Do you understand this map?
At first glance it appears to be a map of the Muslim world. Closer
examination shows that it is more than that -- the authors have
merged the Islamic World with a map of the Turkic, or Altaic, world,
which stretches from Turkey to Siberia. Hence the title: Turk-Islam
Both pan-Islamic and pan-Turkic (or Pan-Turanic) politics have
tried to create a coalition to oppose the West in the 19th and 20th
centuries. Neither succeeded (it's based on a false premise of common
denominator identity -- a pan-Christian geopolitical alliance stretching
from Armenia to Uruguay to South Carolina would be equally unsuccessful).
Nevertheless, it appeals to those in Turkey who feel the country has not found its place.
Torn between East, South, and West, where in the world
does Turkey belong?
It's not an easy question. Some believe Turkey should look west
to Europe. Others say the answer lies to the south in the Islamic
world. Others call for Turkey to look East to its Turkic brothers
in Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, and beyond. But in truth, Turkey is wedged
between these three regions. In many ways this could be a blessing,
separate from the radical Middle East, the crumbling remains
of Soviet Asia, and a wealthy yet aging Europe. But combined with Turkey's
lack of national success, the national identity crisis manifests
itself in ugly resentment.
This is why, in the spring of 2005, I found Adolf Hitler's Mein
Kampf a prominent seller on Ankara bookstands. The book was a bestseller, selling hundreds of thousands of copies. In many ways,
Turkey at the turn of the 21st century can relate to Germany after
World War I.
But that's not all. Something I didn't realize at the time, but
which my compatriot Chirol pointed out later, is the book above
Hitler's, a popular fiction novel called Metal Firtina. The book's authors, science-fiction
buff Orkun Ucar and former journalist Burak Turna, wrote the book, which is
about a fictional US attack on the country's armed forces in Kurdish
Turkey; the book ends with the detonation of a nuclear device in
Washington. An absurd plot, perhaps, but the book was a runaway
bestseller. (The authors wrote another book where the target was
Europe, which was also a big hit.)
Co-author Turna had this to say about his book: "This novel
is not just another conspiracy theory - it is a possibility theory.
The United States today has a crusader mentality... The Americans
today are just like the crusaders who seized Jerusalem centuries
Turkey's problems are rooted in its uncertain identity, but the
easy target is America. In the face of growing anti-Americanism
in Turkey and a rising suspicion of all things Islam in the United
States, what is the future of the Ankara-Washington alliance? Turkey
has long been a reliable member of NATO and the United States has
pushed to include Turkey in the European Union, but that doesn't
change the perception of Turkey's angry youth.
Turkey is endlessly criticized over human rights, women's rights,
freedom of the press, and free and fair elections. Many Turks are
tired of hearing lectures. While they are not enamored of Bin Laden,
they feel something wrong with American power.