TURKEY TO RESURRECT THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE
As the debate about Iraq rages in the news media and world political forums, a sideshow is shaping up in the Middle East. Hawks in the Bush administration have their own agenda to attack Iraq, namely to eliminate a hostile regime to Israel, to fatten the coffers of oil companies and to cater to the military industrial complex that President Eisenhower had warned against.
The actors in the Middle Eastern sideshow are Turkey and Kurdish factions in Iraq.
Since the no-fly zone regime was enforced in Northern Iraq, contrary to U.N. resolutions, Kurdish factions enjoy relative independence, though still in political limbo.
Next to Armenians, Kurds maybe are the only minority used, abused and deceived over and over throughout history. That is why their national motto has become: "Kurds have no friends, except for their mountains."
Presently two major factions dominate Northern Iraq. In fact, they are Kurdish tribes with some political trappings: namely Kurdistan Democratic Party, headed by Masuud Barzani and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, led by Jalal Talabani. These tribes have often waged fratricidal wars at the behest of host nations dominating the region. Iran has used them against Iraq, and Iraq has used them against Turkey, the goal being to decimate and emasculate the Kurds.
Along with the Armenians the Sevres Treaty promised a homeland to the Kurds that never materialized. During World War I Turkish government used the Kurds against Armenians to carry their genocidal project.
As if that were not lesson enough for the Kurds, most recently the Kurds were used by the Turks once again to combat their own brethren, fighting under the banner of PKK, Kurdish Workers Party, led by Ocalan. Now that Ocalan is behind bars in Turkey, and PKK infrastructure shattered ? courtesy of Israeli and U.S. counter insurgency services ? Turkey can safely turn its back to its erstwhile allies and bully them once more into submission.
Masuud Barzani has a proposal on the table, a draft constitution for a post-Saddam Iraq that would grant extensive autonomy to Iraqi Kurdistan.
After Ocalan's capture, Kurdish aspirations have been toned down, to sound more realistic in the region's political atmosphere. Kurds in Turkey are timidly aspiring for cultural autonomy. In Iraq they are looking for a federated state where they can enjoy autonomy, with a flag and parliament, centered on the oil rich city of Kirkuk as capital.
But Turkey aspires to bring Iraqi Kurds under its sway as well.
Countering Barzani's plans Turkey's defense minister Sabahattin Cakmakoglu announced: "Turkey considers Northern Iraq to be under its direct care and Ankara would not tolerate the region being subjugated to the interests of others."
He also had the audacity of claiming Northern Iraq as the legacy of defunct Ottoman Empire, by adding: "Turkey has not given up its own territorial claims to the area. He said Northern Iraq was "forcibly separated" from Turkey by the Western powers that partitioned the Ottoman Empire and that because of the presence of a Turkic-speaking Turkoman population there, he considered the cities of Kirkuk and Mosul to be "Turkish soil."
It is becoming more and more obvious that as the U.S. tries to bring democracy to the region while Turkey is after empire building through the U.S. help.
Initially the Turks were supposedly opposed to an Iraqi invasion, in fact to enhance their bargaining position with the U.S. and to pay lip service to the Moslem world. After the visit of Deputy Defense Secretary Wolfowitz, the political rhetoric in Ankara changed and imperial aspirations dominated their ambitions.
Wolfowitz promised to help with Turkey's $16 billion debt and also gave assurances that the U.S.
will not allow the emergence of a Kurdish homeland in post-Saddam Iraq, and Turkey fell willingly into the fold, to pursue its one political and strategic agenda.
In retrospect one can see that Turkey never came to terms with the loss of the Ottoman Empire and tried to revive it at every opportunity, even though Ataturk proclaimed his secular Republic in 1923 to cloak Turkey's imperial ambitions under a more civilized image.
The first attempt to revive the Empire was undertaken by Enver who tried to unite Turkish nations of Central Asia, as Lenin was building his own Soviet empire. Enver was killed, but his designs were never lost to the Turks. They reoccupied Cilicia, after the French treacherously abandoned the Armenians, they drove Greeks into the Mediterranean Sea in 1922 at Smyrna, they reoccupied Sanjak of Alexandretta in 1938, when the French took that region from Syria and ceded it to Turkey. The same year they had a land swap with Iran to have border with Azerbaijan through Nakhichevan. And in 1974 they attacked Cyprus and reoccupied 38% of its territory under the pretext of defending the Turkish minority. The Ottoman government had transferred the island of Cyprus to British rule under the terms of the Berlin Treaty of 1878.
Turkey was invited as NATO partner and as former ruler of the Balkans to send troops in Yugoslavia during the war against Milosovic. In fact all Balkan animosities were the legacy of 400 years of Ottoman misrule in the Balkans, by forced conversions of the Slavic nations, by playing one ethnic group against the other. And now Turkey is invited back there as a pacifier!
Turkey is out for a very dangerous game. It is a threat to all nations in the region and especially to Armenia. And yet Europe and the U.S. are pouring in armaments, as a NATO ally. Ironically even Russia is arming Turkey, while on the other hand, pretending to protect Armenia against Turkey with its military base there.
The West believes that a strong Turkey can contribute to the stability of the region and can serve as a surrogate when they need to project their power in the area. In fact, Turkey's alliance is only self-serving and Turkey is after resurrecting the Ottoman Empire, as confessed by its minister of defense recently.
© Mirror Spectator, sept 10/ 2002