Hezbollah threatened Cyprus. Here because.

Cyprus found itself in the center of global attention this week when Hezbollah's leader threatened to target the small island nation if it supported Israel in potential war efforts.

Amid escalating violence between the powerful Iran-backed Lebanese militia and the Israeli army on the Israel-Lebanon border, Hezbollah's chief warned on Wednesday that the armed group would punish Cyprus if it allowed Israel to use its airports and its basis for targeting Lebanon, claiming it would be “part of the war.”

The warning from Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah came as world leaders were scrambling to contain the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, despite clear efforts by both sides to prevent the cycle of attacks and counterattacks from turning into a full-blown war.

Here's a closer look at how Cyprus got caught up in the situation.

Cyprus and Israel have economic, political and strategic ties. Their militaries have conducted joint exercises and exchanged visits, and the two countries have a defense cooperation program, according to Cyprus' Ministry of Defense. Cyprus has similar relationships with many other nations, including Britain, Egypt, France and, most notably, Lebanon.

Cyprus also has a “defense attaché” in Israel – and about two dozen other nations – as part of what it calls “active defense diplomacy.”

There is a further cooperation agreement between Cyprus, Greece and Israel, which Cyprus says aims to “strengthen peace, stability and security in the Eastern Mediterranean”.

Cyprus President Nikos Christodoulides wrote in a social media post on Wednesday that his country was “not involved in war conflicts in any way.” He added that Cyprus maintains channels of communication with the governments of Lebanon and Iran and underlined the importance of diplomacy.

Cyprus has helped facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza by sea, and the U.S. military has used the island to transport assistance to the war-torn territory.

In his statement, Christodoulides stressed that Cyprus is “part of the solution,” an apparent allusion to the country's efforts to help deliver aid to Gaza.

Lebanese government officials on Thursday sought to allay the concerns of their Cypriot counterparts by assuring them of Lebanon's commitment to peace. Although Hezbollah is a formidable political force in Lebanon, its parliamentary bloc lost its majority in the 2022 national elections and its positions do not always represent the government's official position.

Other allies of Cyprus also condemned Hezbollah's threat.

Peter Stano, spokesman for the European Union, of which Cyprus is part, said this on Thursday expressed support for Cyprusstating that “any threat against one of our member states is a threat against the European Union”.

Matthew Miller, a State Department spokesman, called Nasrallah's comments “extremely unproductive.”

“Our preference would be for Hezbollah to pursue a diplomatic solution,” he added at a news conference on Thursday.

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