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Occupation Inc.: Exporting Israeli Occupation to Cyprus

israeli natural gas discoveryIsrael figures it can’t have too much of a good thing with its Occupation of Palestine.  Now it proposes to expand it to Cyprus as well, under slightly different terms.  Occupation by any other name would be just as sweet.

A Turkish news report in Hurriyet says that Bibi Netanyahu recently held talks with his Greek Cypriot counterpart about joint Israeli-Cypriot energy ventures in the Mediterranean.  Hurriyet claims that Netanyahu offered to build and pay for the plant that would process the gas that was extracted.  In return, he demanded that Israel provide the 10,000 personnel that would be necessary to run the operation.  The article mentions a total of 30,000 personnel involved in the entire operation.  I wasn’t clear whether all these were to be Israeli and whether this included the security forces mentioned below.

This of course would create a massive security threat for Israel.  To answer this problem, the Israeli prime minister suggested stationing 20,000 IDF troops on the island to protect the plant and its Israeli personnel.  All this involves bringing at least 30,000 Israeli workers and soldiers to a very small island that has been embroiled in one of the most incendiary ethnic conflicts in the eastern Mediterranean.  This strikes me as a further extension of Occupation from Palestine to Cyprus.  Now Israel would occupy a massive energy concession on a foreign island that is contested between its Turkish enemy and Greek ally.  I can’t think of a better recipe for violence.  Keep in mind that Cyprus has witnessed one war already between those two nations.  Introduce a third nation with a history of serial warfare against its neighbors and who knows what could happen.

Add to this the fact that Israeli military jets deliberately invaded Turkish Cypriot airspace last week and were chased off by Turkish jets and you have yet more examples of how hostilities could break out.  Would we care to witness a repeat of the incidents involving U.S. and Chinese planes dueling in Asian skies a few years ago?


{ 43 comments… add one }

  • I wonder May 21, 2012, 1:16 AM

    EEEEK. You don’t need 20,000 IDF soldiers to protect an industrial plant against a terrorist attack, and 20,000 IDF soldiers would simply not be enough against the Turkish Army.

    So I fail to see the point of this.

    And in a shooting war Israel would have no way of either evacuating those men nor reinforcing them, so their only fate would be to put up a stiff fight before going into the bag.

    Can Israel afford to lose 20,000 soldiers in one fell swoop?

  • Rain May 21, 2012, 1:19 AM

    A ridiculous story. I wonder you gave it credence:

    a) I think Israel has a standing army of around 150,000? Do you really think they are going to station 20,000 of those troops on Cyprus.
    b) If Israel needed to react to an incident in Cyprus they could do it as easily from here as there.
    c) The Israeli public would never agree to such a thing. Even a little understanding of how the army works in Israel should tell you that such as thing would never be tolerated or agreed upon by those who send their children to the army (aka the public).

    • I Wonder.... May 21, 2012, 2:36 AM

      Weeeeeelllllll, your point (b) is only relevent to the IAF, who certainly would have no problem sending fighter jets over Cyprus from bases in Israel.

      But in terms of getting TROOPS there your claim simply isn’t true; the Turkish Navy has more than enough firepower to prevent the Israeli Navy from sending a troop convoy to Cyprus.

      So you either position those troops on the island BEFORE the shooting starts, or you don’t send them at all.

      Mind you, the reverse is true i.e. any troops that are put there BEFORE the shooting starts will have no way of getting off i.e. they either prevail or they surrender, because “evacuation” isn’t an option.

      • Rain May 22, 2012, 9:49 PM

        The Turkish government and army of course has no llegal jurisdiction in Cyprus.

        Anyway it’s a moot point since the idea that Israeli soldiers would serve on Cyprus is completely absurd to anyone with the slightest understanding of Israeli society.

        • Richard Silverstein May 23, 2012, 1:08 AM

          The idea Israel would kill 1,400 Gazans in Cast Lead, 9 Turks on the Mavi Marmara, 1,100 during the 2006 Lebanon war, invade Lebanon and march to Beirut in 1982, etc. seemed completely absurd to most people before they happened. Then they happened & didn’t seem quite as absurd anymore.

      • Fred Plester May 23, 2012, 3:54 AM

        The IDF would have no problem sending fighter jets over Cyprus from bases in Israel.

        Provided that the significant British and American military (and CIA) presence in the Sovereign base areas was content to let them. Bit of a gamble there, especially if Downing Street and the White House resented the willful throwing of matches into the powder keg.

    • Richard Silverstein May 21, 2012, 1:03 PM

      If Israel stands to earn billions fr this project I’d think they’d find a way to do whatever it takes to protect their investment & personnel including either expanding the army or hiring quasi private security guards who have served in the IDF.

  • Shaun May 21, 2012, 4:10 AM

    20,000 troops? Do you have nay idea how ridiculous that number is when you consider the size of Israel’s standing army? BTW placing reservist there would cost even more… Maybe you should do a bit of fact checking…

    Also do you recognize the legitimacy of occupied Turkish North Cyprus?

    • Richard Silverstein May 21, 2012, 1:00 PM

      The article says “commandos,” which could mean private Blackwater-type security forces. But again, the standard way of rebutting something with which you disagree is by offering evidence or persuasive argument based on evidence, neither of which you’ve done. So we await something more probative than derision.

      • commoner May 21, 2012, 1:05 PM

        Since when does the term “commando” refer to private security forces?

        • Richard Silverstein May 21, 2012, 3:21 PM

          Stop with the nonsense. I was interpreting how Israel could implement the claim made in the report.

      • Shaun May 21, 2012, 11:34 PM

        Would love to know where you get the idea that “commandos,” refers to private security companies. You always claim to have military contacts, so why don’t you ask them?

        They will concur that the term “commandos” refers to well trained elite soldiers, in the US that would mean Green berets or Rangers. In Israel this could be the various Palsar/Han/Orev type units, or specialized units like maglan, egotz, sheldag, etc.
        These commandos make up a fraction of Israel military force. If you took all “ commando units in the standing army and reserves you still would not get to the 20,000 number you quote here. BTW Israel’s standing army is less than 200,000 soldiers, (see http://www.inss.org.il and globalsecurity.org) of this less than 30% are regarded as trained combat soldiers. Any one with rudimentary military knowledge would know this.

        One last point that you should probably look into. An Israeli venture that would provide employment for thousands of Israel’s would probably receive some press in Israel…but there is NOTHING.
        Best to delete this post before you have to apologize for getting your facts wrong again.

        • Richard Silverstein May 22, 2012, 12:23 AM

          I don’t need lessons in what is a commando. I know what they are. I also know that the Turkish report may’ve meant commandos and may’ve meant something else. I wasn’t in the mtg where Bibi discussed this with the Greek Cypriot leader. So I don’t know what they said. I only know that in similar situations most companies use private security guards. That being said, Israel behaves differently than most nations regarding security issues & might actually want its own military forces guarding a site deeemed as important to Israel’s business & military interests.

          It also occurred to me that Israel might want to use Cyprus as a military base in its war of nerves with Turkey. In that case, having 20,000 troops there would poke a finger in Turkey’s eye and cause it to have to divert forces from its war with the PKK in the east. Nothing would make Bibi happier believe me.

          You’re being an insufferable twit. Your last comment in this thread. Comment again here and you’re history.

  • Joel May 21, 2012, 4:20 AM

    Israel has enough real problems. So why peddle this ‘photo-shopped’ and patently absurd tripe?

    • Richard Silverstein May 21, 2012, 12:51 PM

      I know whenever you get into high moral dudgeon & cast aspersions on something that it’s hit a nerve with the hasbara contingent.

      So here’s how it works. I have a reputable source for my post. You don’t. Now you go and find one that disproves Hurriyet. Or dig up evidence that disproves it. Do some work for a change instead of whining for Israel.

      • Jonds May 21, 2012, 2:26 PM

        [comment deleted--next time you post another idiot-brained comment like this one it will be your last.]

        • Davey May 21, 2012, 8:16 PM

          Jonds — what’s your evidence? Where’s the argument? Do you have anything at all aside from obnoxious threats?

          • Jonds May 23, 2012, 12:38 AM

            Where is Richard’s evidence? Except, ofcourse, the dubious article of the Turkish paper? Or maybe his source that no one knows?

          • Richard Silverstein May 23, 2012, 1:27 AM

            Actually, several people know who my source is aside from myself & the source.

            As for the article, it’s only “dubious” in your eyes but I haven’t seen you offer any credible evidence of its dubiousness.

      • Joel May 21, 2012, 3:48 PM

        All my reputable Turkish journalists are currently incarcerated in Turkish prisons.

        • Richard Silverstein May 21, 2012, 8:55 PM

          You don’t have any reputable Turkish journalists, nor any credibility for that matter.

          • Deïr Yassin May 22, 2012, 12:31 AM

            Is this the Joel who saw “IDF troops trying to separate the unarmed settlers from Palestinian stone throwing youth” in ‘Asira al-Qibliya ?
            I guess those incarcerated Turkish journalists of his are writing in Braille then.
            After a statement as the one on the “unarmed settlers”, Joel simply hasn’t any credibility whatsoever.
            How come super-Zionists think they can lie without shame on one topic and being taken seriously on another.

          • Joel May 22, 2012, 4:16 AM

            [You have attempted to publish the same comment using a separate nickname. You have used both identities over an extended period of time. This is specifically prohibited under my comment rules for many reasons. Both because you either read the rules & ignored them, or because you didn't read them after repeatedly being directed to do so, you've lost your comment privileges.]

  • pabelmont May 21, 2012, 6:01 AM

    Israel’s relations with Turkey are sometimes strained. Why make them so much worse?

    My own pipe-dream for I/P is a (doubtless slowly growing) international BDS movement, spearheaded by some country rich and powerful enough to thumb its nose at the USA and Israel — and explain its moves (trade shutdown, commercial airflights shutdown, diplomatic downgrade, etc.) on the basis of (near-) universally held standards of human rights and international law (and obligations, however slight, under Fourth Geneva Convention).

    Turkey, anybody?”

    • Davey May 21, 2012, 8:17 PM

      I’d like a little breast and a drum stick, please. And gravy.

  • David Kessler May 21, 2012, 10:54 AM

    “Now Israel would occupy a massive energy concession on a foreign island that is contested between its Turkish enemy and Greek ally.”

    That phraseology is somewhat misleading. Greece does not actually claim ownership of any part of Cyprus, only that it is and should remain an independent state.

    Turkey invaded after the overthrow of Makarios by the pro-Enosis colonels in Cyprus. Turkey had legitimate concerns at the time and their initial invasion of the island may have justified in their capacity as co-guarantor of the Cypriot constitution. But there was no reason for their occupation to continue or for their military presence to be escalated after democracy was restored to Cyprus (and to Greece for that matter).

  • Bob Mann May 21, 2012, 1:44 PM

    From the AFP:

    Israel denies planning troops in Cyprus

    ANKARA — Israel denied Monday reports in the Turkish press that it planned to deploy thousands of troops in Cyprus to protect oil and gas interests in the sensitive region.

    “These allegations are baseless and have no connection with reality,” the Israeli embassy in Ankara said, quoting a foreign ministry statement. “Israel has never deployed troops on foreign soil.”


    • Richard Silverstein May 21, 2012, 3:20 PM

      Frankly, I wouldn’t trust that statement as far as I can throw it. Plus it’s an abject lie since Israel has sent it’s troops numerous times to fight on foreign soil including Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Gaza, Syria, and Palestine.

      • Bob Mann May 21, 2012, 3:44 PM

        But why trust the information in the article you linked to? It doesn’t even have a source on the record. Isn’t that a little shaky as well?

  • Mary Hughes Thompson May 21, 2012, 8:28 PM

    It doesn’t surprise me at all. When we (FREE GAZA) sailed our two little wooden boats to Gaza in August 2008 we used Cyprus as our base. The Cypriot government was very friendly and helpful to us, and we contributed to their economy by bringing in hundreds of people to enjoy their hotels and restaurants, by buying many thousands of dollars worth of medicine there to take to Gaza, flights on Cyprus Airways, thousands of gallons of fuel, plus food and supplies for our voyages, and for port fees etc. We also employed local Cypriots as part of our land teams. From the beginning we were tailed by Mossad agents there, and we were informed by Cypriot officians that the Israelis were putting enormous pressure on the Greek Cypriot government to block us. As we made additional voyages the pressure from Israel was stepped up, probably supported by the U.S. We continued to maintain an apartment and offices in Larnaca, and at some point after CAST LEAD we began to notice some officials were changing their attitudes toward us, especially by the first flotilla in May 2010 flotilla, when many of us were forcibly restrained from boarding our boats. After that we realized the Israelis had been successful in bribing or otherwise persuading the Cypriots to stop cooperating with Free Gaza, at which point we closed our offices and left. We had no doubt the Israelis were behind it, and we knew the Israelis were negotiating with the Cypriots to work together in taking gas from areas that include Gaza’s territorial waters.

    • Davey May 21, 2012, 8:40 PM

      Israel bought off the Greek government as well. As for exploiting gas fields in Gazan waters, well Israel has always been a thief, nothing new here.

    • Shaun May 21, 2012, 11:36 PM

      Occupation is in the eye of the beholder? No issues with the military that occupied Cypress and expelled its residents?

      • Richard Silverstein May 22, 2012, 12:27 AM

        I’m neither Turkish, Greek nor Cypriot. I am, however, Jewish & a Zionist. Therefore Israel & its Occupation is far more important to me. But it’s interesting that you’re reading up on all the world’s occupation except your own (I presume you’re Israeli, if not you’re a mere hasbarist).

        • DavidL May 22, 2012, 3:52 AM

          I’m commenting to Shaun here-

          Don’t expect this blogger to report or discuss anything that doesn’t meet his own agenda . Some people, me included (in the past) tend to expect Richard to be even-handed and provide balance in his comments here and post items that show “both sides” of the I/O conflict etc. It isn’t likely to happen.

          He doesn’t lie, and his facts are usually backed by some “source” (I don’t always trust their credibility, but that can be in the eye of the beholder, like Richard not trusting some other people’s sources). He won’t report a story that contradicts what his “message” is. He interprets facts to present his side of the story… not much different than any other blogger, or even some news outlets. You have to know there is usually another side to the story not necessarily being told here. Nothing is as “black and white” as bloggers (both Rightist or Leftists, etc.) claim to insist.

          Challenging the opinion, asking for clarity and presenting alternative solutions (even if he feels it is “hasbara”… because, of course, everything but his agenda, solution is no doubt “hasbara”) is about the only thing that might get a serious reply and some interesting information.

          Once you realize this you can understand and sometimes appreciate (although certainly not necessarily agree with) what he posts. You have to take it at its face value. This isn’t a newspaper, nor is Richard newspaper journalist. It’s a blogger’s site and he has the right and privilege to post and address the topics he feels like discussing.

          • Richard Silverstein May 22, 2012, 6:05 PM

            That’s not completely true. I have never denied my disapproval of Iran’s theocracy nor Hamas’ Islamism. I have never expressed anything other than opposition to violence, including when used by Israel’s enemies.

            I have consistently said that if Israelis are prosecuted for war crimes then Palestinians should too.

            I have consistently expressed an appreciation of Israel & those values it upholds which I approve, & an appreciation of Jewish culture & tradition, which are a part of what makes Israel what it is.

            Those are not simplistic leftist positions. In fact, I think they’re fairly nuanced. But if you expect me to promote the views of the Jerusalem Post, you’ll be disappointed. There is far too much slipshod thinking & argument around this subject. I don’t see my role as holding the hands of my opponents or leading them to the light. We’re all grown ups here & possessed of mature minds.

            I expect clear thinking of myself & others. If argument offered is anything less than that, you’ll hear from me.

  • Philippa May 22, 2012, 12:29 AM

    Yes (Mary Hughes Thompson and others), I also picked up on several news reports of Israel cosying up to Cyprus after the debacle (for Israel) of the Free Gaza Flotilla, and the breakdown of relations with Turkey. So this story doesn’t surprise me at all (even if some of its details are possibly exaggerated – this is not uncommon in the Turkish press).

  • Chayma May 22, 2012, 4:36 AM

    DavidL Shaun and others,

    It doesn’t matter..the fact is Richard brings a breath of fresh air to ‘official’ and even ‘unofficial’ news. A mistake here and there is no problem. We’re all human. Liable to make mistakes. It’s cool.

    Unusual sources are fine with me, i’m not afraid to hear different views, no matter how unlikely or extreme.

    It is certainly not out of the ordinary to expect Israel to worry about the oil off Turkish shores. If I were an Israeli, i’d be thinking of putting boots on the ground, surreptitiously, (intelligence) if I couldn’t officially or militarily. I’m sure Turkey would do the same.

    It makes sense to me.

  • bezoar May 22, 2012, 4:47 AM

    This proposal, if indeed there was one such, is beyond my understanding. A straight commercial deal to acquire accession rights, production sharing agreements, employment of Israeli, local, other qualified foreign personnel and talent required to build and operate an offshore oil/gas e&p platform, etc. would avoid all but ho-hum media and professional notice, and cost pennies on the dollar compared to what was said in the proposal, and avoid the geopolitical consequences inherent in it. Seems a lot of people need to become familiar with Occam’s razor.

  • Chayma May 22, 2012, 5:14 AM


    A straight commercial deal would come about if Israel had friendly relations with Turkey. Not the deteriorating mess, currently getting worse, between Bibi and Erdogan.

    All the more reason, for Israel to think long term, it cannot remain in existent as a pariah state. End the occupation and most of these problems will go away if only Bibi’s crowd could fathom it out.

  • Liron May 22, 2012, 8:05 AM

    20,000 soldiers ?
    There is a much better solution: The Mossad can send his trained sharks, the same one that were attacking tourists in Sinai or the spaying birds from turkey.

    Just FYI – and it’s unclassified info – IDF has 5 main infantry brigades: Golani, Givati, Paratroopers, Nachal & Kfir. there are between 1000 – 3000 soldiers serving in each brigade.
    the rest is simple math. 3000*5 = 15,000 soldiers.

    The Turkish newspaper reported and you argue that israel will post 20,000 soldiers in Cyprus ? that’s more soldiers that server in Israel’s 5 main infantry brigades.

    well maybe, if you’ll combine the Mossad sharks and birds.

    is this a new chapter in Arabian nights ?
    this is such an out of touch post, show’s how little you really understand about the IDF.

  • bezoar May 22, 2012, 12:01 PM

    Re: Chayma say

    I am not convinced a commercial deal could not be done either though open commercial or other channels. As Everett Dirkson once said: A billion here….

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