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This article has been published today in The Independent, please read the whole article and then my response at the end. I have copied the whole thing and put it here on my blog because they would not let me upload it to their website.
so much for “right of reply” and “freedom of Speech”.
Is Uday Hussein’s ‘double’ really just an impostor?
Critics claim a new film telling the ‘true’ story of the man who protected Saddam’s son from assassins is based on a web of lies
By Jerome Taylor
They say some stories are too good to be true – although that has never stopped Hollywood. The Devil’s Double is the latest blockbuster to stretch the limits of the phrase “based on a true story”. But who cares, if it tells the gory tale of one of the most brutal psychopaths of the late 20th century?
Released in cinemas later this month, the film recounts the knuckle-whitening autobiography of Latif Yahia, the supposed body double to Saddam Hussein’s psychotic younger son, Uday.
The British actor Dominic Cooper plays both roles and has won critical acclaim for his portrayal of a man who raped and murdered his way through Baghdad’s high society – and also that of the poor sap who had to pretend to be such a maniac to protect him from the bullets of any would-be assassin. In recent years, though, growing numbers of Uday’s inner circle have cast doubt on whether the story could be feasible.
With a strikingly similar face to Uday – who was gunned down by American special forces alongside his brother Qusay in July 2003 – Mr Yahia first emerged in Europe in the early 1990s with a remarkable claim that generated headlines around the world.
He told intelligence agents that he had lived a life of servitude as Uday’s body double – and had turned on his master when Uday tried to kill him because a girlfriend had become overly flirtatious. Memoirs and international fame quickly followed.
There is little doubt that the tale Mr Yahia tells is perfect for the silver screen. According to his book, blog and media interviews, he was born into a wealthy family with close ties to Saddam’s Ba’athist regime. Part of Baghdad’s élite, he went to the same school as Uday, where friends commented on how similar in appearance he was to the Iraqi dictator’s sadistic youngest son.
In September 1987 during the Iran-Iraq war, he was called back from the frontlines and told to go to Saddam’s Baghdad palace, he has said.
“My superior had a distinct look of concern on his face when I entered the room,” Mr Yahia later wrote. “I was taken from the front to my appointment, as I waited, my mind racing, questioning, never in my wildest dreams had it occurred to me the true reason behind my summoning.”
Uday had decided to make him a body double. When Mr Yahia politely refused he was put in prison for a week and tortured. Upon his release he was told that unless he agreed to become Uday’s doppelgänger his family would be killed and his sisters raped.
After rounds of plastic surgery, the transformation was complete. Mr Yahia said that between 1987 and 1991 that he was witness to some of Uday’s worst excesses – his prowls through Baghdad at night looking for women to rape, his drug abuse, violent outbursts and penchant for torture. He also claims to have survived 12 attempted assassinations.
Mr Yahia thought of escaping only after Uday, angry that a girlfriend had started to openly flirt with the doppelgänger, tried to shoot him. Mr Yahia claims he fled to Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq and later to Austria with the help of the CIA.
Yet some of those who were in Uday’s inner circle at the time have poured scorn on Mr Yahia’s claims. Haytham Ajmaya, a 48-year-old Iraqi expat living in London, is one of them. He defected from Iraq in 1998 with the help of the British Government in exchange for information on Uday’s inner circle, within which he had served for more than a decade. “Latif may have looked like Uday and talked like him but he was never Uday’s body double,” he told The Independent yesterday. “It’s a real shame that Hollywood has decided to make a film based on rubbish rather than a film that is true to Iraq’s history.”
Mr Ajmaya claims that at most Mr Yahia was someone who used his close resemblance to Uday to secure money and girls in Iraq and was in fact arrested by police for doing just that. In January, a writer from The Sunday Times tracked down a further three members of Uday’s inner circle who cast doubt on Mr Yahia’s claim, as well as Saddam’s plastic surgeon, who said no operation had been carried out on a body double.
My Yahia did not respond to The Independent’s requests for comment yesterday but when confronted earlier this year about the remarks by Uday’s former friends, he said: “I was Uday’s double. Uday didn’t have friends; he had pimps, drug dealers, hangers on, etc. Either I am psychic to know about inside palaces, bunkers and all the rest of the places… or I was actually there. I know the truth.”
Toby Dodge, a historian at Queen Mary, University of London who specialises in modern Iraq and has interviewed members of Saddam’s regime, says that separating fact from fiction in Ba’athist Iraq is notoriously difficult. “The regime had always been shrouded in mythology,” he said yesterday.
Meanwhile, Lee Tamahori, the New Zealand-born director of The Devil’s Shadow, remains unfazed by the allegations. “Biopics are not my favourite movies because they always try to steer too close to the facts,” he writes. “But the truth doesn’t set you free in movies. Truth layered with fiction sets you free.”
This is my response to the article:
To the Writer of this article, firstly I find the fact that you have written that Uday was the “Younger” son of Saddam Hussein hilarious, secondly you haven’t even been able to get the title of the film right it is “The Devil’s Double” not The Devil’s Shadow unless Lee Tamahori was working on another movie with Dominic Cooper. Getting these two well known and important facts wrong, leads me to believe that you either did NO research, or just collated information and old articles that you found on the net.
You quote Haytham Ajmaya as a source in Uday’s inner circle, a man who in the Sunday Times article admits to have being a Pimp for Uday , but says that just because he brought women to a man that he knew was Sadistic and violent and has sold himself to Britain as you openly say in your article, is trustworthy. You might find the Arabic meaning of his name Ajmaya (Iranian Woman) interesting. As for your other or should I say Ed Caesar’s sources, I have tackled their credibility in a blog that I wrote last April you may find it on my website.
Any man that can sell women, then sell himself and his country can sell anything and anybody even if it is false, the British government have been paying Ajmaya for years and have made him a British citizen, (as far as I have seen over the past 20 years the West loves these kind of people) who is paying him now for this supposed information? If Haytham Ajmaya or any of the others that are relied upon had anything to say before, they didn’t, my book was first published in 1994, I have written others, I have a blog, a website, why is it just now that they come out of the woodwork? Because there is a movie? Well then, since they were so close to Uday why didn’t they get their story told? Maybe because the powers that be know the blood that is on their hands? What kind of story would they tell? Maybe they could tell how they brought women to Uday knowing full well what he did with them, or how they themselves murdered and raped girls.
As for Haytham’s assertion that I was just impersonating Uday to get girls and make money, that at one time Uday found out and just laughed. Well, Iraq would have been a much nicer place if Uday had been so easy going! Does Haytham also assert that all the girls that came forward as rape victims of Uday are liars?, the football players?, the athletes that he tortured?, or is it personal?
As for Saddam’s plastic surgeon, well he stitched the Hymens of the girls and did plastic surgeries on the wounds that they incurred if they survived a night in Uday’s arms, he admitted it in one of his TV interviews, (he omitted to mention the hymens) Ask any ordinary Iraqi, they know he was fired from his position and prohibited from practicing medicine, once Saddam found out, which is why he returned to painting.
Am I surprised that The Independent has written an article like this about me? No. Why? because I included the owner of the Independent, Tony O’Reilly in one of my blogs recently, I really don’t think that you can call the Independent, Independent.
I am not in hiding like my accusers, I have clean hands and am not afraid of the spotlight, unlike Haytham Ajmaya or Dhafir Mohamed Jabir.
As I have learned over the years from dealing with the Intelligence agencies, never trust information you pay for, because to keep the money coming they have to keep giving you information, in the end they make it up to keep the money rolling in.
As the Middle East is having it’s uprising so it will spread across the world, because although the West has the illusion of Democracy, people understand more and more each day that they are being fed mis-information and the ideology of the newspaper owners, Murdoch himself has openly said, No political party could attain power if he and his media empire were not behind them. The same is true of Tony O’Reilly in Ireland, just ask Fianna Gael political party in 1997.
Was I contacted for a comment by the Independent? Yes my agent was, but knowing who they work for etc, I don’t give comments or interviews to papers I can wipe my arse with. The same is true for The Sunday Times.
This reaction or comment may not be published under the original article on the Independent’s website, so I am copying the article and my response and putting it all on my blog, because I’m a man not a coward like the Journalist and the Independent’s owner, we will all see how long newspapers like these last, I think not so long.
My article last April: Click the Link
A New Era.
By : Latif Yahia
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…..
I had better stop there or I’ll be charged with plagiarism, but, it is definitely an interesting time, especially for the Middle East. The spark that ignited that whole region of the world and gave hope to the idea of democracy or at least regime-leader change, has fully taken hold and now and there is no turning back.
As I watched the events unfold on television, I was struck by a mixture of elation at the fact that after forty or more years of rule, the people had had enough of their masters and were –for the most part- protesting peacefully for their removal and a sadness that this “liberation” was not the kind that Iraq had been able to achieve for itself.
Having said that Iraq had played it’s part in recent events, Iraq was held up to the rest of the Arab world as a ‘cautionary tale’ and example of ‘how Not to do it’ and when outside help was offered, the nations replied ‘No thanks, we’ll do this ourselves’ a lesson hard learned by Iraqis.
I send out my greatest respect to Tunisia and Egypt, who have made effective change without the loss of too many citizens and I send my deepest sympathies and respect to the families of those that did lose their lives in the protests.
I know that Tunisia and Egypt especially are open minded and progressive countries and will be strong enough to continue on their path to democracy, I can only hope that the other countries that are following in their footsteps –like Libya- will not succumb to extreme Islamists, something that is quite possible. Maybe that is why the drums are beating for Ghadaffi in a way that they didn’t for Ben Ali or Mubarak, add to that the fact that Libya holds nearly 5% of the world’s petrol and you have a recipe for America to go in there and secure it’s position. Unilateral sanctions only punish the people, not the regime. The regime have enough money outside the country to still be able to do and buy what they want, it is only the man on the street that feels the lack. It is estimated that Ghadaffi has 20 billion in London alone. While I am writing this, his money – 40 Billion in America and god knows how much in Switzerland- is being frozen.
Which leads me neatly on to my next point, an International court needs to be set up not just to hold Dictators, Tyrants and Despots to account, but those who supported the regime and I’ll explain this point clearly, a regime cannot function if it does not have suppliers, weapons, banking, business. A petrol filled country with a tyrannical leader cannot make money from it’s petrol if there is no-one who is willing to do business with them, they cannot keep control of their population if they cannot buy arms and their money is of no use if they cannot keep it somewhere safe outside their own country.
So often we are shown people like Saddam, held up high for us to despise and point at, but could or would he have survived so long if he didn’t have ‘friends’, let’s be clear here, business is the agenda of the day. Big business. It’s too easy to point the finger and say ‘Dictator, Despot, Tyrant’ but then under the table sell them billions of dollars worth of weapons so you can buy the oil cheap, the people who suffer are the citizens of that country.
But let’s also take a look at how these people get power, it could be argued that they took it by force, yes, but how did they get that “force”? somebody had to support and supply them.
I was a participant in a peace mission five years ago, and one of the other participants was a retired Colonel from the US Army, during this mission he tried to explain simply what the policy of the US was with regard to Non-US leaders, his explanation went something like this:
A country has a leader who is a bad guy, the US doesn’t like this Bad guy so we decide that he needs to go. He has an enemy who is not a really good guy, so we support the not good guy against the bad guy to get him out. But then after the not so good guy gets power he turns out to be a really bad guy.
Does that make sense?
My case in point is Noori Al Maliki, you only have to look at Iraq, the corruption (yet another Minister ran form Iraq yesterday with the best part of 100 million dollars), lack of any sign of progression since the installation of Democracy, the damning fact that 80 people have died in Iraq while protesting for change of the governing system, not the government. The fact also that none of this is getting any coverage in the Western media, why? Because, America doesn’t want to look like it has failed. But it has, America made so much noise about not letting Iran get it’s hands on Iraq but then handed the leadership over to people that it Knew were supported by Iran, Noor Al Maliki stood up a few days ago and said that nowhere in the world had democracy like Iraq, Iraq had the best democracy in the world, well if you call handing Ministries and positions of power over to people who haven’t been elected by the people Democratically, then I don’t know what the Yemenis, Bahrainis, Saudis or Libyans are demonstrating against, they already have democracy!
The leaders in the Middle East are in a state of panic, most of these leaders be they Presidents, Kings or dictators acquired their power with the help of Britain or America 40 or more years ago, the King of Saudi for instance has made an offer of 150 Billion dollars to buy Facebook! Why? Because he knows that through social networking the people are exacting change, they can mobilize and exchange ideas faster than the country’s intelligence service can track them. If he was a good leader why should he worry? If his people were happy why would they need to protest against him? As with most countries in the Middle East the power is held by the few, it is designed that way.
I wish all those who want change the best and send them my heartfelt support, I hope that those who succeed always keep in mind what it was to be downtrodden and instill in their children and the generations to come a sense of responsibility for their democracies. When we are complacent, tyranny has the opportunity to reign, when we say ‘ what can I do? I am only one’ we forget that that we are many and it is our voices that should be heard. When we say ‘ Uh, I‘m not going to vote, they’re all the same anyway’ then we let down not only ourselves and our country but the ones that had to fight and die for us to have these rights.
Never take your right to be heard for granted, you have heard the phrase ‘Use it or lose it’ and it is far easier to lose it than it was to get it in the first place.
Bin Laden did not invent Al-Qaeda, this name for the Jihadist party only came about after 9/11. Al-Qaeda as we now know it was funded, trained and armed by the CIA and serves two purposes,the first is to strike terror into any and all persons and countries that is beneficial to America for sales of weapons, contractors or services. Secondly it draws out those who have ill will against America and befriends them under the illusion of fighting for the same aim, the irony is that they then become pawns for a master they set out to harm, ignorant that their comrades are indeed the enemy. America has an enemy indeed but one of it’s own making and choosing.
This is the biggest scandal in the history of the CIA.
with this enemy America now has the means to perpetuate “Terrorism” around the world for the next 50 to 100 years, anything and everything will be blamed on Al-Qaeda or a similar faceless enemy, one that can never be found or fought in open battle, there is only really one other entity that the same can be said of, a Ghost.
Tony Blair, would have us believe that he made the decision to go to war based on the best intelligence available at the time, and in his own words at the Hutton inquiry said he had “no doubt” that Saddam had WMD’s and that he was an imminent threat to the safety of the USA and the UK.
We have since seen the evidence put before us to go to war turn to ash, but Mr. Blair stands by his decision ‘til this day. Has he no remorse for the loss of Iraqi people and British troops? I understand the need for Mr. Blair to believe that he was right, but really, as a Labour Party leader his decisions flung in the face of his party’s policies, he became more Conservative than the Conservatives!
It all leads to many questions, have all the political parties melded into one? Have the rights of the individual been sold for the rights of the corporations? How much power have we handed to our governments under the illusion of protection from terrorists? Who are the real ‘terrorists’? How can we regain our power from the government? And possibly the hardest question of all, how can we stop this happening again?
If George Walker Bush and Tony Blair are allowed to continue on with their lives without any culpability what is there to deter any future leader from taking the same actions against another Sovereign Nation?
These men have to be held accountable for their actions, because if the are not then the lives of those who died count for nothing and we cannot call ourselves democratic nor inspirational.
By: Latif Yahia
There is no getting away from it, the ads, the internet, everywhere you turn there it is, a paradise on earth waiting for your arrival; Cyprus.The beauty of Cyprus is indeed incomparable, the history impeccable, where else in the world could Aphrodite be born but on the beautiful island of Cyprus. LOVE CYPRUS.Without doubt on your two week vacation you will fall in love with Cyprus, you will find the laid back lifestyle so attractive in comparison to our hectic, harried lives. The Sun, Sea and Sand will also have you believing in the dream. LOVE CYPRUS.Many, many people have happily holidayed in Cyprus year-in, year-out without ever setting foot outside the resort, village or comfort zone that they so readily cling to, and maybe that is for the best because if they did, maybe they may not LOVE CYPRUS.
My story began like so many others with a two week holiday, although in hindsight maybe I should have read the warning signs that are now so obvious! There were seven of us, three adults and four ‘Children’, I had done the unusual and booked a package holiday, it was the only way we could get to Cyprus as there were no direct flights only charter, so, if we were to fly charter we may as well be with the rest of the holidaymakers.I had paid in full, collected our tickets and organised a very large Taxi to drive us the 50 miles to the airport. We all bundled out, found trolleys and began looking for our check-in desk. Having traipsed up and down the length of the departures level, my wife headed for information, there was one gentleman in front of her in the queue who seemed to be looking for the same information as we were, but as she waited two uniformed ladies approached the desk and told the lady serving in quite a coded fashion, ‘that thing that we thought might happen, has’. Suddenly it dawned on us why the girl in the travel agent had been so single-minded that we bought insurance!
For hours we were none the wiser, no-one seemed to have any information and the rep for the company involved upon receiving a text message telling her ‘We’re bust’ packed up her stuff and left before we even arrived. ( Having said that, I probably wouldn’t have hung around either to deal with holidaymakers who weren’t going on holiday!) As the day progressed, other people’s stories were emerging, a Wedding Party, a stag party, couples, families all with the same intention as us, some time in the sun. Eventually, there seemed to be some hope, we wee told that the charter plane would be flown in from Czech or somewhere and would fly us there, but we would be flying back with another company. A cheer rose up from the crowd, ‘Yes, we’re going’. At this point we were in the airport for the best part of six hours, my mother, an insulin diabetic was flagging and the four children were getting bored. No-one offered us a complimentary anything, not even an apology. Then the crux came, one of the check-in desks had life, we all swarmed about jostling in the hopes of finally unloading our trolleys of luggage. But we soon realised that checking-in was not on the agenda, being the avid documentarian that I am I whipped out the camera to film the event, the lady, told us loudly while standing on the check-in desk that ‘there would be no plane and we should go home and contact our travel agent’ a discommoded grumble ran through the crowd, with an extra cry of disbelief from the Wedding Party. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed that the girl on the floor beside the bearer of bad news was pointing in my direction and radioing someone, I put away my camera. Alas, it was too late! Airport security was on top of me, demanding that I hand over my camera for it to be confiscated. Asking that of me was like asking me to hand over one of my children! I refused and was taken very noisily to the Airport police station. Without sounding paranoid, if you have ever seen the film rendition, well lets just say that that would be my wife’s greatest fear! As they hauled me off (in my suit and tie, I may add) my wife had quickly briefed the children and my mother on what to do during our absence. I was taken one way while my wife was brought another and although she could see me being led down one corridor she was unable to follow. Have you ever been in a situation of heightened emotions? What do you think is the ‘worst thing’ that you can tell someone in that position? Well, my wife found out, usually a very quiet and reserved person, she found herself defending me loudly, firing quick instructions to our then 15 year old and running alongside a policewoman to try and catch up with me, the policewoman turned to her and said ‘calm down’.
Has anyone ever told you to ‘calm down’ while you were in the height of it? Did you find it helpful? I know my wife didn’t!So there we are, the happy band, I, in an Airport police interview room, my wife pacing outside, frantically co-ordinating between the children upstairs, my Mother, who is about to have a diabetic fit because she doesn’t speak English and has just seen me carted off by ‘Police’ and our friends awaiting our arrival in Cyprus.After some 20 mins or so, my wife glances out the window of the Airport police station to see me being taken away in a police car, panic-stricken, she dashed out of the office across the road and straight for the police car, ‘what’s going on? Where are you taking him?’ she queried, I replied from the back seat, ‘it’s OK, honey, they have to take me down to the proper police station, I won’t be long, just see if you can get us tickets out of here’ and away I went, the Arab man in the suit who was arrested in the Airport.
When I was growing up, we of course studied Geography as a subject, this was in the 70’s and some of the 80’s and indeed the world map has changed many, many times. But to my recollection Cyprus was always listed as part of the Middle-East.
Located off the Coast of Israel/ Palestine, Jordan and of course Turkey. It is also in close proximity to northern Africa, and there are many cruises to Egypt from Cyprus, but don’t think you can get a passenger/car ferry to Cyprus, well not to the Cypriot side anyway, and if you dare to bring your car through from the Turkish side it will be blacklisted, you have been warned!
So, when then did it become Europe? I presume when Greece did, although the Cypriots have independence from Greece, but really, it is only since 2006 that the Cypriot government have started to use EU law and even at that it is yet to be fully utilised.
So, why then is Cyprus considered to be EU? Well, there is one theory, Cyprus is a divided country in the 1970’s Cyprus was attacked by Turkey, who then occupied half of the island, including the famous holiday resort of Famagusta, I never travelled to the occupied side as I don’t like occupiers of any kind, but have heard many stories of ghost towns, where people fled the Turkish army and left everything where it lay.
Turkey has applied for membership to the EU, now Turkey is a secular Muslim country and as such would be the first Muslim country in the EU should they become a member. Also Turkey shares borders with countries like Iraq, Syria, Iran and Georgia, borders that are very hard to control.
So, if one were of a mind, you could surmise that Cyprus is the fly in Turkey’s ointment, give up your occupied territories or shelve your ideas of EU membership.
It’s a lot easier to occupy somewhere than to leave it, just ask America. (50 years on and they still haven’t left Germany)
Cyprus has a ‘Socialist’ government, it has a president and he is active, not just a figure head. Of course not so long ago the Cypriot political leader was also their Religious leader, Archbishop Makarious, there is at least one street in each town named in his honour, and he is very much imbedded in the Cypriot psyche. Relatively speaking, the Turkish invasion, which happened during the leadership of Archbishop Makarious was quite recent, ( 30 years is well within the memory of most people) and so he is quite the hero.
Cyprus is ( I speak only of the ’Free’ side ) broken up into four regions, Nicosia, this is the capital of Cyprus the city itself is divided in two, somewhat halved down the middle by the invasion. The Airport ended up on the Turkish side, so, no flights into the Capital, well not from Europe anyway! Nicosia is ruled by the government, the ministers families make good marriages between themselves and of course stay in power that way. All the big business is there and so is the money.
Larnaca, which has an International Airport is run by a man named Fanieros, he started out as a bodyguard for Archbishop Makarious during the war and made a name for himself, during peace time however, he fashioned himself on Don Corleone (the Godfather) and having taken a bullet in the neck (literally) for Archbishop Makarious, has the voice to go along with the image. Fanieros runs a very high profile security company in Larnaca, they protect places of importance like the Airport and Schools. But, what they really like to do is ‘protect’ small businesses, bars, clubs and restaurants. Until now, no-one in the Cypriot media has EVER written an article about Fanieros, and while I was there, even though I had a very big story about him, everyone I brought it to declined, that is how powerful he is in Larnaca. Fanieros owns a ‘Hotel’ where he carries out his business, it is known to be a place of torture and men of his employ who have fallen out of favour have died in terrible accidents, one of which was where two men reportedly tried to set fire to a nightclub and were caught in the inferno themselves. I KNEW THESE TWO MEN, because they had been sent to me by Fanieros offering me the services of his security company.
He is often seen driving down the street flanked on either side by bodyguards on motorbikes and followed closely by the ‘Black Hummer’ the only one in town.
But that is not to say that Fanieros Larnaca is the only evil in Larnaca. The municipal system itself in Larnaca is not much better.
Cyprus is all about who you know, which works well if you are Cypriot, but is an utter nightmare if you don’t. It is also set up to be so slow that you incur fines, before you even begin. There are huge deposits to pay for services because you are not Cypriot even though you may be European, and you are still required to register with immigration who will send you off to get a million different things just so that you can pay the fees here there and everywhere, before asking ‘Who told you to do that, it’s all wrong!’ My wife spent many, many months going to interviews and providing proof of this that and the other to finally attain residency two weeks before we left!
Every man you meet will tell you ‘it’s okay, I know someone, I’ll help you’ if it involves money, walk away! People who honestly want to help won’t ask for money and those that ask and receive money, well, you’ve just opened a door that you won’t be able to close.
While I think of it, the ordinary policeman is on such a low wage that Fanieros subsidises his income, so if you happen to fall out with Fanieros, don’t expect the regular cop to bite the hand that feeds him. I have personally witnessed a Judge walk out of a courtroom and refuse to take on a case against Fanieros, such is the legend of the man.
Limassol is the main port of Cyprus, a very large and thriving city. Limassol is run by a Russian mafia, they drive a ‘yellow Hummer’ they do not wander into the Larnaca areas and vice-versa. As for their activities I have no personal experience, but have been reliably informed that they pretty much do the same as in Larnaca, Prostitution, Bingo, Protection.
Well Paphos is a different story, Paphos is run by the church(Greek Orthodox), they control the water and own most of the land in this area, they have a very stringent hold on things like what signs you can or can’t put on your premises to advertise your business! Arguably the most beautiful part of the island, incorporating the birthplace of Aphrodite, there are many luxury villas, hotels and resorts.
While I lived in Cyprus Paphos town had the highest rate of pollution in Europe, I’m sure it’s something that they are working on!
There are a few British military bases, they are built on areas that were completely demolished in the War. They are obviously completely run by the British and even have their own courts and police, as has happened to me you may not even realise that you are in a military base, you can and will be stopped for speeding or whatever and you can guarantee that you will be fined on the spot.
My father-in-law while visiting us, drove through one of these bases and just for the hell of it started speaking in a Northern Irish accent, within seconds there was an army jeep behind their rental car which quietly escorted them off the base!
Cyprus is a listening base for the Middle-east, do not be under any illusion, while there your phone calls are monitored.
Troodos, the mountain range in the centre of the island is a winter wonderland, to be able to go from the sun, sea and sand on the coast to the heights of the Troodos mountains is just fantastic, if you knew no better you could easily believe that you were in the Alps. Except I don’t remember seeing huge white golf balls on Mont Blanc! (the listening posts I mentioned earlier)
Everyone loves to have a holiday home and Cyprus has some beautiful houses, built on the Mediterranean/Arabic style villa, they are spacious, pretty and usually detached, sounds too good to be true? Well it can be, only since January of 2009 has it become law that the seller has to relinquish the deeds to the property that he has sold to you. All sales before this date were by contract yes, but you did not necessarily receive your deeds and in a lot of cases, especially if you bought a holiday home, your house was sold up to five times! And that was if you purchased it from the real owner in the first place! A friend of mine just avoided buying a house from someone who didn’t own it, the house belonged to a Saudi who had not used it in years, a neighbour who noticed that there was a lot of interest in the property from foreigners thought that he would make some money (well a lot actually, a Cypriot pound at the time was nearly 2 euros) and went about selling it to the unwitting tourists, because there were no deeds, it went unnoticed, until the real owner re-appeared!
I sat in on a case in court one day where the same house was sold to four different couples, one couple had been living in the house for the best part of a year, one couple had bought the property years earlier but through illness etc had not been able to use the property, and the other two couples had been sold the property on a time-share basis. The judge directed that the couple now living in the house were the owners and that all the rest were free to sue the ‘vendor’ in a civil action. He walked away free that day, no charges or fraud were brought against him.
Another property scam was/is with apartments, some people bought from plans others were flown out on these special tour/house hunting deals. Either way the results were the same, the apartments would be sold, some paid outright others mortgaged, no-one would receive their deeds and the property developer would use the deeds to each apartment to raise funds for his next development, no panic, until of course the next project failed and the banks went in for repossession or the developer skipped town because he didn’t pay his taxes.
Some scandals that are coming to light now are where properties on both sides of the divided island were sold illegally, during the invasion, Catholics were driven from the North side of the island and Muslims from the South, leaving behind their houses and lands. Entrepreneurs in the 80’s and onwards spotted these houses lying around and decided to develop a very exciting property market, of course these houses did and still do belong to people and if /when Cyprus is re-united and let’s remember that it is one of the conditions of Turkey’s membership into the EU there will be a lot of quarrelling over property that has been sold without the consent or knowledge of the owner.