Cyprus is taking measures to prevent any retaliatory actions after air raid on Yemen by British military planes which took off from an air base on the island, President Nikos Christodoulides said on Saturday.
“We are on constant vigilance to ensure that national security remains intact. All those measures are taken from the beginning, not on the occasion of the specific event, so that there are no security issues in our country,” he said.
Christodoulides was replying to a question whether there was any possibility of retaliation against Cyprus following the joint American British operation against targets of the Houthi militia in Yemen, even though Cyprus was not involved in the operation.
Four British RAF Eurofighter Typhoon planes stationed in the Akrotiri British Sovereign Base on the southern shores of Cyprus took part in the attack against Yemen early on Friday, along with U.S. ships and submarines which launched coordinated missile attacks against Houthi installations.
The position of the British military, as stated in the British parliament, is that there is no “formal requirement” to inform Cyprus of the military and intelligence operations carried out from the bases.
Christodoulides said that “unacceptable” actions by the Houthis against shipping in the Red Sea affect Cyprus and the European Union.
He added that Cyprus is particularly vulnerable to the impact of the Houthi attacks on international shipping as 98 percent of its trade relies on maritime transportation.
He further said that he hoped “that the conditions will be created” to end the conflict in Gaza and “for the talks to restart to resolve the Palestinian issue on the basis of the agreed framework.”
The launching of attacks from Akrotiri air base generated increased calls for mass participation in a protest gathering scheduled to take place outside the guarded entrance to the base on Sunday morning.
The protest is being organized by the Cyprus Peace Council, a left-wing movement opposed to the presence of the British bases in Cyprus.
“The USA and Britain have turned Cyprus into an aggressive launching pad against the peoples of the region. The US-British air strikes … from the Akrotiri military bases expose Cyprus and make it part of the danger of a general flare-up in the Middle East,” the Cyprus Peace Council said in a press release.
It described the British bases as “a remnant of the colonial regime, crippling the independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of Cyprus and putting the peoples of the region in constant danger, in violation of international law.”
The protest is being supported by left wing (former communist) AKEL party, the second largest in Cyprus, and also the Green Party, which called for the start of a debate in parliament for ending the presence of the British bases in Cyprus. ■