NICOSIA – The main opposition AKEL Communist party on Cyprus said the government shouldn’t have allowed joint military maneuvers with Israeli forces and that it was against the national interest.
That came after the so-called Chariots of Fire operation on the island that included participation from the Cyprus National Guard in conjunction with the Israeli Air Force and Navy.
AKEL called Israel’s military drills “a dangerous development for the country,” urging Cyprus “to avoid cooperation with a foreign army and a history of occupation, colonization, war crimes, and violation of international laws, all of which remind us of the Turkish occupation in the island,” said The Cyprus Mail.
The large-scale military exercise was kicked off on May 29 and concluded on June 2, and was carried out in several locations across the island, whose northern third has been occupied by Turkish-Cypriots since two unlawful 1974 invasions by Turkey seized the still-held land.
The noise produced by the military exercises disturbed many and led to repeated complaints by locals in nearby towns, the paper said, after the Israeli military said the joint drill was designed at “improving the readiness of troops and their competence in operational missions” deep inside Lebanon.
Cypriot Ambassador to Lebanon Panayiotis Kyriacou though said it wasn’t directed at Lebanons but to train Cypriot border guards to defend the island where Turkey keeps a 35,000-strong force on the occupied side.
Kyriacou made the remarks after being summoned by Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib, who asked for clarification about the joint military exercises, the paper also said.
Desite the ambassador’s denial which contradicted the Israeli military statement, an official announcement from Tel Aviv said the exercise was aimed at testing the readiness of the occupation troops “for a variety of threats and scenarios on the battlefield,” without saying which ones.