Mike Rubin is an analysis for The National Interest presented the problem that the new Turkish drone base in Cyprus p[resents for the US interests as well as the wider region of the Eastern Mediterranean. And what he writes, Ankara is not going to like… Read below his interesting analysis.
Kind words will not bring peace to the Eastern Mediterranean; the only strategy that will work in the region is to demonstrate to Erdoğan that Turkey has far more to lose from scrapping the status quo than it has to gain.
Addressing an audience of young people on May 19, 2021, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan explained Turkish military interventions in Cyprus, the broader Eastern Mediterranean, and Iraq, as well as his support for Hamas. “Turkey is not 780 thousand square kilometers for us; Turkey is everywhere for us,” he said. He then announced that, on July 20, he would visit northern Cyprus: “The messages we will give from Northern Cyprus concern not only the island but the whole world.” While Erdoğan hinted in his speech that he would announce a major gas find in Cypriot waters, he may also announce new unilateral moves on Varosha, a once-vibrant resort city evacuated against the backdrop of Turkey’s invasion and ethnic cleansing campaign.
Turkey invaded the island in 1974, and less than a decade later established a puppet state—the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus—in the occupied zone. While the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) has now served on the island for more than a half-century, neither the UN nor various Western initiatives have resolved the key issue: Turkey’s continued occupation. While some Turkish apologists justify Turkey’s presence as protection to defend against supposed Greek ethnic cleansing, this ignores the fact that the Greek regime whose efforts to annex Cyprus sparked Turkey’s actions fell within days of the Turkish invasion rendering null any reason for Turkish troops to be on the island. The international community, meanwhile, continues to recognize the entirety of Cypriot waters to belong to the Greek Cypriot government.
While Erdoğan is prone to bluster, his current moves on Cyprus are different. On December 16, 2019, Ismail Demir, the head of Turkey’s Defence Industry Directorate, announced that Turkey had flown its first drones from the western Turkish province of Muğla to Lefkoniko Airport—or Geçitkale Air Base, as Turkey has restyled it. Turkey has continued to transform Lefkoniko into a drone base. As Erdoğan explained, “now there are two airports in Cyprus, one is Ercan which our citizens in Turkey know, and another one that was there before but which now has a new name [Geçitkale] to which we transfer our unmanned aerial vehicles.”
Read more: The National Interest