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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 01 June 2019
OPINION 24 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 1 JUNE 2019 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM The American Dream and Cyprus ANDREAS C CHRYSAFIS Cyprus is going through a geopolitical transformation it has never encountered before. Driven by indecisiveness and years of procrastination, alliance soulsearching and political charades, the day of reckoning has come home to roost! For better or worse the juggling of petty politics driven by political party interests has reached the end of its tenure. Mr Averof Neofytou, the Svengali of his pro-western right-wing DYSI Party with a calculating mind and insatiable ambitions of becoming the next President of Cyprus could not contain his exuberance and announced that: "Cyprus is a Western nation and belongs with the West". His exhilaration was prompted by a Press Release of the presentation of a bipartisan Bill in the US Senate by Senator Robert Menendez and Senator Marco Rubio to lift the arms embargo against the Republic of Cyprus and in so doing, establish: "The Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act of 2019" including a joint "United States-Eastern Mediterranean Energy Centre in the United States". After the announcement, Senator Robert Menendez did not waste time and paid a visit to Nicosia. He was received by a euphoric government and press media as if the American "Eagle has Landed." He met with President Anastasiades, Mr Neofytou DYSI leader, and the finance minister including other party leaders to explain America's new role on "regional security and energy matters". For the US, the alliance agreement signed recently between Israel, Greece and Cyprus has provided the perfect springboard for a greater and a more direct US involvement in the area. The proposed legislation would allow the United States to play a critical role in the region but also impose its influence on policymaking in Cyprus by: leveraging the US experience on offshore energy development; analysis of emerging geopolitical implications and threats from foreign energy acquisitions; seeking to update US strategy in recognition of consequential changes in the Eastern Mediterranean including the discovery of large natural gas fields". The Congress Report further states that: "The time has come for the US to deepen this cooperation and build on the constructive progress made by our allies to help ensure a secure Eastern Mediterranean". In life, nothing is for nothing but in politics; nothing matters more than self-interests! Then comes the "cherry on the icing" - the military sale of weapons worth billions to both Cyprus and Greece! Once the US sanctions are lifted, the armaments would be sold under the terms of the American Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and International Military Education and Training (IMET). The floodgates for political domination have now opened up! The Chairman of the US Congress Foreign Affairs Committee Mr Eliot Engel also visited Nicosia recently and said: "I want to do everything to continue to enhance the Cyprus-US relationship. With Russia's malevolent machination I think we are looking for friends who share our core values, democracy, and that is certainly here as well". It appears that the small island of Cyprus is entering into a new phase; one of uncertainty, militarisation and deeper IMF debt-subjugation at the cost of social programmes and higher taxation! In the absence of strong leadership, states often become victims of bad decisions by misguided politicians; this new political phase of Cyprus may turn out to be one of them! There have also been statements that the government is not only keen to join the NATO alliance but it also plans to start an arms industry and endorses the development of EU army. No eyebrows were raised in Parliament to question such a negative change in policy and government officials neither admit nor dismiss the reports! Like shifting sands the geopolitical map in the Eastern Mediterranean is ever changing and Cyprus finds itself smack in the middle of it all. Alliances are built and destroyed as quickly as they are created while powerful players determine the rules of engagement and re-draw boundary lines. The US has been vying for years to establish a strong foothold in the region but Turkey and Saudi Arabia, Syria and Russia and who knows how many others! The situation is certainly due to Russia and its infamous Dean Atchison Plan calling for a Makarios regime-change Greek Cypriots shun American presence on the island! The plan called for the Greek military dictators to oust President Makarios (which Henry Kissinger called the "Castro of the Med") and replace the government with a pro-American puppet regime – just like they did in Greece at the time. The plot was initiated and in the process, hundreds were killed during the coup followed by the Turkish invasion and occupation that has divided the island ever since! Betrayed, Cypriots' loyalty inevitably turned towards Russia for help on matters of defence, economy and political support. The Cyprus/Russia relations worked well and quite successful; too successful for some! Suffice to say the US/ EU did their utmost to destroy that strong relationship but in order to succeed, it was critically important to work with a devoted proAmerican leadership of similar minds. The Anastasiades government and DYSI Party hierarchy provided the one golden opportunity schemers were seeking. The discovery of hydrocarbon deposits inside the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Cyprus offered the US/EU the incentive and a perfect opportunity to oust Russian influence in Cyprus. The fact that no gas exploration licences were issued to Russian companies was not a coincidence but a strategic move. The plan was set in motion and the government did its utmost to facilitate EU demands on pretexts and a string of accusations of money laundering, bank illicit activities and more – as if angels operated EU or American banks! But for the plan to succeed it was necessary to shake up the economy and generate a dependency on IMF/EU Troika loans. Reducing nations to a pauper state through bank domination, unfair trading and taxation has always worked in the past and Cyprus was not any different. No sooner Mr Anastasiades has come to power, the President did not object to EUIMF/Troika's Bail-in plan. Without hesitation the government did the unthinkable; shut all the banks and stole everyone's money – first time ever in history! Personal, company and business accounts all met the same fate; Laiki bank was made bankrupt as well as the oldest Co-Op Bank; hundreds of Russian bank accounts were closed; killed the Russian tourist industry, the second-largest of the island; destroyed the island's housing market and the economic catastrophe was so devastating it ruined people's livelihoods. Pressure against Russia continued and instead of using the right to abstain, the Cyprus government decided to vote in favour of a EU/USled embargo against Russia over the Crimea/Ukraine crisis! This was the ultimate insult to a loyal friend and Russia reacted by imposing sanctions against Cypriot goods. The foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova in response to the government's political U-turn and stated: "Moscow would respond in case of a military build-up by the US in Cyprus" and warned that: "such a move would inevitably lead to dangerous and destabilizing consequences for the island." At the crossroads of a supply-gas route, EU-Cyprus has suddenly become "the Trophy" to an ever-hungry European energy market but especially for Turkey. The latter, feeling deprived of gas proceeds and political isolation for it's bad behaviour retaliated and so decided to invade the island; this time deep inside Cyprus's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Due to political ineptitude and lack of a strong defense strategy in place, the Cyprus government was unable to prevent Turkey's latest incursion. Yet, except for rhetoric no power in the west, the EU or the new American ally lifted a finger to stop Turkey's second invasion! On May 3, it positioned Fatih its exploration vessel to drill for hydrocarbons west of Paphos not caring if it was ostracized by the EU/US or not! The new unsavoury developments in the region appear to be the start of Cyprus' woes. Now that the Cyprus-US relations have been sealed, Cyprus could also find itself dragged into new adventures. If Trump's home advisers on the Middle East Vice-President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and National Security Adviser John Bolton – all hawks on Iran – get their way, a war between the two powers becomes more likely than unlikely! The possibility of such an Armageddon scenario, it's frightening indeed. Iran would retaliate and has announced that they are ready to defend the nation with all its military might. Unless defused, conflict between the two superpowers may erupt and drag other nations into Trump's war such as Israel, volatile. It would take a small incident by American or Israeli or Saudi agents to create a pretext for a US attack on Iran. The "Gulf of Tonkin" pretext on the USS Maddox triggered the Vietnam War in 1964; Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974 also under pretext! Everyone knows what happened in both of those cases; thousands of lives were lost because of war-mongering nations in the belief that Might is Right driven by the arms procurement industry. American or Israeli intelligence may already be involved in manipulating scenarios to justify a war against Iran as John Bolton (Trump's current advisor) did in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Misinformation and demonisation of perceived enemies has been a classic ploy for starting wars; a strategy used by the US in name of "democratisation". The arrival of US F-35 combat aircraft at RAF Akrotiri Bases it's not by accident and it's certainly not by accident that 1500 US troops were deployed this week in the Middle East. France has also secured a station for its navy at Mari Naval Bases in Cyprus to "service its warships" and has committed funding to renovate the facility and make room for bigger vessels. In the final end, USA has fulfilled its "American Dream" and secured a footing on the island – just another super power anxious to nibble away at the existence of the small island! But, the discovery of natural gas and lack of a dynamic national policy in place, Cyprus has become a fair game for all. Should citizens be concerned by war threats and military build up in their own country? They should! The island cannot afford to become a direct target or be used for steering military attacks against others? That's insanity in the making… * Andreas C Chrysafis is a UK-published author of: 'Andartes', 'Who Shall Govern Cyprus-Brussels or Nicosia?', 'Porphyra in Purple', 'Aphrodite's Sacred Virgins' and others in circulation worldwide. He is also the writer of over 400 published press articles and a strong advocate of democracy and human rights.
25 May 2019
08 June 2019