Monday, October 18, 2010


Strategically located in the eastern Mediterranean, Cyprus has long had significance for competing intelligence agencies, and during the Suez Crisis it was the headquarters for the British Middle East Headquarters. Later, during the Cyprus Emergency between 1955 and 1959, both principal British intelligence agencies were deployed in support of troops attempting to suppress separatist terrorism. Intelligence played a large part in enhancing the British government’s determination to retain two permanent sovereign base areas in the south of the island at Akrotiri and Dhekelia—against the wishes of the Greek Cypriot leader, Archbishop Makarios—and to grant independence only on that condition. At the very last moment of the final negotiations in London, Makarios unexpectedly conceded the bases, having succumbed to pressure over the threat of  disclosures concerning his private life, and also allowed Great Britain to retain a strategically important intercept site at Ayios Nikolais in the Troodos Mountains. The intercept station, manned by the Royal Signals
and staff drawn from GCHQ and the National Security Agency, provided invaluable information about Soviet missile tests in the southern Ukraine and from Arab communications in the Middle East.