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Fri, Jul 12 | 1:58 pm

Hezbollah Threatens Cyprus Amid Rising Tensions with Israel

by | Jun 20, 2024

Nicosia, Cyprus — In a fiery speech delivered Wednesday, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah issued a stark warning to Cyprus, threatening the small Mediterranean island with potential attacks if it aids Israel in any conflict. This comes in the wake of escalating hostilities between the Lebanese militant group and Israel.

“Cyprus will be part of this war too,” Nasrallah declared in a televised address, cautioning against any cooperation with Israeli forces, such as opening airports and bases to them. The speech was delivered just a day after Israeli officials indicated that the likelihood of “all-out war” in Lebanon was increasing.

Responding to these threats, Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides firmly denied any involvement in the conflict. “The statements are not pleasant, but they do not correspond in any way to what is being attempted, to present an image that Cyprus is involved in the war operations. In no way whatsoever,” Christodoulides said. He emphasized that communication channels with both Lebanese and Iranian governments remain open to avoid misunderstandings and escalation.

Strategic Importance of Cyprus

Cyprus’s geographic location makes it a critical player in the region. The island, roughly twice the size of Delaware, is split between the Greek-speaking Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish-speaking Northern Cyprus. While the Republic of Cyprus is recognized internationally and is a member of the European Union, it is not part of NATO, which leaves it outside the mutual defense agreements that protect member states.

Located on the edge of the Middle East, Cyprus is much closer to the region’s conflict zones than to Europe’s power centers. This proximity could make it a valuable logistical and operational hub for any military actions involving Israel and Hezbollah, hence the specific mention by Nasrallah.

Rising Tensions Between Israel and Hezbollah

The longstanding hostility between Israel and Hezbollah has intensified recently. Cross-border attacks have been escalating after months of low-intensity skirmishes, with the Israeli military warning that a large-scale operation might be imminent.

Lebanon and Israel have been officially at war for decades, with significant conflicts in 1982 and 2006. Hezbollah, backed by Iran, has grown into a formidable paramilitary force, committed to resisting Israeli influence and actions in the region. The 2006 conflict alone resulted in over a thousand Lebanese deaths, mostly civilians, and significant casualties on the Israeli side as well.

Risks of a Broader Conflict

The mention of Cyprus in Nasrallah’s speech adds a new dimension to the conflict, potentially drawing a European Union nation into the fray. This development risks further internationalizing the conflict, which could have severe repercussions.

Potential for a Global Crisis

Experts warn that the inclusion of Cyprus in the conflict could spiral into a broader regional or even global crisis. If Hezbollah’s threats materialize and Cyprus becomes an active war zone, the European Union might be compelled to respond. This could drag more countries into the conflict, raising the specter of a larger international confrontation.

The complex web of alliances and enmities in the Middle East, coupled with the involvement of major powers like the United States, Russia, and Iran, already makes the region a volatile powder keg. Any escalation involving Cyprus could trigger a chain reaction of military engagements, potentially leading to a much larger and more destructive conflict.

Conclusion

While both Israel and Hezbollah currently show no desire for a full-scale war, the situation remains precarious. The threats against Cyprus have introduced a new variable that could either serve as a deterrent or a catalyst for broader hostilities. As the world watches closely, the hope remains that diplomatic efforts can prevent the situation from deteriorating into a wider war.

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