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The War Nerd November 19, 2007
 
Da Kurds: Boo Hoo Who?
Why Kurdistan is not a nation and never will be By Gary Brecher Browse author Email
 
Page 3 of 5
 

When you compare the Turks and the Kurds, you see how important unity is, even when the way a tribe gets unified isn't pretty to look at. We think there's this fight between "the Kurds" and "Turkey" but both those words are temporary. The only reason there's a "Turkey" is one man: Kemal Mustafa aka Ataturk, a Turkish officer who made his bones killing Aussies at Gallipoli and went on to terrorize the Turks into becoming Turkey. The Turks had no country and no "rights" after WW I because they'd made the mistake of siding with the Kaiser. So even though they won against the Brits at Gallipoli--you can generally win against Brit officers who decide to occupy the beach instead of the high ground overlooking it--the Turks lost everything, including their country, the Ottoman Empire.

Papa: Ataturk made his bones killing young Aussies at Gallipoli

See, they weren't "Turks" then, they were Ottomans. Sure, Turks were the dominant tribe in the Ottoman Empire, but it was one of those Islamic Empires where being One of the Faithful counted way more than being a Turk. The main distinction was between Muslims and Others, and you definitely didn't want to be one of the Others. You especially didn't want to be one of the Christian tribes who wouldn't convert, like the Armenians who used to be a "small nation" in what's now Eastern Turkey. Around 1915, when every power fighting the Great War was getting a little paranoid and impatient with its local troublemakers, the Turks decided they'd had enough of these pesky Armenians and took action. You can talk all day about whether it was "genocide" or not, if you're one of these fools like Wilson or Carter, but the end result is that the Armenians are now resting with the Old Prussians and the Algonquins in that big Human Rights Court in the Sky where Small Nations can exercise their rights all day long without bothering anybody.

And who benefited, you might want to ask, from the Ottomans wiping out the Armenians (except for about ten zillion who moved to Fresno)? Well, let's see if you can name a Muslim tribe that lives in Eastern Turkey. That's right, the Kurds! I'm not saying a whole buncha Kurds moved in and crossed out all those Armenian names on the deeds, but they sure got a lot richer in a hurry--because they were Muslim, and I repeat, to the Ottomans that's what mattered, way more than tribal identity.

Four years later, 1919, the Anglos stomped the Ottomans as good as the Ottomans had stomped the Armenians. I'm talking total collapse. No Ottomans, no Sultan, no empire, nothing. Everybody thinks that because there's this place called "Turkey" now, it just had to happen that way, but that's crap. The reason there IS a Turkey and there ISN'T a Kurdistan is that enough Turks had the sense to obey Mustafa Kemal's orders and reclaim the Anatolian peninsula. People don't realize what a slow, bloody mess it was taking Asia Minor back in 1919.

While Wilson was talking crap at Versailles, Ataturk's generals were attacking in damn near every direction at once. They started from scratch, from the survivors of the Ottoman officer corps, recruited the same Anatolian peasants whose ancestors had fought with Belisarius (who's up there with Subotai as maybe the best general ever) and started pushing outward. It took them way longer than the Great War had taken to evict the Greeks from what's now Western Turkey but used to be Greece, and still is part of Greece if you're a sulky Greek nationalist. That was just the biggest of the wars they had to fight. In every compass direction they had to TAKE their country back. They had a couple of advantages, like a coastline, a genius for a leader, and some great commanders. But their biggest advantage was unity.


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Gary Brecher
Browse author
Email Gary at war_nerd@exile.ru, but, more importantly, buy his book.
 
 
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