CHARLOTTE – Nobody can be sure what the future holds

Nobody can be sure what the future holdsOver the centuries, the lifestyle of Turkic peoples have changed. Who would have ever thought that Turkey would become a consumer society, and that this would be accompanied by rising expectations?Over the past decade Turkey has enjoyed an economic boom that has benefited, as before, the secular urban elites this time around, conservative supporters of the governing Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and formerly rural entrepreneurs have also enjoyed unprecedented upward mobility, leading to the formation of an Islamic, urban middle class.Life in Anatolia has not always known this type of mobility. Before the Arab conquests — and later, the Ottoman Empire — life in Central Asia and Anatolia was simple and mobile. Many people lived nomadic lifestyles.I was intrigued to read Hasan Kanbolat’s May 12 piece, “The rise of nationalism in the Turkic world,” in which he discusses the Turkic Council, also known as the Cooperation Council of Turkic-Speaking States or CCTS, which will hold its fourth summit on June 4-5 in Bodrum. According to Kanbolat, the CCTS was first formed in Istanbul on Oct. 3, 2009, and it seems nobody thought anything would become of it. Kanbolat explains that due to the efforts of former Turkish Ambassador Halil AkIncI, the CCTS began to take on a more defined shape and became more powerful. Kanbolat believes that the real reason for the rise in importance of the Turkic Council is the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, after which began a process of rebuilding the national identities of Central Asian republics that had formerly been part of the Soviet Union. Renewed national identity brought a return to ethnic roots some Turkic republics have also reverted to their Islamic roots, which has meant a slide toward political Islam. For this reason, especially in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, there are efforts underway to see state ideologies rebuilt to be based on race and shared faith.I have had an interest in Turkic-speaking people in Central Asia for a long time. In the mid-1980s, I audited a number of history classes at Istanbul University. My supervisor, Professor Mehmet Saray, spent most of his lectures elaborating on three points: Turkey’s relationship with Iran, Afghanistan and Russia. Since Barack Obama has taken his post as president of the United States, he and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip ErdoIan have been known to have discussions focused on three big issues that concern Turkey — US relations with Iran, Israel and Afghanistan. I’d bet Russia is mentioned, too.Just what is meant by the terms “Turkic world,” “Turkic peoples” and “Pan-Turkism”? These are used to describe the people of the Uralic-Altaic language family and their spheres of political, cultural and ethnic unity.Taking classes in Turkish history at Istanbul University helped me better understand how during the 20th century, the Middle East experienced many movements considered to be revolutionary. I realized that the goal was always the same, with greater or lesser success: to gain power and to initiate major changes.While the various Turkic peoples often share historical, cultural and linguistic roots, the rise of a pan-Turkic political movement is a phenomenon only of the 19th and 20th centuries. In effect, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk brought a doctrine of nationalism and secularism to Turkey.In my 2009 piece “War and peace,” I mention that it was either when I read Mehmet Saray’s 1981 book “Dunden Bugune Afganistan” or his 1987 book “Afghanistan ve Turkler” where I first realized the significance of relations among certain nations and different Turkic peoples. The first link I noticed was that Afghanistan was the second country to recognize the Turkish Republic — after the Soviet Union — effectively establishing diplomatic ties while the Turkish War of Independence was still being waged. Because of talks in the early 1920s, a new agreement of alliance was reached between Turkey and Afghanistan.The Turkic world stretches along the historical Silk Road, from the western border of Turkey across the Amu Darya (Amu River) and the Wakhan Corridor as far as northern Pakistan, through towns such as Hunza, Skardu and Gilgit, and past the border of Xinxiang province to Kashgar and beyond into northwestern China.Nobody can know what the full outcome of the CCTS or similar movements will be, except that the goal is the same, with greater or lesser success: to gain power and to initiate major changes. Let’s hope it is for the best.An appropriate Turkish proverb says, “Ak gun aIartIr, kara gun karartIr,” which means, “A bright day sheds light a dark day sheds darkness.”

SOURCE: Today Zaman

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