Frozen conflicts are often unresolved armed actions that are never formally resolved. In the geopolitical definition, a frozen conflict includes halted wars or military operations, but because there is no formal peace treaty, the conflict remains unresolved and can reignite.

Today, several frozen conflicts require close attention as heated rhetoric or geopolitical movements have brought back heightened tensions that could explode with one wrong move by any participant.

Turkey and Cyprus

Cyprus is a Mediterranean island nation with a five-decade-long internationally condemned military occupation by 40,000 plus Turkish troops in the north. Tensions rose between Nicosia and Ankara after ten-plus years of ethnic tensions and battles between the Greek Cypriot National Guard and EOKA paramilitary militia and the Turkish Cypriot militia TMT and Turkish intelligence, MIT.

Cyprus quickly became at the crossroads of the Cold War as the British, who ruled Cyprus for several decades, were unpopular amongst the Greek Cypriot majority, and fears of an expulsion of the British troops by EOKA along with communist influence spreading to President Makarios became a concern by the US.

Intercommunal violence reached its pinnacle when the Athens Junta supported the Greek Cypriot National Guard and EOKA-B to overthrow Makarios, triggering the first Turkish invasion. A month later, Turkey would fully invade the isle, quietly backed by the US under the Kissinger Doctrine. The island has been divided by strictly Greek and Turkish enclaves, and ethnic cleansing and widespread massacres ensued.

Efforts to unite the isle have failed, and Ankara has stepped up rhetoric, preparing to annex the occupied north into the Turkish Republic potentially. Heightened rhetoric by the ruling AKP party in Turkey over lifting the Cypriot embargo, weapon sales to Nicosia, and suggestion of sending more Turkish troops to the isle could bring the country to war again.

The recent attack against UN peacekeepers to build an illegal road suggests preparations for an illegal annexation. If the isle were formally annexed, it would be a declaration of war against not just Cyprus but also Greece, who, like Turkey, has a guarantor status, and the geopolitical quagmire could cause great devastation in the region.