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What would the Gazi say of Turkey today?


The Gazi Speaks

With all that is happening in Turkey today, what would the Gazi say?

By Roger L Jennings…….

You know the Gazi. After the Turkish forces defeated the Greek Army at the Sakarya River using the same defense he had used at Gallipoli, Mustafa Kemal returned to Ankara in triumph and was awarded by the Grand National Assembly the rank of Field Marshall of the Army and title of Gazi.

In the thousands of documents left to history by my Grandfather Asa K. Jennings and Father Asa W. Jennings from their many meetings with the great leader, he was always referred to as Gazi, and never Field Marshall, General, President or even Ataturk.

In 1931 the Gazi presented my Grandfather with the photo in appreciatio29 Photo of Gazi-M-Kemal smln for my Grandfather’s service to the Turkish people. Notice the date. The Gazi was President. Notice the monogram GMK. And see how he signed the photo: Gazi M. Kemal. Turkey would have many Presidents, but only one Gazi.

The Gazi took control of Turkey at a critical moment in history and pulled it out of antiquity into modernity in a few short years. All that he did was for the benefit of the Turkish people. He risked his life repeatedly, but never accumulated any wealth for himself unlike the Shah of Iran, Putin and so many others.

Some credit has to be given to the Greeks. After the Ottoman Turks withdrew from Greece, Greece declared its independence in 1821. Greece was formed by conquest and negotiation with neighboring lands. King Otto and Prime Minister Kolettis promoted the ancient Megali Idea as a way of unifying the peoples of their new Greek nation. The Megali Idea was, and is to this day, the unifying theme of Greek foreign and domestic politics. Crete was incorporated into Greece in 1913 largely due to Prime Minister Venizelos. He was the leader who had Greece enter WWI late in the War so Greece could share in the spoils of war. Venizelos ordered the Greek Army to land in Smyrna (Izmir) Turkey in 1919.

The Greek Army started killing innocent Turks on the very first day of the occupation, and continued as the Greek Army pushed inland far beyond the territorial limits set by the Treaty of Sevres. The crimes against humanity by the Greek Army are described in the Inter-Allied Commission Inquiry on the internet.

The Turkish people were poor, uneducated and unorganized. However, stories of the killing and destruction by the Greek Army spread very quickly throughout Turkey. The nationalist spirit of the Turks was ignited. The Turkish people followed General M. Kemal’s leadership reverently. Without the heinous crimes by the Greek Army, it is questionable that the Turkish people could have been brought together in a massive effort to eject the Greeks, French, Italians and British from Turkish soil.

If the legendary hero had not been created, the Gazi would not have enjoyed the national support for the many historic changes he made. He wanted the Turkish people to be prosperous. So every man and woman would have to have their shoulder to the wheel that drives the Turkish economy.

Women were given equal rights. Koranic Law was replaced. Mustafa Kemal’s mother had always stayed in the home in Thessaloniki where she was seen by her family, but not in public. Asa K. Jennings started day care for children in Izmir so mothers would know their children would be safe when their mothers were working in the packing plants earning money for their families and contributing to the economic growth of Turkey. Jennings and his American Friends of Turkey, which was staffed by Turks, started vocational training programs, hygiene and health education for new mothers, playgrounds and more all over Turkey – with the approval and encouragement of the Gazi. The purpose of the playgrounds was to provide competition while teaching tolerance and good sportsmanship, a concept foreign to Ottoman Turks.

The first playground in Turkey was built in Izmir. At first women would not participate in sports. The religious authorities argued this was an evil idea from corrupt Western people to have women engaged in sports. The Gazi concluded that religion and politics were a toxic cocktail. The Caliphate was abolished, the mosques were closed, and the mullahs were banished. The Greek most hated in Smyrna in 1922 was the Greek zealot Archbishop Chrysostomos. He encouraged the Greek Army to commit their offenses. The Turks dealt him a savage death. The most influential Greek Cypriot standing in opposition to reconciliation in Cyprus is Cypriot Archbishop Chrysostomos.

The Greek Cypriot version of the Megali Idea is enosis. The Greek Cypriots have not learned from the terrible lessons of the Greek Army in Turkey. How better off Greece would be today, if Venizelos had offered the Turkish people the hand of peace and offered to be partners in the development of the Turkish economy. It is true there was an epidemic of violence that led to the deaths of Turks, Armenians and ethnic Greeks – by the hundreds of thousands – from 1912 to 1922. It is also true that Turkey did not have police departments in nearly all of Turkey. The police academy was not established until 1938. In 1919 the Greeks could have proposed police departments to prevent violence. Greece under Venizelos took the road to war rather than the road to peace.

The Gazi wanted peace and prosperity. He wanted to liberate all Turks. He banned the fez and shah in buildings. Women need head protection when working in the fields, but the Gazi thought he had eliminated the caste system the shah imposes. Oh, how he would oppose the Islamization of Turks today, because religion as a public display is an impediment to progress.

Today, the people of the TRNC are at great risk. Only the leaders of the TRNC can bring peace to all Cypriots. The Greek Cypriots want to become part of the disaster in Greece rather than brothers with the Turkish Cypriots. The leaders of the TRNC will not listen to reason – or even the Gazi – and are squandering the last chance at peace. This is not what the Gazi wanted for Turks and Greeks. Cyprus is heading towards war over gas rather than using gas to create many products, prosperity and peace.

Photo signed Gazi M Kemal

Photo of Gazi M KemaL

Editor’s Note

“The opinions, advice or proposals within the article are purely those of the author and do not, in any way, represent those of Cyprusscene.com”

7 replies »

  1. Thank you for this enlightening article Roger L Jennings. Interesting recount of your father and grandfathers relationship to Atatürk that not many people would have been aware of. You must be very proud of the ownership of the signed photo of Gazi Mustafa Kemal Paşa.

    • To my Greek Cypriot friend who commented on my article:

      I used the term ‘ancient’ advisedly. The expression Megali Idea came from the concept which had its roots in Greek psyche, nurtured by hopes of eventual liberation from Turkish rule in Greece. The Greeks hoped to restore the imperial state like the days of the Byzantines. This is reflected in the folk saying: “Once more, as years and time go by, once more they shall be ours.” The Megali Idea implied the goal of reviving the Eastern Roman Byzantine Empire. Many of the Greek soldiers, for example, in Turkey during 1919-22 hoped to worship in the Hagia Sophia.

      The concept of restoring the Byzantine Empire as a Greek state with its capitol in Constantinople unified the Greek people during the Ottoman Turkish oppression. The concept was expressed as the Megali Idea by King Otto and Prime Minister Kolettis to unify the Greek people under their leadership. The Megali Idea was not invented or created suddenly on or about 1821.

      The Hagia Sophia was converted to a mosque by the Ottomans, but Gazi M. Kemal changed it to a museum. This was part of his attempt to rid Turkey of the poison that can come from religion in politics. Today the President of Turkey is considering making the Hagia Sophia a mosque again. Turks and Greeks share the same planet with so many other peoples. Tolerance is critical to successful co-existence. Turkey would gain more by giving the Hagia Sophia to the Ecumenical Patriarch to be a working church. There are plenty of mosques today in Istanbul. Muslims do not need another mosque. Returning the Hagia Sophia to the Church would increase tourism in Turkey by at least 2 million people per year, and probably a lot more. Turkey needs better relations with its neighbors and the income from millions of tourists.

      Thank you for your comments. Sincerely, Roger Jennings

  2. I do not want to diminish any of Ataturk’s achievements and this comment has nothing to do with him as such, but I have certain objections to your use of enosis.

    I definitely agree with you that enosis is essentially the continuation of Megali Idea, although the concept of a unified Greek state is relatively recent(200 years give or take) and not ancient as you mentioned, ancient Greeks were notoriously against any PanHellenic political union). Also, to what extent it still affects Greek mainland politics is very questionable.

    However, nowadays Enosis is seldom mentioned by Greek Cypriots. I was born and raised in Cyprus until the age of 20 and I visit fairly often, from my experience most people have dismissed the idea of enosis and that belief is only shared by one fringe political party and I have yet to meet a person seriously supporting it. Even amongst right wing people that feel closer to the greek identity. I get the impression that a lot of people sympathetic to the Turkish Cypriot cause think that enosis is still a political goal for the Greek Cypriot side. The truth is that for most left wing Greek Cypriots enosis is anathema, and for the majority of the right wing Greek Cypriots it is not something that they feasibly expect or want to happen. Even in 1974 Enosis was not accepted by all Greek Cypriots.

  3. A very informative article of the Gazi.
    Bamya also makes some very valid points on today’s policies vis vis Greece and the Greek Cypriots. Perhaps the total recognition of the ROC under Greek Cypriot control from 1964 may have established a status quo that is simply too cosy for the GC leaders to attempt any changes. In the same instance perhaps the Turkish Cypriots themselves are far too cosy in limbo land and tremendously mistrustful of Greek political thinking to take bold steps to help bring about a reconciliation that would benefit all sides. Either way what both sides really need are strong leaders that can sell a hard agreement which will in the process involve concessions and much hard-ache. I think Akinci is willing but sadly I’m not sure Anastasiades has the will or the courage to implement such a strategy.

    • Very well put Ismail and as you say, it takes a few brave and honest people to pick up the challenge to settle the madness of this ongoing inpass.

      It has been well documented elsewhere that the Turkish Cypriots intend to plan for an agreement by the end of 2016. If the Greek Cypriots continue to change the goal post and disrupt the negotiations, then they face the real prospect of an enforced settlement of the Cyprus problem and by players yet to make themselves know.

      • What happens when the Greek Cypriots vote against an agreement with the TRNC? What happens when gas is delivered to south Cyprus, and north Cyprus does not get gas? This is going to be a train wreck. Turkey can end the discussion any day it wishes, and that will not be good for both Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

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