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Updated January 20th, 2024 at 17:19 IST

Cyprus's Government Faces Backlash After UK Uses its Bases in the Nation to Attack Houthis

Protests erupted last week after RAF Akrotiri was used as a launch pad for Typhoon fighter jets conducting targeted airstrikes on Houthi strongholds in Yemen.

HOUTHI
Representative image. | Image:AP
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The Cyprus government is under increasing scrutiny as criticism mounts over the utilization of British military bases on the island for staging airstrikes on Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen by UK and US forces.

President Nicos Christodoulides has come under fire from activists who accuse him of overlooking the potential risks the EU's most easterly state may encounter due to its involvement in military operations. According to a report from The Guardian, both the US ambassador and the British high commissioner briefed the Cypriot president on the imminent military actions in Yemen before the initial round of airstrikes took place last week.

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“There are ever more war planes taking off every day,” warned Tassos Costeas, a prominent Greek Cypriot peace activist. “The dangers of Cyprus becoming a target are evident.”

Here is what you need to know

The military installations, retained by the British since Cyprus gained independence in 1960, operate as sovereign overseas territories beyond the reach of the republic, covering 3% of Cyprus's landmass or 98 square miles.

How has Cyprus' government responded?

In response to mounting concerns, the Cyprus government's spokesperson, Konstantinos Letymbiotis, emphasized on Tuesday that the eastern Mediterranean island was not directly involved in any military operations. He indicated that, according to the bases' treaty of establishment, the UK was not obligated to inform Cypriot authorities about activities within the facilities. "The government is in constant communication with the UK within the framework established in relation to the bases' use," he clarified.

Protests erupted last week

Protests erupted last week after RAF Akrotiri was used as a launch pad for Typhoon fighter jets conducting targeted airstrikes on Houthi strongholds in Yemen. The airstrikes were in retaliation for attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea.

As the controversy deepens, Cyprus finds itself at the center of an international debate over the use of its strategically located British military bases in military actions, prompting questions about the potential risks and implications for the EU's most easterly member state.

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Published January 20th, 2024 at 17:19 IST

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