Wednesday, 15 July 2009

'Alexander has been admitted to hospital'

Below is the article I posted last 15 July on the anniversary of the 1974 coup against President Makarios, which resulted in the barbaric Turkish invasion of Cyprus and the island's de facto partition. I don't have much to add to my initial description of the events that fateful Monday; except to refer to a point that arises from Dinos Avgoustis' article – Αλέξανδρος εισήλθε εις νοσοκομείο (Alexander has been admitted to hospital) – which appeared in yesterday's Simerini. ('Alexander has been admitted to hospital' was the chilling signal given by the junta's henchman-in-chief on Cyprus, Brigadier Michalis Georgitsis, to begin the coup against Makarios).

Avgoustis reminds us that Makarios, in the run-up to the coup, despite all the information reaching him that junta leader Dimitris Ioannides had decided to overthrow the legitimate government of Cyprus, refused to believe that the junta would be so stupid, reckless and unpatriotic to try such a move, knowing, as it surely must have known, that it was bound to provide Turkey with the pretext it had been looking for to invade the island. 'There are no madmen in the Greek military,' Makarios is reported to have confidently said. 'Not even Ioannides.'

But Makarios was wrong, catastrophically wrong. There were madmen in the Greek military, whose patriotism was subordinated to their own instinct for survival and to those foreign interests they had become dependent on. In hindsight, it is clear that Makarios should never have risked open conflict with the junta by sending such a provocative letter. The junta's days were numbered and a smarter option would have been to be patient and let it die a natural death and not give it the opportunity to take Cyprus down to hell with it.

The coup against Makarios
In the above clip from Michalis Cacoyiannis' definitive film Attila '74: The Rape of Cyprus (see right, in menu bar, to watch film in its entirety), the events leading up to the Greek junta's coup against President Makarios on 15 July, 1974 are described, particularly the letter Makarios sent to the Athens government complaining about the activities on the island of the National Guard, led by Greek officers loyal to the junta, and the gangster EOKA B outfit – established by Grivas in 1971, at the instigation and with the support of the junta and the CIA – whose raison d'être was the overthrow of the democratically elected Cypriot government.

The junta's response to Makarios' letter of 2 July was the coup. The coup's main objective was the murder of Makarios and the installation of a regime that would implement the long-established US-inspired Acheson plan to partition Cyprus between Greece and Turkey, who would then turn the island into an anti-communist NATO protectorate.

Of course, what happened was that Makarios survived the coup, Greek Cypriots resisted the junta and the Americans double-crossed their lackeys in Athens, having reassured them initially that any coup against Makarios would not be countered by an invasion from the Turks – who, the junta was led to believe by the Americans, understood that the coup was an internal Greek matter and were content that the junta would soon satisfy their demands for some form of partition of Cyprus, with maybe Kastelorizo thrown in for good measure.

The junta, having failed to deliver its end of the bargain to the Americans – i.e. Makarios' head and a Cypriot puppet leader with some legitimacy on the island and internationally (someone like Glafkos Clerides and not the man the junta eventually plumped for, the notorious EOKA B gangster Nikos Sampson, who the Americans, nevertheless, began the process of recognising as Cyprus' legitimate head of state) – quickly found itself abandoned by its Washington sponsors, who turned to backing the Turkish horse; the Turks having found themselves quite unexpectedly in a position to impose partition on Cyprus on their own terms.