By Jean Christou
POLICE are taking additional measures for the protection of the US embassy in Nicosia, news reports said yesterday.
Increased security measures were also being taken at the Israeli embassy due to the situation in the Gaza strip.
The state news agency said the measures at the US embassy were put in place following the US military campaign in Iraq. On Wednesday, President Barack Obama called the Islamic State a “cancer” with a bankrupt ideology. Not long after he spoke, the Pentagon said US aircraft conducted 14 air strikes in the vicinity of Iraq’s Mosul dam, destroying or damaging militants’ Humvees, trucks and explosives.
On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said the IS was “a very real threat” and that all neighbouring countries were at risk, including Cyprus. He also said Nicosia would “not object to the use of the British bases for any military operation against a terrorist organisation like this one which is the worst kind that we have ever seen.” Britain is currently using the base at RAF Akrotiri to carry out humanitarian missions to Iraq.
According to Simerini newspaper yesterday, a coordinated effort is underway between all relevant ministries and the US embassy to give legs to the ‘strategic partnership’ spoken about by US Vice President Joe Biden during his visit to the island in May.
At the time, energy and energy security – given the island’s hydrocarbons find and the presence of US firm Noble Energy – was the focus of the ‘partnership’. But since the advent of the Islamic State more recently, the focus has shifted to the overall terrorist threat.
The paper cited multiple sources in its article but none on-the-record, for obvious security reasons, it insisted.
It said the foreign ministry was coordinating with the defence and justice ministries, and talking to the embassy on issues involving the provision of equipment and technology, and the exchange of information. The US has in the past given Cyprus certain technologies and has help train some Cypriot officers at the FBI.
Simerini said the three ministers had planned an initial meeting next week and it was clear that all three had prepared a plan for increased cooperation with the US.
The defence ministry, it said, would address issues of equipment and the training of elite military units, while the justice ministry would discuss upgrading bilateral agreements for the exchange of information, and the preparation of training programmes for police. It also spoke of attaining state-of-the-art security from the US for entry and exit to the Republic.
It was also in the best interests of the US to upgrade Cyprus due to the island’s strategic position and stability in the region and from where threats could be controlled or limited by the US, said the paper.
It cited senior government sources saying that if anything proved that the US needed a stable, reliable partner in the region it was the threat two days ago by the Islamic State to the US to “drown all of you in blood”.