This page highlights the various posts on this blog relating to my project on the conflict in Cyprus in July/August 1974. The focus is on the military history of the operation, although, as always, it is impossible to entirely separate the military from the political context.
The predominantly Greek population of Cyprus had a range of rulers before the Ottoman Empire conquered the island in 1571. This brought a significant influx of Turkish migrants to the island, who constituted around 20% of the population by 1974. The two communities remained largely separate due to separate education and religious systems, reinforced by the Ottoman millet system. Despite this segregation, there was very little inter-communal violence until the 1950s.
The Greek-Cypriot campaign for Enosis (union with Greece) in the early 1950s changed everything. In the early years, this campaign was aimed at Britain as the colonial power with the armed insurgency, led by EOKA, starting in 1955. The Turkish government was initially relaxed, hoping that the campaign would fizzle out, although their strategic concerns over Greece gaining control of Cyprus remained. However, they took a stronger line in protecting the Turkish community after inter-communal violence increased in 1958. Ankara then provided more aid to the Turkish defence organisation, the TMT.
The independence settlement in 1960, guaranteed by Greece, Turkey and Britain, initially calmed tensions. However, when Makarios abrogated the agreement and prepared the Akritas Plan to knock out the Turkish communities, the scale of fighting dramatically increased. The threat of Turkish military intervention put something of a brake on the Greek Cypriot offensives. Still, by 1964 the Turkish minority had largely been forced into enclaves for their own security. Only US intervention stopped Turkey from intervening in 1964 and again in 1967, although their capacity to put boots on the ground was limited.
The 1974 crisis was caused by a military coup inspired by the Greek Junta, which replaced Makarios with a former EOKA leader Sampson. This was not acceptable to the Turkish Cypriots or Turkey, who feared new attacks on their communities and began preparations for an intervention. The war itself was a somewhat one-sided affair. The ill-equipped Cypriot National Guard fought well, but modern tanks and total air superiority made the outcome inevitable.
The Turkish Armed Forces advanced to the Attila Line, roughly a third of the island. This effectively split the island into two and resulted in large-scale population exchanges. In 1983, the Turkish Cypriots created the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which is only recognised by Turkey. despite many efforts to resolve the conflict, this remains the position to this day.
|Map: United States Central Intelligence Agency, Public domain.|
Cyprus 1974 Remembered - My visit to the 1974 battlefields and museums in Cyprus.
|The landing beach today|
The Cyprus Emergency - This book by Nick van der Bijl, is a narrative history of the island and the campaign against the British occupation. Essential background reading to the events of 1974.
The End of Empire - Martin Bell's experiences as a National Serviceman with the British Army just before independence.
The Battle of Kokkina - took place between April and August 1964 in northwest Cyprus between the attacking Greek Cypriot National Guard and the defending Turkish militia (TMT). This book is an annotated translation by Nejla Clements of her uncle, Fadil Elmasoglu's diary. He was an active member of the TMT and fought throughout the battle.
Phase Line Attila - Ed Erickson and Mesut Uyar's book is the best military history of the campaign. The amphibious aspects are also well covered in a chapter Uyar wrote with S. Güvenc Against All Odds, also published as open access by the Marine Corps University.
Cyprus at War - Jan Asmussen's study of the 1974 conflict. This is primarily a diplomatic history based on British and US archival sources. The most up to date study of these sources debunk many of the well-publicised conspiracy theories.
Armour on Cyprus - Ioannis Mamounidakis' book on the Greek Cypriot National Guard's armoured units (DIT).
Greek-Turkish Relations since 1955 - This book by Tozun Bahcheli focuses on Cyprus and the diplomatic efforts to address it. Military operations are only briefly touched on.
Opening the Black Box - A couple of book reviews that look at Turkish military culture and organisation.
The Rise of the Turkish Defense Industry - Ayse Özer's study of how the Turkish Government developed a homegrown defence industry after the US arms embargo.
Greek Cypriot National Guard - Infantry and armour in 20mm.
Cyprus 1974 played with 10mm models using Cold War Commander rules.
The Suez Crisis 1956 - Highlights the British view of their strategic interests in the region.
|Turkish M113 APCs in 20mm|
|Turkish Huey helicopter in 20mm|
|Greek National Guard armour in 6mm|
|Greek National Guard T34/85 and BTR-152 APC in 20mm|