Jump to content
Join the Unexplained Mysteries community today! It's free and setting up an account only takes a moment.
- Sign In or Create Account -

UK mulled troop backing for Makarios


Recommended Posts

By Paul Majendie

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain drew up contingency plans in 1974 to send up to 12,000 troops to help restore Greek Cypriot President Archbishop Makarios, deposed in a coup which triggered the Turkish invasion of Cyprus.

But defence officials warned that British troops faced becoming badly bogged down fighting insurgents in a Northern Ireland-style conflict.

Official documents from the time, released on Saturday by the National Archives, offer intriguing insights into how London reacted to the crisis in Cyprus, which had become independent from Britain in 1960.

Turkey occupied the north of the Mediterranean island in 1974 after a brief coup in Nicosia which was engineered by the military then ruling Greece.

Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash declared a breakaway state in northern Cyprus nine years later and despite decades of diplomatic effort, the island has been divided ever since.

Turkey recognises only the Turkish Cypriot statelet in the north while the rest of the world, including the European Union, views the Greek Cypriot government as the sole legitimate authority on the island.

The documents revealed that in July 1974, the Ministry of Defence assessed "the implications of re-instating Archbishop Makarios to Cyprus by means of support from UK military forces".

Estimating they would need three brigades and close air support, ministry officials said a section of the Cyprus population could be counted on to welcome and even assist the British.

But it warned: "It would be unrealistic not to accept that there will be sizeable elements who will actively oppose us by resorting to guerrilla warfare."

But then the real problems could begin, mirroring the drawn-out conflict faced by British troops battling the IRA in Northern Ireland.

"A far more difficult operation would be the maintaining of forces to ensure the safety of Makarios and his government and thereafter the mopping up of the large number of guerrillas.

"Bitter experience has shown us that even a small number of dedicated men with support from the local population can pin down an inordinately large force for an indefinite period.

"We might well end up by facing an open-ended and extensive situation similar to Northern Ireland," the records said.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 0
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

  • <bleeding_heart>


Popular Days

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Days

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.