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Hezbollah chief’s open threat to attack Cyprus, fear of war with Israel increases, tension

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has threatened to attack Cyprus. Hassan on Wednesday blamed Israel for helping him and called for an attack on Cyprus. Nasrallah has said that opening Cyprus’ airports and bases to Israel to target Lebanon would mean that the Cyprus government has also joined the war. In such a situation, Cyprus will be dealt with as a country with which we are at war. Hezbollah’s threat to attack Cyprus has increased the fear that the war between Israel and Hezbollah could spread to the eastern Mediterranean. Nasrallah’s comments could shock not only the ethnically divided island nation of Cyprus, but also Nicosia and Israel’s close ally Greece.

According to the Middle East Eye report, Gabriel Haritos, a Jerusalem-based expert on Cyprus-Israel relations at the Lenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (Eliamp), has called it an unprecedented military threat. Haritos says that Hezbollah is not far away at all. If they can target the outskirts of Tel Aviv, they can attack Cyprus as well. This is not something that can be ruled out.

US forces are gathered in Cyprus

Nasrallah’s threat against Cyprus came after its Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos held a meeting with Antony Blinken in Washington on Monday. After the meeting, US Secretary of State Blinken said that Cyprus holds an important place in the region and is an important partner for the US. Cyprus has emerged as a hub for US special forces since the Gaza war (7 October). US Naval Special Warfare Operators have conducted joint training with Cyprus counterparts this year.

Nasrallah’s threatening message to Cyprus makes it clear that Hezbollah is looking with concern at the deepening ties of Israel and the US with Cyprus, an eastern Mediterranean island nation located 260 km off the coast of Lebanon. Israel’s closeness with both Cyprus and Greece has increased over the past decade. Constantinos Filis, director of the Institute of Global Affairs in Athens, said Hezbollah is clearly disappointed that Cyprus has signed a strategic cooperation agreement with the Americans. This latest threat stems from that disappointment.

With the escalating fighting in Gaza and along the border with Lebanon, Israel has used its strategic relationship with Cyprus for military purposes. It is also being claimed that the Israeli Air Force has also used Cyprus airspace. However, Cyprus has been cooperating with Israel on security for years. It has participated with Greece and the US in annual naval exercises. They also conducted a large-scale naval exercise in 2023, in which the Israeli naval fleet sailed to Cyprus. Israeli special forces also train in Cyprus where the rocky terrain resembles Lebanon.