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BURAK BEKDİL

burak.bekdil@hurriyet.com.tr

BURAK BEKDİL > 2071

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The year 2071 will mark the millennium for The Battle of Manzikert which was fought between the Byzantine Empire and Seljuk Turks near Manzikert (modern Malazgirt in the eastern province of Muş). The decisive defeat of the Byzantine army and the capture of the Emperor Romanos IV Diogenes played an important role in undermining Byzantine authority in Anatolia and Armenia, and paved the way for the Turkification of Anatolia.

But why are Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his admirers so enthusiastically obsessed with 2071, which is 59 years away, or with 1071, from which we are 941 years removed? Just the other day the prime minister addressed a crowd of party supporters and told them that “you are going to raise the generation of 2071,” before preaching to the bachelors that “they should get married and have at least three children.” A bizarre placard among the cheerful supporters read: “1071, our seal on Anatolia; 2071, our seal on the world.” Do the Turks intend to Turkify the whole world?

What do Mr. Erdoğan and his tens of millions of supporters hope “the generation of 2071” will achieve when we will no longer be living in the Turkish millennium? Why does Mr. Erdoğan dream of 150 million to 200 million Turks in Anatolia by the year 2071? Because whatever he may be dreaming of for the year 2071 won’t be achievable with 100 million Turks? What, then, could that dream be?

We possibly know the answers. Neither Mr. Erdoğan nor his pan-Sunni-Turkist ideologues have hidden their ideals. For instance, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu wholeheartedly believes, in his own wording, that “Turkey is capable of hosting 22 million Syrian refugees,” and that “We will rule the flow of history.”

Obviously, we are not talking about a bunch of men who hope that, upon the millennium of their forefathers’ conquest of the lands they now live in, their grandchildren will cure the worst illnesses mankind has suffered, make discoveries, invent what others have failed to invent and live in welfare and peace with their neighbors and with “the others” in their own country. For that, you don’t need “masses” like in Pakistan but an intellectual population, big or small, like in America or in Israel. And you certainly don’t need dreamers but realists.

It is not a secret that Mr. Erdoğan is not merely a prime minister. He is Turkey’s elected chief social engineer. He wants to raise “devout generations.” He believes in the supremacy of the Sunni Muslim Turk. He believes that the supreme Sunni Muslim Turk will one day rule the world like his faultless ancestors did after the Battle of Manzikert. Hence his remarks that “God willing, we will reach the level of our Ottoman and Seljuk ancestors by the year 2071.”

All the same, the prime minister’s obsessive Sunni Turkish supremacy dreams about 2071 may be problematic over their symbolism and historical facts. To begin with, the conquest of Anatolia in 1071 may once again remind everyone of the fact that the homeland of the Seljuk Turks was quite far away from Anatolia – that Anatolia is not the Turks’ homeland (the Seljuk Turkish homeland was near the Aral Sea, or nearly 4,000 kilometers away from the present Turkish homeland).

The symbolism over 1071-2071 also betrays sentiments for the unnamed war of religions, not the alliance of civilizations. The Battle of Manzikert is often viewed as a sign that Byzantium was no longer capable of being the protector of Eastern Christianity or Christian pilgrims to the Holy Places in the Middle East. It simply was Muslims fighting Christians. But there is more.

With the post-modern Safavids nowadays accusing post-modern Ottomans of triggering World War III, Mr. Erdoğan should be reminded that the Seljuks were not a Turkish dynasty, but a Turco-Persian empire. They were highly Persianized in culture and language, and they exported Persian culture to Anatolia.

I don’t think Mr. Erdoğan would like the idea of further Turkish exports of Shiite Persian culture to Anatolia almost a millennium after his Seljuk ancestors happily did.

December/19/2012

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mara mcglothin

12/20/2012 12:09:34 AM

TURKIC VOICE I can assure you that the gas chambers were just that. They sent the people in thinking they were going into a bath house, after taking all their valuables and simply killed them. It is well documented and I have actually been there. You must be reading too much of the Iranian papers. But this article is not about Germany. It is about what is happening in Turkey and make no mistake the esteemed PM is not interested in democracy unless it suits his personal purposes. Simple.

Blue Dotterel

12/19/2012 7:28:25 PM

UN named, the Safavids weren't Turks. Where did you get that? The Seljuks were a Turkish dynasty. They were "Persianised", though. Clearly, the Osmali branch of the Oguz Turks were more relevant to the Ottoman empire, but the Seljuks did open the door to Anatolia for them. We do get a glimpse into the AKP mentality through this - not very pleasant.

Agnes Smith

12/19/2012 5:46:50 PM

What I did say was @ UN. Sorry but I think BB is more qualified on matters of history than the PM. And the subject as scary as it is IS drumming up a new Sunni Muslim army to be a world power. Doesn't this resemble something that happened in Germany and should never be allowed to happen again. One man can make so many things go wrong. Marry and breed our next muslim martyrs, We are the best. It has a certain dejevu about it. And if you disagree we will punish and send you to the gas chamber.

DORUS LIVIS

12/19/2012 4:01:17 PM

I regard it very anachronistic nowadays to speak for segregation of the world in terms of religion. Let alone of speaking about the 1000 years of existence. I remind you that Hitler was talking about the 1000 year-living reich. Turkey has to proceed to further Westernization and not go back to the East. Of course West is responsible too (to some extent) because it keeps Turkey in a "safe" distance and makes her look eastwards.

Agnes Smith

12/19/2012 2:34:24 PM

TDN - not sure why you left my last verbal out. Please respond. It was maybe missed - can you check as it has gravity and bolsters BB and his realism that we all appreciate. We need to keep this master of journalism for as long a we can.

Stefanos Kalogirou

12/19/2012 12:03:26 PM

@UN Named, it seems that You are misinformed. The writer has done his research "Tugrul Bey (reigned 1055-63), occupied Baghdad at the head of an army composed of gazis and Mamluks (slave-soldiers, usually Circassians and Kurds). Tugrul forced the caliph to recognize him as sultan (temporal leader) in Persia and Mesopotamia. His regime eliminated Arabs from government and relied entirely on a corps of Persian ministers to administer what came to be known as the Great Seljuk Rum Sultanate"

GFB GFB

12/19/2012 8:39:46 AM

If you keep this up you are going to get yourself into trouble. Kidding aside, well done as always.

mara mcglothin

12/19/2012 4:05:18 AM

I don't think the esteemed PM likes to be reminded of many things, just FYI BURAK Bey

UN Named

12/19/2012 2:07:51 AM

Mr. Bekdil, your comments on Seljuks and Safavids are reflecting your ignorance on the history. Its not hard to see that you learned this Turco-Persian thing from Wikipedia (which is an unrealiable source) to just attack the AKP. Both Seljuqs and Safavids were Turkish dynasties. (like Huns, Timurids, Mughals, Mamluks, Khazars) They were speaking Turkish, seeing themselves as Turks and were ethnically Turks. Thats why there are 70 million Turks in Turkey and 30 million Azeri Turks in Iran today.
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