Author Archives: Christopher Norris

About Christopher Norris

Media, publishing and social entrepreneur

A Most Secret World

Reproduced by kind permission of Eye Spy intelligence magazine, where this article first appeared in 2004 (Volume IV, Issue 28)

On the launch of his 2004 book, The Puppet Masters (Amazon: UK; USA) Colonel John Hughes-Wilson wrote articles published in the RUSI Journal and in Eye Spy that described his service as an intelligence corp officer. His Eye Spy feature is reproduced below as a series of images.

 

 

 

Advertisements

EOKA’s Latest Outrage

On 23 January 2019 the UK government reached an out-of-court settlement for £1 million for 33 elderly EOKA-era plaintiffs, who claimed they were tortured by British security services whilst being held in custody during the Cyprus Emergency (1955-9). All were arrested as terrorists by the British for their involvement with Ethniki Organosis Kyprion Agoniston (National Organisation of Cypriot Fighters) or EOKA.

The Greek-Cypriots filed their legal claim in 2015 after Foreign Office documents revealed claims of abuse during the Eoka terror campaign. Justice Kerr of the Queen’s Bench Division ruled for the claimants: ‘A state stands to be held to account for acts of violence against its citizens, it should be held to account, in its own courts, by its own law.’

The sense of outrage at this settlement has united both British veterans of the 1955-9 ‘Emergency’ and Turkish-Cypriots alike. Whilst the claimants beamed for their group photograph outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, they knew – as do the Turkish-Cypriots and the British – that this one-sided legal decision overlooked the far more numerous murders and atrocities committed by EOKA back in the 1950s. The smiles masked the blood on Greek-Cypriot hands: EOKA didn’t just torture and intimidate, the organisation was nothing more than a reincarnation of ‘Murder Inc.’

The story really starts in 1950, when Bishop Makarios, who later became the Ethnarch or leader of the Greek Cypriot Orthodox church, swore a holy oath with a Greek colonel called Georgios Grivas, who had been born on Cyprus, to bring Cyprus back to the Motherland (i.e. Greece). The majority Greek-Cypriot population of Cyprus supported the idea; they wanted union with Greece, or Enosis. The soldier and the priest planned to make Cyprus ‘Greek’ by getting rid of its other inhabitants via terrorism: the battle cry was ‘first the British and then the Turks.’

Grivas formed his underground group – EOKA – with a right-wing ideology, which made it the exception to the rule of post-World War II insurgencies, as it was not a communist-led rebellion. Eoka has more in common with the Jewish Irgun and Stern murder gangs of late-1940s Palestine.

In 1955 Grivas launched his insurgency with anti-British riots. Then, when EOKA escalated to a series of terrorist attacks, the Governor of Cyprus, Sir John Harding, declared a state of emergency.

Harding realised that intelligence was the key to snuffing out the rebellion. However this presented a major problem: Grivas enjoyed the support of the majority of the Greek-Cypriot population and so information was sparse. Most Greek-Cypriots either supported EOKA or were too frightened to speak out for fear of reprisals. EOKA made sure of this by terrorising its own population through a campaign of intimidation against the Greek-Cypriot members of the police force and their families.

This forced the British to rely increasingly on Turkish-Cypriot policemen who could provide little intelligence about Greek-Cypriot intentions. Hiding in plain sight amongst the Greek population, EOKA’s 1250 members prospered despite the efforts of the security forces. At least 371 British servicemen died during the EOKA period, of which about 200 were murdered. However, Grivas’s ‘Freedom Fighters’ cast their murderous net much wider than the colonial power only. The Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot populations suffered far more than the British from their blood-thirsty countrymen. During the ‘Emergency’, EOKA killed 679 Cypriot men aged 18-59; 72 women aged 18-59; 130 men and women over 60; and 132 under-18 boys and girls. Suddenly EOKA’s veterans don’t look quite so heroic. Gunning down your own defenceless women and children in cold blood usually doesn’t rate an award for heroism.

Inevitably the British reacted to this dirty underhand war. Interrogation centres manned by Special Branch and Intelligence officers swiftly became bywords for rough handling of detainees – and sometimes worse.

Allegations of ill treatment surfaced early. Seventy years ago interrogation methods were harsh. The need to obtain tactical information quickly soon led to allegations of abuse in what became a very dirty war. On 26 May 1957, London’s Sunday Dispatch newspaper ran a major exposure of British methods in Cyprus, claiming that detainees had been ill-treated or tortured by British interrogators.

It pointed to the case of Nikos Sampson, the leader of EOKA’s Ledra Street murder gang, whose track record of cold-blooded murders of soldiers and civilians alike earned Nicosia’s main shopping street the nickname of ‘Murder Mile.’ However, Sampson’s well-justified conviction for murder was overturned on appeal by Judge Bernard Shaw, who ruled that Sampson’s confession was inadmissible as it had been made under duress. The smirking EOKA killer walked free from prison.

Another case was the assault and beating in custody of EOKA member Joannis Christoforou, who was stripped naked, beaten with planks, suffered broken ribs and extensive bruising. The case against him was dismissed.

One woman, known only as ‘Mrs XY’ and now in her 70s, on being suspected of being an EOKA member was taken from her home by Turkish-Cypriot police in 1956 and raped. She was then taken to a police station, beaten during interrogation and ‘pushed between her tormentors like a ball’, before passing out. At one point a noose was tied around her neck and tightened. The inescapable conclusion is that some British interrogators broke the law in their attempts to glean intelligence.

However, at least the British have admitted their excesses.

Not so the Greek-Cypriots. Sadly, the myth of EOKA’s ‘heroic warriors’ in the Liberation Struggle has grown over the years. Today’s young generation of Greek-Cypriots know little about the crimes committed by EOKA against both Greek- and Turkish-Cypriots. The truth is that Greek-Cypriots refuse to admit their own grandfathers’ murderous crimes, even long after the British had departed.

The massacres of Turkish-Cypriots committed by Greek-Cypriots continued from 1963 to 1964, after the ‘Emergency’ ended, and even after the Greek coup in 1974. This truth is whitewashed from Greek histories.

The slaughter of 126 Turkish-Cypriots – the majority women and elderly people – from three Turkish-Cypriot villages (Maratha, Santalari and Aloa), as well as the execution of 84 civilian Turkish-Cypriots from the village of Tochni in August 1974 by EOKA, ranks with the Nazi atrocities at Lidice and Oradur.

However, Greek apologists refuse to admit the bloody truth; but the concealed statistics for the Greek-Cypriot deaths tell their own story. UN statistics for the period 1963-74 record at least 133. This is clearly an underestimate, based only on reported murders. Overall, the Cyprus High Commission information booklet gives a total figure of 3000 dead and 1400 missing for 1974 alone, bringing the Greek-Cypriot total for the period 1955-74 to 4833, the majority at the hands of fellow Greeks.

The truth is that the settlement with the EOKA-linked claimants is a one-sided affair. It represents a bargain for the UK, because it suppresses discussion in open court of any unpleasant facts. However it sets a precedent. The question now is, when will EOKA compensate the relatives of those Greek, Turk and British victims they murdered in cold blood? EOKA veterans openly boast of their murderous exploits; so who will be bringing a court case to sue those who gunned down a doctor like Surgeon-Captain Gordon Wilson, or defenceless women like Mrs Catherine Cutliffe, for their bloody deeds? The one-sided settlement with EOKA is an outrage, as it ignores far worse crimes admitted by the Greek-Cypriots’ EOKA killers.

So, as they celebrate their legal victory in the EOKA Veterans’ clubs, the stench of hypocrisy rivals the celebratory Ouzo. And what did they achieve? Nothing. The ultimate irony is that EOKA failed. Not only was there no Enosis, but Greek-Cypriots failed to achieve proper independence either. Having been ruled by foreigners for 3000 years, Makarios and EOKA only managed to rule a united Cyprus for three, from 1960 to 1963.

Was it all worth EOKA’s many murders?

The Unsealing of a Presidency

On the 46th anniversary of his death, further hard corroboration of LBJ’s mysterious rise to power through Texan money can be found in the revelations of Robert A Caro New Yorker article ‘The Secrets of LBJ’s Archives: On a Presidential Paper Trail‘ (22 January 2019). Caro is writing the acclaimed definitive biography of President Lyndon Baines Johnson (four volumes so far)

Any doubts that LBJ was acting as a conduit for Federal tax money being passed to big Texan Corporations from 1939 onwards are comprehensively demolished by Caro’s hard documentary evidence.

The article lends support to the facts I reveal in my book JFK: An American Coup d’Etat about LBJ’s role in one of the darkest episodes of US history (notes for original sources).

Extract from JFK: An American Coup d’Etat

On LBJ and Texas

‘At the heart of the oil cartel was an informal, shadowy cabal calling itself the ‘8F Group’ after the suite where it held its meetings at the Lamar Hotel in Houston. The group had been in existence since the 1930s, and it brought together some of the richest and most powerful men in Texas. In their number by the early 1960s were also representatives from State and Federal Politics, lawyers, bankers, businessmen and the Mafia. In 1962-3, the Suite 8F Group included oil barons H L Hunt, Billy Byars, Sid Richardson and Clint Murchison; Congressional fixer, lawyer and LBJ crony, Homer Thornberry; local politicians, State Governor John Connally and State Attorney General Waggoner Carr; Lyndon Baines Johnson; his personal attorney, Ed Clark – Mr Fixit – as well as prominent bankers and businessmen, including selected Mafia Dons who were, after all, local ‘businessmen’. The Texas oil moguls had also gone to considerable lengths to cultivate J Edgar Hoover over the years; both Billie Byars of Humble Oil and Clint Murchison helped to pay for the FBI Director’s annual vacation at a Mafia-owned and run resort in Del Mar California. And all of them were friends with the Vice President, Lyndon Baines Johnson. Texas oil was big, powerful and had bought key individuals in Washington DC.

‘LBJ held a special position in the ‘8F Group’ because he was effectively their spokesman in Washington. Before America eventually joined the war in 1941, the Texans had creamed off Federal tax dollars for their companies by using their own placemen in Washington to direct the hosepipe of Roosevelt’s ‘New Deal’ government dollars to the Lone Star State. Sam Rayburn knew where his interests lay and by 1940 the powerful Texan Senator virtually controlled the Senate by his ability to pack key political committees with his friends. LBJ joined that group in the late 1930s and by 1960 he was openly the representative of Texas capitalism. One wit even jibed, ‘To understand LBJ, you have to go to the Brown & Root of the matter …” Brown & Root was the Texan Corporation that had made millions out of America’s involvement in the Second World War and had groomed and supported LBJ every step of his political career. LBJ was their paid-up representative in every way. As a Senator and Leader of the House, LBJ represented himself, the business interests of the Texas 8F Group (especially Brown & Root) and his constituents: and in that order.

‘By the autumn of 1962, the 8F Group were becoming collectively concerned about their President in Washington. Not only did they not own and control him, but he was beginning to do things that would reduce their income. For the power brokers, oil billionaires and bankers of Texas, the answer was simple.

‘Someone was going to have to do something about John F Kennedy. Up to then the rich Texans had tolerated him. But removing the Oil Depletion Allowance was a step too far. In 1962, $300 million dollars was a lot of money. Around the 8F Group table ‘groupthink’ was unanimous. John F Kennedy was dangerous. He would have to be stopped.

‘Texas said so.’

The Doomed Euro?

In any normal January commentators offer their views on the coming year. However, most years, after the usual mix of doom and gloom, the world seems to carry on in the same old way.

This year, however, really is different. Quite a lot of the world is already not carrying on in ‘the same old way.’ In 2019 we are going to realise that something big has changed ‘out there’.

The Eurasia Group, political risk consultancy and adviser to the world’s elites, warns in its latest report: ‘The geopolitical environment is the most dangerous it’s been in decades.’ This is the year that events, and lack of remedial action, threaten global stability and risk collapsing the old world order in a way not seen for many years. The post-1945 Pax Americana is crumbling before our eyes as President Trump unravels the transatlantic alliance that has underpinned Europe since the 1950s. Many blocs – NATO, the UN, the G7, G20, WTO and the EU – are in varying degrees of crisis as new global challenges emerge and as America walks away from acting as the world’s sheriff. The Middle East is a basket-case, fighting its own ‘Thirty Years War’ between Sunni and Shi’a with a wary Israel looking on. In the East, China and North Korea are flexing their muscles; and in the emerging world a new breed of hard-line autocrats are taking over in Brazil, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the Philippines and Hungary.

The world order is changing – and not for the better.

The outlook is bad enough; but to make things worse, a world trade recession is looming. Global economic forecasts for 2019-20 make for dismal reading: 2019 could turn out to be the year that the world economy falls apart, although timing global economic slumps is like watching an oil tanker running slowly onto the rocks.

This is the wretched backdrop against which the European Union is confronting the biggest challenge to its existence since it began as a dream of a single European superstate back in the 1950s.

The year 2019 will be full of important decisions for the EU, as Brussels will have to set a seven-year budget – without Britain’s cash – as well as appointing new leaders to key institutions, and discussing reform, whilst coping with falling economic growth, the threat of populist national elections, trade frictions with the US, plus the challenges from Russia and China. Brexit is merely background noise to the increasingly embattled, unelected and unpopular bureaucrats sitting in the Berlaymont (European Commission HQ).

The EU is fighting on three fronts at the same time, even as many of its member states have their own domestic problems to contain (the French anti-Macron revolution is a symptom of a wider EU malaise):

  • First, nationalism (aka, ‘populism’)
  • Second, the Catalan rebellion and the Visegrad Four’s mutiny epitomise the growing challenge to Brussels’ rule
  • Third, underpinning everything, is the threat to the Euro. Brussels’ flagship currency is in deep trouble

The smiling celebration party for the euro’s 20th anniversary masked the rising panic among the fat cats, bureaucrats and bankers waving champagne flutes for the cameras. They now know that their grandiose plans to cement the EU together by issuing a single currency was a huge gamble and a serious mistake. ‘The house of cards will collapse’, admits Professor Otmar Issing, ironically one of the original cheerleaders of the euro and the founding chief economist of the European Central Bank (Business Insider, 17 October 2016).

For a real monetary union to work smoothly you need a genuine single authority, plus the ability to swing government money around a united economy. Thus England can pipe London taxpayers’ cash to support Scotland, Wales and Ireland; and the US can shore up the Rust Belt states with money from New York and California. Brussels however does not have the power, or the authority, to transfer rich German taxpayers’ cash to struggling Greece, or to get the Netherlands to pay for the million illegal immigrants who are descending on Italy.

The real economic problem is the EU’s ‘Club Med’. Southern Europe’s economic fragility was well known when Greece was allowed to join the euro, after some pretty dodgy accounting. It was always a risky venture.

To take one simple example, when Greece had its own currency, Athens could stimulate an economic slump by devaluing the drachma: suddenly Greek holidays were dirt cheap and millions of tourists brought their spending power to Greece. Not anymore. Athens was trapped into a currency it could not control or devalue, and which the big boys of the EU wanted to keep strong at all costs.

Devaluation of any German controlled pan-European currency was unthinkable. So Greece was told to cut its budget and live with austerity. That meant that the only way Greece could get extra euros was by borrowing – heavily. Sure enough the big German and French banks were only too happy to lend trillions of euros to the Club Med countries. Unfortunately it became a vicious circle, known as a ‘debt doom loop’, between countries with high levels of debt and the banks that hold that debt.

The problem got worse. Big banks have bought more and more public debt from Eurozone countries. However, should the debts not be paid back (‘non-performing loans’ in Bankspeak) then the banks holding those loans are themselves in deep trouble. Now the euro-banks are running scared. Without payment, they could follow Lehmann Brothers into oblivion. The ‘rescue’ of Greece 2010-13 turns out to have been nothing more than a face saving bail-out ‘loan’ to save the big French and German banks. Even the IMF has admitted that Greece was sacrificed to save the euro and the European banking system from disaster in the great financial crisis.

Italy is the canary in today’s Eurozone coal mine. Italian banks hold one-third of the unpaid euro loans; Italy largest banks hold 300 billion euros of bad debt, dodgy securities and off-balance sheet items that aren’t being repaid. Also, billions of euros of Italian government bonds are held by Deutschebank, Commerzbank, Societé Générale, Crédit Agricole and the Netherlands’ ING.

All this could be solved at the EU level; however there is fierce opposition from Northern European countries to swinging their taxpayers’ money around. In 2018 they diluted President Macron’s proposals for greater money pooling and higher spending in the Eurozone. The idea of stripping elected parliaments’ control over taxation, spending, and the economic policies of the nation state was never going to be accepted; ‘ever closer union’ had hit the buffers of national self-interest, as the UK’s Brexit proves.

Without a means to transfer funds and a ‘fiscal union’ by the EU countries (by pooling everyone’s taxes in Frankfurt and Brussels) the euro is at mortal risk. Now the economic storm clouds are gathering to make things even worse. Eurozone economies are slowing. Even the German economy is contracting. Industrial production was down by 4.7 per cent in the previous year leading up to November 2018. This means that, unbelievably, Germany – yes, Germany – is probably heading for a recession. Meanwhile, Italy has been in recession for a long time and Greece, Ireland, Spain and Portugal are still struggling to escape the last financial disaster. The Eurozone is heading for a full-blown recession; and without the means to devalue, or order ‘government’ spending to boost European economies, a slump seems inevitable. The pressure to break out of the stranglehold of the euro in order to print their own money has never been stronger for some nations.

‘What is clear is that the status quo cannot persist indefinitely if the euro is to survive in the long term’, an LSE blog article warned in October 2016.

This combination of member states’ disillusionment with Brussels, domestic problems, a shrinking economy, massive indebtedness, social and political challenges and the crisis of migration, plus the intrinsically unstable basis of the euro, means that monetary union has failed economically and politically.

Unless the EU27 agree to form a new central Treasury, the euro is doomed. That’s something to keep an eye on in 2019.

Fog in Channel over Brexit?

‘Fog in Channel – Continent Cut Off’ was a famous headline before the World War I. However, it still captures the deep-rooted insularity of the British.

This attitude towards Europe has skewed Britons’ understanding of Brexit, because Britain’s decision to leave the EU doesn’t just affect the UK. Britons tend to forget that it also came as a shock to the 27 remaining EU countries and, above all, to the unaccountable, corrupt Commission with its feather-bedded officials, living well on foreign tax payers’ money.

Commission dreams of ‘The Project’ and unstoppable progress towards ‘ever closer union’ and a ‘United States of Europe’ have come badly off the rails since 2016. It is timely therefore to examine just what Brexit means for Britain’s European partners and how Britain’s departure is viewed from the Continent.

It is not a happy scene.

As with most divorces, the first quarrel has been about money. Grandiose EU plans are doomed if the UK refuses to pay the £39bn settlement; it’s PM May’s most potent weapon. Brexit therefore confronts ‘Europe’ with a massive problem. Losing one of the biggest financial contributors to the EU means that the Commission’s budget will have to be rewritten and a lot of expensive projects shelved. (However, the Commission will fudge it: no honest accountant has signed off the EU’s ‘audited’ accounts for 21 years.)

The squeals of pain from the 27 have already started. Beggar-states such as Bulgaria and Romania are furious at not getting their handouts from Brussels for ‘EU-funded’ projects, and the net contributing countries – not many left, with the UK gone –  aren’t happy either. Germany, Holland and the other contributors to the Brussels money tree are reluctant to cough up more to balance EU books. If you don’t believe that, listen to the German car manufacturers, the Spanish fishermen or the French farmers. They are distinctly disgruntled and alarmed by what Brexit means for them.

The truth is that Britain’s exit from the EU has proved a devastating blow to the founding fathers’ dream of a European superstate, run by unelected civil servants, because Brexit affects other nations, politics, people, and challenges the Brussels-based Commission’s control.

The remaining 27 member states have been forced to confront their own membership of the EU; and we tend to forget the mess that most European countries are in.

The EU was already heading towards a crisis even without Brexit. Across a continent beset by mounting problems, Britain’s departure is a stinging vote of no confidence in Europe’s collective future. Ken Clarke’s wish for Westminster ‘to become mere provincial council chamber in Europe’ has proved false. People across the Continent want to rule themselves, with their own borders and as individual nations. They are fed up with the EU meddling in their lives.

Now the suppression of nationalism, which has always been the bedrock of Euro-federalism, is being challenged. By its own admission the EU has suffered one of the most disastrous years in its history. It needs to reform quickly to avoid a head-on challenge, as governments throughout the continent face a backlash of anti-EU votes.

The EU’s leaders – Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel – have already seen their popularity ratings plummet to record lows. In Italy things are worse, as Rome’s government, one of the EU’s Big Four (France, Germany, Spain), now represents a serious anti-Brussels majority. Italy’s new ‘government of change’ openly defies Commission edicts on any Euro-budget, and refuses to accept EU immigration policies. Hardly surprising, as, thanks to the stranglehold of the German Euro, Italy’s economy is little bigger than it was 20 years ago, and youth unemployment is 32.5 per cent. The national debt stands at almost €2.5 trillion — over 130 per cent of annual GDP. That money can never be paid back and so Italy is heading for bankruptcy.

Italy is not alone with economic woes. Spain is in deep trouble, too. More than a third of young Spaniards have never had a job. This human tragedy is directly linked to membership of the EU, because the Euro has rendered large tracts of the Spanish and Portuguese economy hopelessly uncompetitive.

In Athens, the birthplace of European democracy, the long-running Greek tragedy continues. Membership of the Eurozone has ruined Greece, wiping out businesses, jobs and entire industries. The Greek economy has actually contracted; shortages and hardship stalk the streets, whilst Brussels dictates orders from afar.

Inevitably this growing economic crisis has now spilled on to the streets of Europe. In France, President Macron’s unpopular ‘reforms’ – like increased petrol tax – have encouraged citizens to protest in the traditional French way. The gilets jaunes (yellow vests) are rioting on the streets. But their protests are about more than just France. They are also about the EU, because Macron has become the main cheerleader for the EU now that Angela Merkel’s long Chancellorship is heading for the German knacker’s yard. Macron’s capitulation to the rioters with his curious cocktail of police brutality and concessions to rioters shows that the greatest crisis for the EU is the spreading challenge to Brussels from despised ‘ordinary voters.’

Spain’s experience reinforces this view. The bitter internal dispute between Madrid and the Catalan separatists – whose leaders either await trial at home or are in exile abroad – has exposed the simmering power of ‘the people.’ Brussels’ snub to the breakaway Catalans will not be easily forgotten. Like all the other unrest across the Continent, it spells out the EU’s dreaded ‘N word’ – Nationalism.

Even in safe, comfortable Germany, the nationalist far-right now poses a menacing threat to the cosy CDU-SPD order, with the electoral successes of the anti-EU Alliance for Germany (AfD) party. Also, In Belgium, ‘capital of Europe’ and headquarters of the EU, a political shambles is taking shape. Prime Minister Charles Michel resigned just before Christmas and now leads a caretaker government until fresh elections can take place in May 2019. He is leaving the screen whilst ordinary Belgians worries about chronic unemployment and Islamic immigration are stoking serious public unrest.

However, the most direct challenge to the authority of Brussels and the Commission comes from further east. There the situation is much more menacing, with the rise of openly far-right parties. The Visegrad Four: Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary are in a state of open mutiny, mainly over unpopular immigration diktats from Brussels. Hungary in particular presents an increasingly authoritarian alternative to the EU model of liberal politics.

Elections for the European Parliament in spring 2019 may prove a nasty shock to the EU elite as right-wing parties look likely to score significant gains. New populist politicians will emerge, making Nigel Farage look like a hand-wringing local vicar. Suddenly Marie le Pen’s vision of an alternative Europe – even a ‘Frexit’ – is becoming a possibility.

There is no question the EU is confronting a serious crisis – and Brexit is only part of it. In 2019  we are entering truly troubling times, with the EU heading towards a showdown as some of its member states may elect openly nationalist governments intent on defying Brussels. The problem is that the EU Commission is terrified of reform, still believing that every crisis is just another opportunity to push for ‘ever closer union’.

Europe’s diverse countries with their infuriatingly democratic electorates now seem intent on keeping their national identities and to hell with Brussels. Ironically, the unsustainable EU’s flagship euro is the weakest link. The Centre for Economic and Business Studies warns that the ‘internal contradictions’ of the euro will eventually force the Eurozone to either integrate completely or break up.

European law professor at UCL, Ronan McCrea, sums it up: ‘Brexit on its own isn’t the existential threat to the EU that other things are. Migration, a crisis over the rule of law in Hungary and Poland, and the Eurozone’s future – all three of these could destroy the EU ….’

With or without Brexit, the storm clouds are gathering. For the smug fat cats of Brussels an unhappy year has begun.

Barbarians at the Gates

The word ‘barbarian’ comes from Greek and simply means ‘uncivilised foreigner – person not like us’. Today Europe faces an invasion of people ‘not like us.’

There is a warning from history. Rome may not have been built in a day; but it didn’t fall in a day, either. By 400 AD the rich, self-indulgent Romans ignored the danger until it was too late. Beyond the Rhine and Danube, Europe was invaded by millions of refugees, poor, hungry immigrants, determined to get to the fleshpots of Europe, away from the bloodthirsty hordes bearing down from Asia.

The Huns, fleeing from poverty and a savage enemy, were economic migrants, determined to find a better life west of the Danube. But immigration was to spell doom for Rome. There were several reasons for the fall of the Empire, each one interwoven with the othereven Christianity contributed to the decline by encouraging pacifism. By 400 AD very few Romans wanted to be a soldier and defend the empire’s borders.

Mass immigration posed a mortal threat to the Western Roman Empire for four main reasons.

  • First, Rome allowed its defences to become undermanned and weak. Taxes were not spent on defence but on domestic luxuries and benefits for the plebs; ‘bread and circuses’.
  • Second, Rome’s famed administrative class had become a bloated and self-seeking bureaucratic caste within the state, feathering their own nest.
  • Third, Rome’s economy was falling apart. The Imperial currency was debased, and more and more owned by the richest 10 percent, living in privileged cities, expensive country houses, with an entire ruling class benefitting from the system, whilst taxes for the poor increased.
  • Last, but not least, the immigrant hordes brought their own barbarous cultures with them. Not for them the civilised, sophisticated society of Rome. Instead, a world of strange ruthless gods with its own laws and very different social organisation. Decadent, lazy, corrupt, pleasure-seeking Romans didn’t stand a chance.

Sounds familiar? The fact is that Europe today is facing just such an invasion. Millions of Africans immigrants will flood Europe unless it acts now, warns the European Parliament. This dire prediction is echoed by the Mayor of Lyon. ‘People do not want to live together … It’s difficult to estimate but I would say that in five years the situation could become irreversible. We have five, six years to avoid the worst.’

Europe is sleepwalking into a complete re-ordering of society from unchecked mass immigration in the next thirty years. The demographics are alarming. ‘Millions of Africans’ will flood the continent in the near future unless urgent action is taken. A spokesman for the EU parliament warns that there would be an exodus ‘of biblical proportions that would be impossible to stop if we don’t confront the problem now’.

Population growth, climate change, desertification, wars, famine in Somalia and Sudan. These are the factors that are forcing people to leave.

When people lose hope, they risk crossing the Sahara and the Mediterranean because it is worse to stay at home. If we don’t confront this soon, we will find ourselves with millions of people on our doorstep within five years.

Today we are trying to solve a problem of a few hundred thousand people, but tomorrow we need to have a strategy for millions of people.

The problem is simple; dirt poor many Africans may be, but thanks to the new digital age many of them have televisions and smart phones. They can see the fleshpots of Marseilles, Brussels, Paris, Rome and London. They can see Nike trainers, free handouts, free houses, free benefits and the good life all paid for by the European taxpayers – and they want some, rather than a mud hut and no running water in their neighbourhood. The result is that Europe is facing a migration not seen since the Dark Ages.

Opinion is split on how to deal with this unprecedented invasion. Many Europeans, from Stockholm to Seville, are deeply alarmed and resentful. Others, guided by Frau Merkel’s admission of a million refugees from Syria, are sympathetic and even welcome the invaders. For example, there is now a handy 76-page booklet handed to migrants to evade EU borders. This comprehensive guide is being given to migrants arriving in Italy, giving them tips on how to travel through the promised land of Europe.

The 76-page manual lists train routes, bus routes and maps of road networks for would-be asylum seekers to make their way across the continent without being stopped. The guide, entitled ‘Welcome to Italy and Europe’, hands out tips on how migrants can register and travel to anywhere in the EU regardless of where they first entered and how to avoid the law.

The comprehensive list also offers migrants detailed information on rest stops and food stations, train routes, fares and travel timetables.  It has been described as a ‘complete invasion plan’ for Europe by furious lorry drivers who face daily break-ins to their freight as they travel across the continent. In a chilling warning, worried British politicians raise security concerns that the guide is encouraging people smugglers linked to Islamic State (ISIS), who are already making millions from the escalating migrant crisis.

Since 2015, Brussels has struggled to cope with this influx, increasing funding for border patrols in the Mediterranean, devising plans to fight migrant smuggling and proposing a new quota system to relocate asylum seekers among EU states for processing of ‘refugee’ claims, and to resettle genuine asylum seekers.

Not everyone agrees. Individual countries have re-introduced hard border controls within the Schengen Area and rifts have emerged between countries willing to allow asylum seekers entry and other countries determined to discourage them. The Balkan Visgrad four steadfastly refuse to take any EU ‘quota’ of migrants. Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán points out that it took his country 400 years to get rid of the mosque and they don’t want any new ones now, thank you very much, and to hell with Brussels.

He has a point. Mass immigration is changing European societies for the worse. Many commentators now believe that thanks to too many immigrants, Sweden is a lost cause, with massive social unrest thinly concealed beneath a figment of normality.

France is however the most vulnerable EU country. With its population of North African Muslims, the nature of French society is changing overnight. Already France has a population of 6 million Muslims – and it is growing fast. Many Muslim families have five children, at a time when the French birth rate is 1.1. France can therefore expect a Muslim population of 13 million in 2050, or nearly 20 percent of the population.

The impact on society will be profound. Already France has major no-go Muslim areas, mainly in the poorer Paris suburbs, the banlieues. Towns like Marseilles are recognisably Muslim already, with mayors warning that ‘teaching Arabic will create more ghettos.’ More worrying, most terrorists have been French citizens. The reality is that extremist Muslims in France are creating an alternative society, parallel, separate. The danger now is of separate development and ‘internal secession’. The impact on politics, social cohesion and French life can only be guessed at.

Elsewhere others too are warning of the dangers of uncontrolled migration. Britain is not immune either; towns like Leicester, Luton and parts of London have already been colonised by immigrants. By 2100, Muslims will compose about 25% of Europe’s population. Czech Republic President, Milos Zeman has said it is ‘practically impossible’ for Muslims with their Sharia law to integrate into the democratic societies of modern Europe. Zeman, a political liberal, also blamed the notorious New Year’s Eve sex attacks in Cologne, Germany, on ‘Muslim culture.’

The danger to Europe – as we know it – is staring us in the face. The question is, will Europe go the way of Rome, 2000 years ago ….

Cyprus in World War I

In 1914 Cyprus was a protectorate of the British Empire, leased by the Ottomans in 1878 to provide London with a base in the Eastern Mediterranean. This all changed in 1914 when, following a secret treaty between the Ottomans and Germany, the Ottoman Empire declared war against the Triple Entente powers of Great Britain, France and Russia. The British garrison promptly annexed the island on 5 November 1914.

Despite its proximity to Turkey, Cyprus was never a battlefield during World War I. Constantinople had too many other problems: first, it was flat broke. Second, many of its citizens – such as the Armenians – did not support the war, and the Sultan found himself fighting off enemies on no less than five fronts, as well as at home: the British in Egypt and Mesopotamia; the Russians invading the Caucasus; the Anglo-French landings in Gallipoli; and the desert Arabs rising up in what is today Saudi Arabia.

The British authorities were always concerned that the Turkish Cypriots might turn against the British, since the Ottoman Empire was officially one of Britain’s enemies. Listening stations were set up to spy on Turkish radio messages and spies and saboteurs were smuggled into Turkey. Cyprus was also used as a convalescent home for thousands of sick and wounded British soldiers from the Middle East campaigns. It also became a secure place to hold the thousands of Turkish prisoners of war. The island was on a martial footing throughout the war and various Governors had to fight off repeated attempts by the Army to take over the administration.

Nevertheless many Cypriots played an active part in the war. Thousands volunteered for the British army and they played an important part in the Salonika campaign. By 1916, the Military Commander of the British divisions on the Salonika front requested a Corps of Muleteers to help carry stores and supplies in the mountainous region of Macedonia.

This contribution of thousands of Cypriots supporting British troops on the Macedonian Front is a largely untold story, but Cypriots provided crucial logistical support to the Allied war effort on the Salonika Front. The Macedonian Muleteer Corps had enlisted 9200 men by early 1918.  Another 401 remained at the training centre in Famagusta. They were well paid at 3 drachmas per day and, by March 1919, the Muleteers Corps was 15,910 strong.  It was estimated that 89% of those recruited were Greek Cypriots and 11% Turkish Cypriots. They served in the Macedonian front, in Serbia and in Bulgaria, while at the end of the war some even entered Constantinople with the victors.

Inevitably they suffered losses. In five military cemeteries in Macedonia there are the graves of 30 Cypriot muleteers killed in action between the years 1916-19.

Perhaps the most curious twist of Cyprus’ involvement in the Great War was the attempt to hand the island over to Greece, lock, stock and barrel. By 1916 London was desperate to woo Greece into joining the war. Athen’s nationalist Prime Minister, Venizelos was actually offered complete ownership of the island as a bribe towards Greek dreams of ‘MegaHellas’, a greater Greece, at Turkey’s expense. To the amazement of the Greek Cypriots, King Constantine turned it down, to the fury of his Prime Minister Venizelos, who was sacked. Tempting though the offer was, at the time the King didn’t want to be dragged into someone else’s war.

This call for ‘Enosis’ – union with Greece – would have to wait another half century and for EOKA’s gunmen. But that is another story …

This article first appeared in Cyprus Today in November 2018 to commemorate the centenary of the signing of the armistice to end World War I. The piece is reproduced here with the kind permission of Cyprus Today.