The Turkish Psyche: Why it speaks out on Kashmir
There is a time for everything
And in an instant are the kings brought down
Turkey was verily a world power from the early 15th to the late 19th centuries, straddling Asia Minor and separating the East from the West for this large period of 600 years. Putting their rule in perspective, we see that no empire or civilization has ruled for such a long time in world history. Though Genghis Khan ruled the world’s largest contiguous land mass – what later became the USSR – the dynasty’s rule lasted merely 350 years after it was toppled by Ivan the Great in the West and by the Chinese in the East. Roman Empire lasted 400 years; while the British Empire lasted 300. The Greeks were broken after Alexander died, and his successors were substantially dissipated after 300 years. And Persia, the world’s first superpower started by Cyrus the Great, and which also straddled Asia Minor but more to the East, till Punjab, in contrast to the Turkish empire which went into Easter Europe, lasted but 200 years. And the great American power has been around for but 200 years and showing signs of strain.
So, the Turks have something substantial to be proud of, in that their large empire from Othman I ruled for 600 years, till World War I finally saw it cut to size. In their location, they captured major trade routes from Iran to Egypt via Palestine, and from India to Europe via Istanbul. They controlled Mecca and Medina and were known as the ‘protectors of Islam.’ But something went wrong in World War I, which is why an anti-Indian stance is ingrained in their psyche.
The Mughal and Mongol Turks
Now, even while the Turks ruled in Asia Minor, their cousins, the Mughals ruled a large area in India. The Mughal rule, started by Babur, the founder of the Mughal Empire came from Turkmenistan and had Turkish ancestry combined with Mongol ancestry. But interestingly, the Mongols themselves are cousins of the Turks, since the Turks originated in Sinkiang and then migrated more and more West in search of better pastures for their flocks. The Sinkiang region, known as Eastern Turkestan, has close proximity to Mongolia, and hence are considered cousins, perhaps as are Ukrainians and Russians. Hence, Babar was more than half-Turk. Indeed, the rule of the Mughals has been known as the rule of the Turks in India. And, people of Mughal origin are known as Turks. Urdu vocabulary is replete with words of Turkish origin.
Therefore, while the real Turks ruled from Eastern Europe to Iran, Arabia, and Palestine, their cousins the Mughals, ruled all of India till the Deccan and Bengal. Hence, the total Turk rule spanned from Eastern Europe to Bengal. And if you permit that the Mongols were their cousins, the Turks ruled all of Asia from the Pacific to the Black Sea and beyond, down to the Deccan. This is enough to puff the pride of any Turkish national.
In their eyes, the Turks are the lawful rulers of India. That they are not actually the rulers hurts their strong ego.
Turkey plugging for Kashmir
It is because of this likely reason that the current regime in Turkey loses no opportunity to chastise India for its activities in Kashmir. It speaks out without provocation against India at the United Nations. At Islamic meetings, it further condemns India’s record. And it is Turkey that has protected Pakistan from getting onto the FATF black list.
Turkey releases video songs and propaganda encouraging armed resistance against India in Kashmir, and fully believes that Kashmir belongs to Pakistan. Time and again, Turkey has claimed that India violated the United Nations regulations in Kashmir, follows its Islamic emotions, and pays no heed to the reality of the political situation. At its worst, it turns a blind eye to Pakistani insurgency in Kashmir. In fact, Turkey might be partially funding such an insurgency, and India needs to call Turkey on it to label it a promoter of terrorism.
The West knows of this, as Western intelligence picks up these things. In addition to other causes, the West has curtailed arms exports to Turkey, and will never include Turkey in the European Union.
By doing all this, Turkey does not realize that it could be further hurting the cause of its Muslim brethren in Kashmir. By encouraging armed resistance, Turkey takes away the opportunity of industrialization, business and tourism in Kashmir, which would largely benefit the Muslim inhabitants of Kashmir. Next, the inhabitants are further denied adequate education and medical services, as they fall behind on the social index. This cannot help Turkey.
Turkish Culture of Kashmiris
When anyone looks at the traditional dress of the Kashmiri people in the period before Indian independence, what will stand out is that the long dress of the women with a qamarband and special headdress is very similar to that of the Turkish women nationals of that period. There is some talk that when the Turks migrated southwestwards from Eastern Turkestan, and as some went into Iran, others into Turkey, and others towards the Caucasians, some came into Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Kashmir. The fact that they took their dress code with them seems to be some evidence that they belong to the same Turkish stock.
Hence, the Turks are of the feeling that the Kashmiris are their cousins. This makes them feel that they should bring the Kashmiris into their fold,free them of Indian rule, and thus claim a victory. This complicates things, but Turkey is failing to understand the reality of modern-day geographies and the new theory of nations, as espoused in United Nations charters. Turkey is clinging to a history long gone away.
World War I
Victory is what Turkey lost in World War I at the hands of the British and Indian soldiers. What probably irks the Turks the most is that Indian soldiers wiped them out from Palestine, the Levant, and Mesopotamia. They could not swallow that a group of “natives” who their cousins had ruled for hundreds of years were now defeating them in military battle. The Turks didn’t mind losing to the British as much as they minded being overrun by the Indian soldiers. This psychology must be understood. With Britain, they lost to a noble world power. But with the Indians, they lost to what they thought was a lesser group of people.
This is what probably makes them loathe the Indians the most. Hence, the Turks still want to take some type of revenge on the Indians within the meager capability they have left.
In Mesopotamia, the Turks lost the entire region of Kuwait, Basra, Baghdad, and Iraqi Kurdistan. It was only British Indian troops against the Turks, along witha contingent of Australians, but we all know who did the real fighting. The vast majority of the soldiers were Indians. The Turks lost it all of Mesopotamia to Indian troops, mostly Sikh regiments, with their Memorialsin Basra, Baghdad, Kut-al-Amara, Kirkuk, Mosul, and other places.Indian soldiers gradually made it up from Basra, Amara, Shaik Saad, to Kut, Ceciphon. Kirkuk, and Mosul, after heavy but determined fighting. Turkish soldiers often retreated on Indian onslaughts, even when faced by fewer troops, such as at Shaik Saad, when the Turks retreated in the dark of night. Nearly 700,000 Indian troops were committed to Iraq. How many Indian troops died is not properly tabulated, but in the Basra war memorial itself, 33,256 NCOs and other ranks who died remain numbered but unnamed.
Anyway, it is substantive to say that Indian troops beat back the Turks in what was arguably the most heavily fought campaign of World War I. It was a result of this liberation of Mesopotamia from Turkish heavy-handedness that Iraq came into being three years later in 1921 when a Hashemite monarchy was organized by Britain to govern the region, resulting in an independent kingdom of Iraq in 1932.
Turkish Cruelty in Mesopotamia
In total testimony to the barbarism of the Turks, they more frequently than infrequently mistreated their prisoners, starving them, and not treating them for illness. This was in utter and stark contrast to how gracefully British and Indian troops treated their Turkish prisoners. In fact, captured Turkish officers were allowed to wear their uniforms and given suitable quarters.
Turkish cruelty is further documented below:
“Of the 12,000 [Indian] men marched into captivity in Anatolia, Turkey, at least one-third died. Some succumbed to disease and starvation, while others were shot or beaten to death for falling behind on the march, or simply left to die where they fell after collapsing, exhausted, by the roadside. At one point on the march, bodies were thrown into a ravine, where skulls were found later in the war.
Ottoman cruelty extended to the local Arabs who had helped the British. About 250 were shot after the surrender, while a number of interpreters were hanged in Kut’s town square.”
In Palestine, the 15th Indian Cavalry Brigade – composed of Lancers from the princely states of Jodhpur, Alwar, Patiala, Mysore, and Hyderabad — led the cavalry charge on 23 September1918 against well-entrenched Turkish troops in Haifa, disrupting Turkish communications, and separating the Turkish center from the left and right flanks. Turkish soldiers ran in disarray for their lives, leaving their big guns behind. Then the British expeditionary forces moved north and captured Acre.
The British Indian forces fought alongside the British Desert Mounted Corps to capture the plains of Armageddon, and thence captured the headquarters of the 7th Turkish army at Tulkarm, as well as smaller contingents of Austrian and German units. Indian cavalry escorted Turkish prisoners through the streets of Jerusalem, a great humiliation for a great power that had ruled Jerusalem, the seat of three religions, for 500 years. By 25 Sep 1918, one Turkish army had been defeated, while two other armies fled northward to Damascus.
Kemal Ata Turk
The great Turkish hero, Kemal Ataturk commanded the 8th Turkish army in Nablus, Palestine. He was dislodged from his positions and fled the battlefield, as did much of the 8th army. It is with shame that the Turks look upon that event. But out of shame they don’t talk about it. When they look back, they realize that Indian forces routed Ataturk, and thus they developed adesire of revenge against Indians. This futile sense of revenge haunts the Turkish psyche, which is why they tirade against India in Kashmir.
By the end of the war, 300,000 Turkish troops had deserted Kemal Ataturk in the Levant, even though he was the commander of the Turkish Thunder Corps, composed of all remnants of the Turkish armies from Palestine. But the British Indian forces pushed Ataturk all the way north to Aleppo, to the border of present-day Turkey. This is where the war ended when the armistice was announced, and Ataturk got hailed as the person who stopped the British at Aleppo, though the truth was that an armistice intervened, otherwise it was possible to conceive that little would have remained of the Turkish Empire with Indian forces moving into Eastern Turkey, especially after Indian forces from Mesopotamia had reached Mosul. Had that happened, for instance, Kurdistan might be free today.
Liberation of Damascus
To prevent being outflanked owing to the British Indian forces advancing from Mesopotamia and Palestine towards Turkey’s borders, the 4th Turkish army from Amman also retreated to Damascus, thereby enabling the liberation of all of Arabia and Palestine. Damascus was liberated on 01 October 1918, coming soon on the heels of Turkish reversals in all of Palestine. Damascus was attacked by expeditionary forces of Egypt, Australia, and Prince Faisal of now Saudi Arabia. Partaking in that battle were the Mysore Lancers who participated in one of the last cavalry charges in the history of warfare.
One of the most intense battles of WW I was in Gallipoli – known today as Gelibolu. Gallipoli is located in the Gallipoli peninsula and is a major choke point to the Dardanelles Strait, also known as the Straits of Gallipoli. This strait was a major international sea highway from where Istanbul received its supplies from international shipping. Cutting off shipping in this strait was a natural strategy for choking Turkey.
The Entant powers – Britain, France and Russia – planned the Gallipoli campaign, hoping that a massive naval attack on Gallipoli would enable Allied troops moving up north to connect with Russian troops coming down from Romania. But the naval attack failed, as did an attack by 50,000 ANZAC forces. The campaign was reinforced by the 29thIndian Infantry Brigade consisting of 5th, 6th,and 10th Gorkha rifles regiments, and the 14th Sikhs. The 69th and 89th Punjabis also served there, albeit for a very short time before they were moved to Europe. Though the Indians took heavy casualties, the 6thGorkhas were the only unit to reach the main objective on the Anzac front, the Sari Bair ridge, but owing to lack of support, had to fall back. 1,358 Indian troops died at Gallipoli from a total of 56,000 Allied troops, in contrast to 66,000 Turkish troops dying.
Though the entire Gallipoli effort resulted in the Allies withdrawing as the effort had become too expensive, this action shook Turkish nerve as it came close to completely destroying the Turkish Empire. The expense to the Turks was much more.
It is with disbelief that the Turks look back at the events of World War I. The hitherto invincible Turkish army was defeated by those they had never encountered before – the Indians. This hasn’t left their mind yet.
It is thus that Indian troops liberated Palestine from the yoke of the Turks. The Balfour Declaration became reality for the Jewish people, who began go migrate to Palestine from Europe and elsewhere. In essence, Indian troops liberated Palestine from the Turks, such that Israel may be free today.
Turkish Mistreatments and Genocides
The whole world knows of the Turkish genocide against Armenians in 1915-16 in the midst of WW I. But the Turks say it all happened during the events of war and that it wasn’t their fault. They “felt” that Armenian Christians would facilitate Franco-British operations. Thus, as a precautionary measure, the Turks engaged in mass deportation of the Armenians. Along the route, during deportation, numerous atrocities and extra-judicial killings were reported, amounting to one million Armenians dead or disappeared.
The Americans also acted out of precaution when they rounded up all the people of Japanese origin in America in the aftermath of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and then put them in camps surrounded by barbed wire. But the Americans didn’t kill the local, civilian Japanese. On the other hand, the Turks killed the Armenians just to “eliminate a possible danger”. This clearly amounted to genocide in every definition of the term.
How the Turks have mistreated the Kurds in the last century is also well known. It is only too sad that the Kurds do not have adequate external support to fight the Turks. If India had any sense, India would support the Kurds to the extent Turkey supports Kashmiri extremism and terrorism. It is time for India to pay its enemies back in their own coin.
India’s Fault Lines
It’s been too long that India has been seen as a soft power, perhaps because of its poverty. But in reality, India is a rich country with impoverished leaders. That is India’s real fault line, which is causing India to take a very long time to become a leading nation. The other fault line of India is that Indian leaders have a lot of philosophy and morality to talk of, hoping that talk will save them, when only the powder in the missile will save the country. India’s stance barely works for India, for it is a weak man who talks first and fights later, while a strong man might fight first and talk later.
India must take the Kashmir battle into Pakistan, into China, and into Turkey. Thus, if China supplies Indian Naxalites with armaments, India will probably lose nothing by supplying a rebel ethnic community in China with armaments. If Pakistan sends infiltrators every day into India, then India should simply let loose its special forces once in a while on strategic Pakistani interests. If Turkey supports Kashmiri militants, India should actively support Kurdish militants.
Today, Turkey still thinks it is as great as it was prior to WWI, when it ruled Asia Minor, Arabia, North Africa, and Eastern Europe. Turkey’s pronouncements on Kashmir are not only misplaced, but goes to show how far it’ll go to put its foot in its mouth.
It is time to remind Turkey who really defeated it in World War I, dismantling their great empire. Turkey suffers ingreat anguish against Indians, since it was Indian soldiers who really dismantled the greatest world empire of all time in the Eastern side of Turkey. This great Turkish Empire ruled for 600 years, longer than any other empire, but it’s because of this that the Turks cannot digest or accept that India brought Turkey to its knees.
It is also the cousins of the Turks, the Mughals, who actually ruled India for 200 years. The Mongols are also cousins of the Turks. In essence, then, the Turks and their cousins ruled all of Asia. Such a great empire was probably rivaled only by the British Empire, but it was Indian forces that put the nail on the Turkish coffin.
We saw that British Indian Army campaigns in Palestine and Mesopotamia successfully liberated the entire Arabian Peninsula from Turkish suppression. It was out of the ashes of the Turkish Empire that all the West Asian countries were born. Thanks to the Indian fighting forces, the present day countries of the Gulf and West Asia were formed, including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The defeat that Indian forces inflicted on Turkey forever lives on in their minds, like a sharp and deep wound.
Undoubtedly, Turkey needs counseling, for it needs to learn to suspend its needless tirade against India over Kashmir.
 “Turkey to stand with Pakistan on Kashmir issue, Erdoğan says,” The Daily Sabah, Istanbul, Feb 14, 2020.
 Mesopotamia Campaign,” National War Museum, https://www.nam.ac.uk/explore/mesopotamia-campaign, accessed 23 Nov 2022.
 “Digitized war records of Indian troops killed in WWI Iraq highlight long forgotten Kut Al-Amara siege,” Arab News Japan, https://www.arabnews.jp/en/middle-east/article_61792/, accessed 23 Nov 2022.
 “Mesopotamia Campaign,” op. cit.
 “Digitized War Records,” op. cit.
 There were a few German units also at Haifa who were inflicted with heavy casualties and fled the battlefield.
 “Battle of Haifa (1918)”, Wikipedia, accessed Nov 14, 2022.
 “Military career of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk,” Wikipedia, accessed Nov 14, 2022.
 Rana Chhina, “Last Post,” USI, New Delhi, 2014.
 “The American Genocide,” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, https://www.ushmm.org/learn/timeline-of-events/before-1933/the-armenian-genocide, accessed Nov 12, 2022.