A Turkish man takes a selfie with a Turkish police officer, loyal to the government, as they stand atop tanks abandoned by Turkish army officers, against a backdrop of Istanbul’s iconic Bosporus Bridge on Saturday, July 16, 2016. Photo: AAP via AP Photo/Emrah Gurel.
27 July 2016
THEODORE G. KARAKOSTAS
Considering the failure of the 2004 coup attempt against Turkish prime minister and now President Recep Teyyip Erdogan, one could be forgiven for assuming the Kemalist devotees of dead dictator Mustafa Kemal had been vanquished from the political scene. One would have expected a seizure of power after Erdogan shot down a Russian plane and nearly triggered a third world war. As it now appears, the political cult around Mustafa Kemal within the Turkish military still exists.
Mustafa Kemal was the murderous and bloodthirsty general who waged war during the First World War as the Ottoman Empire was in the midst of collapsing. Following the end of the war and the partition of the Ottoman Empire, which initially resulted in the liberation of the Armenians through the establishment of the Republic of Armenia and the liberation of Greek territory in Smyrna and Eastern Thrace by Greece, Turkish genocide should have been permanently ended.
Mustafa Kemal emerged among the Turks as Hitler was later to do in Germany. As a fanatical and racist leader, he denied the right to life of any communities other than his own. Lou Ureneck’s recent book The Great Fire makes for difficult reading. Even as it became clear that Smyrna was to be taken by the Turks, the nationalist movement under Kemal insisted that the Armenian and Greek Christians were not to escape with their lives. The Turks went about hunting down all Armenians and Greeks irrespective of age or gender and proceeded to slaughter them. To the credit of many American and European civilians who were in Smyrna, Armenians and Greeks were hidden and protected. The same credit cannot be given to the representatives of the American, British, French, or Italian governments officially. Individual representatives of those governments did in fact provide support for Greeks and Armenians but this was in defiance of official orders.
Mustafa Kemal presided over the slaughter of all Greek and Armenian Christians in territory that his movement conquered. This was followed by the ethnic cleansing of over one million Greeks from Eastern Thrace and Asia Minor following the signing of the Lausanne Treaty in 1923. Mustafa Kemal acted the part of statesman for unscrupulous and gullible westerners. He forced the Turks to shave and wear suits, and he forced women to dress in modern European style and to get rid of Islamic dress.
The west is easily duped by those who wish to flatter them. Kemal declared that Turkey should be European and so that was enough for western governments to praise him. Well, it was not that easy. That Kemal made concessions to tobacco companies and oil interests certainly helped bestow support on his regime. Ironically, the most honest and realistic assessment of Kemal and his movement came from Hitler and the Nazis. Stefan Ihrig, in his book Ataturk in the Nazi Imagination (Ataturk is the name given to Kemal by the Turkish National Assembly in 1934, meaning ‘Father’) describes how Nazi party newspapers of the period admired Kemal and depicted Greeks and Armenians in Anatolia as being the equivalent of the Jews in Germany.
Hitler and Mussolini both considered Kemal a mentor or teacher. In Turkey, the cult of personality around Kemal came into being. The world was able to recognise the sickness of personality cults when they were established around the likes of Hitler or Stalin, but the personality cult of Kemal was never recognised as depraved. The myth came about that Kemal was a secular democrat. Kemal was secular but a democrat no. He was a dictator who killed his opponents after finishing off the Greeks and the Armenians.
Upon his death, the generals in Turkey maintained their loyalty to the cult of their leader. It was in 1960 that the first Kemalist-inspired coup was brought about when the regime of Turkish Prime Minister Adnan Menderes was overthrown. As with the participants in Turkey today, there were no good guys in 1960. Menderes was becoming increasingly authoritarian and he was also the man who set in motion the conflict in Cyprus and the anti-Greek pogroms in Constantinople in 1955. In April 1955, Archbishop Makarios and George Grivas of Cyprus sought to end British rule in Cyprus and to unite with Greece. The Greeks were 80 per cent of the population and the Turks 18 percent.
Menderes and the Turkish government formed a new political party ‘Cyprus is Turkish’, and with British help started the conflict that resulted with the invasion of Cyprus in 1974. It was Menderes who ordered the bombing of the Turkish Consulate in Thessaloniki (which includes on its property the house where Kemal was born). Having already instructed thuggish gangs to attack Greek churches and homes in Constantinople, the Turks bombed Kemal’s house to add to the Turkish population’s anti-Greek sentiments.
Mustafa Kemal in Turkey came to resemble some sort of pagan god, with the generals as his disciples. The 1960 coup established Kemal as the supreme ruler in Turkey even though he had been dead since 1938. Two more coups were carried out in 1971 and 1980. The prime minister in both these coups was the narcissistic Suleyman Demirel. Demirel once mentioned that Turkey had conflicts with Greece, Cyprus, Armenia and the Kurds and was not at fault in any of them. The generals can be given credit for this. The leaders they have traditionally overthrown are vile and despicable personalities.
Speaking of vile personalities, mention must be made of Erdogan’s mentor Necmettin Erbekan and his coalition partner Tansu Ciller. Erbekan was deputy prime minister under Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit when Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974. For Erbekan, the invasion of 37 percent of Cyprus was not enough; he wanted Turkey to take the whole of Cyprus. He became the first Islamist prime minister in 1996 when he was the leader of a coalition government which included Tansu Ciller’s True Path Party.
In August 1996, the Grey Wolves, notorious Turkish fascists, murdered Greek protesters Tasos Isaac and Solomos Solomou in cold blood.
Solomou was shot down for trying to pull down the Turkish flag after attending the funeral of his cousin Isaac.
Solomou’s murder was openly praised by the psychotic Tansu Ciller, proving that Turkey’s female politicians can be just as evil and cold-blooded as their male colleagues. When the generals had enough of Erbekan’s efforts to Islamicise Turkey they used political pressure to bring down the government, hence the use of the term ‘silent coup’ for the 1997 coup. In 1994, Erdogan had been elected Mayor of Constantinople. One of his first actions at the time was to declare his intent to visit the Ecumenical Patriarchate, where he declared the gates from which Patriarch Gregory V was hanged in 1821 and which have been closed since would be opened just for him.
In 1998, Erdogan was forcibly removed as mayor and imprisoned for some of his radical writings expressed though a particular poem. In 2002, he was elected prime minister but was barred from taking office and for a brief time his colleague (and future president) Abdullah Gul would take over the prime minister’s office. And so the Islamic revolution marched on. In 2004, the generals’ coup attempt failed and Erdogan gradually became more powerful and began challenging the United States and Israel, whom the Kemalists had easily manipulated for decades.
In most recent years, Erdogan has behaved in an increasingly authoritarian way. He has begun restricting freedom of speech and nearly started a world war in 2015 with Russia. Turkey’s leaders all resemble one another in an important way. They are narcissistic and incapable of respecting the rights of anybody else. In this regard, Turkish Kemalists and Islamists are exactly the same.
Now the Turkish military has attempted to restore Kemal’s revolution yet again. The problem here is Kemal’s revolution was lost long ago. The Turkish generals pose as nationalists but Erdogan is the real nationalist who espouses the restoration of the Ottoman Empire. Even if Erdogan goes his movement will outlast him, and Turkish Islamists may not be willing to walk away quietly in the event that the generals triumph. Turkey is another Islamic country. It has never been anything else, notwithstanding the pathetic adulation of American and European propagandists and useful idiots.
Kemal’s revolution is long gone. Erdogan’s repeated victories and support for Islamic movements elsewhere (Syria for example) have overtaken Kemalism. Kemalism’s last vestiges lie in the borders of the Turkish Republic. Even here, Kemalism is under threat. The Kurds, who represent the largest stateless people in the world at over 30 million, are fighting effectively against Islamic State. The Kurds represent a real alternative to Turkey, which is just a mess of a country at this point.
If the generals were to succeed this would be bad for Greek and Armenian interests. American and Israeli support for Turkey would be immediate and unconditional. What Greece has never realised is that Athens can never compete with Turkey in terms of geostrategic support. Greece can only gain at the expense of Turkey if the west were to eventually cut off Turkey. And that could theoretically happen only with Erdogan or another Islamist in power in Turkey. Greece deserves much blame here. Greece has failed to launch any sort of diplomatic offensive over the last 20 years as it became obvious Turkey was becoming Islamic.
What will happen in Turkey is uncertain. What should be obvious is that Turkey by necessity must be weakened. There can be no security for Greece or Cyprus next to a strong Turkey. The Kemalists kept Turkey strong for decades. Their return will be catastrophic for Greece and Cyprus.
* Written by the International Hellenic Association.