Turkey Warns Cyprus to Stay Away from Israel’s Wars

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Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan argued on Monday that Cyprus was becoming an “operation center” in the Israel-Gaza war, warning its estranged Mediterranean neighbor not to become a part of the larger conflict.

“We frequently see in intelligence reports that certain countries use the Greek Cypriot Administration of Southern Cyprus as a base, particularly for operations in Gaza,” Fidan told Turkey’s HaberTurk television in an exclusive interview. He didn’t clarify the nature of intelligence reports.

“When you become a part of the ongoing wars in the Middle East, this fire will come and find you too,” Fidan added. “And as we share the same geography, it will then come and hit us too. Our advice to them is to stay away from the conflict.”

Turkey doesn’t recognize the EU-member Republic of Cyprus on the island, which has been ethnically divided between Turkish and Greek Cypriots since a Greek military coup and Turkey’s ensuing military intervention in 1974. The breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is only recognized by Ankara.

Turkey has accused the Greek Cypriot administration of allowing two British bases on the island to be used for US arms shipments to Israel in the war in Gaza. Neither the Republic of Cyprus nor the United Kingdom has acknowledged the bases’ usage in the war except for humanitarian purposes.

Fidan described the use of the bases as logistics bases for humanitarian aid as “an activity that conceals their status as a military base.”

The Turkish foreign minister’s warning on Monday came less than a week after Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah threatened Cyprus last Wednesday, claiming they had been informed that Israel could use Cyprus’ airports and bases if Hezbollah struck Israeli airports.

Such a prospect “would mean that the Cypriot government is part of the war, and the resistance will deal with it as part of the war,” Nasrallah said. His remarks came in response to the Israeli military’s announcement that “operational plans for an offensive in Lebanon were approved.”

Cyprus’ President Nikos Christodoulides, in turn, denied the claim, saying his country was “in no way involved” in any military operations in the region or elsewhere.