OPINION

The power of the masses

The ongoing unrest of the Turkish Cypriots has raised hopes in some circles in Nicosia and Athens for the overthrow of Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash who, returning from Ankara with the full support of the traditional establishment, is tackling the domestic crisis. The bloodless fall of communist regimes of Europe since 1989 has lent the so-called power of the masses a mythical quality and the illusion that brave demonstrators can influence events in countries under authoritarian rule. But the communist regimes fell of their own accord, not under pressure from the people, because their mechanism had lost all credibility and the system basically destroyed itself through corruption and incompetence. The only real revolution of the past 30 years was the Islamic revolution in Iran, from which Muslim radicalism emerged as a political force struggling to face the West. But the situation in the occupied part of Cyprus is completely different. The traditional establishment of Turkey has not been toppled, and the rise of neo-Islamists is power is a secondary issue, at least until there are any indications to the contrary. The Turkish-Cypriot demonstrators are censuring Denktash and insisting on his resignation, but they have not dared turn on Ankara’s occupation troops or the military establishment of Turkey. They deserve our sympathy, but not our active support, and any attempt to intervene in favor of the dissident Turkish Cypriots may lead Nicosia and Athens into peril. Only superpowers such as the United States – but not Greece or Cyprus – can exercise a human rights policy on the pretext of liberating populations from authoritarian regimes.