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As UK Spying from Cyprus Touted by FSA, Last SC Resolution Recalled

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 19 -- With the Free Syrian Army bragging it gets surveillance information from the UK base on Cyprus, it's worth noting that a month ago today the UK faces surprising opposition to its draft Security Council resolution on Cyprus, on the same day the Council resolution on Syria that it favor was shot down by double veto.

  The two resolutions were both on the Council's agenda that Thursday morning, but nearly all focus was on Syria.

  Security Council sources have told Inner City Press that beyond the two abstentions on Cyprus, from Azerbaijan and Pakistan, there was more extensive opposition in the Council to the UK draft, until the UK further amended it just before the vote.

  Some wonder about the process by which certain countries are "given the pen" to lead Council drafting on resolutions. Often, these are former colonial relations, for example in the case of France and Cote d'Ivoire.

  On Cyprus, the UK maintains the so-called British Sovereign Base Area of Dhekelia. There, at Ayios Nikolaos, the UK's Joint Service Signal Unit maintains a listening stations said to be part of ECHELON.

  After the July 10 Security Council consultations on Cyprus, Inner City Press asked UN envoy Lisa Buttenheim about announced plans for up to 200,000 refugees from Syria. Of the Syria refugee plans she said "I have not heard that myself."

  She said Cyprus is the "primary safe haven" for nine countries, noting that she is the UN's "designated official" and worked for example on the evacuation of UN families from Egypt in February 2011.

   But Cyprus' former UN ambassador Andreas Mavroyiannis told numerous media in Nicosia, "We do not know what will happen in Syria, but in our planning we have estimated up to 200,000 refugees could arrive... It will be a very big strain on us if it happens, so we will need help for sure."

   Cynics say this could be a play for loans not only from Russia -- note that as Inner City Press reported last week Cyprus abstained from the General Assembly resolution on the rights of Georgian IDPs to return to Abkhazia and South Ossentia -- but also from the IMF.

   Between Russia and the UK? We're listening. Watch this site.

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