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Turkey Unveiled
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Five hundred years ago, Turks ruled much of Eurasia. Turkic dynasties held sway over India, Persia, North Africa, the Balkans, Russia and parts of China. The adjective 'Turkish' hinted at rich luxuries like carpets, baths, confectionary, coffee and cigarettes. The past two centuries crushed this Turkish ascendancy, but not the Turkic peoples. Numbering 140 million people worldwide, they are rising again. Their several nations constitute one of the ten largest language groups in the world, and their biggest state, Turkey, has the largest economy and army between Europe and India. Turkey and the five new mainly-Turkic states of Eurasia -- Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and the Kyrgyz Republic -- are important as an informal group, too. They offer an alternative example of secular Islamic governance, a readiness to work with the West and an ambition to succeed

The military has been the backbone of most Turkic states in history

'Horde' means army in most Turkic languages, and the mediaeval conquerors of Eurasia may have looked something like these Karakalpak horsemen at a festival in modern Uzbekistan. Turkish supremacy also owed much to their powerful recurved bows (c) Hugh Pope

Chapter 1. Orders Cut Iron: the army's grip on Turkey
The Turkish Army is now the most powerful Muslim military force in the Middle East, and the Turks' strongest institution

 Chapter 2. Infidel Pigs: conquerors turn refugees in the Balkans
The Turks of Bulgaria descend from Ottoman armies that conquered the Middle East and southeast Europe and ruled them for half a millennium until the First World War. But the tables turned and, as recently as 1989, they fled to Turkey from the oppression of the Bulgarian Christians. Such experiences were widespread in the Turkic world over the past century and explain much of the Turks' insecure, defensive world view 

Chapter 3. Bloody Black Mountain: Azerbaijan's baptism of fire
In the early 1990s, Azerbaijan's defeats on the warfront with Armenia showed how far Russian rule had weakened the heirs of the great Seljuk armies. But the conflict helped forge a new national identity 

Chapter 4. Merchant Warriors: the new Turkish entrepreneurs sally forth
Over the past century, retreating Turks fell back from the Balkans and Caucasus on the new motherland of Turkey. Many headed to the town of Bursa, which was the Turks' capital during the great mediaeval expansion of the Ottoman realm. In the past two decades, they have reinvented themselves as businessmen. Like latter-day conquering adventurers, they are spreading through Eurasia 

The Turkic peoples all love strong leaders. But the leaders often come on too strong

Kosvar Turks in the former Yugoslav territory of Kosovo strive to hear words of hope and reassurance from a visiting president of Turkey (c) Hugh Pope

Chapter 5. Rakı and the Republic: Kemal Atatürk, icon of the secular Turkish revolution
Kemal Atatürk set up a model Turkic state in the 1920s. It was a beacon for all the Turkic peoples, and has been closely watched ever since. Although Atatürk led Turkey to break with its Islamic past, the legacy of old centrist and bureaucratic attitudes linger, preventing Turkey from becoming a truly model Muslim democracy today

Chapter 6. The Cult of Turkmenbashy: the method in Turkmenistan's mad tyranny
In Central Asia, former communist leaders commandeered their newly independent states and mostly turned into tyrants. The most bizarre of them was Saparmurad Turkmenbashy, Leader for Life of the Turkmens

Chapter 7. Gray Wolves: nationalists prevail in Azerbaijan
The two first post-Soviet Turkic leaders of Azerbaijan, Abulfez Elchibey and Haidar Aliyev, built up an independent republic after the fall of the Soviet Union. The rivals battled each other during a rough decade that threatened the survival of the young state, but both represented a mainstream of secular nationalism

Chapter 8. Minerals, Oil, Democracy! A new khan finds riches, but craves respect
After a shaky start, everything seems to be going right for oil-rich Kazakhstan. But President Nursultan Nazarbayev has an uphill struggle to move beyond allegations of corruption to acceptance as a democratic leader

Chapter 9. The Ghost of Isa Beg: Knight Errant of Turkestan
One of the most charismatic Turkic leaders was the late Isa Alptekin, an aging Uygur Turk in exile in Istanbul. A disciple of Ataturk's nationalism, he briefly created a nation state for his people in 1947-48 in what is now Western China. Uygur Turks still constitute half the population of China's vast northwestern province of Xinjiang, and have little chance against the vast population and might of China. But they are angry, rebellious and increasingly ready to take chances for their national cause

Despite their battering in the 19th and 20th centuries, some Turkic peoples boast an idealized past that literally girdles the world

Turkish actor Levent Kirca takes on the world in his television comedy series (c) Hugh Pope

Chapter 10. The Ant and the Elephant: the Uygur struggle to survive in China
What the Uygurs remember of their storied history, and how China is working to marginalize them to make sure that it does not return

Chapter 11. Of Yurts and Yogurt: the Turkic nomad heritage
Kazakh nomads with their sheep and horses still live in the high mountain meadows of Central Asia, and the once-Russified Kazakhs are now rediscovering their tribal roots

 Chapter 12. Iran and Turan: the age-old antagonists of Eurasia
Memories of mediaeval Mongol invasions still set modern Uzbek Turks and Persian-speaking Tajiks apart in the storied city of Samarkand

Chapter 13. Bear Hug: breaking Russia's long embrace
Russia's steady advance from 1480 into lands once controlled by Turks went into reverse in 1946. In the future, the break up of the Soviet Union in 1991 may be seen as a way station in a Turkic resurgence. Russia has left deep cultural traces on its former subjects, but now Turkey is moving forward

Chapter 14. The Golden Apple: the Turks follow their lucky star to Germany
Why Turkish nationalism flourishes in Germany's fast-developing Turkish community, which, despite Turkey's long interaction with Europe and application for European Union membership, cannot forget its roots

Chapter 15. Cursed Souls No More: a Turkic fable in the backwoods of Virginia
A community in America's Appalachian mountains believes they are the physicial proof of a theory that Turks reached the United States both from the east, as tribes that became native Americans, and from the west, as Ottoman galley slaves who escaped British colonies

Islam may be one, but Islamic peoples are many, and Turkic interpretations of Muslim duties all differ

An Uygur Turk reads the Koran at his vegetable stall in Kashgar, in China's Xinjiang province. While Turks in the West have forged what is arguably the Muslim world's most secular state, Chinese political pressure has persuaded the Uygurs to take refuge in their ancient faith (c) Hugh Pope

Chapter 16. In the Land of Babur: Islam and Central Asia's struggle for identity
A look at Islam's role in early Turkish life through the history and present of the Ferghana Valley, hotbed of Islamic radicalism in Central Asia

Chapter 17. An Empire of the Mind: Turkish pragmatism outflanks Iranian theocracy
Distant, secular Turkey wins the battle for the Turkmens' hearts and minds, even though the Islamic Republic of Iran is just over the mountains

Chapter 18. Rumi's Legacy: the Turks adopt a kinder Allah
How Turkey has absorbed the lessons of the failure of the Islam-based Ottoman Empire, and is pragmatically proceeding with what amounts to an Islamic reformation, even as a 'pro-Islamist' party comes to power. A former hardline Islamist in Konya, hometown of the mystic poet Rumi, explains the softer approach: 'God's mercy has conquered his glory'

Chapter 19. Euroturks: A Muslim island in Holland's Christian sea
How Turks are dealing with the assimilation of their religious and national identity into mainstream Dutch life. A young Dutch Turk, both modern and pious, explains that her dual identity is not a handicap but a richness 

What attracts Westerners' interest in the Turks, and what drives them apart

Kazakh oil worker in central Kazakhstan (c) Hugh Pope

Chapter 20. Hurricane Hydrocarbons: the Caspian oil boom
Early 1990s hopes of an oil bonanza around the Caspian Sea basin have proved overblown, but plenty of Western energy companies found work to do in the new Turkic states of the Caucasus and Central Asia

Chapter 21. White Gold: a lust for cotton strangles the Aral Sea
If oil revenue is proving the black curse of the Central Asian autocracies, the region is also living with a white curse, the poisonous salt residue of a century of over-exploitation of cotton by Central Asia's Russian colonial masters

Chapter 22. Silk Road Shake-Downs: corruption as a way of life
One of the biggest obstacles to the integration of Turkic states with Western economies is an astonishing level of corruption 

Chapter 23. Midnight Espresso: the Turkic problem with human rights
Whether in Turkey or Uzbekistan, Westerners are uncomfortable with the rough human rights record of the Turks. One Turkish police chief, partly trained in the U.S., applied for a quality award for better service to the public, but insisted on his right to crush political rebels and promote torturer-killers

Freed by the end of the Cold War, the Turks feel their way forward to a better future

Kazakh nomad boys on the Chinese side of the border with Kazakhstan. A nomad heritage has made the Turkic peoples lighter-footed than most, and a strong claim to have given yogurt to the world (c) Hugh Pope

Chapter 24. Step-sons of Tamerlane: the grim determination of Uzbekistan
How Uzbekistan's Central Asian autocracy has settled on a Turkish-style mission of independent strength and a common strategic cause with the United States

Chapter 25. To the City: the second Turkish conquest of Constantinople
For most Turks, nomad yurts have long given way to city culture. One Turkish woman tells how she has journeyed from mediaeval village penury to a vigorous middle class, south European lifestyle

Chapter 26. All Change at Essen: now Germany is not enough
A look at how some German Turks who arrived in the West as factory guest workers or students are determined to make the West work for them 

Chapter 27. Forever Young Turks: a new horizon in America
How the fast-growing Turkish community in the United States is succeeding in its efforts to climb the American social ladder 

The Turkic peoples are overcoming the obstacles that have long held them back. Although often overlooked by Western policymakers because they are not trouble makers, greater attention would make them even more useful allies in the far more problematic regions on their borders 

Appendix A: A Note on Turkic Languages and Alphabets

Appendix B: The Turkic Family Tree



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