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Empires of the Steppes Fuel Erdogan Khan’s Dreams
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The latest installment of the interminable Syria tragedy could be interpreted as Greece barely blocking a European “invasion” by Syrian refugees. The invasion was threatened by President Erdogan even as he refused the EU’s puny “offer you can refuse” bribe of only one billion euros.

Well, it’s more complicated than that. What Erdogan is in fact weaponizing is mostly economic migrants – from Afghanistan to the Sahel – and not Syrian refugees.

Informed observers in Brussels know that interlocking mafias – Iraqi, Afghan, Egyptian, Tunisian, Moroccan – have been active for quite a long time smuggling everyone and his neighbor from the Sahel via Turkey, as the Greek route towards the EU Holy Grail is much safer than the Central Mediterranean.

The EU sending a last-minute emissary to Ankara will yield no new facts on the ground – even as some in Brussels, in bad faith, continue to carp that the one million “refugees” trying to leave Idlib could double and that, if Turkey does not open its borders with Syria, there will be a “massacre.”

Those in Brussels spinning the “Turkey as victim” scenario list three conditions for a possible solution. The first is a ceasefire – which in fact already exists, via the Sochi agreement, and was not respected by Ankara. The second is a “political process” – which, once again, does exist: the Astana process involving Russia, Turkey and Iran. And the third is “humanitarian aid” – a euphemism that means, in fact, a NATO intervention of the Libya “humanitarian imperialism” kind.

As it stands, two facts are inescapable. Number one: the Greek military don’t have what it takes to resist, in practice, Ankara’s weaponizing of the so-called “refugees.”

Number two is the kind of stuff that makes NATO fanatics recoil in horror: Since the Ottoman siege of Vienna, this is the first time in four centuries that a “Muslim invasion” of Europe is being prevented by, who else, Russia.

Fed up with sultan

This past Sunday, Ankara launched yet another Pentagon-style military adventure, baptized as Spring Shield. All decisions are centralized by a triumvirate: Erdogan, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and the head of MIT (Turkish intel) Hakan Fidan. John Helmer has memorably called them the SUV (Sultan and the Ugly Viziers).

Behlul Ozkan, from the University of Marmara, a respected Kemalist scholar, frames the whole tragedy as having been played since the 1980s, now back on the stage on a much larger scale since the start of the so-called Syrian chapter of the Arab Spring in 2011.

Ozkan charges Erdogan with creating “conquering troops out of five unlikely fundamentalist groups” and “naming the armed groups after Ottoman sultans,” claiming they are a sort of national salvation army. But this time, argues Ozkan, the results are much worse – from millions of refugees to the terrible destruction in Syria, and “the emergence of our political and military structures affecting national security in a dangerous way.”

To say that the Russian General Staff are absolutely fed up with the SUV’s shenanigans is the ultimate understatement. That’s the background for the meeting this Thursday in Moscow between Putin and Erdogan. Methodically, the Russians are disrupting Turk operations to an unsustainable level – ranging from renewed air cover to the Syrian Arab Army to electronic countermeasures totally smashing all Turkish drones.

Russian diplomatic sources confirm that no one in Moscow believes any word, promise or cajoling emanating from Erdogan anymore. So it’s useless to ask him to respect the Sochi agreement. Imagine a Sun Tzu-style meeting with the Russian side displaying the very picture of self-restraint while scrutinizing Erdogan on how much he is willing to suffer before desisting from his Idlib adventure.

Those non-nonsense proto-Mongols

What ghosts from the past evolve in Erdogan’s unconscious? Let history be our guide – and let’s go for a ride among the empires of the steppes.

In the 5th century, the Juan Juan people, proto-Mongols as much as their cousins the White Huns (who lived in today’s Afghanistan), were the first to give their princes the title of khan – afterwards used by the Turks as well as the Mongols.

A vast Eurasian Turco-Mongol linguistic spectrum – studied in detail by crack French experts such as J.P. Roux – evolved via conquering migrations, more or less ephemeral imperial states, and aggregating diverse ethnic groups around rival Turkish or Mongol dynasties. We can talk about an Eurasian Turk space from Central Asia to the Mediterranean for no less than a millennium and a half – but only, crucially, for 900 years in Asia Minor (today’s Anatolia).

These were highly hierarchical and militarized societies, unstable, but still capable, given the right conditions, such as the emergence of a charismatic personality, to engage in a strong collective project of building political constructions. So the charismatic Erdogan Khan mindset is not much different from what happened centuries ago.

The first form of this socio-cultural tradition appeared even before the conversion to Islam – which happened after the battle of Talas in 751, won by the Arabs against the Chinese. But most of all it all crystallized around Central Asia from the 10th and 11th centuries onwards.

Unlike Greece in the Aegean, unlike India or Han China, there was never a central focus in terms of a cultural berth or supreme identity organizing this process. Today this role in Turkey is played by Anatolia – but that’s a 20th century phenomenon.

What history has shown is an east-west Eurasian axis across the steppes, from Central Asia to Anatolia, through which nomad tribes, Turk and Turkmen, then the Ottoman Turks, migrated and progressed, as conquerors, between the 7th and the 17th centuries: a whole millennium building an array of sultanates, emirates and empires. No wonder the Turkish president pictures himself as Erdogan Khan or Sultan Erdogan.

“Idlib is mine”


So there is a link between the turcophone tribes of Central Asia from the 5th and 6th centuries and the current Turkish nation. From the 6th to the 11th centuries they were set up as a confederation of big tribes. Then, going southwest, they founded states. Chinese sources document the first turkut (Turkish empires) as eastern Turks in Mongolia and western Turks in Turkestan.

They were followed by more or less ephemeral empires of the steppes such as the Uighurs in the 8th century (who, by the way, were originally Buddhists). It’s interesting that this original past of the Turks in Central Asia, before Islam, was somewhat elevated to mythic status by the Kemalists.

This universe was always enriched by outside elements – such as Arab-Persian Islam and its institutions inherited from the Sassanids, as well as the Byzantine empire, whose structural elements were adapted by the Ottomans. The end of the Ottoman empire and multiple convulsions (the Balkan wars, WWI, the Greek-Turkish war) ended up with a Turkish nation-state whose sanctuary is Asia Minor (or Anatolia) and eastern Thrace, conformed into a national territory that’s exclusively Turk and denies every minority presence that is non-Sunni and non-turcophone.

Evidently that’s not enough for Erdogan Khan.

Even Hatay province, which joined Turkey in 1939, is not enough. Home to the historic Antioch and Alexandretta, Hatay was then re-baptized as Antakya and Iskenderun.

Under the Treaty of Lausanne, Hatay was included in the French mandate of Syria and Lebanon. The Turkish version is that Hatay declared its independence in 1938 – when Ataturk was still alive – and then decided to join Turkey. The Syrian version is that Hatay was acquired via a rigged referendum ordered by France to bypass the Treaty of Lausanne.

Erdogan Khan has proclaimed, “Idlib is mine.” Syria and Russia are responding, “No, it’s not.” Those were the days, when turcophone empires of the steppes could just advance and capture their prey.

(Republished from Asia Times by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Central Asia, China, Immigration, Iran, Russia, Syria, Turkey 
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  1. Jake says:

    Turks have always been savages and always will be.

    Catholicism (the real kind, not the half-Protestant Vatican II kind) tamed the Germanic savage a good deal, and I suppose the same is true of Turks. But Turks will not convert; Islam facilitates their desired savagery.

    Just as in the 19th century, the WASP Anglo-Zionist Empire will come to the rescue of Turks.

  2. Anonymous[353] • Disclaimer says:

    Number one: the Greek military don’t have what it takes to resist, in practice, Ankara’s weaponizing of the so-called “refugees.”

    Couldn’t agree more. That flimsy fence and a handful of Greeks defending it won’t be able to do anything if Merde-gun sends his own people to create multiple openings and pushes the horde across the border. What I’m seeing there is catastrophically inadequate.

    A lot will depend on the ongoing discussions between the Sultan and the ever-increasing list of world leaders he’s frantically blackmailing at the moment but the guy has certainly shown an uncanny ability to think stupid thoughts and act on them with little hesitation.

    He’s also whipped his countrymen into a frenzy of unrealistic expectations and imagined grievances. They crave to see a “win” somewhere so it wouldn’t surprise me if we see an endless brown river pouring into Europe in the near future. His domestic crowd would love it.

    • Replies: @Tsigantes
  3. IvyMike says:

    Turks have always been savages, but a bumbling sort of savages, men you don’t want to see at the beach with their shirts off. The American Savage is altogether different, we are the most violent culture in the history of the world. Sadly for the rest of the world we’re also the only economy that can afford to export and maintain our savagery everywhere in the world.

    • Replies: @anon
  4. Republic says:

    Something is off about that Turk,maybe he has rabies or something else! He has mental health issues for sure

    • Agree: showmethereal
  5. A123 says:

    It is hard to see any strategy in Erdogan’s actions. He is taking provocative acts towards everyone.

    Erdogan was the #1 Globalist proposing regime change in Syria. When Globalist Hillary failed to win the U.S. election, Erdogan lost a key ally. Instead of trying to find a way to work with the new U.S. administration, Erdogan chose a highly visible snub with the S400 decision.

    After committing to Russian military hardware, Erdogan escalates versus Russian ally Assad. Does Erdogan think that Putin will sell advanced systems to be used against Russian planes and troops?

    Southern EU nations (Cyprus, Greece, Italy) want energy security and are backing the EastMed pipeline to obtain it. Erdogan is openly violating International Law by threatening this project and claiming ludicrous Economic Zones in the Med. He is making EU relations worse by encouraging mass migration.

    Turkey is going to wind up very isolated if megalomaniac Erdogan remains in charge.

    PEACE 😇

  6. NATO’s southeastern flank is being manned by a shifty, Asiatic warlord. Wonderful!

    • Agree: RadicalCenter
  7. A sweeping and informative historical account by Pepe Escobar – enlightening. Leaders look to history to foretell their future, but ignore the seer’s warnings.

  8. @Digital Samizdat

    And our southern flank is mostly manned by … nobody.

  9. Stan says:

    This is Western bullshit.

    Here is an alternate view of the events in Syria.

    Western propaganda against Turkey

    – The Syrian soldiers are not those of Bashar al-Assad, but of the Syrian Arab Republic. President al-Assad is certainly their commander-in-chief, not in his own name but as the democratically elected president by an overwhelming majority of his fellow citizens. It would not occur to any journalist to speak of the French Army as the ’Army of Emmanuel Macron’.

    – The 33 Turkish soldiers who were killed are not the cause of the crisis. It began on February 1st with the assassination in a Turkish ambush of four Russian FSB officers in Aleppo; an event that the French daily never reported on, but which made headlines in the Russian press. Since then, Turkey has multiplied its provocations towards Russia.

    – The figure of 900,000 people fleeing the fighting is purely fanciful. Since the beginning of the war against Syria (mid-2012, after the destabilisation of the “Arab Spring”), the Western press has been putting forward frightening figures that are denied by the facts. During the Ghouta crisis, for example, it asserted with aplomb that the number of people imprisoned in the enclave was 10 times greater than the number of people who came out when the jihadists surrendered. In reality, it is not possible in a country at war to compile statistics. They can only be established once peace has returned. No one today is able to quantify the population in the governorate of Idleb.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  10. Anonymous[402] • Disclaimer says:

    That’s a horrible article and the fact that it was written by the “founder” of that site looks really bad.

    My first problem with the “analysis” is that he’s not sourcing the alleged ambush. Why? If the event “made headlines in the Russian press” why am I seeing no links and why would Western press try to hide it? I’m not going to do a web search for it because it’s not something that would make a big difference to the current situation anyway but still.

    My second problem with the article is much, much bigger. The following section is nonsensical to the extreme. Maybe the author cornered too many children (who talks like that!?) lately and now his brain is getting devoured by Corona virus in front of our eyes. I’m not going to do a point-by-point refutal because all of it is, frankly, insane:

    In the midst of urgency, panic and despair, it has devised a response consisting in threatening all its NATO allies with imminent catastrophe if they let Turkey be destroyed and offering them another battlefield, as far away as possible, in Libya [3].

    Turkey does not know who it is. It contests its borders (Atatürk’s national oath) and its history (it denies having practiced the genocide of non-Muslims), but it does not want to die. In panic, it cries, shouts, screams like a cornered child.

    The deliberate attacks against Russia (assassination of FSB officers on February 1st , meeting with the head of the Tatar militia, meeting with anti-Russian banditry supporters in Ukraine, clashes with the Russian army in Idleb, shooting at Russian reconnaissance planes, drone attack on the Hmeimim base, arrest of journalists of the Russian press agency in Turkey) are not directed against Moscow [4]. They are means of threatening the United States with the worst cataclysm imaginable: a Third World War, if they do not back down.

    Threats to launch columns of refugees on the roads of the European Union are not intended to destabilize the EU. They are calls for help: if Turkey is destroyed, these flows of migrants will be inevitable, so act before it is too late!

    If President Erdoğan wanted to go to war with Russia, he would not have taken the initiative to call President Putin on February 4, 12, 21 and 28 and would not have gone out of his way to meet him.

  11. anon[837] • Disclaimer says:

    I have to disagree here. Americans have been blessed with geography and control of the global money supply. There’s no real masculine warrior virtue in Americans. Average spoiled American, white or black, would be beaten to death acting disrespectfully in Turkey or Central Asian Stans. Trust me on that.

    • Replies: @Just Passing Through
  12. @anon

    Beaten in what? A fistfight? Perhaps, but in war, it is technology that matters.

    The US has always had its hands tied behind their back when fighting these wars, they care too much about human rights and other such things.

    When they notice hostile fire coming from a hamlet in Afghanistan, they conduct door to door searches to find the suspects, knowing full well the population is hostile to them.

    A better thing to do would be just to call in an airstrike on the entire hamlet and annihilate the entire population. Keep repeating this until you get results.

    MENA people tend to operate in packs. I have never seen them go one on one with white men who are physically equal to them. Because they know they cannot outfox then and so rely on roaming in large groups and assaulting solitary whites.

    Turks and other Islamics are masculine only in their heads, they have yet to face any real resistance from whites whiuc is why they continue with such chutzpah.

    • Replies: @anon
  13. anon[837] • Disclaimer says:
    @Just Passing Through

    I’m not talking about Arabs here. I’m taking about Turkic speakers. They are NOT the same breed as sleazy Arabs. And West Europeans are pansies bowing down before Arabs and Africans in their own countries. Only white people with balls are Slavs.

  14. What Erdogan is in fact weaponizing is mostly economic migrants – from Afghanistan to the Sahel – and not Syrian refugees.

    Correct. And this is an invasion, no mistake about that. Planned and organised too, like most invasions are.

    Informed observers in Brussels know that interlocking mafias – Iraqi, Afghan, Egyptian, Tunisian, Moroccan – have been active for quite a long time smuggling everyone and his neighbor from the Sahel via Turkey

    Many European mafias, various NGOs including European, American and Israeli citizens, and European government officials are also involved in this human trafficking operation, as is UNHCR.

    To be fair to the Ottoman Empire – Armenian and Greek Christians survived for centuries in Anatolia under the rule of its sultans – it was the secularist Kemal Atatürk who genocided and cleansed them out of the peninsula.

  15. Tsigantes says:

    In fact since the early 1800s, it has been Germany that has specialised in sustaining the Turks. As now.

  16. Tsigantes says:

    Presumably you are making these statements from a comfortable armchair across the Atlantic. Rather like those Englishmen that thought afghanistan would be a breeze. I recommend you check out Roosevelt’s, Churchill’s and Hitler’s statements and actions regarding the Greek military in WW2. Later, Korea. And where do you think the SAS, Delta Force, Rangers and Navy Seals originally came from? And who has the most highly skilled air force in NATO? You might enjoy this journey.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  17. Anonymous[187] • Disclaimer says:

    I’m a white European so that wasn’t a criticism of Greeks. That’s our border and our responsibility. We must help directly and/or push every politician in sight to stake their careers on making our borders with Turkey impregnable.

    Right now, that chicken fence in the photos is not going to stop anyone:

    Turkish Armored Vehicle Attempted to Pull Down Greek Border Fence

    …and the guys on our side are obviously not allowed to use lethal force if (when) the brown horde starts advancing – which would be trivially easy for Erdogan to engineer at the moment.

    Therefore, we need to think out of the box and organise massive non-lethal, crowd-control deployments along those borders (land, river or sea) and make them impregnable ASAP. Lethal force should be avoided as much as possible for obvious reasons (it wouldn’t surprise me if Erdogan kills a few brown kids himself for PR reasons).

    • Replies: @cassandra
  18. cassandra says:

    Therefore, we need to think out of the box and organise massive non-lethal, crowd-control deployments along those borders (land, river or sea) and make them impregnable ASAP. Lethal force should be avoided as much as possible for obvious reasons (it wouldn’t surprise me if Erdogan kills a few brown kids himself for PR reasons).

    As uncanny a realization of Camp of the Saints as imaginable. I hope this version has a different ending.

  19. ghali says:

    The same article posted on Russia-Insider, but in an extremely racist title Turkey’s Muslim Invasion of Europe Is Being Prevented by, Who Else? – Russia. Escobar should ask Russia-Insider to remove his article. I do not believe Escobar is racist, but some of the comments Escobar writes are racist and unwise. Syrians are fleeing US-NATO terror. Escobar should concentrate on the reason they are fleeing their beloved homeland. They do not want to stay in poor Turkey or poor Greece, they wish to go to Europe.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  20. Anonymous[313] • Disclaimer says:


  21. @Digital Samizdat

    Well that’s part of the problem… Turkey is on the Mediterranean… That is far from the North Atlantic. Makes NATO seem more like a gang who wanted to expand territory.

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