Turkey’s Military Presence in Cyprus

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Turkey's Military Presence in Cyprus

Turkish Army soldiers march in a military parade during the celebrations of the Republic Day in Istanbul, 29 October 2007. AFP PHOTO / DIMITAR DILKOFF (Photo credit should read DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that the country is going to build the Forward Operational Bases (FOBs) in Qatar, Somalia[1], the Republic of Georgia[2], and Azerbaijan. Moreover, the country also plans building its first aircraft carrier that will extend Turkey’s naval presence into the Red Sea and Indian Ocean. By doing this, the current Turkish political elite will ensure that it will keep Turkey’s “neo­-Ottoman” foreign and military policies active. Indeed, with its actions Turkey is showing its intentions to expand its military presence abroad. The country has the full support of NATO and the US, who see these moves as ‘’a contribution to stability’’. Is actually possible for Turkey to become the regional superpower with bases in Qatar, Somalia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan? Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party’s pan-Turkic appetite may even go as far as having additional Turkish bases in Europe3, Central Asia, and North Africa.  It is a wide known fact that the Turks have operated military bases in Northern Cyprus for many years since the «Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus» is not recognized by any other nation. Following this, let us first have a brief look at the eldest Turkey foreign military, political and economic presence at the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus[3].

Going through the political aspect of the story, we have to think of the failure of Turkey to add TRNS as one of its provinces. This ended the country’s dream to get international recognition for the state-let. Although, Turkey took pride after having resolved the stalemate, it never succeeding in reaching a sustainable outcome. Supporting the TRNC has turned into a problem to every international platform, including the EU[4].

Considering the religious point of view, we can consider the efforts toward the assimilation on this field in a largely secular Turco-Cypriot society have also failed. The Cyprus stalemate continues to be the gateway to endless problems between Greeks and Turks, be it on the island, the main-lands, or the international arena.

There isn’t any serious economic activity other than gambling and construction in the Turkish-held parts of the island. In the construction sector, incentives are provided mostly to entrepreneurs from the mainland- the land is provided free of charge, loans are secured from Turkish banks, the workers are imported from Turkey, and the building materials are not a subject to custom regulations – a “colonial” economy. There is an adviser from Turkey in every ministry supervising decisions.

Turkey’s military superiority in Cyprus – in the land, air and at sea – remains unchallenged and obvious. General calculations says that the total number of military forces on the island that can be called to arms by the Cyprus Republic or Greece reach 62,950, compared to 74,000 Turkish troops in Cyprus, which includes 5,000 armed Turkish Cypriots and 26,000 Turkish Cypriot reservists. Turkish Armed Forces maintains the Cyprus Turkish Peace Force which consists of around 30,000–40,000 troops drawn from the 9th Turkish Army Corps and comprising two divisions, the 28th and 39th. Its ORBAT consists of a substantial number of MBTs (US-made M48 “Patton”)  and field artillery support systems. The Turkish Air Force, the Turkish Navy and the Turkish Coast Guard also maintain a presence and support land forces deployed. Command/Control/Communication/Computer/Intelligence (C4I) is a bit more complicated: although formally part of Turkish 4th Army, headquartered in İzmir, the sensitivities of the Cyprus situation means that the commander of the Cyprus Turkish Peace Force also reports directly to the Turkish General Staff in Ankara. Most of the units of The Cyprus Turkish Peace Force are deployed mainly along the “Green Line”. In short, estimated ORBAT is shown here:

  • 28th Mechanized Infantry Division (Paşaköy, Kyrenia) – may only be at brigade strength
  • 39th Mechanized Infantry Division (Çamlıbel, Morphou) – may only be at brigade strength
  • 14th Armoured Brigade (Degirmenlik, Nicosia)
  • 49th Special Force Regiment
  • 41st Commando Regiment
  • 109th Field Artillery Regiment
  • 190th Marines Battalion
  • Communications Battalion
  • Central Command Military Police Battalion
  • Logistics Support Group (Kyrenia)

Turkey's Military Presence in Cyprus

According  to the annual report of the Cyprus Center for Strategic Studies “The military forces in Cyprus 1974 – 2014” balance of power in that small island is:

  1. for each tank of the National Guard, the Turks have 2.1 tanks,
  2. for every Cypriot National Guardsman there are 3.4 Turkish soldiers
  3. for each APC of the National Guard there are 1.4 Turkish.

Notes:

[1] Although Turkey allegedly tried to moderate between Somaliland and Somalia, Turkey’s belligerent attitude toward separatists is well known in not only Somaliland but also in other separatist regions of Somalia, including Puntland, Jubaland, and others. These will be the initial targets of the Turkish military forces in Somalia.

[2] The proposal for a Turkish base on Georgian soil was discussed at a meeting in Tbilisi, the Georgian capital, of the defense ministers of Turkey, Georgia, and Azerbaijan. In addition to creating worries in Armenia, a Turkish base in Nakhichevan would alarm Iran, which has been wary of Turkish ties to ISIL and other Sunni jihadist groups

[3] http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/europe/cy-trnc.htm

[4] Present obstacles to Turkey’s EU membership negotiations (eight chapters blocked by the EU Council and another six by the Republic of Cyprus in connection with the stalemate) would be gradually or entirely removed.

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  • we hate terror

    What the fuck New escalation in Cyprus ?fk off erdogan

  • Nexusfast123

    Erdogan is a dangerous clown that is going to make a stupid move at some point.

  • Stephen E Hughes

    Erdogan is also pushing for for a naval base in Gaza, & building a shipping port , part of his conditions for relations with Israel.