Friday, December 08, 2006

perpetuating regional instability

There's a terrific conversation going on in the comments here about Gulf War 1, the invasion of Kuwait, and Depleted Uranium etc. Thanks, Simon, Noise, Steve.

I wanted to bring starroute's comment to the fore:
starroute said...

As part of the discussion of motivations in the Middle East, I'd like to make note of this pdf of an article by an Iranian writer, which although nominally about Pan-Turanianism and Azerbaijan is actually of much wider relevance. This article is what I largely had in mind when I made the remark Luke quasi-quoted about ideology digging the channels in which greed flows.

It starts out:

Pan-Turanianism is a racialist movement that not only threatens Iran, but Greece, Armenia, Russia, Ukraine and even (to a more limited extent) China. If unchecked, Pan-Turanianism may become as dangerous to international peace and stability as Islamic fundamentalism has became today.

Geopolitics and petroleum diplomacy is using pan-Turanianism to promote a nefarious and self-serving economic agenda (Part VI, items 1-4). Pan-Turanian activists, supported by politically motivated western academic outlets (See Part VI, items 4), are literally re-narrating world history (Parts I & II), and in this quest, have tragically misled many well-intentioned but naïve individuals (Parts III & IV). Many believe in a series of facts, events and a past history that never was. Veracity is falling victim to racialism, especially in the inherent anti-Persian agenda propelled by geopolitical Petroleum diplomacy.

Much of the article consists of a detailed history, analysis, and refutation of the extreme racist doctrines of Pan-Turanianism (more often called Pan-Turanism.) Then about halfway through it gets into the use of this doctrine by current political factions, ranging from the terrorist MEK of Iran (abbreviated here as MKO) to the neo-fascist Grey Wolves of Turkey. I'll admit to not having read all of it myself (partly because the pdf is badly formatted and hard to follow), but there is an enormous amount of information here which is highly relevant to current events in the Middle East, and of which us Westerners are almost entirely ignorant.

However, the section that is most directly pertinent to the current discussion is that headed "Geopolitical Interests & Petroleum Diplomacy," which starts out by talking about Neocon guru Bernard Lewis:

Professor Bernard Lewis (photo below) is an octogenarian expert of the “Middle East” (itself an invented geopolitical term). Lewis is indeed a “master” scholar and expert on the Turks, Iranian and Arabs (see sample of his books in references). And herein lays the tragedy: Lewis wields his treasure trove of knowledge as an engine of destruction. Few have ever heard of “The Bernard Lewis Project”.

Professor Lewis first unveiled his project in the Bilderberg Meeting in Baden, Austria, on April 27-29, 1979. He formally proposed the fragmentation and balkanization of Iran along regional, ethnic and linguistic lines especially among the Arabs of Khuzestan (the Al-Ahwaz project), the Baluchis (the Pakhtunistan project), the Kurds (the Greater Kurdistan project) and the Azerbaijanis (the Greater Azerbaijan Project).

Dreyfus and LeMarc (see References, p. 157) provide a very succinct summary of the plan’s methodology:

“According to Lewis, the British should encourage rebellions for national autonomy by the minorities such as the Lebanese Druze, Baluchis, Azerbaiajni Turks, Syrian Alawites, the Copts of Ethiopia, Sudanese mystical sects, Arabian tribes…the goal is the break-up of the Middle East into a mosaic of competing ministates and the weakening of the sovereignty of existing republics and kingdoms…spark a series of breakaway movements by Iran’s Kurds, Azeris, baluchis, and Arabs…these independence movements, in turn would represent dire threats to Turkey, Iraq, Pakistan and other neighbouring states.”

The article then goes on to argue that the Bernard Lewis Project is still very much alive today, and that the goal of dismembering potentially troublesome nation-states into small ethnic enclaves (as was done successfully with Yugoslavia) forms much of the approach to the region by both Neocons and oil interests. (Which may explain why these two groups often act in tandem, despite their distinct ideological differences.) It also suggests that Pan-Turanisn distortions of history are being snuck into Western media by way of groups like the American Turkish Council.

One thing the article does not seem to touch on, but which seems like an obvious corollary, is the parallel interest of drug traffickers and other deep state types in regional fragmentation. For example, the Wikipedia article on the Chechen Mafia states of the Chechen separatist movement, "Unlike other Russian OC [organized crime] groups, the Obshina was considered a hybrid criminal-political entity, which used illegal proceeds to finance and arm separatists fighters during the Chechen Wars. This unique characteristic has resulted in a trend towards blurring the distinction between organized crime and terrorists groups and has confused many observers as to the Obshina's overall motivations. It is still not entirely clear whether they are more interested in creating an independent nation-state or in perpetuating regional instability so that they might continue to profit from the drug trade and other criminal enterprises."

And then there are those like Michael Ledeen who just seem to get off on the idea of chaos for its own sake...

Thanks again, Starroute. Very interesting.

(I'll try to put together a post on Chechnya next week - perhaps with a dose of Cyprus, and Turkey)


profmarcus said...

chaos for its own sake is very often an underlying goal of much of what the so-called great powers work to foment... chaos provides very fertile soil for profiteers, for arms sales, and for all types of very lucrative activities that can all be carried on under the radar... a perfect case in point is the congo... the place is a chaotic, violent, out-of-control mess, out of which a number of global enterprises are profiting hugely... i flew next to a mining engineer from phelps dodge on my way back to the u.s. from santiago, chile, a few weeks ago who described to me how phelps (currently merging with another major and unscrupulous mining company, freeport mcmoran) was going about starting up its new operation in the congo... one piece that really caught my attention is that phelps will be operating its own immigration and customs facility, ostensibly on behalf of the congolese government, but, in reality, simply to expedite bringing in the resources they need and avoiding having to pay duties... chaos is very good business...

Mizgîn said...

This pan-Turan stuff is so old. It really began to blossom in the 1930's with the Turkish history thesis and Sun Language thesis (or Turkish language thesis) through pseudo-scientific conferences sponsored by the Ankara regime, particularly under Ismet Inonu.

You can get an idea of how Turanism was used to form the "Turkish nation" through an article about a journal, or magazine, of the time. See this. The purpose of the journal, Ulku (like ulkucu--literally "idealist"; practically "Gray Wolf") was as follows:

‘Ülkü, will be published in order to feed up the excitement of the new generation that is in pursuit of a bright and honourable future leaving the age of ignorance behind, in order to boil up revolutionary elements in society’s blood and to hasten the pace...Ülkü will be published in order to establish unity in the minds, in the enthusiasm and in the movements of the people walking on this path to this target...Ülkü will published in order to be in the service of national language, national history and national art and culture...Ülkü will publish the columns and articles by those who are committed to this target and who want to convince Turkish society and take part in the mission of creating a society enthusiastic and ready for commitment’ (Peker,1933: 1-2).

Clearly, Ulku was a propagandist tool used to "form" the "Turkish nation" in the 1930s and is still the basis of the Ankara regime's official ideology today. This is what the Pashas are always shrieking that they will defend.

I checked what was said about Ziya Gokalp and I think it's an oversimplification. Gokalp, in Principles of Turkism, emphasized that race had no relationship with social traits or with nationality, and that cultural unity was transmitted by education. As far as language is a subject for education, then we can say that language plays a role, but it was not Gokalp's sole determiner of membership in a nation.

As for Gokalp being a Kurd (or Imset Inonu, for that matter)--No. According to Gokalp's own theories, he was not a Kurd and never identified himself as such. Maybe he was conflicted in his identity because he ended up committing suicide. Oh, well. We all have to die of something.

Because the .pdf article is about Ulkucu targeting of Azerbaijan, I thought I'd share this with you:

Iran seeks ban on pro-Azeri TV

The New Anatolian 14/03/2006 18:44

A new Azeri TV station broadcasting to Iranian Azeris through a Turkish satellite has created uneasiness in Iran, and Tehran is seeking ways for Ankara to revoke its license, The New Anatolian has learned.

"South Azerbaijan Television" (Gunaz TV), based in the U.S. city of Chicago, is the first 24-hour TV station broadcasting to Iranian Azeris. The station was established in April last year but has just recently started its broadcasts. Gunaz TV announces on its webpage that it will struggle against "Persian chauvinism" and aim for a revival of Azeri national identity.

Diplomatic sources told TNA on Monday that after seeing the anti-Tehran and nationalist content in the broadcasts of Gunaz TV, the Iranian side conveyed its uneasiness to Ankara. Recalling that Gunaz TV was broadcasting through the Turkish satellite TurkSat 2A, Iranian officials asked that the station's license be suspended, charging that the TV station was "spreading secessionist propaganda."

Turkish authorities took note of the Iranian side's concerns and said that the issue will be investigated and then a response will be given to Tehran.

Gunaz TV's launch of broadcast corresponds to the US' recent decision to launch a $75 million program to promote regime change in Iran by expanding broadcasting into the country and funding non-governmental organizations. Currently Voice of America broadcasts one hour a day into Iran; by April, that will grow to four hours a day, and the administration plans to go to 24 hours a day.

Azeris in Iran comprise approximately one-quarter of the country's population.

Several Azeri groups have complained of ethnic and linguistic discrimination, including banning the Azeri language in schools, harassing Azeri activists and organizers, and changing Azeri geographic names.

Azeri groups also claimed that there were a number of Azeri political prisoners jailed for advocating cultural and language rights for Iranian Azerbaijanis. The government has charged several of them with "revolting against the Islamic state."

The Iranian government traditionally views Azeri nationalism as threatening, particularly since the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the creation of an independent Azerbaijan. Nationalist Azeri groups aim for a larger Azerbaijan by uniting the independent Azerbaijan in the north with what they call "South Azerbaijan" in Iran.

Carried on Baku Today.

starroute said...

It's interesting that a revisionist exhibit on the influence of Genghis Khan has just opened in Istanbul, of all places. I have no quarrel with the theme -- Genghis was a political and military genius and one of the major shapers of the modern world, and deserves far more credit than he's been given. But why are the Turks, of all people, the ones to point this out? I can't help seeing Pan-Turanism at work.