Cyprus’s Syrian challenge

The Syrian crisis presents a challenge for all countries in the wider region and Cyprus does definitely not represent an exception. For the island is in danger of finding itself between a rock and a hard place, under entirely opposite requests or actions by allies.

As Foreign Minister Kasoulides admitted, the United Kingdom will not request permission for using its Akrotiri military base as a hub for operations against the Syrian regime, should the British military wish to do so. The fact that Mr Kasoulides made sure that his government will be “informed or consulted with” before any action concerning Cyprus is taken by London, does not hide the fact that Nicosia will remain exposed to diplomatic pressures if planes charging from Akrotiri launch strikes on Syrian targets.

An unintentional involvement of Cyprus in the Syrian operation would make it even harder to deal with a potential Russian request for Cypriot assistance in a counter-operation of supporting the Assad government. The island maintains a special relationship with both the UK and Russia; so who does the government side with and who’s left disaffected?

The dilemma of course would only be set if the Russians made such a request. According to military analysts, despite concerns raised, the huge potential problem of a Russian attempt to immediately get access to a Cypriot port or airport during the Syrian crisis would be considered direct hostile action by the West, so at least at this point should be regarded as a non-existent scenario.

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(Photo: Nasa)