In 1974, a flotilla set sail from Turkey. No, it wasn’t destined for the Gaza coast carrying thugs and jihadists masquerading as human rights activists – as ill armed Israeli commandos discovered to their cost. No, this was a flotilla of naval ships sailing towards Cyprus as a full fledged invasion force, illegally employing U.S. arms and equipment.
Later, after Greek Cypriot resistance had been crushed in the north of the island, Turkish forces began to ethnically cleanse almost half of the island from its Greek population, The Turkish military employed hundreds of U.S. tanks and airplanes and 35,000 ground troops, with the result being a land grab by Turkey of 37.3% of Cyprus. Turkey later sent additional flotillas to the island; ships containing 150,00 Turkish settlers who proceeded to colonize the land after some 200,000 Greeks had been driven out and made into refugees.
The capital city of Cyprus, Nicosia, remains today a city divided with barbed wire marking the border like an ugly scar. Though relatively quiet today, pockmarks still cover the walls where bullets struck civilians and snipers held sway. This was how Jerusalem and its Jewish residents also suffered during the illegal Jordanian occupation from 1948 until 1967. This division of the city left its eastern half and the biblical and ancestral Jewish homeland of Judea and Samaria, known by the world as the West Bank, under Arab occupation.
In 1948, the Jewish population of Jerusalem’s Old City were expelled by the British officered Jordanian Arab Legion. Only in 1967 were they able to reclaim their homes throughout the eastern half of the Holy City and in the ravaged Jewish Quarter after Israel was forced to fight a defensive war against Jordan, Egypt and Syria. Fifty seven ancient synagogues were desecrated by the Arabs and Jewish gravestones in the Mount of Olives were torn up and used as latrines by the Arab Legion.
Just as now Nicosia is a city divided against itself, so too was Jerusalem before its liberation and reunification. In Cyprus, churches were desecrated and left in ruins. Cyprus and Israel both now endure Turkish aggression. Turkey, with its new found Islamic triumphalism and alliance with the Islamic Republic of Iran, has become a threat to the Jewish state and has become even more obdurate towards any hope of a peaceful settlement with the Greeks in divided Cyprus.
It is interesting to note that just as Britain held and abused the terms of the Palestine Mandate conferred upon it with the express agreement to establish within much of its borders a Jewish National Home, so too did Turkey’s occupation of Cyprus. Its use of the terms Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot came to be viewed as a classic “divide and rule” tactic.
Britain and the U.S. helped formulate in the United Nations what became known as the Annan Plan, named for the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan. But this plan was grossly unfair to the Greek population of the island. Most problematic was the document’s inability or unwillingness to address the core issue: Turkey’s original and premeditated invasion and aggression.
During their reign, the Ottoman Turks occupied vast areas of the Middle East, Eastern Europe, the Balkans and Greece including Cyprus. They held their empire from 1517 to 1917 and in that time, as Islamic states have always done to their non-Muslim populations, treated them as dhimmis; discriminated against, second class citizens.
Throughout the long years of occupation, the dhimmis often suffered horrendous crimes committed against them, including in Cyprus. For example, massacres of Cypriot civilians occurred throughout the island and in the city of Famagusta a massacre of the Greek Christian population broke out with the public hanging of Archbishop Kyprianos, three Bishops and Greek Cypriot dignitaries in Nicosia.
Many Christians and Jews were treated as second class citizens with no right to hold office in the Ottoman state. They were discriminated against and forced to pay the , the onerous tax paid by all “infidels” to the Muslim authorities. It was, and remains in some Muslim territories, a veritable protection racket enshrined in Sharia law.
Some Jews who faced expulsion or conversion in Spain and Portugal during the Catholic Inquisition of Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492 and thereafter, converted in mass public events to remain in the Iberian peninsula. However, most retained in secret their Jewish faith in order to retain their beliefs. Similarly, many Greek Christians in the mainland and in Cyprus converted to Islam but secretly these “” continued to worship in underground churches and keep Greek culture alive.
In 1978, the Turks sold Cyprus to the British in order to replenish their dwindling financial reserves. Turkey was already fast becoming known as the “sick man of Europe” and would later ally itself with Germany during the First World War, resulting in the destruction of the Ottoman Turkish empire and the liberation of vast territories - including the liberation in 1917 of Jerusalem.
The 1923 ended any notion of a legitimate Turkish claim to the overwhelmingly Greek populated island. After World War 2, many British territories began to seek their independence from the Crown. In 1947, the Indian sub-continent was partitioned between the largely Hindu state of India and a smaller bifurcated Islamic state of East and West Pakistan. The result was a bloody conflict between the two religions. East Pakistan later became present day Bangladesh.
In Mandatory Palestine, a territory which had never existed in all of recorded history as an independent, and certainly not an Arab independent state, the Jewish community had supported Britain during the war against Nazi Germany, but had also struggled for its own independence in the tiny territory left to them after Britain’s earlier betrayal of the Mandate in 1921/22. In this, Britain arbitrarily removed from the Mandate all the relatively vast territory east of the River Jordan up to the borders of the newly formed Iraqi state and created yet another artificial Arab state – now known as the Kingdom of Jordan.
The Cypriot people also demanded to be freed of the British yoke following the example of other Crown Colonies and territories. But Turkey reneged on the earlier treaties and a campaign of violence and a land grab was instituted, funded by Turkey.
Cyprus finally gained its independence from Britain on 16 August 1960. In December 1963, Turkey sent commandos into northern Cyprus. Despite UN and international condemnation, Turkey mounted indiscriminate air strikes using chemical weapons and napalm on civilians. And in 1974, we know what took place – a full scale Turkish invasion.
In a moral world it would be eloquent justice for flotillas containing true humanitarians to sail towards Turkey to publicly demand restoration of the national integrity of Cyprus and removal of all Turkish military occupation; of the rights of the Kurdish people for an independent State of Kurdistan; of full admittance of the horrors perpetrated against the Armenian people; and for Turkey to come to its senses regarding the embattled State of Israel by accepting the Jewish state’s inalienable right to defend itself against Arab and Islamist aggression emanating from Gaza.
To this day Turkey is ratcheting up its Islamic ambition to restore the old hateful Ottoman Turkish empire and Caliphate instead of showing any remorse for the atrocities that it and the Ottoman Empire perpetrated against the occupied non-Muslim peoples. It refuses more than ever any recognition or acknowledgment of its crimes against humanity in the past and in the present.
Meanwhile, the Obama Administration, the United Nations, and a deeply immoral world looks on in silence as yet another flotilla of lies and violence prepares to set sail from Turkey and Iran to create a maritime pipeline of advanced and ever lethal missiles for Hamas in Gaza to use against Israeli civilians.
Contributor Victor Sharpe is a freelance writer and author of Volumes One and Two of Politicide: The attempted murder of the Jewish state.