SUPER-PATRIOTS almost cried with joy this week as news emerged about Kyproulla’s blossoming military cooperation with Israel, which was a big boost to our delusions of military adequacy. Now that our National Guard is carrying out joint military exercises with the Israel Defence Force (IDF) it has been upgraded by association.
The National Guard might consist of civil servants in army fatigues, but now it has joined forces with the region’s most formidable army, it could become a feared military machine, as long as the actual fighting was assigned to the Israeli soldiers. Such an alliance is certain to make Turkey take us seriously, or at least that is the implication being peddled.
Phil was ecstatic about the exercise on the Troodos mountains, waxing lyrical on its front page about how energy “gave the push to the development of cooperation among Cyprus, Greece and Israel,” and adding: “this cooperation has broadened in fields that until recently many considered inconceivable, like that of defence.”
It reported that Israel’s defence ministry released photographs of the “joint exercise of special forces from Cyprus and Israel on Troodos, which in Cyprus caused negative reactions, but in the broader picture of the strategic alliance it had added weight.” How many grams it did not say.
ISRAELI news website Haaretz carried a long report about the Troodos exercise, under the headline, “Target: Hezbollah? A rare look at Israel’s largest ever commando exercise in Cyprus.”
The introduction reported: “Training with the Cypriot army involved 500 Israeli combat soldiers, 10 helicopters, jeeps and even dogs from the Israeli army’s canine corps in the Troodos mountains which are similar to Lebanese terrain.”
Four hundred of the soldiers were from the Egoz commando unit and there were 200 members of the Israeli airforce, probably manning the 10 Blackhawk helicopters that arrived in Paphos for the exercise. “The Israeli army didn’t specify the identity of the ‘enemy’ simulated in the exercises, but the mountains and hills in the area are rather similar to the Mount Lebanon range in Lebanon,” reported Haaretz.
But what role did our National Guard play in the joint exercise? According to Haaretz: “An Egoz reserve company, as well as dozens of soldiers from a Cypriot commando unit, played the role of the ‘enemy forces’ in the exercise. The Cypriot air force deployed anti-aircraft systems to simulate the threat posed to air force helicopters by missiles.”
In other words, the National Guard was just helping out our strategic ally by acting as the ‘enemy forces’ for target practice. Our dozens of soldiers were the extras. Lt. Colonel Gilad told military reporters that the Troodos mountains were ideal for the exercise as it was “an area that is not very populated and without spelling too much is comparable to our operational areas”.
HOW INAPPROPRIATE that the military exercise was taking place while Prez Nik was on a three-day working visit to the Lebanon which has operational areas that are rather similar to the Troodos mountain range. While there, he engaged in his trademark threesome diplomacy which reportedly received a positive response.
The trilateral meeting of Cyprus, Greece and Lebanon will supposedly take place before the end of the year at around the same time the fifth trilateral meeting with Israel and Greece has been penciled in. The fourth took place in Thessaloniki on Thursday with the three leaders signing a declaration (nothing tangible) about the East Med pipeline that in theory will take Kyproulla’s and our strategic ally’s natural gas to Greece.
Who will pay for this multi-billion dollar pipeline that most oil industry people have dismissed as economically unviable, the threesome did not decide nor did they put it on the agenda of the fifth meeting that will deal with the diasporas of the three countries. Maybe the members of the diasporas will offer to pick up the East Med bill.
ALITHIA columnist Alecos Constantinides asked a pertinent question regarding the threesome with Lebanon in his Friday article: “What will we do now that we are upgrading our relations with Lebanon? If Lebanon’s Hezbollah asks to send commandos here for an exercise, what would we do?”
He was being facetious, but he remembers the seventies and eighties when all the Cyprus newspapers, including Phil, were fanatically against Israel, always siding with the PLO and the rest of Israel’s enemies. Back then, Constantinides was the only journalist in Kyproulla, who refused to take part in the relentless Israel-bashing by the moral majority and for this crime he was regularly accused of being a Mossad agent.
Anyone who disagrees with the majority is automatically christened an agent. Some of his colleagues that made these idiotic accusations are now ecstatic and wetting their pants about our strategic alliance and military cooperation with Israel. They may even have submitted applications for jobs as Mossad agents now that weight has been given to the strategic alliance.
DR ELENI Theocharous was quick to put aside her pro-Palestinian sympathies (in 2010 she was on the Gaza flotilla that was raided by Israeli soldiers on its way to taking medical supplies to Palestinians) and jump on ‘Israel is our saviour’ bandwagon.
“Given the shape the geostrategic, geopolitical scene of the Near East has taken, the Republic is obliged to forge agreements of cooperation with countries of the region,” she said before sounding a note of skepticism. If Cypriot soldiers “were really exercising, then the benefit is huge”, she said, before it became known they were the ‘enemy forces’.
This is what she told this paper in an interview four years ago about the Gaza flotilla: “We weren’t going to save the Palestinians with two or three or 10 tons of medicines, we weren’t going to stop the attacks by the Jews [sic], we weren’t going to break the isolation of Gaza. It was a symbolic message – that Gaza isn’t alone, and the Jews need to know there are people who won’t take their bullshit, and Europe has obligations towards Gaza, towards the oppressed!”
This was before the geopolitical and geostrategic scene of the region had taken shape.
THREE cheers for Mike Spanos who was not prepared to betray his neo-liberal economic beliefs in order to become Akel’s presidential candidate. At least this was the reason given – disagreements on economic issues – when Spanos and comrade Andros jointly and joyfully announced the former would not be the commies’ independent candidate.
Anyone that did not know what was going on would have thought they had just won the elections seeing their big smiles and good cheer when they met the press to announce their divorce. Maybe this was because there were no children involved and Akel graciously did not ask Spanos for alimony, despite being in dire financial straits.
Was Spanos so committed to his neo-liberal views that he could not water them down a bit to secure Akelite backing, or was there another reason for the break-up of the relationship? Could the reason have been that the businessman had used Ercan airport (Tymbou) for his business trips to Turkey? When asked about this in the Sigma TV interview he avoided answering, preferring to express his outrage about allegations he dyed his hair that appeared in social media.
In his Wednesday column in Politis, Sener Levent gave a date on which Spanos had travelled through Ercan. The commies must have felt their candidate would be crucified in the campaign, if he had actually used the illegal airport for his travels.
THE FIASCO was another illustration of Akelite incompetence, as if we needed reminding of it. They had agreed to back Spanos, had him approved by the politburo and the central committee twice, sent union reps to his company to check if he was a good employer and gauged grassroots’ sentiment.
How could they have forgotten to ask him about his views on how to run the economy? Our establishment knew he was a neo-liberal, free market champion, so how had this escaped the notice of the comrades that monitor everything and everyone?
We suspect the comrades would have turned a blind eye to this if the Tymbou issue had not arisen because Mike satisfied the two most important conditions. He was in favour of a settlement and most importantly he was wealthy enough to fund his election campaign. Akel has fallen on hard times and does not have the three or four millions euros needed to mount an effective election campaign.
Do not be surprised if the independent candidate the comrades eventually find also comes from the class of the super-wealthy.
PAPHITE super-opportunist Yiorkos Lillikas, the darling of Mother Russia’s ambassador Stan Osadchiy must have been overjoyed to hear the Spanos news because he had been at pains to sell himself to the comrades as their independent candidate. Osadchiy has also been lobbying Akel pushing Yiorkos’ name.
On Friday, the Alliance of Lillikas announced their leader will have a meeting with the Akel leadership on June 26 to discuss the elections, stressing that his candidacy was “non-negotiable”. You have to admire his chutzpah in trying to force the comrades to back him.
Being the political charlatan that he is, in a speech to campaign workers on Friday he even softened his stance on the Cyprob, in the hope the comrades were listening. He told workers that his “anxiousness and desire is for a fair and viable solution of the Cyprus problem to be found as soon as possible”. It suffices to say that Tassos was also pledging to work for a Cyprus settlement based on the Annan plan when he was Akel’s presidential candidate.
Yiorkos also qualifies on the money front. But even if he does not want to reach into his own pocket to fund his campaign, I suspect Mother Russia would be more than happy to pick up the bill if it would help her chosen one become president.
GIVEN the difficulties Akel is encountering in finding a presidential candidate we thought we would suggest an advert to be published in the press. It could be taken out by an auditing firm to avoid any embarrassment.
Our client, a large political party with a long and constructive presence in Cyprus public life is desperately looking for an upstanding and respectable citizen to stand as its candidate in the 2018 presidential elections.
The successful candidate must be:
1) A proven supporter of a solution to the Cyprob
2) Very wealthy with at least €4 million in cash in his bank account that he is willing to spend on an election campaign
3) Presentable and a good public speaker
4) An economist or successful businessman
5) Capable of processing party instructions and implementing them without asking questions
The following will be considered added advantages: average intelligence, no charisma, no sense of humour, poor dress sense.
Neo-liberals, Nato supporters, rejectionists and women need not apply because our client is not an equal opportunities employer.
Applications with full CV must reach our offices before Akel’s meeting with Yiorkos Lillikas on June 26.
PREZ NIK’S brief visit to Kyproulla at the end of this week allowed him to meet Espen Barth Eide on Friday and discuss the ‘common text’ that has to be finalised before he agrees to go to Crans-Montana for the final showdown on the Cyprob.
More worrying was the news that while in Thessaloniki for his threesome, he met Greece foreign minister Nikos Kotzias with whom, according to Tass news agency, he “discussed the different scenarios in view of the Geneva conference”. The report was sent before Crans-Montana was announced as the venue.
The only scenarios he would have discussed with Kotzias were escape scenarios. They intend to smuggle picks and shovels into the conference hall in order to dig an escape tunnel if their procedural objections do not yield the desired results.
Follow Patroclos on Twitter @Coffeeshop1991