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IEET > Security > Military > Rights > FreeThought > Life > Access > Contributors > Piero Scaruffi

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The Turkish dictatorship, Turkey’s “sense of humor,” and a Timeline of Turkish History


piero scaruffi
By piero scaruffi
piero scaruffi

Posted: Apr 11, 2012

There is one country in the world that in December 2011 was keeping 97 journalists in prison, and it is not mainland China. It is a country with just a fraction of China’s population: Turkey. Turkey also ranks among the countries that exerts the strictest censorship of the World-wide Web: one million websites are banned in Turkey (including mine, http://www.scaruffi.com).

Israeli abuses against Palestinians are widely reported by the international media, but in recent months Turkey has killed many more Kurdish separatists (and civilians) than Israel has killed Palestinian militants, and even bombed its neighbor Iraq in a blatant violation of international law. Turkey also insists that the Armenian genocide never took place, and even insists that the rest of the world should say the same.

The European Union is still negotiating the admission of Turkey, and Turkey is still a member of NATO. I was a strong supporter of both when Turkey was becoming more and more democratic. Now that it is becoming less and less democratic, one wonders what makes Turkey any better qualified than Egypt or even Iraq for admission in the European Union and NATO.

The international community should impose sanctions on Turkey until:

1. It releases dissident journalists from prison
2. It restores full access to the Internet
3. It grants autonomy or independence to the Kurds
4. It fully recognizes the Armenian genocides, apologizes in public, and restores full diplomatic ties with Armenia.

Turkey, that was one of the brightest hopes in the Middle East, is providing a bad example to its neighbors and becoming a danger to both democratic progress and stability in the region.


Turkey’s sense of humour

I must admit i am biased because Turkey banned my website http://www.scaruffi.com on August 18, 2011, and on the same page the New York Times had two articles.

The first one (and much larger) was about Turkey’s demand that Israel apologizes for killing Turkish citizens who entered Israeli territorial waters on a flotilla meant to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza’s Palestinians. The second one (much smaller) was about Turkey’s response to a “terrorist” attack by Kurdish separatists who killed some Turkish military men: Turkey struck deep into Iraq, where it claims that these “terrorists” have set up bases of operation.

Basically, Turkey condemns Israel for an action and then carries out an even worse action of the same kind. In fact, we then learned that Turkey and Iran struck together, in what presumably was a coordinated attack to decimate the Kurdish freedom fighters… oops, i meant “the vicious Kurdish terrorists” (one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter).


Candidates backed by the Kurdish separatist movement PKK won 36 seats in the Turkish parliament, but prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) managed to disqualify enough of them to force all the others to boycott the parliament, which means that right now 15 million Kurds are not represented in the parliament of the country that rules them against their will.


Now that the Palestinians are sailing towards independence, now that the Arab Spring has removed medieval dictators from so many Arab countries, now that Lebanon is a vibrant democracy, now that South Sudan has obtained independence, it is perhaps time to dismantle the last of the medieval aberrations of the Middle East: the non-existence of the Kurdish people, whose territory is split between Iraq (where they are largely autonomous), Iran and Turkey.


Let us not forget that Turkey never acknowledged the genocide it carried out in Armenia, and still punishes Armenia that refuses to remove two million dead bodies from its history books.


Terrorism is not only made by crazy individuals who kill civilians (and the Kurdish “terrorists” seem to target military personnel only). Terrorism is also made by stubborn governments that hold on to their imperial ambitions and are willing to kill an unlimited number of people to suppress the historical truth.

Timeline of Turkish History

200BC: Mao-tun unites the Turkic-speaking Huns (Xiongnu, Hsiung-nu) in Central Asia around Lake Bajkal and southeastern Mongolia

552: Turkic people led by Tumin/Bumin destroy the Juan-juan (Avars) and establish the Turkic Khaganate of Gokturk in Central Asia from the Black Sea to Mongolia

553: Tumin dies and the Turkic Khaganate splits into Western and Eastern Khanates

567: the western Turkic Khaganate invades Transoxania

603: the western Turkic Khaganate self-destroys in a civil war

630: The eastern Turkic Khaganate is conquered by China

682: the eastern Turkic Khaganate regain independence from China under Kutluk

694: Tugluk’s brother Khapghan extend the Turkic empire over Transoxania, thus unifying eastern and western Turks

712: the Arabs, led by Kutayba ben Muslim, conquer Transoxania and convert the Turks to Islam

833: Sultan al-Mutasim creates a regiment of Turkish slaves

744: the Turkic empire of Gokturk self-destroys again in a civil war

880: the Abbasid dynasty is replaced in Egypt by a Turkic dynasty

932: the Turkic Qarakhanid dynasty is founded in Kashgar

962: the Ghaznavid kingdom is founded in Afghanistan (at Ghazni) by Alp-tegin, a Turkic slave soldier of the Samanids

985: the Turkic-speaking Seljuks (led by Seljuk) invade Transoxania (Ilkhan) and convert to sunnite Islam

995: Gurgandj (Kunya-Urgench, Turkmenistan) becomes the capital of the Khorezmshakh state

1038: the Seljuks, led by Toghrul Beg/ Tugrul Bey, defeat the Ghaznavids at Dandanaqan (near Merv)

1042: the Seljuks conquer Khorezm

1048: Turk nomads raid the Byzantine empire for the first time

1055: the Seljuks (sunni), led by Toghrul Beg, defeat the Buyids (shiite), invade Mesopotamia and install themselves in Baghdad under the suzerainty of the Abbasids

1064: the Seljuk king Alp Arslan moves the capital to Ray (Tehran)

1064: the Seljuks invade Armenia

1071: the Seljuqs led by sultan Alp Arslan defeat the Byzantine army at the battle of Malazgird, capture Jerusalem and establishing a sultanate in central Anatolia

1072: the Seliuqs move the capital from Ray (Tehran) to Isfahan but Alp Arslan dies, succeeded by his son Maliksah

1073: the Seliuqs defeat the Qarakhanids, taking Bukhara and Samarkand

1076: the Seliuqs invade Syria and Palestine

1141: the Karakitai defeat the Seljuqs at the battle of Qatwan, thus destroying Seljuq power in Central Asia

1153: the Khwarazmis (Turkish mercenaries) conquer Persia from the Seljuqs

1157: Seljuq’s sultan Sancar dies

1175: the Ghaznavid state is absorbed into the Ghurid empire, which is also Turkic-speaking

1176: Byzanthium is defeated by the Turks of Rum at Myriokephalon

1169: Saladin Ayubbid, a Kurdish general, ends the Fatimid dynasty in Egypt and founds the Ayubbid dynasty

1174: Saladin takes Damascus from the Syrian ruler

1187: Saladin retakes Palestine and Jerusalem

1192: Saladin signs an armstice with King Richard I of England tha grants the Christians a small kingdom outside Jerusalem

1193: Saladin’s brother Malik Adil becomes sultan of Egypt and Syria

1194: the Seljuqs conquer Anatolia

1194: the last Persian Seljuq ruler dies and Seljuq power collapses in Iran

1200: Ali ad-Din Muhammad becomes shah of the Khwarizm/Khwarezmian empire that extends from Uzbekistan to Persia

1220: the Mongols invade Transoxania (Bukhara and Samarkand) and Iran/Persia

1241: Batu’s younger brother Shayban raids Hungary and then splits, establishing the Shaybanid Horde

1243: the Mongols conquer the Rum state in Anatolia

1301: Osman founds the Ottoman dynasty in Anatolia

1354: the Ottomans occupy Gallipoli, first outpost in Europe

1391: the Ottomans conquer Bosnia and Wallachia

1439: the Ottomans annex Serbia

1453: the Ottoman capture Constantinople/Byzantium and rename it Istanbul

1460: the Ottomans conquer Greece and Serbia

1516: the Ottomans annex Syria and Palestine

1517: the Ottomans conquer Egypt and western Arabia

1529: The Ottomans conquer Algiers

1534: the Ottomans capture Baghdad

1541: The Ottomans conquer Hungary

1555: the Ottoman empire conquers Mesopotamia

1555: The “false” Mustafa leads a revolt against the Ottoman ruler in Thrace and Macedonia but Mustafa is captured and killed and thousands of rebels are executed

1571: in the battle of Lepanto an army formed by the Pope, Spain, Venezia and Genova destroys the Ottoman navy, thus halting Ottoman expansion in the Mediterranean

1576: The Ottomans capture Fez in Morocco

1676: Poland surrenders Ukraine to the Ottomans

1682: beginning of the Hundred Year War between the Hapsburg monarchy and the Ottoman empire

1699: the Ottomans lose Hungary to the Holy Roman Empire (“Treaty of Carlowitz”)

1699: The Ottomans and the Habsburgs sign the peace treaty of Karlowitz by which the Ottomans cede Hungary and Transylvania to the Habsburgs, Dalmatia to Venezia, southern Ukraine to Poland and Azov to Russia

1725: The Ottomans conquer Tabriz, Armenia and Georgia from Iran

1727: first printing press in the Islamic world (Istanbul)

1793: the Ottoman sultan Selim III proclaims the “new order”

1801: The Ottomans and the British defeat Napoleon’s troops in Egypt

1803: Mehmet I deposes the Ottoman governor of Egypt

1832: Greece becomes indepedent

1833: Egypt conquers Syria from the Ottoman Empire

1853: In the Crimean war Britain, France and the Ottoman Empire fight Russia (the first major war in which Christian countries side with a Muslim country)

1866: the Ottoman protectorates of Moldavia and Wallachia unite in the federation of Romania

1878: the Congress of Berlin grants Montenegro, Serbia, and Romania independence and creates an autonomous Christian principality of Bulgaria within the Ottoman Empire

1908: the “Young Turks” stage a revolution and depose sultan Abdulhamid II of the Ottoman empire

1908: Bulgaria declares its independence from the Ottoman empire

1909: Tel Aviv is founded as a Hebrew speaking Jewish city in Ottoman Palestine

1912: Italy takes Libya and the Dodecanese islands from the Ottoman Empire

1913: a triumvirate (minister of war Enver, interior minister Talat, Istanbul governor Jemal) rules the Ottoman empire

1914: the Ottoman Empire enters World War I in an alliace with Germany and Austria

1915: the Ottoman empire massacres 1.2 millions of Armenians

1915: the Ottoman empire massacres 500,000 Assyrians between 1915 and 1920

1916: the Ottoman empire slaughters 350,000 Greek Pontians and 480,000 Anatolian Greeks between 1916 and 1923

1918: the Ottoman Empire is defeated in World War I, Britain takes control of Iraq and Transjordan while France claims Syria and Lebanon

1923: Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) abolishes the Ottoman empire, declares Turkey a republic, replaces the Arabic script with the Latin alphabet, outlaws the Islamic veil for women, and moves the capital from Istanbul to Ankara

1935: Turkey grants women the right to vote

1950: Turkey holds the first multi-party elections and elects Adnan Menderes prime minister

1952: Turkey joins NATO, the only Muslim country to do so

1955: Turkey, Iraq, Pakistan, Iran and Britain sign the Baghdad Pact that de facto asserts British influence in the Middle Eastagainst the Soviet Union

1960: Turkey’s prime minister Adnan Menderes is overthrown and executed by the army

1974: Turkey invades half of Cyprus to protect the rights of the Turkish population from the Greek majority

1974: the Kurdish Worker’s Party (Partiya Karkeren Kurdistan or PKK) is founded in Turkey to establish an independent Kurdish state in predominantly Kurdish southeast Turkey

1980: Abdullah Ocalan leads the PKK in an armed struggles against the Turkish government

1999: Abdullah Ocalan is captured by the Turkish government

2003: the Islamic-oriented “Justice and Development Party” (AK Party) wins elections in Turkey and Recep Tayyip Erdogan becomes the country’s prime minister

2007: Following the killing of a Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader, Kurdish separatists kill scores of soldiers in Turkey at the border with Iraq

2011: Turkish warplanes kill 35 people near the border with Iraq, mistaking them for Kurdish rebels

2011: Turkey’s economy grows 8.5%, one of the highest growth rates in the world

2012: There are 97 members of the news media in jail in Turkey, more than in mainland China, and about one million websites are blocked


piero scaruffi is an author, cultural historian and blogger who has written extensively about a wealth of topics, ranging from cognitive science to music.
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