I listen to the news and take a nervous mental stock of recent events that have targeted Armenians, Greeks, and others on the list of Turkey’s vengeful past, present and future.
I delve the most morbid corners of my imagination to find a metaphor or image capable of expressing some of my anxiety. And then I watch in horror as that vision turns into unspeakable reality. July 12th, Azerbaijan attacks Armenia across the Nogorno Karabagh (Arstakh) border. A repeat of 2016, April 2 which turned into a blood bath violating the 1994 ceasefire. Azerbaijan, a close ally of Turkey and fellow denier of the Armenian Genocide, has actively sought the eradication of the region’s indigenous Armenian inhabitants and traces of their millennia-old civilization.
The vision in my mind is like looking through a kaleidoscope except kaleidoscopes form colorful beautiful images. Shake it and a design appears. Shake it again and an altogether different one replaces it. I often wonder if the images will ever end. I shake the kaleidoscope of my mind. Should I write with hope? US congress has condemned Azerbaijan’s attacks. There’s no cease-fire. No handshakes or agreements exchanged. Blood hasn’t stopped flowing. The dead are still being buried.
Shake it again. Perhaps a shift will happen. This time I see despair because, for better or worse, I know what Turkey’s policy is all about. To realize his ultimate goal of leaving behind a legacy that surpasses that of all others, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has set certain objectives for the year 2023, the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Turkish Republic. He aspires to become a new Ataturk seeking to regain control of certain Ottoman territories and change the demographics of areas outside Turkey’s borders.
I shake the kaleidoscope. Do I write with twisted humor? Turkey dispatched the seismic survey ship Oruc Reis to operate in the waters surrounding Greek islands because it seeks to steal resources from recognized Greek and Cypriot exclusive economic zones. Such an action would be in violation of the Lausanne Treaty, which was signed ninety-seven years ago July 24 to tie up loose ends remaining from the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. The Treaty set Turkey’s borders with Bulgaria, Greece, Syria, and Iraq. It is NO coincide that Erdoğan transformed the centuries-old Hagia Sofia from a museum back into a mosque, and scheduled its first formal prayers for July 24, the anniversary of the Lausanne Treaty.
Shake again. I write with anger. Because when it comes to Turkish policy and that of her allies, I know it is not over. Turkey is currently amassing troops on its border in preparation of once again invading and adding to its disastrous October 2019 occupation of northeast Syria. Atrocities that have resulted in tens of thousands forcibly displaced from their homeland and unable to return are still continuing. Turkey and her allies have escalated violence against civilians who remain in those regions with reports of killings, rapes and kidnappings continuing to emerge. Amid these uncertainties, Turkey has started to spread its tentacles and mobilize its proxies with destruction/vandalism of monuments and religious property and chants of “Death to Armenia,” in cities across the globe (Beirut, Lebanon; Jerusalem, Israel; Baku, Azerbaijan; Seattle, WA; Glendale, CA; San Francisco, CA; Denver, CO.) Armenian Protestors have been attacked in London, Netherlands, Washington DC, Ukraine , to name a few.
Shake the kaleidoscope. I see the irony. Israel has chosen to take Azerbaijan at face value (after all they are allies with Turkey), accepting oil in exchange for arms deployed against Armenian civilians in the ongoing border confrontation, while Armenia is taking tangible steps toward good faith relations with Israel including a commitment to establish an embassy in Tel Aviv. Ironically, Israel is aware of Azerbaijan’s ties to Turkey, and their hell-bent eradication of the native Armenian population of which Jerusalem will not be exempt. Israel’s current stance goes against the premise of what Jerusalem represents: a place for self-determination and a sanctuary for the persecuted and marginalized.
I shake the kaleidoscope. Denunciation is a must. Time and time again in history, and today and beyond, it seems that a certain personality type remains within the character of a Turk in position of power: the tyrant, calculating and cruel allies with strikingly similar personalities. (“Tell me who your friends are, I’ll tell you who you are.”) They all tend to have a blend of narcissistic and antisocial personality disorder traits such as a lack of empathy, grandiosity, thirst for power and control, lying and deceit, indifference to conventional laws or rules or morality, and more.
One last time, I shake the kaleidoscope and I write with sorrow. The memory of Ottoman domination still haunts Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians, Cypriots and others who have suffered massacres at the hands of the Turkey and her allies. I write with sorrow because international communities and the US shut the kaleidoscope of their vision and ignore the grave consequences of Turkey’s actions behind her allies.
I write with sorrow because the places that are symbolic of its people’s rebirth will soon become their burial ground.
Dread churns in my stomach.