North Cyprus head stands firm in row over Turkey criticism

Mustafa Akinci, president of the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, took the rare step over the weekend of criticizing Turkey, the only country that recognizes the TRNC. (Reuters)
Updated 14 October 2019

North Cyprus head stands firm in row over Turkey criticism

  • Akinci’s opponents in northern Nicosia called an extraordinary session of parliament Monday to press for his resignation, saying he had damaged ties with the country’s only patron
  • Akinci said that Turkey, which still maintains 30,000-40,000 troops in the TRNC, should focus on improving its relations with the EU, which has condemned the Turkish offensive in Syria

NICOSIA: The leader of breakaway northern Cyprus, Mustafa Akinci, stood firm in the face of calls to resign on Monday after criticizing Turkey’s military offensive in Syria.
Akinci, president of the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, took the rare step over the weekend of criticizing Turkey, the only country that recognizes the TRNC.
“Even if we call it ‘Peace Spring’, it is blood that is spilling and not water,” he wrote on Facebook, referring to the codename of the Turkish military operation against Kurdish-held northeast Syria launched last Wednesday.
He also called for “dialogue and diplomacy.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan responded on Sunday that the Turkish Cypriot leader had “totally overstepped his bounds.”
Erdogan warned: “At the given time, we will deliver an appropriate response.”
Akinci’s opponents in northern Nicosia called an extraordinary session of parliament Monday to press for his resignation, saying he had damaged ties with the country’s only patron.
But Akinci rejected the complaints as “unjust,” although he sought to nuance his remarks on Facebook.
“It is our common desire that Turkey gets rid of the scourge of terrorism that it has suffered a lot,” he said in a statement.
“However, I believe that it’s time for the war... on Syrian soil to come to an end,” he added.
Undaunted, Akinci asked: “Since when has defending peace become a crime?” And he added that the divided Mediterranean island’s Turkish Cypriots were not dependent on Ankara’s patronage.
“Turkey has done more than anyone to support the Turkish Cypriot people and state. However, Turkish Cypriots have reached their current position through their own great struggles,” he said.
The republic was created after Turkey invaded northern Cyprus in 1974 following a Greek Cypriot coup aimed at uniting the island with Greece, and it has remained divided.
Akinci also said that Turkey, which still maintains 30,000-40,000 troops in the TRNC, should focus on improving its relations with the European Union, which has condemned the Turkish offensive in Syria.
The Greek Cypriot-run Republic of Cyprus in the south, a country which Ankara does not recognize, is an EU member.


Hackers attempt to take down UK Labour Party’s web services ahead of election

Updated 12 November 2019

Hackers attempt to take down UK Labour Party’s web services ahead of election

  • Britain’s security agencies have warned that Russia and other countries could use cyberattacks messages on social media to attempt to disrupt the election
  • The nature of such attacks often made it difficult to attribute responsibility to any particular group, a NCSC spokesman said

LONDON: Hackers attacked Britain’s opposition Labour Party, bombarding its web services with malicious traffic in an attempt to force them offline just weeks ahead of a national election, party and security officials said on Tuesday,
“We have experienced a sophisticated and large-scale cyberattack on Labour digital platforms,” Labour said in a statement. “We took swift action and these attempts failed due to our robust security systems.
The party was confident data breach occurred, it said.
Britain’s security agencies have warned that Russia and other countries could use cyberattacks or political messages on social media to attempt to disrupt the Dec. 12 election.
Moscow has repeatedly denied Western allegations of election interference and a person with knowledge of the matter said an initial investigation had found nothing to link the Labour Party attack to a foreign state.
Britain’s National Cyber Security Center, part of the GCHQ signals intelligence agency, said the attack was a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack — a technique used by hackers to take down websites by overwhelming them with malicious traffic.
“DDoS attacks are a common form of attack used by a very wide range of attackers. Mitigation techniques are available and worked in this case,” a NCSC spokesman said.
The nature of such attacks often made it difficult to attribute responsibility to any particular group, he said.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the attack was very serious but was successfully repelled by the party’s defense systems when the digital assault began on Monday.
“But if this is a sign of things to come in this election, I feel very nervous about it all,” he said. “Because a cyberattack against a political party in an election is suspicious and something one is very worried about.”
A Labour spokesman said that while the attack had slowed down some campaign activity, they were restored on Tuesday.
The person with knowledge of the matter said any Labour Party web services currently offline were not directly connected to the attack.
Britain goes to the polls on Dec. 12 in an election called by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to try to break the Brexit deadlock in parliament more than three years since the country voted to leave the European Union.
A report by parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee has investigated Russian activity in British politics and reportedly includes charges of spying and interference in polls, including the 2016 Brexit referendum and the 2017 national election.
The government, however, has declined to publish it before the upcoming election.