So far, so good. But the United States Navy has been hollowed out in the Mediterranean Sea to the point that Seth Cropsey, a former navy official, describes the 6th Fleet as just a command ship in Italy and a few ballistic missile destroyers in Spain. This force needs urgently to be revitalized to support America’s Levantine allies as tensions further heighten in their immediate region.
Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org), president of the Middle East Forum, recently visited Cyprus. © 2013 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.
Nov. 6, 2013 addendum: A major article by Nicky Hager and Stefania Maurizi, “Cyprus: the home of British/American Internet surveillance in the Middle East,” appeared in the Italian magazine L’Espresso too late for inclusion in the above analysis.
Based on information provided by Edward Snowden, it states that British and U.S. surveillance of the internet “in the Middle East and surrounding regions occurs from a secret base on the island of Cyprus,” making the island “a key site” for mass surveillance systems.
That would be the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) located at Ayios Nikolaos, a separate unit of the larger sovereign British base of Dhekelia. It is called “Sounder” in one report.
This revelation has important implications for the Republic of Cyprus which, as L’Espresso puts it, “relies on the secrecy of the British spying operations to avoid having to explain to neighbouring countries why British and US intelligence agencies spy on them from bases on Cypriot territory.” L’Espresso explains:
Undersea cable maps show Cyprus at the hub of numerous fibre-optic undersea cables making it a natural site to spy on the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern communications. A number of cables connect Cyprus to Israel and Syria, obvious targets for Anglo-American spying. Other cables run from Cyprus to Lebanon, Cyprus to Egypt and Turkey, to Greece and Italy, and so on.
The major SEA-ME-WE3 cable connecting South East Asia, the Middle East and Western Europe also comes ashore on the little island country. In total over a dozen strategic cables are accessible in Cyprus and more are planned. It is an ideal site for monitoring communications in the Middle East and surrounding countries.
The National Security Agency also has a direct role in these surveillance capabilities and U.S. intelligence officers are based in sovereign bases, but they “are required to dress as tourists because the UK has promised the Cyprus government that only British staff will work there.”