss the modality of future cooperation.
As a step to demonstrate Israeli goodwill, the Tel Aviv government has just discreetly issued a ban on all investments in Turkish Cyprus, delighting the Greek Cypriot presidency. It was time to ask for payback.
For some time, Israel and the Greek Cypriot government have been negotiating details of a facility where the natural gas found between Israel and the island would be liquefied before being shipped to Europe, as an alternative to Russian gas. Reluctantly, the Demetris Christofias government has agreed to allow de facto establishment of a third sovereign base on the island. As is known, Britain has two sovereign bases, Dikelia and Akrotiri. This third one will be an Israeli one. According to what has been discussed so far, the facility where natural gas will be liquefied will be owned by Israel and the land on which it will be built will be considered “Israeli territory.” Israel will not transfer technology to Greek Cypriots, but instead the Greek Cypriot government has agreed to Israeli demands that the gas liquefying plant be operated and protected by Israeli citizens.
Don’t raise your eyebrows, there is more to come.
For the protection of the “gas plant,” Israel will need to deploy up to 5,000 armed personnel. Thus, the area to be allocated to Israel for the gas plant will be large enough to construct the plant and a town for the Israeli workers to be employed at the plant as well as the around 5,000 armed personnel deployed on the island. If there are only a few settlements with a population of more than 10,000 or so on the island, it might be said that the new Israeli base will indeed be a new high-security base city.
Israelis, as a result of the fashionable “kick me and I will kick you” antagonist play between Turkey’s Islamist government and the rather standoffish nationalist administration in Tel Aviv, appear willing to go to bed even with the devil if that would hurt Turkey. But not all Greek Cypriots would be carried away with aloof romanticism. A participant in the meeting asked the million dollar question: If Turkey is sincere that it would protect its and Turkish Cypriot interests at any cost, and some sort of hostile attack was directed at the gas plant, what would happen?
The answer was reportedly abrupt: We shall then retaliate with bombardment.
But, bombardment of what? Turkey? The answer was even colder: We shall teach the Turks they ought to have limits. The facility will be Israeli territory, we shall not leave any hostility unanswered.
Naturally I am relaying what I was told and the exact wording might have been different.
Now, two questions: 1) Should Cypriots allow Israel to have a sovereign base on Cyprus, which in fact amounts to an Israeli invasion? 2) Will it be possible to talk about disarmament or Turkish troop withdrawal if Israel is allowed to deploy troops on the island?