Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Neo-Ottomans stumble (again) over Pan-Turkism

Judging by their efforts in the 1990’s, it was only a matter of time before the Neo-Ottomans stumbled. The Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, got himself into hot water a couple of weeks ago by suggesting that the recent violence in the capital of the Chinese province of Xinjiang, Urumqi involved “genocide”. Refuting this claim, China’s official media says the latest death toll is 192 with at least 46 of them Uighurs.

The Economist magazine recently published an article, titled “Troubles across Turkestan” providing an outline of events which can be found
here. Note: it is interesting The Economist magazine has bought into the language of the Pan-Turkic movement i.e. the usage of Turkestan and not naming Xinjiang as a Chinese province. Antipodes has previously highlighted here, The Economist magazine’s robust support for the Turks at the expense of everyone else including the Greeks. The Rothschilds, the owners of The Economist magazine, probably have a lot to lose if Turkey is isolated from the West.

As if Erdogan’s words were not enough, the Turks went even further when Turkey’s trade minister hinted strongly that Turkish consumers should boycott Chinese goods. Erdogan also proposed a discussion of the rioting in the UN Security Council. However, this is very unlikely to happen considering China holds veto power.

Obviously, Turkey’s increasingly Neo-Ottoman self perception, where they believe they can engage with a variety of geopolitical actors on a number of levels shaped by the recent ministerial appointment Ahmet Davutoglu, has motivated it to support the hapless Uighurs. Turkey believes it has cultural, religious and ethnic links with the people of Xinjiang; consequently, Turkey has long been a haven for its disaffected people.

However, Turkey has definitely gone too far this time. Perhaps it overestimated Pan-Turkic solidarity. Pan-Turkism is a political movement started more than 100 years ago aiming to unite the various
Turkic peoples into a modern political state. More recently, Pan-Turkic ideas and "re-unification" movements have been popular since the collapse of the Soviet Union in Central Asian and other Turkic countries. In particular, Turkey went clumsily gallivanting around Central Asia trying to build a Pan-Turkic movement. The results were less than encouraging. Alarmingly, the idea of Pan-Turkism also stretches beyond Central Asia and into Europe. Recently, when Erdogan was in Germany, he told cheering Turkish workers and Germans of Turkish ancestry that “assimilation is a crime against humanity”. But, recent Pan-Turkic sympathy for their supposed ethnic brethren in China, has been muted.

However, what is more worrying is Turkey’s relationship with certain geopolitical actors in the West; particularly, their rabid supporters, the United States, the United Kingdom and a few other pathetic small European states like Sweden. It is not out of the realms of possibility that the Americans and the English will use Turkey to irritate China without doing the work themselves, and invariably further promoting Turkey as a global power.
As a result, keep a close watch on all the supposed well-researched studies that will be published from American "think-tanks" and English periodicals over the next few months alluding to Turkey's historical relationship with the Uighurs.

Source: The Economist, Antipodes

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