Showing posts with label Henry Kissinger. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Henry Kissinger. Show all posts

Friday, 22 November 2013

Karamanlis’ betrayal of Cyprus: ‘Greece cannot help you. You’re on your own.’



Above is an interesting item from RIK news broadcast this week in the aftermath of the death of former president of Cyprus Glafkos Clerides in which the prominent jurist Polys Polyviou talks about the period between the first (20 July) and second (14 August) phases of Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus in 1974.

The three-week ‘ceasefire’ was supposed to allow peace talks to proceed in Geneva between Britain, Turkey, Greece and the two Cypriot sides, while in fact Turkey used the hiatus to build up its forces on the island in preparation for a more decisive military operation, the first operation having failed to achieve its objectives. It was during the Geneva talks period that the Americans – even if we accept their claim that they were ignorant of the Greek junta’s coup against President Makarios and impotent to prevent the first Turkish invasion – provided encouragement and diplomatic cover to Ankara to complete the forcible partition of Cyprus.

At the Geneva talks, Glafkos Clerides was chief negotiator for the Greek Cypriot side and it’s worth drawing attention to Polyviou’s recollection of the interaction between Clerides and Konstantinos Karamanlis, who had assumed power in Greece following the fall of the junta.

Prior to going to Geneva, Clerides visited Athens for consultations with the Greek government.

Polyviou – who was part of the Cypriot team – says that in Athens, Clerides met with Karamanlis and minister of defence, Evangelos Averoff.

Karamanlis said to Clerides: ‘The situation is exceptionally difficult. Our armed forces are in a chaotic and deficient state. I can’t predict what will happen, but I’m 70-80 percent certain Greece cannot help Cyprus.’

Karamanlis’ advice to Clerides was to prolong the negotiations in Geneva in order to give Greece time to influence the positions of the major powers, which were favouring Turkey. Clerides responded to Karamanlis that, in his view, in Geneva the Turks were going to demand partition and that, in the event of the Greek Cypriots not agreeing to this, would resume hostilities to bring about their aim. Clerides asked Karamanlis what Greece proposed to do should Turkey resume military operations against Cyprus.

Karamanlis’ reply was: ‘Glafkos, I can’t tell you anymore than I’ve already told you.’

With the Greek Cypriots unwilling to accept the Turkish demands for partition and the Turks not prepared to further delay their military plans, Turkey broke off the Geneva talks. On 14 August, the Greek Cypriot delegation flew to Athens to seek the support of Karamanlis and the Greek government against what seemed imminent Turkish attack.

In a dramatic meeting, Polyviou recalls Karamanlis telling Clerides: ‘Greece cannot help you. You’re on your own.’

To which Clerides replied: ‘Mr President, in the name of God, can’t you offer us anything at all? I appreciate you cannot send land forces; but can’t you at least send a ship, something, anything, to divert the Turks?’

Karamanlis: ‘Glafkos, we cannot do anything.’

Clerides: ‘So what did [Greek foreign minister, Georgios] Mavros mean when he told us in Geneva, “in a choice between dishonour and war, we prefer war”? Why did he tell us this?’

Karamanlis: ‘I don’t know. I’m not Mavros.’

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Wikileaks: the Americans abandon Ioannides after shambolic coup against Makarios

Below is an interesting Wikileaks cable (original here) sent from the US Embassy in Athens to the US State Department detailing a meeting on 16 July 1974, i.e. the day after the Athens-engineered coup that overthrew President Makarios in Cyprus, between Greece’s junta leader Dimitrios Ioannides and the US ambassador to Greece, Henry Tasca.

It’s clear from the cable that Ioannides believed he had American support for the coup and that he is infuriated when it becomes clear to him that, with Makarios alive and the coup a shambles, the Americans were now not prepared to defend Ioannides’ putsch in Cyprus, which meant, it must have been obvious to Ioannides, there was now nothing to stop a Turkish invasion of the island, that, indeed, the Americans were sympathetic to such a development. Ioannides desperately seeks to assure Tasca that the coup was in American interests, ranting about Makarios and the imminent prospect of Cyprus ‘falling into the hands of the communists’. The cable also confirms that, inasmuch as Ioannides had thought through the coup, his immediate aim was not annexation of Cyprus to Greece, but the removal of Makarios in order to facilitate an understanding with Turkey on the future of the island, i.e. partition of the island between Greece and Turkey.


FOR THE SECRETARY

1. I USED SECURE RELIABLE CHANNEL DIRECTLY TO GENERAL IOANNIDES TO DELIVER MESSAGE REFTEL [Reference Telegram]. HE BEGAN BY EXPLAINING HE HAD PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM USG [US government]. AFTER EMISSARY HAD READ TWO PARAGRAPHS, IOANNIDES COMMENTED MESSAGE MUST BE SAME AS THAT AMBASSADOR HAD GIVEN KYPREOS [Greece’s foreign minister],IN WHICH CASE EMISSARY WASTING HIS TIME SINCE HE WOULD RECEIVE MESSAGE ANYWAY. EMISSARY EXPLAINED HIS JOB WAS TO FINISH READING MESSAGE AND HAD IT TO HIM AND WOULD DO SO, TO WHICH GENERAL IOANNIDES SAID FINE.

2. AFTER EMISSARY COMPLETED MESSAGE, THE GENERAL LITERALLY BLEW UP, JUMPED UP, BACKED UP, KNOCKED OVER A TABLE, BROKE EMPTY GLASS AND UTTERED A STRONG OBSCENITY. HE CONTINUED THAT ONE DAY KISSINGER MAKES PUBLIC STATEMENTS REGARDING NON-INTERFERENCE IN GREEK INTERNAL AFFAIRS AND A FEW WEEKS LATER THE USG SAYS "CONSISTENT WITH THE ABOVE PRINCIPLES..." AND THREATENS INTERFERENCE. NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENED IN CYPUS I (IOANNIDES) WILL BE BLAMED. IF I HAD PULLED THE TROOPS OUT THE FORMER POLITICIANS WOULD HAVE BLAMED ME FOR TURNING THE ISLAND OVER TO THE COMMUNISTS. SOME DAY USG WILL REALIZE THAT ON 15 JULY 1974 CYPRUS WAS SAVED FROM FALLING INTO THE HANDS OF THE COMMUNISTS".

3. GENERAL THEN CALMED DOWN, CAME OVER TO WHERE EMISSARY WAS SITTING AND SAID HE KNEW HE UNDERSTOOD HIM: DIPLOMATIC TALK IS TIME-CONSUMING BUT HE WOULD ANSWER IN AS DIPLOMATIC FASHION AS POSSIBLE BECAUSE HE HAD DIPLOMATIC MISSION.

4. GENERAL STATED THAT GREECE ALSO BELIEVED IN NON-INTERFERENCE AND IN A FREE, INDEPENDENT, SOVEREIGN STATE OF CYPRUS; GREECE WOULD ABIDE BY THE DECISION OF THE MAJORITY OF THE GREEK CYPRIOTS, MOST OF WHOM WERE NATIONALISTS, AND THESE NATIONALISTS WERE THE ONES WHO HAD MOVED AGAINST MAKARIOS. IT WAS IMMATERIAL WHETHER THESE GREEK CYPRIOT NATIONALISTS MOVED WITH OR WITHOUT THE PRIOR BLESSING OF GREECE OR WHETHER GREEK OFFICERS SUBSEQUENTLY ASSISTED THEM. AT THIS POINT HE WENT OFF ON A TANGENT STATING THAT NEITHER GREECE NOR THE GREEK CYPRIOTS HAD ASKED FOR ENOSIS, THAT GOT [government of Turkey] HAD OBVIOUSLY ACCEPTED THESE DEVELOPMENTS IN CYPRUS, THAT TURKS UNDER STOOD THAT THE MATTER WAS AN INTERNAL GREEK CYPRIOT AFFAIR.

5. ACCORDING TO IOANNIDES ONLY REAL RESISTANCE LEFT ON CYPRUS WERE COMMUNIST SUPPORTS OF MAKARIOS IN PAPHOS;THESE SUPPORTERS WERE EVEN SINGING EAM/ELAS SONGS. MOST OF THE REST OF ISLAND WAS IN NATIONALIST HANDS. GENERAL IOANNIDES STATED THAT EVERYONE SHOULD FORGET THAT MAKARIOS WAS AN INTERNATIONAL FIGURE, THAT HE WAS A NATIONAL HERO, THAT HE HAD SERVED SEVERAL USEFUL FUNCTIONS AND THAT HE WAS A MAN OF THE CLOTH; MAKARIOS HAD BECOME A ROTTEN PRIEST HOMOSEXUAL; HE WAS PERVERTED, A TORTURER, A SEXUAL DEVIATE AND THE OWNER OF HALF THE HOTELS ON THE ISLAND. TO PRESERVE HIS POSITION AND TO CONTINUE HIS ACTIVITIES, MAKARIOS WAS WILLING TO SACRIFICE SEVENTY PER CENT OF THE GREEK CYPRIOT POPULATION (ONLY THIRTY PER CENT WERE AKEL) AND ENTIRE ANTI-COMMUNIST TURKISH CYPRIOT POPULATION. IOANNIDES ASSERTED GREEK CYPRIOTS IN NATIONAL GUARD REALIZED THESE FACTS AND HAD BEGGED MOTHERLAND FOR CHANCE TO ACT AGAINST MAKARIOS; GENERAL CLAIMED THAT HE ONLY ASSISTED AFTER BEING PRESENTED WITH A FAIT ACCOMPLI.

6. AT THIS POINT EMISSARY INTERJECTED AND TOLD IOANNIDES POINT-BLANK THAT, WITH COUP ONLY TWENTY-FOUR HOURS AFTER HIS REPORTING TO US REGARDING A POSSIBLE OVERTHROW OF MAKARIOS THIS WAS VERY DIFFICULT FOR ANYONE TO BELIEVE. AT THIS POINT THE GENERAL AGAIN BLEW UP WITH ARMS WAVING, KNOCKED OVER SAME TABLE, BROKE A SECOND GLASS AND, BETWEEN OBSCENITIES, STATED THAT HE DID NOT PLOT AND ARRANGE THE COUP; INITIAL PLAN AND APPROACH WAS FROM GREEK CYPRIOT NATIONALISTS ON 13 JULY, AFTER LATTER LEARNED THAT GOG [government of Greece] INTENDED TO ACCEDE TO MAKARIOS' DEMANDS TO REDUCE NUMBER OF GREEK OFFICERS IN NATIONAL GUARD.GENERAL STATED HE COULD NOT ACCEPT AT LEAST 85,000 GREEK CYPRIOT REFUGEES  FROM MAKARIOS' TYRANNY. THIS COUPLED WITH MAKARIOS' ANTI-REGIME EFFORTS, MADE HIM DECIDE TO ASSIST GREEK CYPRIOT NATIONALISTS. THE GENERAL STATED THAT IF MAKARIOS SUCCEEDED IN KICKING  GREEKS OUT OF CYPRUS WHAT COULD KEEP HIM FROM THINKING HE COULD NOT KICK JUNTA OUT OF GREECE. AFTER DECIDING TO ASSIST GREEK CYPRIOTS, THE GENERAL CLAIMED THAT HE DID NOT TELL THE ARMED FORCES LEADERSHIP NOR ANY GREEK OFFICIAL. HE LIMITED KNOWLEDGE OF HIS INTENTIONS TO FEW SELECT OFFICERS ON 13/14 JULY; NO ONE ELSE KNEW AND EVEN AFTER EVENTS UNFOLDED ON 15 JULY ONLY A HANDFUL OF PEOPLE WERE AWARE OF HIS ROLE. IOANNIDES JUSTIFIED THIS ACTION BY ASSERTING THAT IF HE HAD BRIEFED NUMEROUS PEOPLE THEY WOULD HAVE RAISED SUGGESTIONS, ADVICE, ALTERNATIVES, AND POSSIBLE PROBLEMS. HE ADDED THAT HE ACTED ON SPUR OF THE MOMENT.

7. IOANNIDES DECLARED THAT GAME WAS NOW OVER FOR MAKARIOS, THAT GREEK CYPRIOTS HAD BOOTED HIM OUT, THAT NATIONAL GUARD AND GREEK OFFICERS HAD ASSISTED NATIONALIST GREEK CYPRIOT BROTHERS, AND THAT ONLY RESISTANCE NOW WAS IN PAPHOS. IN REPLY TO EMISSARY'S DIRECT QUESTION IOANNIDES STATED THAT MAKARIOS WAS STILL ALIVE  "BUT WHO CARES; HE NOW HAS NO POWER AND NO ONE, IF HE BELIEVES IN PRINCIPLE OF NON-INTERFERENCE IN INTERNAL AFFAIRS OF SOVEREIGN NATION WILL ASSIST HIM- NOT EVEN THE RUSSIANS UNLESS TURKS ASK THEM TO DO SO AND THE TURKS JUST DON'T CARE."

8. IN REPLY TO QUESTION WHETHER GREEKS WERE IN DIRECT TOUCH WITH TURKS, GENERAL STATED WE HAVE NOT BOTHERED THE TURKS; WE HAVE NOT DECLARED ENOSIS. TURKS AGREE THAT "THE PRINCIPAL THORN" (I.E., MAKARIOS) IS GONE AND, "I AM NOT IN TOUCH WITH THE TURKS." HE EXPRESSED VIEW THAT GREECE AND TURKEY COULD NOW PROCEED AT SOME FUTURE TIME TO SIT DOWN, TALK AND SOLVE THEIR DIFFERENCES. INDEED, ACCORDING TO IOANNIDES GREEKS MIGHT EVEN BE WILLING TO SHARE PROFITS OF PETROLEUM FINDS IN A JOINT EXPLORATION COMPANY; HOWEVER, GREECE WOULD NEVER SURRENDER AEGEAN CONTINENTAL SHELF BECAUSE THIS WOULD MEAN TURKISH CONTROL OF GREEK ISLANDS. HE ALSO EXPRESSED BELIEF THAT GREEK AND TURKISH CYPRIOTS COULD PROBABLY SOLVE THEIR DIFFICULTIES PEACEFULLY, QUIETLY AND AMICABLY. HE EVEN JOKED THAT IN A YEAR OR PERHAPS MORE REALISTICALLY TEN, THE TURKS MIGHT WANT TO SELL THEIR SHARE OF CYPRUS FOR INCREASED PERCENTAGE OF PETROLEUM RIGHTS. AGAIN IN REPLY TO DIRECT QUESTION, GENERAL IOANNIDES STATED THAT HE WAS NOT IN CONTACT WITH ANY TURKISH OFICIAL; HOWEVER, HE ADDED THAT TURKS WERE "OFFICIALLY AWARE" THAT ENOSIS WAS NOT THE OBJECTIVE AT THIS POINT AND THAT GREEK CYPRIOTS DID NOT INTEND ANY BLOODY ACTION AGAINST TURK CYPRIOTS.

9. WHEN ASKED FOR SPECIFICS ON MAKARIOS, IOANNIDES STATED THAT ACCORDING TO GREEK INFORMATION, MAKARIOS WAS ALIVE AND IN HANDS OF BRITISH AT EPISKOPI BASE, HE HAD GONE THERE WITH ASSISTANCE OF CANADIANS AND BRITISH ON ISLAND.

10. AT THIS POINT IOANNIDES SUMMED UP AS FOLLOWS:
A) HE STRESSED THAT HE TOO HAD A GOD; HE WAS DEFINITELY NOT ANTI-AMERICAN; "EVEN A JACKASS NEEDED A POST TO BE TIED TO" AND IN HIS CASE IT WAS THE U.S.

B) HIS HASTY DECISION ON 13 JULY MIGHT HAVE BEEN STUPID. INSTEAD OF ABANDONING CYPRUS AND LETTING U.S. WORRY ABOUT ITS FATE AND POUR MONEY DOWN ANOTHER RATHOLE, HE HAD ALLOWED LOVE OF COUNTRY, A MORAL OBLIGATION TO THE GREEK CYPRIOT NATIONALISTS AND HIS "PHILOTIMO" TO OVERRULE LOGIC AND TO ASSIST GREEK CYPRIOTS.

C) GREECE WOULD DO WHATEVER WAS NECESSARY TO PRESERVE ITS NATIONAL IDENTITY AND TO STAY ANTI-COMMUNIST. IF THIS MEANT KEEPING YIAROS OPEN IT WOULD STAY OPEN AS LONG AS IT WAS NECESSARY AND HE WOULD ACCEPT NO STATIC FROM ANYONE ON THIS SCORE. INDEED,HE HAD INSTRUCTED A GREEK OFFICIAL TO TELL BRITISH OFFICIALLY THAT WHENEVER THE BRITISH LET IRISH POLITICAL PRISONERS OUT OF BRITISH JAILS, HE WOULD FREE THE FORTY-TWO GREEK POLITICAL PRISONERS ON YIAROS.

D) HE PERSONALLY DIDN'T LIKE NIKOS SAMPSON, BUT THAT WAS GREEK CYPRIOT NATIONALIST DECISION. HE KNEW SAMPSON PERSONALLY AND IN HIS OPINION SAMPSON WAS "CRAZY." HE JOKINGLY REMARKED THAT NEW CYPRIOT MINISTER OF DEFENSE DIMITRIOU WAS VERY PRO-AMERICAN AND THAT OUR EMBASSY THERE WOULD SOON REALIZE THIS. HE ALSO KNEW DIMITRIOU PERSONALLY.

E) WHILE SHAKING HANDS AT CLOSE OF CONVERSATION IOANNIDES STATED "REMEMBER WE TOO BELIEVE IN A FREE, INDEPENDENT AND SOVEREIGN CYPRUS, WE TOO BELIEVE IN NON INTERFERENCE, ALONG WITH TURKS AND ESPECIALLY WITH KISSINGER. WE TOO BELIEVE THAT THE CYPRIOTS SHOULD BE FREE TO SOLVE THEIR OWN PROBLEMS, BE THEY GREEK CYPRIOTS, TURK CYPRIOTS OR BOTH."

Friday, 30 November 2012

Tough Cypriots and incompetent Turks: or pinpointing the roles of the UK and USA in the downfall of Cyprus

The dynamic duo: Kissinger and Callaghan
Thanks to the Hellenic Antidote reader for referring me to this paper by George Kazamias that uses official government documents to reveal UK and US policy towards Cyprus as the crisis of 1974 unfolded, first with the Athens junta’s coup against Makarios and then Turkey’s two-phased invasion of the island, with the first landing taking place on 20 July 1974 and the second assault on 14 August.

I’ll refer only briefly to Kazamias’ argument – which is that the evidence as to who brought about the downfall of the Republic of Cyprus does not point to a ‘conspiracy’, involving the UK, USA, Greece and Turkey, as described, most notably, by Christopher Hitchens in his Cyprus: Hostage to History. I’ve written before (here and here) about these efforts to disprove so-called Cyprus conspiracy theories, insisting they are not credible. For a start, no one suggests secret pre-invasion deals were done between Greece, Turkey, the USA and UK to partition Cyprus. Hitchens talks of ‘collusion’ not conspiracy and he characterises US and UK policy on the island as resulting not from meticulous and consistent plotting but carelessness, cynicism, arrogance and imperial caprice.

And, secondly, any attempt to diminish the role of the UK and USA or lessen the guilt of Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and the CIA in bringing about the partition of Cyprus demands an incredulously benign interpretation of American and British motives and machinations on the island and, as such, offers a wholly inaccurate portrayal of which actors and factors brought about partition and why.

In fact, if anything, the documentary evidence Kazamias presents corroborates Hitchens’ collusion, cynicism and caprice theory, which is that the UK and, particularly, the USA, knew about an impending coup against Makarios, knew that this would likely be followed by a Turkish invasion, knew that the Turkish invasion would take the form of a land grab; and that nothing was done to preserve legitimacy in Cyprus – and that this inaction cannot be taken to reflect indifference, incompetence or neutrality but amounted to approval, both explicit and tacit, and this was because, ultimately, the outcome – the removal of Makarios and the partition of Cyprus – suited both the Americans and the British and, in fact, were options for Cyprus they had been harbouring and promoting, in various ways and to varying degrees, in the decade (and more, in the British case) leading up to 1974.

So, putting aside Kazamias’ misinterpretation of the evidence and the interest he has in wanting to disprove a theory or version of events that does not exist, let’s look at some of the documents he presents us with in his paper:

To start with, Kazamias reveals a number of reports compiled by the British intelligence services and presented to the UK government on the eve of Turkey’s first invasion (20 July 1974) which discuss the preparedness and objectives of a Turkish military assault on Cyprus. Thus, on 19 July, the Joint Intelligence Committee is confident that given the imbalance in effectiveness and numbers between the Greek armed forces, the Cypriot National Guard and the Turkish military, any Turkish invasion of Cyprus would very quickly obtain its goals, which the British believed to be the seizure of the northern third of the island:
‘We cannot make any firm prediction as to how long it would take the Turks to achieve their military objectives, but we think that most would have been achieved within 24-48 hours of landing.’
Kazamias then presents a document sent by Australian diplomats in London to Canberra on 21 July, i.e. a day after the first Turkish landings on Cyprus, reporting a meeting the Australians had had at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to gauge British reaction to the events unfolding on the island. The Australians say:
‘Commenting privately to us on the situation on 20 July a senior FCO official said that Britain secretly would not object if Turkish military forces occupied about 1/3 of the island before agreeing to a ceasefire. (Please protect). Such a position would need to be reached by 21 July if peace prospects were not to be endangered further. In the meantime, Britain continued to support publicly appeals for an immediate ceasefire.’
Kazamias rightly draws attention to the three most important elements in the British statement:

1. Britain’s willingness to accept a Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus.
2. Britain’s concern that Turkey should complete its seizure within 48 hours of the invasion.
3. That Britain had no doubts as to precisely what Turkey’s intentions were and is certain of how much of Cyprus – one-third – Turkey wanted to take.

Kazamias then asserts that the Americans are equally sanguine about the Turkish invasion. The USA is aware and understanding of Turkey’s aim to dismember the island and, like Britain, is mainly concerned, once the Turks have landed, that they seize the third of Cyprus they want as quickly as possible and that Greece should be persuaded not to respond to Turkey’s assault with any escalation of the conflict. This is the exchange between Kissinger and CIA Director William Colby on 19 July – or 20 July in Cyprus – as news of the Turkish invasion broke:

K[issinger]: But what do you think they’re after? They’re not after the whole island are they?
C[olby]: No, no. What they would be after would be Famagusta and Kyrenia and kind of a line between the two.
K: That kind of a quadrangle in the northeast.
C: Yeah. Well, call it almost the (inaudible) from roughly Baranaka [sic] on up and then just assert themselves and give themselves a position to bargain with.
[…]
K: Do you have any good ideas what we should do?
C: Well, I think the biggest thing is to get the Greeks not to fight. To say all right, let’s negotiate and discuss what ought to be done.
K: OK.

What complicated matters for the UK and the USA, however, is the fact that Turkey’s 20 July invasion did not go to plan, with the Cypriot National Guard and the small contingent from Greece on the island resisting more successfully than anticipated while the Turkish armed forces performed much worse than the British and Americans expected.

Thus, by the time a US-brokered ceasefire came into force on 22 July, i.e. following the 48 hours the British seemed content to allow Turkey to complete its aim of conquering a third of Cyprus, the Turks had only managed to take control of the corridor linking Kyrenia to Nicosia, i.e. four percent of the island.

According to a report presented to the British Cabinet meeting on 22 July, ‘the Turks […] badly misjudged the potential extent of National Guard resistance… must be disappointed at the meagre success of their armed intervention… [and] there is no question now of a quick victory’.

Kazamias says that the Americans were even more unimpressed by Turkey’s military prowess. At a meeting of the Washington Special Actions Group (WSAG) on 22 July, the following exchange is recorded, with Kissinger appearing to doubt whether Turkey would be ultimately victorious on the island:

Secretary Kissinger: Why were the Turks so incompetent?
Gen. Walters: Well, I think that one-to-five ratio was a big factor. They [the Turks] couldn’t even take Nicosia airport.
Gen. Brown: I think history will show that they were rather inept in the whole operation. I think analysis will show that their whole situation was amateurish. Their air support was ineffective.
Secretary Kissinger: How is it that they are so incompetent? Are they [the Turks] really that strong on the island then?
Gen. Walters: Well, I don’t know.

It was at this stage, Kazamias suggests – correctly, in my opinion – with Turkey’s initial failure evident, with the ceasefire in place and, also, with the fall of both the junta in Athens and its puppet regime in Nicosia, that British and US policies towards the Cyprus crisis diverged. Britain, according to Kazamias, believed that Turkey had blown its chance to take a third of Cyprus and that now was the time for diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis. In this context, Britain was even prepared to contemplate the use of its own forces on the island to prevent any further Turkish advance.

The Americans, on the other hand, did not regard the Turks’ failure as the end of the military option to bring about their optimal Cyprus policy aim [i.e. partition] and provided only nominal support to British endeavours in the Geneva talks between the UK, Greece, Turkey and the two communities in Cyprus, which had been in process since 25 July. Indeed, it is clear that the Americans shared the Turks’ view of the negotiations, which was that they were a useful cover that allowed the Turks to reinforce their Kyrenia bridgehead from which they would soon be able to launch another attack to achieve what they had failed to achieve on 20 July.

Thus, the Americans, by encouraging the Turks to reinforce their presence on Cyprus and begin a second assault to fulfill their territorial objectives, were not only making a mockery of Britain’s efforts to arrive at a diplomatic solution to the crisis: but they were also making it clear to the British that the USA would not favour any attempt by the British to deploy their military on Cyprus to warn off or thwart a Turkish advance – disapproval which the British meekly deferred to.

At the same time as playing the British for ‘dummies’ (as the UK foreign secretary, James Callaghan, was later to admit); the Americans also sought to convince the new civilian Greek government, headed by Konstantinos Karamanlis, despite the evidence on the ground, that Turkey was not planning further military action in Cyprus and that Greece should not escalate matters by responding to Turkey’s build-up on the island by sending reinforcements or with a build-up of its own. Again, these reassurances were enough for the credulous and pusillanimous Karamanlis.

The American plan of using the ceasefire it had brokered on 22 July to allow Turkey to strengthen its position on the island and mislead Greece into staying its hand is revealed in this exchange at the WSAG meeting on 21 July:

Secretary Kissinger
: […] Our major effort now is to achieve a ceasefire; the talks can get started any time. If the Turks hold – what is the state of play on the island now?
Mr. Colby: Well, it’s unclear, but they do have a foothold.
Secretary Kissinger: It seems to me they haven’t done as well militarily as they have politically.
Mr. Colby: You’re right, they haven’t done very well militarily.
[…]
Secretary Kissinger: Then the Greeks are fighting better than we thought they would.
[…]
Secretary Kissinger
: I’m trying to understand what the balance of forces would be when negotiations start so that we can chart a course.
Mr. Colby: If there is a ceasefire, it would seem to me that the Turkish effort failed. They wanted to seize a substantial area – more than they have now – and they have failed.

The discussion goes on:

Secretary Kissinger
: […] Seems to me that [Turkish PM] Ecevit is not doing well militarily. They are doing lousy militarily. […] What is going to be the balance of forces if we get a ceasefire?
Mr. Colby: The National Guard is doing quite well, they have some 40,000 troops.
Secretary Schlesinger: I don’t think we can get an accurate picture of the balance of forces because the only thing we have is a ceasefire. They can bring in more troops under a ceasefire, reinforce here and there. That would change the whole picture.
Secretary Kissinger: It is against our interests to have the Greeks in there. A strong Turkish presence would be highly desirable. What went wrong, anyway?
Mr. Colby: They have turned out to be tough.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Christopher Hitchens: a steadfast supporter of Cyprus



Christopher Hitchens, who has died today, was a steadfast supporter of Cyprus against partition. His engagement with the island began before 1974 when, as a  young left-wing journalist, spurred on by loathing for US conduct in the Vietnam war, he identified Cyprus as another battleground where the West, chiefly the US, in pursuit of nefarious, ill-conceived interests, was covertly cultivating what for it was a small, sideshow war but, to those directly affected by it, as Hitchens says in the documentary above, resulted in a ‘catastrophe of epic proportions’.

Prior to the coup and invasion in 1974, Hitchens wrote prophetic articles for the New Left Review and New Statesman on the power-politics and machinations aimed at destabilising and overthrowing the Makarios government in order to bring about the partition of Cyprus between Greece and Turkey and, thus, secure so-called NATO interests. His narrative of betrayal, collusion and superpower conceit led to his book (1984), Cyprus: Hostage to History, which remains the definitive account in English of the Turkish invasion; the starting point for anyone who wants to grasp the nature of the Cyprus problem. 

Above is the first part of Frontiers, a BBC documentary Hitchens made in 1989 on the aftermath of the Turkish invasion. It’s not so much an account of the causes of the Turkish invasion, but a reflection on the impact partition has had on Greek and Turkish Cypriots. The remaining four parts are available on Youtube.

*Addendum: The American Hellenic Institute has written a good obituary for Hitchens, stressing his long-standing support for Cyprus and other Greek causes, which in 2007 led the AHI to award him the Hellenic Heritage National Public Service Award. In his acceptance speech, Hitchens said the following:

‘Those of us who are governed by the rule of law don’t demand very much. We are very modest and understated in what we ask. All we want is for the removal of every single Turkish soldier from Cyprus, as international law demands, the restoration of the sculpture of Phidias [the Parthenon Marbles] as a unity, the same way it was carved, as a tribute to the glories of 5th century Athens and the human culture that it has inspired… Take heart. You have friends who will never desert you. Mr. Erdogan, tear down that wall. Zito I Ellas (Long live Greece). Eleftheri I Kypros (Free Cyprus).’

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Cyprus Still Divided



Above is Cyprus Still Divided, a pretty good documentary on the Cyprus issue and the role the USA – and particularly the odious Henry Kissinger – played in partitioning the island. The film was made by the American Hellenic Institute with the intention of educating a US audience and, as such, has been shown on NPR stations and at various ‘Town Hall screenings’. There’s good archive footage, mostly taken from Michalis Cacoyiannis’ film Attila 1974: The Rape of Cyprus, plus more recent interviews with Paul Sarbanes, John Brademas, Nicholas Burns, Christopher Hitchens, Titina Loizidou and others.

A couple of points on accuracy and interpretation.

1. The film states that the policy of the Athens junta 1967-74 was enosis. This is not true. The junta’s Cyprus policy was partition. This is well established now. Thus, despite dressing itself up as nationalist and patriotic, the junta’s policy for Cyprus was anything but; having been persuaded by its US supervisors that the best thing for the junta, Greco-Turkish relations, the West in its contest with communism and so on, was for Cyprus to be divided between Greece and Turkey. The tension that existed between the junta and Makarios – why they tried to assassinate him and eventually overthrew him in a coup – was because they regarded the archbishop as an obstacle not to enosis, which Makarios believed in, but to partition, which he, and 99% of Cypriots, did not.

2. The film states that the junta’s purpose in removing Makarios was to unite Cyprus with Greece. But, as I’ve already said, partition not enosis was the junta’s policy, in which case the purpose of the coup was the removal of Makarios and the setting up of a subordinate regime in Nicosia, permitting Athens to open negotiations with Turkey as to how best to partition the island, along the lines of the Acheson plan. Thus, even though junta-leader Dimitrios Ioannides was stupid and a psychopath, he would not have acted against Makarios if he thought the Turks would invade. All Ioannides’ actions in July 1974 suggest he was under the impression – provided to him by the Americans – that Turkey accepted Athens’ plan to get rid of Makarios in order to expedite partition.

3. When talking about the coup against Makarios, the film shows images of Colonel Giorgos Papadopoulos, even though he had been ousted by Brigadier Dimitrios Ioannides as junta leader in November 1973 and it was Ioannides, not Papadopoulos, who initiated the coup against Makarios.

Indeed, one of Makarios’ biggest miscalculations was not to have realised that the junta under Ioannides was far more dangerous to Cyprus than it had been under Papadopoulos. Makarios always believed that, despite the constant rumours, the Papadopoulos-led junta would not be so stupid as to initiate a coup against him. Makarios mistakenly assumed that this basic level of intelligence was shared by Ioannides and his cohorts.

4. Finally, Christopher Hitchens makes his usual incisive interventions in the film; and I want to dwell on his statement that Cyprus paid the price for the fall of the junta. This is entirely accurate and, indeed, it always annoys me the way (mainland) Greeks insist they brought down the junta – and that central to this was the student uprising at the Athens Polytechnic in November 1973. All the student protest achieved was convince hard-liners, like Ioannides, that Papadopoulos wasn’t tough enough and that Greece needed a firmer hand. It didn’t shorten the time of the junta by five minutes.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Exposing Kissinger’s Cyprus lies


 

Above is the 2002 documentary film, The Trials of Henry Kissinger, which is based on articles and a book by Christopher Hitchens, arguing that the former US National Security Adviser and Secretary of State is a war criminal, citing his involvement in massacres, invasions and genocides in Indochina; East Timor; Chile; Cyprus; and Bangladesh. The documentary makes a compelling case against Kissinger and his ‘depraved realpolitik’ but only deals with Hitchens’ claims regarding Indochina, East Timor and Chile. Therefore, I’m printing below the section on Kissinger’s role in the coup against Makarios and the subsequent Turkish invasion of Cyprus from Hitchens’ article as it appeared in Harper’s magazine in November 2001.

In it, Hitchens makes clear that not only did Kissinger know about the impending coup against Makarios, receiving ample warning from American officials intimate with Greece and Cyprus, but was generally sympathetic to the plot to overthrow the Cypriot president. Hitchens also proves that Kissinger was fully aware that such a move against Makarios by the Greek junta would provoke a Turkish invasion of the island and partition, which contradicts Kissinger’s subsequent professions of ignorance regarding Turkish intentions in Cyprus in the summer of 1974.

I should add that a little while ago I posted on a talk by Dr Andreas Constandinos, in which he argued there was no conspiracy, involving the USA, to topple Makarios and partition Cyprus and that US policy towards the island in 1974 was characterised by incompetence and lack of foresight. 


I’ve already stated that I found Constandinos’ views on Kissinger’s role in the partition of Cyprus naive and overly generous; but I’d now like to revise this opinion, because it is overly generous to Constandinos. Thus, having watched the film above and read the article below, I think a better description of Constandinos’ thesis is that it is laughable. 

Cyprus: A Turbulent Priest
In the second volume of his trilogy of memoirs, Years of Upheaval, Henry Kissinger found the subject of the 1974 Cyprus catastrophe so awkward that he decided to postpone consideration of it:

“I must leave a full discussion of the Cyprus episode to another occasion, for it stretched into the Ford Presidency and its legacy exists unresolved today.”

This argued a certain nervousness on his part, if only because the subjects of Vietnam, Cambodia, the Middle East, Angola, Chile, China, and the SALT negotiations all bear legacies that are “unresolved today” and were unresolved then. (To say that these matters “stretched into the Ford Presidency” is to say, in effect, nothing at all except that this pallid interregnum did, historically speaking, occur).

In most of his writing about himself (and, one presumes, in most of his presentations to his clients) Kissinger projects a strong impression of a man at home in the world and on top of his brief. But there are a number of occasions when it suits him to pose as a sort of Candide, naive and ill prepared and easily unhorsed by events. No doubt this pose costs him something in self-esteem. It is a pose, furthermore, that he often adopts at precisely the time when the record shows him to be knowledgeable and when knowledge or foreknowledge would also confront him with charges of responsibility or complicity.

Cyprus in 1974 is just such a case. Kissinger now argues, in the third volume of his memoirs, Years of Renewal, that he was prevented and distracted, by Watergate and the deliquescence of the Nixon presidency, from taking a timely or informed interest in the crucial triangle of Greece, Turkey, and Cyprus. This is a bizarre disclaimer: the phrase “eastern flank of NATO” was then a geopolitical commonplace of the first importance, and the proximity of Cyprus to the Middle East was a factor never absent from American strategic thinking. There was no reason of domestic policy to prevent the region from engaging his attention. Furthermore, the very implosion of Nixonian authority, cited as a reason for Kissinger’s own absence of mind, in fact bestowed extraordinary powers upon him. To restate the obvious once more: When he became secretary of state in 1973, he took care to retain his post as “special assistant to the president for national security affairs,” or, as we now say, national security adviser. This made him the first and only secretary of state to hold the chairmanship of the 40 Committee, which, of course, considered and approved covert actions by the CIA. Meanwhile, as chairman of the National Security Council, he held a position in which every important intelligence plan passed across his desk. His former NSC aide, Roger Morris, was not exaggerating by much, if at all, when he said that Kissinger’s dual position, plus Nixon’s eroded one, made him “no less than acting chief of state for national security”.

Kissinger gives one hostage to fortune in Years of Upheaval and another in Years of Renewal. In the former volume he says, quite plainly: “I had always taken it for granted that the next communal crisis in Cyprus would provoke Turkish intervention” – i.e. would at least risk the prospect of a war within NATO between Greece and Turkey and would certainly involve the partition of the island. That this was indeed common knowledge may not be doubted by any person even lightly acquainted with Cypriot affairs. In the latter volume, wherein Kissinger finally takes up the challenge implicitly refused in the first volume, he repeatedly asks the reader why anyone (such as himself, so burdened with Watergate) would have sought “a crisis in the eastern Mediterranean between two NATO allies”.

These two disingenuous statements need to be qualified in the light of a third one, which appears on page 199 of Years of Renewal. Here, President Makarios of Cyprus is described without adornment as “the proximate cause of most of Cyprus’s tensions”. Makarios was the democratically elected leader of a virtually unarmed republic, which was at the time in an association agreement with the European Economic Community, as well as a member of the United Nations and of the Commonwealth. His rule was challenged, and the independence of Cyprus threatened, by a military dictatorship in Athens and a highly militarized government in Turkey, both of which sponsored right-wing gangster organizations on the island, and both of which had plans to annex the greater or lesser part of it. In spite of this, “intercommunal” violence had been on the decline in Cyprus throughout the 1970s. Most killings were, in fact, “intramural”: of Greek and Turkish democrats or internationalists by their respective nationalist and authoritarian rivals. Several attempts, by Greek and Greek Cypriot fanatics, had been made on the life of President Makarios himself. To describe his person as the “proximate cause” of most of the tensions is to make a wildly aberrant moral judgment.

This same aberrant judgment, however, supplies the key that unlocks the lie at the heart of Kissinger’s chapter. If the elected civilian authority (and spiritual leader of the Greek Orthodox community) is the “proximate cause” of the tensions, then his removal from the scene is self-evidently the cure for them.

If one can demonstrate that there was such a removal plan, and that Kissinger knew about it in advance, then it follows logically and naturally that he was not ostensibly looking for a crisis-as he self-pityingly asks us to disbelieve-but for a solution. The fact that he got a crisis, which was also a hideous calamity for Cyprus and the region, does not change the equation or undo the syllogism. The scheme to remove Makarios, on which the “solution” depended, was in practice a failure. But those who willed the means and wished the ends are not absolved from guilt by the refusal of reality to match their schemes.

It is, from Kissinger’s own record and recollection, as well as the subsequent official inquiry, quite easy to demonstrate that he did have advance knowledge of the plan to depose and kill Makarios. He admits as much himself, by noting that the Greek dictator Dimitrios Ioannides, head of the secret police, was determined to mount a coup in Cyprus and bring the island under the control of Athens. This was one of the better-known facts of the situation, as was the more embarrassing fact that Brigadier Ioannides was dependent on American military aid and political sympathy. His police state had long since been expelled from the Council of Europe and blocked from joining the EEC, and it was largely the advantage conferred by his agreement to “home port” the U.S. Sixth Fleet, and host a string of U.S. air force and intelligence bases, that kept him in power. This lenient policy was highly controversial in Congress and in the American press, and the argument over it was part of Kissinger’s daily bread long before the Watergate drama.

Thus it was understood in general that the Greek dictatorship, an American client, wished to see Makarios overthrown and had already tried to kill him or have him killed. (Overthrow and assassination, incidentally, are effectively coterminous in this account; there was no possibility of leaving such a charismatic leader alive, and those who sought his removal invariably intended his death). This was also understood in particular. The most salient proof is this: In May of 1974, two months before the coup in Cyprus’s capital, Nicosia, which Kissinger later claimed came as a shock to him, he received a memorandum from the head of his State Department Cyprus desk, Thomas Boyatt. Boyatt summarized all the cumulative and persuasive reasons for believing that a Greek junta attack on Cyprus and Makarios was imminent. He further argued that, in the absence of an American demarche to Athens, warning the dictators to desist, it might be assumed that the United States was indifferent to this. And he added what everybody knew: that such a coup, if it went forward, would beyond doubt trigger a Turkish invasion.

Prescient memos are a dime a dozen in Washington after a crisis; they are often then read for the first time, or leaked to the press or to Congress in order to enhance (or protect) some bureaucratic reputation. But Kissinger now admits that he saw this document in real time, while engaged in his shuttle between Syria and Israel (both of them within half an hour’s flying time of Cyprus). Yet no demarche bearing his name or carrying his authority was issued to the Greek junta.

A short while afterward, on June 7, 1974, the National Intelligence Daily, which is the breakfast-table reading of all senior State Department, Pentagon, and national security officials, cited an American field report, dated June 3, that stated the views of the dictator in Athens:

“loannides claimed that Greece is capable of removing Makarios and his key supporters from power in twenty-four hours with little if any blood being shed and without EOKA[B] assistance. [EOKA [B] was a Greek-Cypriot fascist underground, armed and paid by the junta.] The Turks would quietly acquiesce to the removal of Makarios, a key enemy… Ioannides stated that if Makarios decides on some type of extreme provocation against Greece to obtain a tactical advantage, he (loannides) is not sure whether he should merely pull the Greek troops out of Cyprus and let Makarios fend for himself, or remove Makarios once and for all and have Greece deal directly with Turkey over Cyprus’ future.”

This report and its contents were later authenticated before Congress by CIA staff who had served in Athens at the relevant time. The fact that it made Brigadier Ioannides seem bombastic and delusional – both of which he was – should have underlined the obvious and imminent danger.

At about the same time, Kissinger received a call from Senator J. William Fulbright, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Senator Fulbright had been briefed about the impending coup by a senior Greek dissident journalist in Washington named Elias P. Demetracopoulos. According to Demetracopoulos, Fulbright told Kissinger that steps should be taken to avert the planned Greek action, and he gave three reasons. The first was that it would repair some of the moral damage done by America’s indulgence of the junta. The second was that it would head off a confrontation between Greece and Turkey in the Mediterranean. The third was that it would enhance American prestige on the island. Kissinger declined to take the recommended steps, on the bizarre grounds that he could not intervene in Greek “internal affairs” at a time when the Nixon Administration was resisting pressure from Senator Henry Jackson to link US-Soviet trade to the free emigration of Russian Jewry. However odd this line of argument, it still makes it quite impossible for Kissinger to claim, as he still does, that he had had no warning.

So there was still no American high-level concern registered with Athens. The difficulty is sometimes presented as one of protocol or etiquette, as if Kissinger’s regular custom was to whisper and tread lightly. Ioannides was the de facto head of the regime but technically only its secret police chief. For the U.S. ambassador, Henry Tasca, it was awkward to make diplomatic approaches to a man he described as “a cop.” But again I remind you that Henry Kissinger, in addition to his formal diplomatic eminence, was also head of the 40 Committee, and therefore the supervisor of American covert action, and was dealing in private with an Athens regime that had long-standing ties to the CIA. The 1976 House Committee on Intelligence later phrased the problem rather deftly in its report:

“Tasca, assured by the CIA station chief that loannides would continue to deal only with the CIA, and not sharing the State Department desk officer’s alarm, was content to pass a message to the Greek leader indirectly… It is clear, however, that the Embassy took no steps to underscore for loannides the depth of U.S. concern over a Cyprus coup attempt. This episode, the exclusive CIA access to loannides, Tasca’s indications that he may not have seen all important messages to and from the CIA Station, loannides’ suggestions of U.S. acquiescence, and Washington’s well-known coolness to Makarios have led to public speculation that either U.S. officials were inattentive to the reports of the developing crisis or simply allowed it to happen…”

Thomas Boyatt’s memoranda, warning of precisely what was to happen (and echoing the views of several mid-level officials besides himself), were classified as secret and still have never been released. Asked to testify at the above hearings, he was at first forbidden by Kissinger to appear before Congress and was finally permitted to do so only in order that he might avoid a citation for contempt. His evidence was taken in Executive Session, with the hearing room cleared of staff, reporters, and visitors.

Matters continued to gather pace. On July 1, 1974, three senior officials of the Greek foreign ministry, all of them known for their moderate views on the Cyprus question, publicly tendered their resignations. On July 3, President Makarios made public an open letter to the Greek junta, which made the direct accusation of foreign interference and subversion:

“In order to be absolutely clear, I say that the cadres of the military regime of Greece support and direct the activities of the EOKA-B terrorist organization… I have more than once so far felt, and some cases I have almost touched, a hand invisibly extending from Athens and seeking to liquidate my human existence.”

He called for the withdrawal from Cyprus of the Greek officers responsible.

Some days after the coup, which eventually occurred on July 15, 1974, and when challenged at a press conference about his apparent failure to foresee or avert it, Kissinger replied that “the information was not lying around on the streets.” Actually, it nearly was. It had been available to him round the clock, in both his diplomatic and intelligence capacities. His decision to do nothing was therefore a direct decision to do something, or to let something be done.

To the rest of the world, two things were obvious about the coup. The first was that it had been instigated from Athens and carried out with the help of regular Greek forces, and was thus a direct intervention in the internal affairs of one country by another. The second was that it violated all the existing treaties governing the status of the island. The obvious and unsavory illegality was luridly emphasized by the junta itself, which chose a notorious chauvinist gunman named Nikos Sampson to be its proxy “president”. Sampson must have been well known to the chairman of the 40 Committee as a long-standing recipient of financial support from the CIA; he also received money for his fanatical Nicosia newspaper Makhi (“Combat”) from a pro-junta CIA proxy in Athens, Mr. Savvas Constantopoulos, the publisher of the pro-junta organ Eleftheros Kosmos (“Free World”). No European government treated Sampson as anything but a pariah during the brief nine days in which he held power and launched a campaign of murder against his democratic Greek opponents. But Kissinger told the American envoy in Nicosia to receive Sampson’s “foreign minister” as foreign minister, thus making the United States the first and only government to extend de facto recognition. (At this point, it might be emphasized, the whereabouts of President Makarios were unknown. His palace had been heavily shelled and his death announced on the junta’s radio. He had in fact made his escape, and was able to broadcast the fact a few days afterward-to the enormous irritation of certain well-placed persons).

In Washington, Kissinger’s press spokesman, Robert Anderson, flatly denied that the coup – later described by Makarios from the podium of the United Nations as “an invasion” – constituted foreign intervention. “No,” he replied to a direct question on this point. “In our view there has been no outside intervention.” This surreal position was not contradicted by Kissinger when he met with the Cypriot ambassador and failed to offer the customary condolences on the reported death of his president – the “proximate cause,” we now learn from him, of all the unpleasantness. When asked if he still recognized the elected Makarios government as the legal one, Kissinger doggedly and astonishingly refused to answer. When asked if the United States was moving toward recognition of the Sampson regime, his spokesman declined to deny it. When Senator Fulbright helped facilitate a visit by the escaped Makarios to Washington, the State Department was asked whether he would be received by Kissinger “as a private citizen, as Archbishop, or as President of Cyprus?” The answer? “[Kissinger]’s meeting with Archbishop Makarios on Monday.” Every other government in the world, save the rapidly collapsing Greek dictatorship, recognized Makarios as the legitimate head of the Cyprus republic. Kissinger’s unilateralism on the point is without diplomatic precedent and argues strongly for his collusion and sympathy with the armed handful who felt the same way.

It is worth emphasizing that Makarios was invited to Washington in the first place, as elected and legal president of Cyprus, by Senator J. William Fulbright of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and by his counterpart, Congressman Thomas Morgan, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Credit for their invitation belongs to the above-mentioned Elias Demetracopoulos, who had long warned of the coup and who was a friend of Fulbright’s. It was he who conveyed the invitation to Makarios, who was by then in London meeting with the British foreign secretary. This initiative crowned a series of anti-junta activities by this guerrilla journalist and one-man band, who had already profoundly irritated Kissinger and become a special object of his spite. At the very last moment, and with a very poor grace, Kissinger was compelled to announce that he was receiving Makarios in his presidential and not his episcopal capacity.

Since Kissinger himself tells us that he had always known or assumed that another outbreak of violence in Cyprus would trigger a Turkish military intervention, we can assume in our turn that he was not surprised when such an intervention came. Nor does he seem to have been very much disconcerted. While the Greek junta remained in power, his efforts were principally directed to shielding it from retaliation. He was opposed to the return of Makarios to the island and strongly opposed to Turkish or British use of force to undo the Greek coup (Britain being a guarantor power with a treaty obligation and troops on Cyprus). This same counsel of inertia or inaction-amply testified to in Kissinger’s own memoirs as well as everyone else’s – translated later into equally strict and repeated admonitions against any measures to block a Turkish invasion. Sir Tom McNally, then the chief political adviser to Britain’s then foreign secretary and future prime minister, James Callaghan, has since disclosed that Kissinger “vetoed” at least one British military action to preempt a Turkish landing.

This may seem paradoxical, but the long-standing sympathy for a partition of Cyprus, repeatedly expressed by the State and Defense departments, make it seem much less so. The demographic composition of the island (82 percent Greek, 18 percent Turkish) made it more logical for the partition to be imposed by Greece. But a second best was to have it imposed by Turkey. And once Turkey had conducted two brutal invasions and occupied almost 40 percent of Cypriot territory, Kissinger exerted himself very strongly indeed to protect Turkey from any congressional reprisal for this outright violation of international law and promiscuous and illegal misuse of American weaponry. He became so pro-Turkish, in fact, that it was if he had never heard of the Greek colonels (though his expressed dislike of the returned Greek democratic leaders supplied an occasional reminder).

Not all the elements of this partitionist policy can be charged to Kissinger personally; he inherited the Greek junta and the official dislike of Makarios. Even in the dank obfuscatory prose of his own memoirs, however, he does admit what can otherwise be concluded from independent sources. Using covert channels, and short-circuiting the democratic process in his own country, he made himself a silent accomplice in a plan of political assassination, and when this plan went awry it led to the deaths of thousands of civilians, the violent uprooting of almost 200,000 refugees, and the creation of an unjust and unstable amputation of Cyprus that constitutes a serious threat to peace a full quarter century later.

On July 10, 1976, the European Commission of Human Rights adopted a report, prepared by eighteen distinguished jurists and chaired by Professor JES Fawcett, resulting from a year’s research into the consequences of the Turkish invasion. It found that the Turkish army had engaged in the deliberate killing of civilians, in the execution of prisoners, in the torture and ill-treatment of detainees, in the arbitrary collective punishment and mass detention of civilians, and in systematic and unpunished acts of rape, torture, and looting. A large number of “disappeared” persons, both prisoners of war and civilians, are still “missing” from this period. This number included a dozen holders of United States passports, which is evidence in itself of an indiscriminate strategy when conducted by an army dependent on American aid and materiel.

Perhaps it was a reluctance to accept his responsibility for these outrages, as well as his responsibility for the original Sampson coup, that led Kissinger to tell a bizarre sequence of lies to his new friends, the Chinese. On October 2, 1974, he held a high-level meeting in New York with Qiao Guanhua, vice foreign minister of the People’s Republic. It was the first substantive Sino-American meeting since the visit of Deng Xiaoping, and the first order of business was Cyprus. The memorandum, which is headed “TOP SECRET/SENSITIVE/EXCLUSIVELY EYES ONLY,” has Kissinger first rejecting China’s public claim that he had helped engineer the removal of Makarios. “We did not. We did not oppose Makarios” (a claim belied by his own memoirs). He says, “When the coup occurred I was in Moscow,” which he was not. He says, “My people did not take these intelligence reports [concerning an impending coup] seriously,” even though they had. He says that neither did Makarios take them seriously, even though Makarios had gone public in a denunciation of the Greek junta for its coup plans. He then makes the amazing claim that “we knew the Soviets had told the Turks to invade,” which would make this the first Soviet-instigated invasion to be conducted by a NATO army and paid for with American aid.

A good liar must have a good memory. Kissinger is a stupendous liar with a remarkable memory. So perhaps some of this hysterical lying is explained by its context: the need to enlist China’s anti-Soviet instincts. But the total of falsity is so impressive that it suggests something additional, something more like denial or delusion, or even a confession by other means.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Cyprus crisis: conspiracies, cock-ups and political agendas


Manthos pointed me in the direction of the talk above by Andreas Constandinos on the junta’s coup against Makarios and the subsequent Turkish invasion of Cyprus. The talk emerges from Constandinos’ PhD thesis, published in book form as America, Britain and the Cyprus Crisis of 1974: Calculated Conspiracy or Foreign Policy Failure? which seeks to disprove the so-called conspiracy theories that predominate in the discourse on the events of 1974 – i.e. that America and the UK conspired with Turkey and Greece to bring about the downfall of the Republic of Cyprus as a prelude to partition of the island; and instead assert the cock-up theory – i.e. that the US and UK were largely caught unaware by the coup and the invasion and responded as they did not out of malice or careful calculation but because they failed to read Greek and Turkish intentions correctly. All in all, Constandinos says that, as far as the US and UK were concerned, the coup and invasion were far from a conspiracy to destroy the Republic of Cyprus but rather a foreign policy failure.

Constandinos’ thesis is flawed and implausible. In fact, it’s so flawed and implausible that it’s reasonable to conclude that he’s pushing a dubious political agenda. I’ll just make a few points, mostly about his attempts to exonerate the US from blame in the coup and invasion. I won’t go into his equally dubious effort to whitewash the UK’s role in the partition of Cyprus.


1. There is no Cyprus conspiracy theory in the way Constandinos thinks there is. Christopher Hitchens, who Constandinos accuses of being one of the main exponents of the conspiracy theory, prefers in his book Cyprus: Hostage to History to use the word  ‘collusion’ and not ‘conspiracy’. At no point does Hitchens argue that Kissinger or the British gave explicit instructions to the Greeks to overthrow Makarios or to the Turks to invade the island. Rather, Hitchens, as well as insisting on ‘collusion’, characterises US and UK policy as ‘careless’, ‘arrogant’, ‘cynical’ and infused with ‘imperial caprice’.


2. Asserting as Constandinos does that Kissinger was unaware of Greece’s coup plot and Turkey’s determination to invade is naively generous to the US secretary of state. The fact is that it was an open secret that Greece, for years, going back to 1964, had been considering a coup against Makarios and that Ioannides was more committed than his predecessors to bringing this plan to fruition. It was just as much an open secret that Turkey was itching to invade Cyprus and had nearly done so in 1964 and 1967, only stopping, not as Constandinos says – in another attempt to exonerate the US in Cyprus – because of pressure from Washington, but because the Turkish armed forces were not ready to launch such a major operation. It’s worth pointing out that in 1964, some American officials were actually urging the Turks to invade and assuring them that they would not face US censure. (See here for discussion of the Acheson plans and the US encouraging Turkey to invade Cyprus).


3. Despite the well-known role of the US and UK in the 1960s in destabilising the Republic of Cyprus in an effort to bring closer the implementation of the Acheson Plan, i.e. the partition of Cyprus, giving one part of the island to Greece and the other to Turkey, thus securing the whole for Nato and reconciling Greece and Turkey, Constandinos insists that with the Nixon administration this paranoid cold war mentality dissipated and that America and Cyprus had developed a modus vivendi – as exemplified by Makarios acquiescing in America’s use of the UK bases on the island for its U-2 missions in the Middle East. The earlier plans for a coup, invasion and partition had, according to Constandinos, apparently been forgotten by the Americans, by Kissinger et al.


This is not credible. There is no evidence that from 1968 the Americans were now favourably disposed to Makarios or that they had ceased to regard an independent and essentially non-aligned Cyprus, with its large and slavishly pro-Moscow communist party, which routinely opposed the presence of British and US military bases and listening posts on Cyprus, as a continuing threat to Western security interests. Nor would any supposed US rapprochement with Makarios have deflected the Americans from their more substantial interest of mollifying Turkey and Greece. In the case of Greece, this mollification involved  preserving the Greek junta in power and to this end, since Makarios was an affront to the junta, the Americans were more than happy to go along with Athens’ plans to do away with the ‘red priest’. It’s also worth stressing that EOKA B, the paramilitary group established on Cyprus in 1971 to further the junta’s goals on the island, was supported not just by Athens, as Constandinos says, but by the CIA.


4. We also know that the Americans viewed the coup against Makarios with sympathy not only because they did not see fit to condemn it but, in fact, the US began the process of recognising the new government and state of affairs created in Cyprus by Ioannides. It matters little whether Kissinger gave direct orders for the removal of Makarios – Constandinos’ anti-conspiracy theory heavily relies on his failure to find documents in the US archives that show Kissinger giving such orders; because we prefer to judge Kissinger and America’s role in the 1974 events not by what was said but by what was done – and whether what was done was in line with long-standing and known US policy, which it was, i.e. all American efforts in 1974 paved the way for the coup, the invasion and partition – and as such were the culmination of a policy initiated by the US State Department (with the support of the British) in 1964. Thus, we can say with certainty that despite knowing that the junta was in the final stages of plotting to oust Makarios, the US did not urge them to abandon their plans – which they would have done if, as Constandinos says, the Nixon administration was well disposed to Makarios. We also know that the coup having failed, with Makarios alive and able to claim to be the legitimate Cypriot head of state, the Americans, still determined to see through the dissolution of the Republic of Cyprus, decided to back Turkey, implicitly and explicitly, in its ambition to partition the island. So even though Constandinos wants us to believe that the Americans were caught unaware by the Turkish invasion, thought the threat of invasion was only a bluff, we know not only that US efforts to dissuade the Turks from invading were, at best, half-hearted, but that at the Geneva talks that followed the first invasion on 20 July, Kissinger spoke openly about Turkey’s legitimate interest in ‘protecting’ the Turkish Cypriots who, Kissinger helpfully added, deserved more ‘autonomy’. As such, the US did not condemn the second Turkish invasion on 14 August and, in fact, expended most of its diplomatic energy during this period urging Greece not to respond to Turkey’s advances on the island.


What then are we to make of an analysis like Constandinos’ that seeks to exonerate the US and UK from the events of 1974 and his efforts to heap all the responsibility for the tragedy onto the Greek junta – which he portrays as acting on its own or, Constandinos does concede (without, for some reason, it affecting for him his overall thesis), in collaboration with trusted Greek-American CIA agents? What we make of such an analysis is that it is part of a trend in certain British academic circles that busy themselves with Cyprus to portray Britain, in particular, as having a benign or neutral role in Cyprus, show America as a blundering imperial power manqué and trace all Cyprus’ woes to Greece, Greeks and Greek nationalism.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Kissinger against the Greeks… except Karamanlis

Below is another excerpt from confidential conversations now available in the archives of President Gerald Ford. (See also my previous post). This time the conversation is from 20 February 1975 and involves Ford, his secretary of state Henry Kissinger and other members of Ford's national security team briefing Congressional leaders on, among other things, recent developments in the Middle East, relations with the Soviet Union, the state of Greece and the Cyprus issue following the Turkish invasion of the island. In relation to Greece and Cyprus, Kissinger is particularly anxious that: prime minister Konstantinos Karamanlis – who Kissinger describes as 'a great leader' who 'wants to put Cyprus behind him' – is supported as a bulwark against the left in Greece and Makarios in Cyprus – who Kissinger describes as an agent of 'chaos'; and that the arms embargo imposed by Congress on Turkey after the invasion of Cyprus is lifted, otherwise, according to Kissinger, Turkey will be driven into the arms of radical Middle Eastern states and Israel's security jeopardised, something he thinks should be stressed to the Jewish-American lobby, which could then be used to counter Greek arguments in Congress for cutting aid to Turkey. Read the whole document here.

Kissinger: Makarios is the only party who is interested in continued chaos. Cyprus is a millstone to the Greeks…

Scott: What will the Turks do?

Kissinger: They will sever, step-by-step, their contact with us, and get more active in Middle East affairs. They will soon be running out of spare parts.

McFall: Won't Karamanlis say something privately to the Greek leaders here?

Kissinger: He is a great leader. He is flanked by [Andreas] Papandreou and Makarios. He wants a settlement but has to watch his flanks…

Albert: Wouldn't Turkey handicap operations like in the last [Arab-Israeli] war?

Kissinger: Yes. We have installations there which are irreplaceable. And if there is another Israeli-Syrian war and the Soviet Union behaves more intransigently, a hostile Turkey would be very dangerous. The Clerides-Denktash talks are now suspended. Even if we reversed the situation today, it would take time. The chief loser is Karamanlis, who wants to put it behind him, to build Greek democracy. He doesn't want Cyprus to be an issue in Greek domestic politics.

McFall: Can't Karamanlis say that?

Kissinger: No…

Rhodes: What is [Archbishop of North America] Iakovos' role? He just gave an anti-American speech. I think they are under Makarios.

Scott: It looks to me like the Jewish interests are being imperiled by Greek interests.

Kissinger: No question about it.

Cederberg: Papandreou is the problem. He is not for Karamanlis. He wants to get back in Greece.

Kissinger: You are absolutely right. Papandreou and Makarios profit by chaos. There is now coup talk in Greece.

Byrd: Can the Jewish community help?

Kissinger: My impression is that [Congressman Ben] Rosenthal is trapped. He recognizes his problem but he doesn't know how to get off it.

Burton: Ben just has to be convinced on the merits…

Byrd: I think it is time that the Jewish community became visible in this.

Monday, 27 July 2009

How Karamanlis' 'moderation' did for Cyprus

I was reading on the Ινφογνώμων Πολιτικά website, this confidential conversation that took place on 29 May 1975 between Greece's then prime minister Konstantinos Karamanlis and US president Gerald Ford and his secretary of state Henry Kissinger. The conversation took place at the US embassy in Brussels and was dug up by the Washington-based Cypriot journalist Michalis Ignatiou. Among other things, the conversation deals with the restoration of democracy in Greece and Greek-Turkish relations in the light of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus and Turkish aggression in the Aegean. It is deeply embarrassing to read the egomaniacal Karamanlis praise himself for his role in establishing democracy in Greece after the fall of the junta, explain away his surrender of Cyprus and then plead – like the flunky he was – with the Americans to restrain the Turks, jubilant with their victory in Cyprus and now threatening Greece on all fronts. You can almost hear Ford and Kissinger laughing inside at Karamanlis' bizarre display of vainglory and sycophancy.

Anyway, below is an excerpt of the conversation that I've translated from Ignatiou's Greek translation back into English. The original English transcript of the conversation was available in the Ford archives, but for 'national security' reasons was withdrawn in 2004. In the extract, Karamanlis describes the events, as he experienced them, as they unfolded in Cyprus the previous year. It is a staggering statement of narcissism, cowardice and misjudgement dressed up as 'moderation'. As well as Karamanlis' statement being interesting from a historical point of view, it's also noteworthy because it reeks of the impotence and fear that continues to inform contemporary Greek responses to Turkish aggression. Karamanlis is, of course, bewilderingly and tellingly, something of a revered figure among conservatives in Greece.

Karamanlis [addressing Ford and Kissinger]: Permit me to begin by speaking about recent history. Before I returned to power, there was the junta's coup in Cyprus. Makarios was overthrown. The Turks argued that they acted [in Cyprus] as a guarantor power, something that granted them, they said, the right to restore the legitimate government and protect the Turkish Cypriot population. Their guarantor status explicitly refers to any action being aimed at the restoration of legitimacy in Cyprus and the upholding of the island's territorial integrity. Legality was restored three days after the invasion [23 July]. I returned [from exile in Paris] and took over the government of Greece and Clerides did the same in Cyprus. Turkey had fulfilled its aims as a guarantor. But they are still there. A few weeks after [legality in Greece and Cyprus were restored], Turkey seized 40% of the island.

I remember those days very well, because your secretary of state [i.e. Kissinger] woke me at four in the morning. There was no justification for the second Turkish invasion. No one comes up with strategic plans overnight. Turkey's military operation must have been in the planning for a long time. The occupation of 40% of the island occurred on the basis of a military plan with the codename ATTILA. This indicates premeditation. This move [the second phase of the invasion] created 250,000 refugees. You might say that this is not a large amount; but the population of the island is only half a million. Also, the 40% they seized is the most prosperous and productive part of the island.


On 14 August [the start of the second phase of the invasion], I encountered uproar in the army and among the Greek people. I went to the headquarters of the armed forces and they demanded action. There was pressure for a declaration of war. It was natural that everyone should feel they'd been made fools of. But I decided to choose the path of unpopularity, to tell the people to stay calm and to trust me. I told them we would receive help from our friends to find a solution.


In that dramatic moment, I had three choices. First, to go to war. Second, to resign and again withdraw from political life; and, third, to withdraw [Greece] from the military wing of NATO. I went for the third choice, which I considered to be the least painful and damaging. That is the history of Cyprus. It is difficult to prove something that is self-evident, but the Turks made a mistake. The Greeks showed moderation, despite all that happened to them. They are still showing moderation.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Kissinger and us

‘The Greeks are hard to govern so we must strike deep into their cultural roots. That way we may knock some sense into them. What I mean is that we must strike their language, their religion, their cultural and historical heritage in order to eliminate any possibility of their progress, prominence and domination so that they would stop having a say in the Balkans, the East Mediterranean and the Middle East, which are the key areas of great strategic importance for the policy of the USA.’

Henry Kissinger, the notorious Jewish-American diplomat and war criminal, is alleged to have made the above statement about Greeks in September 1974, two months after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, which Kissinger so ardently desired and worked for. Recently, there was an article in Kathimerini which suggested that Kissinger never said any such thing and the statement is an invention, a Greek myth in fact.

However, the issue here isn't whether Kissinger did or did not say that America and its cohorts want and need to 'strike' at Greek history and culture to turn Greeks into US lackeys, like the Albanians and Fyromians, but whether he could have said it and whether it reflects the truth not only of America's view of Greece, but the view the West in general has had of Greeks for the last thousand years (and more).

It is not unreasonable to interpret the history of Hellenism in the last thousand years (and more) as a continuous 'strike' against Hellenism, by the West and others, which aims to strip Greeks of their culture and identity and get them to conform, to not be Greeks anymore.

This article by Professor Christos Yiannaras correctly identifies Greek 'progressive' intellectuals as being complicit in the Kissinger thesis, as being, indeed, the ones, paradoxically (since they also tend to be the most anti-American Greeks), keener than most to implement it.