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6.3.3. Asia and Australia


1) The Turks are of Mongol origin, a people far from their original home. They are nomad warriors who adapted to Islam on their way through the Middle East.

2) Having wandered too far to the west, and lost their connexion with the Islamic world, being now surrounded by hostile cultures, the Turks have a real need to make alliances.

3) Since the establishment of the republic in 1923, Turkey has been a crisis-ridden country, always living on the brink of another military coup (Aydin 2005: 25-56), held together only through great compromises between the ruling classes, in fear of the alternatives.

4) Kemalism is an intellectually-enlightened form of despotism. But Islamist rule will mean an end to Turkey's autonomy. It will mean an end to the secular State founded on Western ideals. To counter this movement, many Turks have become even more Kemalist, especially within the army.

5) Constantinople was for a while the capital of the Roman Empire, and later a centre for the Christian Church. For centuries this staging-post on the road to Jerusalem was held by Europeans. For centuries the city relied for its security on mercenaries, many of them Vikings. In the middle of the eleventh century a new tribe came in from the east, who the Vikings quickly saw that they could not hold back: the Seljuks. After the defeat at Manzikert in 1071 it was only a matter of time before the Europeans would have to give up this land.

6) Even though the Seljuks succeeded much better than the Byzantines in populating Anatolia, integration and unity remained and remains a major problem. In an attempt to hold it all together, the Seljuks moved their capital back to the old Celtic city of Angora (now "Ankara"), a place which reminds us of all the different people who have ruled this area since the Hittites (Indo-Europeans).

7) Surrounded by hostile Muslim cultures on all sides, the Seljuk secular elites have from time to time flirted with the idea of co-operation with the Jews in Israel, but this has never really worked out because the Israelis have never accepted them as equals.

8) The Turkish army, which beat Winston Churchill162 but lost against Lawrence of Arabia, was trained and led by German officers. Otto Liman von Sanders turned Enver's defeat into a victory. Enver Pasha (Ismail Enver) did not much like Liman but had to recognize his merits. It was Liman who promoted Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk), against the will of Enver.

9) After the Allied victory of 18 March 1915, the Young Turks led by Enver turned in fury against the Armenian population, hoping to exterminate or deport all two million of them. They killed about 700,000 people.

10) The Americans are the only people who really need Turkey as an ally, to keep an eye on Russia (via signals intelligence) and, now they realize that Israel is no longer a secure base in the region, as a military base for operations in the Middle East.

11) The American strategy is to create deeper divisions within the EU by advocating Turkish membership. They have almost achieved the same goal with Poland, making the Polish overconfident.

12) Much of the military equipment used in the first Gulf War was afterwards given to Turkey. The US military industry never wants to see weapons brought back from a theatre of war. It is bad business for that industry. They would rather have the weapons sold to Third World countries or private-sector contractors, which is what often happens.

The Middle East

1) In the Middle East you find two types of thinking: irrational (Sunni) and rational (Shia). Those who adhere to the first kind will blow themselves up. The second group will lead wars and lead them well, but you can also reason with them.

2) In the Middle East your enemy's enemy is your friend. This is a world where there are no ideal solutions, and treachery lures round the next corner. Study the examples of deception in the Arabian Nights. They will prepare you well.

3) In the 1930s the "Near East", or Proche-Orient, only included Egypt and its fertile neighbouring countries: Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, and Palestine. The term was associated with the great civilizations and the three Abrahamic religions (Defay 2003: 6). Later the term "Middle East" came to be used for the area from Libya (sometimes even from Morocco) to Afghanistan and the Arabian Peninsula.

4) In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the Turks arrived in the Arab world as mercenaries. Armenians bought Turk slaves and sold them to Arabs. The Turks have never enjoyed desert life. That is why they have always preferred the Balkans and Europe.

5) Armenians have always been skilled tradesmen, well placed on the route from East to West. "What would Madras be without the Armenians?" When the British, and later the Ottoman Sultan, started to rid themselves of their loyal middlemen, an Armenian diaspora appeared. Wherever they go they prosper.

6) The Arab world is divided into two: Arab Muslims and Arab Christians. Of the 22 million Christian Arabs, more than eighty per cent (18 million) used to live in the Lebanon. After the civil wars, sixteen million of them left the country, most of them moving to the USA where they integrated well into society.

7) We allow ourselves to be fascinated by Islam as an alien thing ("Orientalism"), the romantic image of Moorish culture and its aesthetics (hydraulic engineering - which they learned from the Romans; mosaics and gardens- which they had seen in Persia; the books they preserved - which we had written). Islam is a political religion. Deep in its soul lies jihad, the good war. Society is controlled by sharia, the religious laws. How can you hope to integrate this? (That does not mean that our societies cannot absorb a number of moderate Muslims.)

8) After the fall of Marxism, Muslims have taken on the task of saving the world. They have inherited the doctrine of anti-Westernism.

9) Question: What explains the increasing popularity of Islam? Answer: Islam offers a strong moral code which helps people in chaotic parts of the world to co-exist (cf. Barreau 1991).

10) Islam continues to grow even though the Moslems have been beaten on all fronts: in the west by the Europeans, in the south by the Hindus, in the east by China (in Xinjiang). Theirs is the fate of people living in the middle, at the crossroads.

11) After a period of Islamic expansion there was an internal struggle about the future direction of the religion (700-1400), won by the more hawkish side. There was to be no more scientific progress. For a few Arab communities this was too much: for the Christian Arabs, the Syrian-Lebanese, and for those who emigrated to Egypt.

12) Islam's new conquests include Malaysia, Indonesia, and the island of Mindanao. It is also gaining territory in Africa.

13) The geopolitics of the Middle East is all about the logistics of oil (cf. Fouskas 2003: 11-27). The major areas of interest follow the new pipeline projects leading from the Caspian Sea: from the Kashgavi and Tengiz fields in the north (Russia), from Baku (Azerbaijan), and from Chardzhou (Turkmenistan). The new pipeline from the northern Caspian area passes through the Balkans (from the port of Burgas in Bulgaria) via Macedonia to the port of Durres in Albania.

14) The largest American overseas military base built since Vietnam is Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo, run by a private company, KBR Inc. (formerly Kellogg Brown & Root). It is financed and run by the Brown & Root Division of Halliburton, the world's biggest oil service corporation, whose chief executive was Dick Cheney, former Vice-President of the USA (Fouskas 2003: 24).

15) Many analysts see US actions in this region mainly from the perspective of oil interests. They are convinced that the human-rights rhetoric conceals only pure self-interest (Fouskas 2003: 12). With Obama at the helm the analysts' eyesight is becoming blurred, seduced by the new president's charm.

16) The Western world has learned how dependent it is on stable oil prices from three major oil crises: in 1973, with the Yom Kippur war between Israel and Arab states; in 1979, with the Iranian revolution; and in 1990-2, with the Gulf War. The idea then was that the war on Iraq should lead to more reliable oil supplies. Instead the opposite occurred.

17) When the USA first invaded Iraq, it not only got its hands on the second-largest oil reserve in the world, after Saudi Arabia, but it also saw off two major competitors: France's Total Fina Elf, and Russia's LUKOIL. Now Russia and France are back again. The US won the "war of invasion", but lost the "insurgency war". Now they are losing the oil contracts too.

18) Natural gas, not oil, will be the fuel of the 21st century (cf. Doyle 2004: 36). As this change occurs, more power will shift from OPEC countries towards Russia, holder of the world's largest gas reserves and newly elected to membership of the World Trade Organization. It is in our interest to move to alternative sources of energy as soon as possible, but we need a couple of decades to achieve this; we need the time to develop the new technology.

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