Reader comment on item: Turkey in Cyprus vs. Israel in Gaza
in response to reader comment: Cyprus and Ianus
in response to reader comment: Cyprus and Ianus
Submitted by Ianus (Poland), Aug 6, 2010 at 18:13Hi, dhimmi no more !
You ask very important questions and raise fundamental issues about Cyprus and the causes of its tragedy. To clarify them a broad study would be no doubt required.
But let me say briefly a few things about "what really happened" in Cyprus in 1974 in my modest opinion. I see the Turkish invasion of 1974 as a US-backed operation. Let me explain why I think so.
It is a well-known fact that Turkey had been planning the invasion and occupation of a large part of Cyprus long before 1974. It must have originated even long before their failed attempt to invade Cyprus in 1964. This first Turkish attempt to occupy the island is quite interesting and instructive and I'd like to look closer at what went wrong for Turkey in 1964 to understand what went "right" for it in 1974.
So I believe your question of "what really happened" might be posed differently : "Why could Turkey attack and occupy large parts of Cyprus in 1974 and couldn't do that in 1964 even though it did want to ?"
A tempting explanation , I think , is given by analyzing the letter of President Lyndon Johnson to Turkish prime Minister Ismet Inonu from June 5th, 1964 ordering the Turks to drop their plans to invade Cyprus.
After learning that the Turkey were ready to invade Johnson wrote a strong-worded letter to the Turkish Prime Minister. His arguments against the Turkish invasion are worth considering in detail to draw interesting conclusions and make comparisons to the events of 1974.
1/ First and foremost, the Turks could not act in matters concerning use of military force as they pleased . They were bound by "the commitment of your (i.e. Turkish I.) government to consult fully in advance with the United States" on such matters. They failed to do that in 1964 and were duly reprimanded and stopped.
So the first conclusion is that in 1974 the Turks must have consulted the US government in advance and got American consent to their action. What is more, the preparations for the invasion were not secretive at all. The Turkish invasion fleet leaving the port of Mersin was shown on British TV. The Turkish action provoked no angry letter of condemnation from Washington which it did receive from Moscow.
2/ The Turks keep telling us they acted "legally" in 1974 by just making use of their right to invervene under the Provisions of the Zurich-London Agreements. President Johnson exposes this argument as invalid , not to say fraudulent : "
" It is my impression that you believe that such intervention by Turkey is permissible under the provisions of the Treaty of Guarantee of 1960. I must call your attention, however, to our understanding that the proposed intervention by Turkey would be for the purpose of supporting an attempt by Turkish Cypriot leaders to partition the island, a solution which is specifically excluded by the Treaty of Guarantee. Further, that treaty requires consultation among the guarantor powers."
The second observation is that in 1974 the Turks used largely different - although not less fraudulent - arguments which they forgot as quickly as they conquered and occupied the territories.
So they used to tell at first that they wanted to a/ "restore the status of Cyprus" rendered invalid by the Greek coup d'etat, although it was their invasion that really was the only obstacle to restoring anything in Cyprus; b/ to "restore the overthrown government ", although when they learned Makarios was alive and wanted to come back to Cyprus they opposed it with fury ; c/ to avert "a danger of forced Enosis" , although Makarios' return was a guarantee there would be no enosis and d/ to carry out a humanitrian "peace operation" to save the Turkish Cypriots from death and destruction", although real carnage began only when the Turks landed on the island. The argument drawn from the Zurich-London Agreements was not so prominent and definitely wasn't exposed as invalid by any high-ranking US official , least of all by Kissinger.
3/ Furthermore, the Turkish invasion might mean an inter-NATO war between Greece and Turkey. Johnson writes :
" There can be no question in your mind that a Turkish intervention in Cyprus would lead to a military engagement between Turkish and Greek forces... Adhesion to NATO, in its very essence, means that NATO countries will not wage war on each other..."
The danger of war between Greece and Turkey was very acute in 1974 with total Greek mobilisation , something which didn't happen even during the Greek campaigns of 1919-1922 against Kemal's movement. Yet, somehow this obvious danger out of a sudden was no concern to the US policy-makers in 1974. In the meantime they had taken many steps to make any declaration of war on Turkey by Greece impossible. America sided with Turkey as NATO did. So a war on Turkey would mean a war on NATO. This is the reason why Greece left this organisation as a result of the Cyprus tragedy realising what sort of dirty trick had been played on her.
4/ It is interesting what Johnson writes about the grave international implications of the Turkish invasion .
" Furthermore, a military intervention in Cyprus by Turkey could lead to direct involvement by the Soviet Union. I hope you will understand that your NATO allies have not had a chance to consider whether they have an obligation to protect Turkey against the Soviet Union if Turkey takes a step which results in Soviet intervention without the full consent and understanding of its NATO allies."
Interesting observation which implies that in 1974 Turkey did consult both the US and NATO allies and got their support for its aggression. This is confirmed by a declassified NATO document [ SG/SD/WASHDC-12/526-D48/JULE74]wherthe the following is stated :
"The Assistant Undersecretary of state Sisco's visit to the Alliance, showed the decision of the American goverment to finish the Cyprus problem.
We agreed with Mr Sisco for supporting the Turkish army during the landing, as well as, in the violent expulsion of Makarios.
Secretaty General of NATO."
Attacking a neutral, non-aligned and Russian-friendly country (Makarios was denounced a communist by the rightists ) could be a risky enterprise. The Turks had to be cautious. They could rob the island only after getting full support and insurance of both US and NATO , i.e. something they didn't get in 1964, which guaranteed the Soviets would not move their troops against Turkey in fear of a concerted NATO action to defend the Turks.
5/ Last not least , the Turks had no right to use US-made military equipment freely but only with full US consent and according to strict regulations. Johnson explains :
" the bilateral agreeement between the United States and Turkey in the field of military assistance. Under Article IV of the agreement with Turkey of July 1947, your(Turkey's) government is required to obtain United States consent for the use of military assistance for purposes other than those for which such assistance was furnished. Your government has on several occasions acknowledged to the United States that you fully understand this condition. I must tell you in all candor that the United States cannot agree to the use of any United States supplied military equipment for a Turkish intervention in Cyprus under present circumstances."
Conclusion : the Turkish army had mostly American arms and equipment in 1974 and used them on Cyprus, so the Turks must have received the permission from America to use them against neutral Cyprus. After the invasion this fact caused a major scandal and embarrassment in America and led to a reluctant and temporary ban on arms shippings to Turkey but nobody though of kicking Turkey out of NATO.
Cynically speaking , why should they ? Turkey did a big service to NATO. The Turkish troops are NATO troops after all , aren't they ? Before 1974 Cyprus was a neutral, non-aligned country. In 1974 37% of its territory became a NATO-controlled territory as all those 40 000 Turkish soldiers stationed there are technically speaking NATO soldiers just as as the British soldiers on their military bases in Greek Cyprus are NATO soldiers too.
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