BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
The Turks in their various tribal incarnations hit the Middle Eastern scene about 1000 years ago. Since then, they don’t seem to have learned much.
Despite massive forced Turkification of indigenous populations; despite massive theft/borrowing of existing cultural and governmental traditions and institutions; despite lots of interaction with neighboring empires and states; despite repeated efforts to “modernize”; despite now having one of the 17th or 18th (depending on the system used to measure) economy in the world… the Turks of Turkey seem to be unable to shake their marauder’s instincts. They continue, even today to rely on looting.
Never mind their claims to the glory days of Suleiman “the Magnificent”. Never mind the 500-plus year life of the Ottoman Empire. Never mind their self-aggrandizing claims of being “great” state builders. The only times the Turks were doing “well” was when they were conquering and living off the ill-gotten booty that provided.
Throughout their presence in our homeland, the Armenian Highlands, Mesopotamia, the rest of the Fertile Crescent, Egypt, Turkish rulers have not only been brutal, but also economically draining, even more so than most empires.
If the Genocide era with its almost total dispossession of Armenian wealth along with much of Assyrian and Greek wealth, too, is not sufficient example, then we need only look to the early “republic” period under Ataturk when countless Islamicized Eastern Europeans were settled in the areas that had been home to other peoples. If that’s not recent enough, we have the WWII Varlık Vergisi, the wealth/capital tax. It was designed to, and did, impoverish the Armenian, Greek, and Jewish populations, sending many who couldn’t pay this ridiculous tax to forced labor camps. Still not recent enough? How about the invasion, occupation, and Turkish-populating of half of Cyprus?
You’re too Americanized and have lost historical perspective? Want to play “hard to convince?” How about the looting of Aleppo for the benefit of Turkish industry just a few years ago during the chaos created by Turkey’s-supported “rebels” coupled with the Daesh/ISIS oil being smuggled from Iraq and Syria through Turkey? Still too pig-headed to accept that Turkish leadership has ever been fixated on plunder? How about a little more than one week ago when the seizure of 50 Syriac churches was reported?
These are being turned over to Turkey’s Diyanet, the directorate that is responsible for all religious “foundations” and has been used by Turkey to retain leverage over the growing number of Turks in Europe by funding imams/mosques there. This windfall will accrue, once again, to those who have been plundering and looting our lands and people for a millennium.
We must develop and implement ways to stop this. We should fight economic fire with economic fire. Boycotts and divestment campaigns against Turkey are likely to be one of our most potent weapons. The efforts afoot in the California legislature now are the beginnings of just such a movement. Unfortunately, our path is more complicated than in the days of the anti-apartheid movement of the 1980s because our much beloved corporate controlled federal legislature has enacted laws that significantly constrain the ability to engage in such action. The courts have not been any better.
But, let’s keep plugging away- publicizing Turkey’s misdeeds and putting pressure on their still-pubescent economy. You can help by sending letters of support for California’s AB 1597, the Turkey divestment bill. Contact Haig Baghdassarian at firstname.lastname@example.org for guidance and sample letters to send.