The so-called Cyprus Peace Council staged a demonstration outside Akrotiri base on Sunday to protest against its use by the UK government for flying military supplies to Israel and helping its war on Gaza. The demonstration was poorly attended, attracting just a few hundred people, even after Akel and its youth wing Edon gave their public backing to it and urged supporters to attend.

By the time the demo was staged, the CPC, which only campaigns against wars involving Western countries – it viewed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a peace operation – found another cause to protest about. The US and UK launched air-strikes on Houthi targets in western Yemen, as a warning to Houthis, who had been attacking merchant and commercial ships in the Red Sea.

The Peace Council and Akel were outraged that the four Typhoon planes which carried out the air-strikes had flown from Aktrotiri, and took great exception to the British bases in Cyprus being used as the launch-pad for attacks on another country. Britain had no business involving Cyprus in its war against the Houthis by using the bases, which were a remnant of colonialism and should be handed back to the Republic, it said.

This line was also taken by newspaper writers, putting pressure on the government to stop Britain, as if this were a realistic policy. The reality is that British bases have been used in other conflicts in the area and there is no legal way the Republic could stop this because these are sovereign bases, over which it has no authority. It is an unacceptable situation in this day and age and perhaps the government could try to reclaim the bases territory through legal means, but it is doubtful it would happen any time soon.

The government deflected the criticism of doing nothing even suggesting that it had been kept informed about the British plans. Spokesman Konstantinos Letymbiotis said on Tuesday the government was “in constant communication with the UK within the framework established in relation to the bases’ use.” He repeated that “the Republic has no connection or involvement with the military operations”, which everyone is aware of. Not even the Houthis would think that they were being attacked by Cyprus because the Typhoons flew from Akrotiri.

As regards the attacks by the US and UK on the Houthi targets, they had been coming and were not unjustified. Although the Iran-backed Houthis claimed they were firing at ships linked to Israel and would stop their attacks when Israel stopped its war against the Palestinians, their attacks caused major disruption to shipping and world trade. Since November 19 there have been 26 attacks on shipping in the Red Sea, one of the main routes of world trade. About 15 per cent of world shipping passes goes through the Red Sea and shipping companies are now sending their ships round Africa, which is more costly and time consuming, to avoid attacks. There is already talk of supply chain problems and higher freight costs that will push inflation up again.

The disruption has also affected the Cyprus shipping sector and our economy. If the air-strikes eventually stop the Houthis’ attacks, they would have worked in the interests of Cyprus, even though it is doubtful the anti-West brigade would ever concede this point.