Every American administration since 1974 has looked the other way as Turkey thumbs its nose at the U.S. and the U.N.
"We are all prisoners of knowledge. To know how Cyprus was betrayed, and to have studied the record of that betrayal, is to make oneself unhappy and to spoil, perhaps for ever, one's pleasure for visiting one of the world's most enchanting islands. Nothing will ever restore the looted treasures, the bereaved families, the plundered villages and the groves and hillsides scalded with napalm. Nor will anything mitigate the record of the callous and crude politicians who regarded Cyprus as something on which to scribble their inane and conceited designs. But fatalism would be the worst betrayal of all. The acceptance, the legitimization of what was done — those things must be repudiated. Such a refusal has a value beyond Cyprus in showing that acquiescence in injustice is not 'realism.' Once the injustice has been set down and described, and called by its right name, acquiescence in it becomes impossible. That is why one writes about Cyprus in sorrow but more — much more — in anger."
— Christopher Hitchens,
author of "Hostage to History: Cyprus from the Ottomans to Kissinger"
I disagree often with British-born journalist Christopher Hitchens, but I admire a man who keeps the Cyprus issue in the forefront. Hitchens has written extensively about the 1974 invasion of Cyprus by Turkey and the refusal of Turkey to remove its occupation troops from the island despite condemnation from every world organization, including the United Nations.
In a powerful essay titled, "Talking Turkey: An ally we're better off without," Hitchens states: "If any regime in the world has collected a bigger sheaf of resolutions condemning its international behavior than the Iraqi one, it must be the Turks (followed perhaps by the Israelis)."
He continues: "Since 1974, Turkey has patrolled a line of forcible partition drawn by its own troops — the first occupation of the territory of another European state since 1945. It has expelled almost one-third of the original Greek inhabitants and further violated international law by importing settlers and colonists from the Anatolian mainland. It has been condemned for murder, rape, and theft by innumerable European court rulings. So abysmal are conditions in its sweatshop colony in northern Cyprus, policed by the notorious thug and proxy Rauf Denktash, that the majority of Turkish Cypriots have recently joined vast demonstrations calling for an end to his rule and a federal brotherhood with their Greek co-citizens. Turkey could not hang on to Cyprus for a day without vast tranches of American military aid that shield it from the real cost of the annexation. This aid should be cut off without any further shameful delay: It makes the United States an accomplice in a gross violation of international law and human rights."
Hitchens, who writes for Vanity Fair magazine and has published several best-selling books, continues to demand justice for Cyprus. Everyone who believes in the rule of law should join in the effort to force Turkey to leave Cyprus.
This week marks the 33rd anniversary of the brutal Turkish invasion of Cyprus, a tiny island-nation (about the size of the state of Connecticut) in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. The invasion followed an abortive coup against the president of Cyprus, Archbishop Makarios, by the military junta that controlled Greece at the time. Turkey launched its invasion of Cyprus "to restore constitutional order." Thirty-three years later, nearly 40 percent of the island remains under Turkish occupation.
The United Nations has passed more than 60 resolutions demanding an end to the Turkish occupation of Cyprus, but the Turks have ignored all of them.
Every American administration since 1974 has looked the other way as Turkey thumbs its nose at the U.S. and the U.N. Billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars pour into Turkey every year as the powerful Turkish lobby continues to cajole Congress into writing a blank check for the rogue Muslim nation.
(According to Hitchens, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger played a key role in the invasion of Cyprus to keep Turkey happy during the Cold War, when the U.S. viewed Turkey as an important listening post because of Turkey’s strategic location near the Soviet Union.)
Turkey is no friend of the United States. The reason so many Americans have died in Iraq is because Turkey refused to allow the U.S. to fly over its air space to invade Iraq from the north in 2003, as U.S. military planners requested. Despite George W. Bush's efforts to bribe Turkey into allowing U.S. forces to invade from the north, Turkey refused to cooperate.
This allowed tens of thousands of Saddam loyalists to flee north and hide until the initial invasion was complete. These very same militants are now waging a guerrilla war against the U.S. For that we have Turkey to thank.
Tony Phyrillas is a leading conservative political columnist and blogger based in Pennsylvania. He is a veteran journalist with 25 years experience as a reporter, editor and columnist for several newspapers. Phyrillas received recognition for column writing in 2010 from the Associated Press Managing Editors, in 2007 from Suburban Newspapers of America and in 2006 from the Society of Professional Journalists, Keystone Chapter. A graduate of Penn State University, Phyrillas is the city editor and political columnist for The Mercury, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning daily newspaper in Pottstown, Pa. In addition to The Mercury website (www.pottsmerc.com), his columns are featured on more than a dozen political websites and blogs. Phyrillas is a frequent guest (and occasional host) on talk radio and has been a panelist on the "Journalists Roundtable" public affairs TV program on the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN). Phyrillas was named one of the '10 Leading Greek-American Bloggers in the World' in 2007 by Odyssey: The World of Greece magazine. BlogNetNews.com ranked Phyrillas the Most Influential Political Blogger in Pennsylvania for three consecutive years (2007-2010). You can follow Phyrillas on Twitter @TonyPhyrillas