Writing Armageddon

Writing Armageddon
Furious writing or writing furiously?

Monday, February 6, 2017

Student Risk of War Analysis: Turkey-Republic of Cyprus

As part of my IR 315: Peace and Conflict Course I had students conduct a Risk of War analysis of a dangerous dyad according to the Simple Risk Barometer developed in Steps to War by Paul Senese and John A. Vasquez. In this series I will upload to the blog the ones I felt were the best. The goal is to show that with some training anyone can use Steps to War to get a handle on current events and the likelihood of war. 
Turkey-Republic of Cyprus
by Eyl├╝l Ozcan

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when a coup d’etat inspired by the Greek locals of the island prompted a Turkish military intervention and occupation of the northern part of the island. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was declared in 1983, and has only been recognized by Turkey. Turkey has been demanding that TRNC be recognized since then. Since the division by the “green line” the Turks and Greeks have been living separately and have been patrolled by the United Nations. With the accession of Southern side of the island to the European Union on 2004, the parameters of the conflict have been changed. 

Reunification attempts have failed consistently, in 1985, 1989 and 1992. This occurred with violence and minor deaths and ended the talks in 1997. In 2001, Turkey threatened Greece with annexation of the North if Cyprus joined the EU. Reunification plans failed again on 2003, and on 2004, referendum for reunification failed and was rejected by the South while it was accepted by the Turks in the North. Cyrus adapted to the Euro in 2008, and the economic crisis lead Cyprus to renew its relations with Turkey. In 2013, the European Court of Human Rights asked Turkey to pay 90 million euros to Cyprus for the damages of the 1974 invasion which Turkey refused. Reunification talks resumed and continued until 2016, where Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci signaled for the continuation of the peace talks. 

Although the Northern part of the island is sovereign, this is only recognized by Turkey. The Internationally recognized government is the Republic of Cyprus with its capital in the South. There is still the likelihood that a conflict may erupt even with the existence of the peace talks. 

Simple Risk Barometer of War 

In order to understand the risk of war between the Republic of Cyprus and Turkey, we can look at the Simple Risk Barometer for war. According to Simple Risk Barometer for War, created by Senese and Vasquez, there are four basic steps to war: A presence of a territorial dispute, existence of outside allies, the frequency of MIDs (repetitious within 6 or 20 years) and if an arms race is present between the two countries. If four of these steps are present, then escalation of war is likely. Below are the data collected about Turkey and the Republic of Cyprus dyad in order to apply it to the Simple Risk Barometer for War.

Presence in Turkey – Cyprus Case
Prior MIDs
The last Turkey - Cyprus MID in the data took place on 2002
Mutual Military Buildup
Overall 3 mutual military buildups (2002,2004,2006)
Last mutual military buildup took place in 2006

15 prior rivalries.
Turkey – Cyprus disputes have taken place in the 1965-2001 periods that are enough for an enduring rivalry.
Strategic Rivalry
None observed in the data
Outside Alliances
None observed in the data
Issue Claims
None observed in the data

Overall, it can be observed that this dyad does not completely fulfill all steps to war. There are overall 3 mutual military buildups within 6 years and 15 rivalries. However there are no outside alliances observed in the data, no strategic rivalry and issue claims. A war between these two dyads is unlikely because not all barometers of war are fulfilled.

Conclusion and Discussion

Although the risk barometers of war aren’t fulfilled, and there are no outside alliances observed in the data, a war between these dyads is still likely, in the cases of the continuation of the unpopular status quo by both sides, the high militarization and the unsuccessful reunification attempts. 

There are external factors involved which impact the relation between the two dyads. Although these weren’t included in the data, there is the existence of the European Union. Cyprus has been a part of EU for many years. Furthermore, their relationship was damaged by the bailout agreement, which lead to unease and tensions among Cypriots. There is also the United Nations, which kept its peacekeeping forces on the island, and demands to increase its forces. They administer the buffer zone (what used to be the green line) and acts as a third party on the island. 

At the best case scenario, the peace talks will succeed in leading to reunification and reconciliation. However in a worst case scenario where war is likely, Cyprus will continue to excessively militarize, remain in its economic crisis, and the UN peacekeepers will leave the island which will increase the likelihood of a conflict and possibly lead to a proxy war between the two dyads. 


Haefele, Stefanie, Anna Jeffery, and Aditya Rao. "Republic of Cyprus." Norman Paterson School of International Affairs (February 4 2016): n. pag. Web

Senese, P. D., & Vasquez, J. A. (2008). The Steps to War: An Emprical Study. Princeton University Press.

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