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 appreciation 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
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