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An outpost against Turkish jihad

Reader comment on item: Kastelorizo - Mediterranean Flashpoint?
in response to reader comment: Kastelorizo an Italian name

Submitted by Ianus (Poland), Feb 22, 2012 at 11:16

Mozere wrote :

> So it is right and proper a very small ex-Italian islet with a population of 450 should trump rights of a nation of 75 million with a very long Mediterranean coast?<

What "rights" are you talking about? Maybe those favorite inalienable Turkish "rights" to organize pogroms, genocides, forcible conversions to Islam, aggressions and annexations?

Now if you subtract the number of Kurds who do not consider themselves to be Turks at all and who want to form a big independent state, you will find that the "nation" you mean isn't that big and united in the first place. And I agree Turkey's Mediterranean coast is too long. But if you give the vilayet of Alexandrette back to Syria ( instead of smuggling weapons and Islamic terrorists across the Syrian border under the disguise of "humanitarian aid"), then the coast will be reduced considerably. It shrinks further if you think of Cilicia as a historical part of Magna Armenia. The last Armenian villages there were exterminated by Kemal in 1923.

You also say something about "an Italian name" and "an ex-Italian island with a population of 450". You sound like an expert on the island's history,don't you? Well, let's listen to a better expert. In his "Journal of a tour in Asia Minor "(London 1824) William Martin Leake , a famous British scholar and military officer employed by the Ottoman empire, writes on page 127 "Of those places which I visited on the coast , and which deserve to be more thoroughly described than they have yet been , the most remarkable are ... 2 /the island called "Καστελόρυζον" by the Greeks and Castel Rosso by the Italians. It is a flourishing little Greek town , carriyng on a considerable commerce of timber and charcoal with Egypt. In the plain in the interior of the island, I found some remains of ancient buildings, of Hellenic construction . The importance of the situation must have at all times attracted inhabitants".

As to the ancient Greek name of the island "Megiste" it is , paradoxically enough, preserved in the Turkish name of the island 'Meis'. The island's history is by all means worth recalling. It begins around 1600 BC as a remote outpost the Mycenaean civilization. As we know, Mycenaean Linear B preserved the most archaic form of Greek. On the island Mycenaean graves were found as well as remains of Cyclopic walls and inscriptions. There was a big temple of Apollo Triopios whose worship was popular in the island. A Mycenaean golden crown from Megiste is now in the Archaeological Museum in Athens. The Dorian Hellenes who occupied the island boasted of having taken part in the Trojan war. Later they were controlled from the Dorian island of Rhodes by officers called "epistates". But between 334-304 BC they issued their own coins which shows they were autonomous at that time. As a result of the wars of the diadochi the island came under the domination of Ptolomey I of Egypt. In the later Roman republic it was an important naval base from which the Romans successfully fought pirates in the Eastern Mediterranean. Perhaps thanks to this role the island enjoyed a brief period of autonomy in the early Roman empire. In the Byzantine times it belonged to the insular thema (military province) Kyvyraeoti and was affected by all the wars Byzantium had to wage against the Arab and then Turkish jihad.

The idea to combat Moslem jihad which had conquered ancient Christian territories in the East was staunchly upheld by Western religious military orders. One of them were the Knights Hospitaller or the Knights of St. John. Under their Grand Master Foulques de Villaret in 1306 the island was occupied and a castle built on the red rocks which gave its new Frankish name to Megiste. The Knights themselves established their headquarters in Rhodes which for more than two centuries was the impregnable stronghold against Turkish jihad. In 1480 these men did what 27 year earlier the Greeks couldn't do. They decimated the army of Mehmet II and captured the legendary standard of the prophet and thus thwarted Islam's attempt to impose its yoke on Rhodes.

Being more exposed to attacks Kastelorizo itself changed hands many times. After it had been ravaged by the Sultan of Egypt Jelal ad-Din, it was controlled briefly by the Catalans, the king of Naples and then Venice. It didn't see see any Turkish occupiers until 1523. The Turks lost it again in 1570, but regained it in 1659. In 1788 Lambros Katzonis with a small Greek fleet acting on behalf of Russian Empress Catherine II who was waging her second Turkish war, captured the island. Between 1828-1833 the island was again liberated but the Great Western Powers preferred to transfer it back to their naughty darling -Turkey.

Dramatic was the island's history in the 20th century. It started as a prosperous island with c. 12 000 inhabitants , with schools that counted up to 1000 children, beautiful churches like those of St. Constantine and Helen Cathedral , St. George Church , St. Lucas Church and other smaller ones, with monasteries and chapels. But when Turkey began to draft young people into its notorious army in 1904-1905 mass exodus set in. More dramatic changes came soon with WWI and later with WWII. First the French ships and German artillery dug in on the Asiatic shore shelled the island in WWI. In WWII British, Italian and German aviation and commandos engaged in fierce fighting that devastated the island. The most tragic event the island saw in July 1944 when a vast fire that spread to the ammunition depots with explosions and heat that destroyed c. 1400 houses.

It is also worth stressing that Italy gained Kastelorizo in 1921 as a result of the Treaty of Sèvres which Kemalist Turkey has always strictly rejected. Yet, it solemnly and officially did recognize the fact created by the Treaty it did denounce in virtue of Article 3 of the Turkish-Italian Convention of Januray 4th,1932. This convention applies to today's frontiers as the Paris Peace Treaty signed with Italy on February 10th, 1947 stipulates in Article 14 "Italy hereby cedes to Greece in full sovereignty the Dodecanese Islands indicated hereafter, namely Stampalia (Astropalia), Rhodes (Rhodos), Calki (Kharki), Scarpanto, Casos (Casso), Piscopis (Tilos), Misiros (Nisyros), Calimnos (Kalymnos), Leros, Patmos, Lipsos (Lipso), Simi (Symi), Cos (Kos) and Castellorizo, a well as the adjacent islets. the island automatically became part of Greece."

Now if we look back at Kastelorizo's 2600 year-old history we can make a few interesting observations. Between the 17th century BC and AD 1306 it was to all intents and purposes a purely Greek territory in terms of population, culture, tradition and politics. What is more, even those Westerners who controlled it later used it to fight Turkey's jihadist war on Europe as Byzantium had done as long as it was physically able to do so. But then unlike now nobody asked if a small island could trump the "rights" of a nation that was the spearhead of worldwide jihadist aggression. On the contrary, then as now the island was an effective barricade to contain Ottoman and Neo-Ottoman terror and aggression in the Mediterranean and the Aegean.

If Turkey, true to her jihadist tradition and mentality, chooses to break international law that is clearly against her encroachments, baseless claims and bullying, then I am afraid that her neo-Ottoman jihad will have to be answered with the language the Knights Hospitaller from Castelrosso and Rhodes once spoke to Mehmet II and his jihadist hordes.

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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