Turkey’s New Drone Base, A problem in Cyprus

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. Initially, Turkey used its northern Cypriot drone base to conduct surveillance as its seismic exploration vessels explored for gas and oil in Cypriot waters but, as it has upgraded Lefkoniko, it has moved many attack drones such as the Bayraktar-TB2 onto the base.

Biden, Blinken, and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin should immediately transfer to Cyprus Patriot Missile batteries to defend its territory and should also provide to Cyprus jamming technology to hamper if not bring down any drones launched from Lefkoniko. Simply put, Cyprus deserves the right to defend itself.

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