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Cypriots protest use of bases by UK in imperialist conflicts

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Picture: Pancyprian Peace Council Anti-imperialists and progressive Cypriots protest in front of the UK military base in Akrotiri. The British military has been using the Akrotiri and Dhekelia bases in Cyprus for its warmongering, such as in the recent bombing of Yemen, the writer says.

By Peoples Dispatch

On Sunday, January 14, anti-imperialist groups in Cyprus protested outside the UK bases in Akrotiri, against the use of bases on the island in the imperialist wars raging in the region.

In the protest called by the Pancyprian Peace Council, activists from various anti-war groups and political parties including the Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL), United Democratic Youth Organisation (EDON), and Communist Initiative of Cyprus, among others have participated and called for the ouster of foreign military bases, from the Cypriot soil.

Protesters expressed solidarity with people of Palestine who are under relentless US-backed Israeli bombardment and called for an immediate ceasefire.

The Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus won independence from the British in 1960. However, Britain retained the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia and some other military installations.

According to reports, on Friday, January 12, British warplanes, which had taken off from Akrotiri airbase on the island, carried out several air strikes, along with US warplanes, targeting Houthi areas inside Yemen which co-ordinate the Red Sea blockade against Israel.

In protest of Israel’s ongoing genocidal war against Gaza, Ansar Allah in Yemen announced in December that they would not allow ships destined for Israel to pass through the Red Sea, until the latter ceased its war against Palestinians in Gaza. With the intensification of their Red Sea blockade against Israel, as well as the significant impact on trade, the US announced “Operation Prosperity Guardian” to “protect” the Red Sea trade route.

Progressive, anti-imperialist sections in Cyprus have long protested the continuing presence of British forces in Cyprus, especially military bases, which they consider extremely detrimental to the peace process in the politically divided Cyprus and also makes Cyprus a party in the imperialist conflicts in the region.

While addressing the mobilisation on Sunday in front of the Akrotiri Base, Tasos Kostea from the Pancyprian Peace Council has said that Cyprus is a living example of how military bases do not solve problems, do not offer stability and security, but further militarisation and perpetuate tension.

“The bombing of Gaza, under the pretext of Israel’s right to self-defence, and the bombing of Yemen under the pretext for hacking incidents in the Horn of Africa, without the permission of the United Nations Security Council, constitute serious violations of international law and crimes against civilians,” Kostea added.

“Foreign military bases, as in our own country, are an anachronism, a remnant of colonialism that we must deal with vigour and consistency. Foreign military bases have no place in a modern and ethnically dominated society. Permanent, sustainable, lasting and just solution to the Cyprus problem cannot exist without the departure of British bases and the completion of Cyprus’ independence and territorial integrity.”

On January 15, in its statement, Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL) has demanded that the government “must protect Cyprus and its people and ensure that our country not only has no complicity in the bloodshed of Gasa, but also demands from every international forum an end to the war and Israel’s compliance with international law and UN Resolutions”.

This article was first published on Peoples Dispatch