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UK government suppresses MP inquiries about Cyprus base’s role in Gaza conflict

Executive Summary: In an unprecedented move, the UK Ministry of Defence is blocking all parliamentary inquiries about activities at RAF Akrotiri, its air base in Cyprus, amid allegations of supporting Israel’s military operations in Gaza. This decision, veiled under the pretext of “national security,” represents a significant deviation from standard protocols of government transparency. Reports indicate that RAF Akrotiri has facilitated over 30 military transport flights to Tel Aviv since the onset of Israeli bombings in Gaza, raising concerns about the base’s covert military purposes. The Ministry of Defence has remained tight-lipped about the nature of these flights, which are believed to be transporting military personnel and equipment. This development coincides with the increased military presence in the Eastern Mediterranean, including additional troops and warships. Moreover, the UK’s suppression of information extends to advising British media against reporting on UK special forces’ activities related to Gaza. The censorship has sparked criticism and demands for transparency, underscoring a conflict between government secrecy and public accountability, especially in matters of international military involvement and human rights concerns.

The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence has taken an extraordinary measure to suppress all parliamentary inquiries related to the activities at RAF Akrotiri, its air base in Cyprus. This censorship, revealed by Declassified UK, raises significant concerns about the base’s involvement in the ongoing Israel-Gaza conflict.

RAF Akrotiri, located in Cyprus, plays a strategic role for the UK’s military operations in the Middle East. The base’s proximity to Israel and Gaza has made it an ideal staging post for military campaigns in the region.

Declassified UK has reported that RAF Akrotiri facilitated over 30 military transport flights to Tel Aviv since the beginning of Israel’s bombardment of Gaza. These flights reportedly carried military personnel and equipment, potentially implicating the UK in the conflict. The nature of the cargo and the personnel remains undisclosed by the Ministry of Defence, citing reasons of “national security”.

The British government’s decision to block parliamentary questions is highly unusual. Typically, government departments may refuse to answer specific questions for security reasons, but a blanket ban on all inquiries appears to be unprecedented. This has sparked accusations of a lack of transparency and accountability in the government’s handling of military operations.

In addition to parliamentary censorship, the Defence and Security Media Advisory (DSMA) Committee issued advisories to British media to suppress reporting on UK special forces’ activity related to Gaza. It is believed Special Forces are stationed in Cyprus, ready to be mobilised to Gaza. This further clouds the government’s actions in secrecy and raises questions about the freedom of press in matters of national security and international conflict.

The involvement of RAF Akrotiri in the Israel-Gaza conflict has international ramifications. The base, historically used for operations across the Middle East, now seems to be playing a significant role in supporting Israel’s military actions. This not only affects the UK’s foreign policy stance but also its relationships within the international community, particularly in the context of human rights and international law.

Critics, including MPs and human rights advocates, have called for transparency and openness from the UK government. The suppression of information about military activities, especially those that might be contributing to international conflicts, is seen as a breach of democratic principles. The lack of clarity and accountability is alarming, particularly when potential war crimes are being investigated by international bodies like the International Criminal Court.

The President of Cyprus, Nikos Christodoulides, has defended his government against accusations of complicity in Israel’s bombing of Gaza, stating that the country cannot be used as a base for war operations. However, given RAF Akrotiri’s history and strategic location, the base’s role in the conflict remains a point of contention.

The ongoing conflict in Gaza has led to significant loss of life and destruction, with both sides reporting mass casualties. The UK’s alleged involvement, through its military base in Cyprus, in supporting one side of the conflict, raises serious humanitarian concerns. The use of the base for military flights to Israel during a time of intense conflict implicates the UK in the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza.

Dr. Iain Overton of Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) expressed deep concern over the recent revelations, stating: “The lack of transparency and accountability from the UK government regarding RAF Akrotiri’s activities is deeply troubling. In a democracy, it is essential that elected officials have the ability to scrutinize military actions that could implicate a nation in an international conflict. This blanket suppression of parliamentary inquiries not only undermines democratic norms but also raises serious ethical questions about the UK’s role in the ongoing Israel-Gaza conflict. It is crucial that governments uphold principles of transparency, especially when their actions have the potential to contribute to international tensions and humanitarian crises.”

The UK government’s decision to censor parliamentary questions about RAF Akrotiri’s role in the Israel-Gaza conflict is a significant deviation from standard democratic practices. This act of suppression highlights the delicate balance between national security and democratic transparency. It underscores the need for accountability in military operations, especially when they intersect with international conflicts and human rights issues. The UK government faces a critical challenge in addressing these concerns while maintaining its strategic interests in the region.