Akmyrat Gürgenli:





Oct. 1996







   Turkrnenistan, like other Central Asian Republics, emerged as a young sovereign state, when she was recently relieved fionl seven decades long commtmist imperialist domination. The Government of Turkrnenistan,While endeavoring to build the institutions of an independent state. Simultaneously strives to gain a respectable place in the new word order. None-the-less it has to cope with the problems of territorial disarras caused by arbitrary delineation of botmdries effected by the Soviet regime.

   In fact the general area traditionally termed as Türküstan or  Central Asia which the Soviet regime had divided intoKazakistan Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kirgizistan and Tacikistan on the basis of tribal habitations purely for the sake of its own imperialistic expediency is now a target of expansionist threat from Iran and China. besides the threat posed by the Russian Federation.

   While it is a matter of general knowledge that the present territories of Iran includ a macor part of Azerbaican, and almost 25 million Azeri turks live there, few are aware that the north-western region of Iran comprises of Turkmen territories ceded to Iran under a series of Russo-Iranian treaties concluded against the will of the turkmens. The tombs of  Mahdumkuli, the great poet and founder of Turkmen nationlism, and his father Döwletmämed Azadi are located in the same region of Turkmenistan wihich was ceded to Iran by the Russians. Both Russian and Iran have tried to keep his fact to turkmen history in oblivion.

   It is this aspect of turkmen history that the present study intends to illustrate. Here a attempt has been made to present briefly but accurately the issue of southern Turkmenistan, including struggle of people of the area for freedom and reunion with their motherland. It testifies that historical facts could not be hushed up for long.



1. History of Turkmenistan


   From time immemorial the turkmens have sharod the same political fate and geography with the peoples of Uzbekistan,Kazakiscan, Kirgizistan, Tacikistan and EasternTurkistan. The history of Turkmenistan, therefore, could- not be studied isolated from that of the other Turki Republics.

   The most prominent among the contemporary Turkmen tribes include the Teke, Yomut, Chavdur(or Çavuldur). Göklen(or Gökleñ), Sarik, Salir and Ärsari tribes. As early as the 10th century almost all the strains of thet turki tribal order existed within the turkmen community in the region. Moreover;the Turkmens, who happen to have dispersed elsewhere in the continent of Asia, are the progenies of the turkmens of Mazanderan and Khurasan.The chronicles of reputed historians such as El-Biruni, Tabari and Nesefi on ancient Iran endorse that the frontiers of the ancient turkish state extended down to the Meshed-Sarakhs line. The renouned  11th century lexicographer Mahmud Kashgari in ”Diwan-i Lugat-i Turk” points out that Mavara-äl-Nahr (Transoxiana) had been entirely a Turkish territory. Iranian conquest of the area, therefore, is a more recent event But yet the contelnporary Iranians mistakenly claim it as being traditionally a Persian territory.

   The Turkrnans, having withstood the encroachments, in chronologic order, by Afshar(a turki tribe) leadership of Nadirshah Afshar, the Persians and then the Khivans, had began moving in the direction of Merv as early as 1835, when Oraz Khan built the fortbess of Oraz Qale on the bank of the river Tecen Derya. In 1845, however. They were once again the target of surprise attacks by the Persians and the Khivans. The turkmens. though repulsed the Khivan offensive twice (in 1856 and 1860), were badly bruised by the Persian forces. The turkmens, having suffered heavy casualties, proposed peace The Persians insisted on unconditional surrender, which the Turkmens turned down and sustained the fight. The Turkman forces led by Kowshid Khan finally routed the Persians and reasserted their independence.

   When the Russians invaded Bukhara in 1868, The Turkmens rushed to support the Khanat-e Bukhara, however, had capitulated before the Turkmen forces arrived.

  The Russians occupied the Khanat-e of Khiva in May 1873 with much bloodshed. Russian encroachment against the turkmens, though lulled down consequent to the Russo -Turkish war of 1877-78, was resumed in 1879, when a Russian force commanded by general Lomakin attacked Gök-tepe (Geok-Tepe). The fortress town was gallantly defended by the Turkmens under the command of Berdi Murad, son of Nurberdi Khan, and the Russian were forced to retreat. The entire turkish world, especially Istanbul, celebrated the Turkmen triumph at Gök-tepe as the news spread. Tsar Alexander held general Lomakin responsible  for the Russian ”disgrase”, and dismissed him. He was replaced by general Mikhail Skobelev who had gained reputation as commander of Russian troops at the Battle of Plevne against the celebrated Ottoman Commander Gazi Osman Pasha.. Skobelev invaded the Turkmen territories in Cune 1880. the Turkrnen monarch Nurberdi Khan, had died earlier in the same year; and his son Makhdum kuli had succeeded him Skobekov avenged the earlier Russian defeat in a most atrocious martner. By the time Russian conquest of Turkmenistan was completed, 26500 Turkmens had lost their lives.

 The Russian expedition in Transcaspiana(east of the Caspian Sea) was part of the Great Game.Russian design to find an outlet to the Aegean sea was frustrated at the Berlin Conference in 1878; and Afghanistan was declared a British protectorate, so the Russians and the British svere locked up in an intense rivalry in Asia

   The Russian encroachments in Turkmenistan were met with stiff resistance, as was the case throughout the Turkistan region. The national uprising against Russian domination of Turkistan, which began in 1916 and continued even after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, was commanded by Enver Pasha at its final stage. It ended inconclusively due to internal disunity and absence of external support.

   At the beginning of the Bolshevik Revolution, the Uzbeks and the Yomut Turkmens fell upon each other. Cunaid Khans the Turkmen chief. marched against Khive and besieged the capital city, but withdrew when acontingent of Bolshevik troops arrived in support of the Khivan Emir. Subsequently, however, the Khanate of Khive capitulated to Cunaid Khan, a situation which provided the Bolsheviks with the pretext they needed to interfere in the internal affairs of Khive once again. The Russian officers of the so-called Bolshevik rescue force organized a "Khiva revolutionary Regzment" composed of the Khivans, who had resisted Cunaid Khan. The regiment set up a "Soviet government in Khive. It was upon the invitation of this croup that the Soviet Russian forces occupied Khivein 1920.

   In 1924, however, the Turkmens and the Uzbeks having agreed to act cointly against the Russians, scored a certain degree of success. But it could not, however, prevent declaration of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Turkmenistan the same year. Cunaid Khan lost his last battle against the Russians in 1927. And had to go on a self-imposed exile to Afghanistan. Under the USSR Constitution Turkistan, i.e.. the Turki lands in Central Asia, were divided into five Soviet Socialist republics of Turkmenistan Kazakistan, Uzbekistan, Kirgizistan and Tacikistan.

   The turkrnens, condemned to Soviet domination for more than six decades, declared sovereignty on Cune 22,1990 and declared independence on October 22, l99l. Today: Turkmenistan is a member of the United Nations and other leading international organizations,   including   the   OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europa). She is one of the independent turki states committed to rapid economic, social and political reconstruction and development .



2.TheDivision of Turkmenistan


The greatest loss ever suffered by Turkmenistan occurred in 1881, when the country was divided into two parts, "Sotlthern Turkmenistan" being ceded to Iran ,and the northern part being kept as the domain of the Tsar of Russia..

   The process of split-up had begun as a consequence of the Russians subcugation of the Turkmens in 1881. Turkmenistan was divided between Russia and Iran under the treaty of Ahal, concluded between the two States on December 9 the same year, against Passage across the border imposed by the usurping powers between the two parts of Turkmenistan was prohibited and a highly stringent customs regime was applied. Ineffect;  the  two  parts  were  isolated economically and socially as well. The people of southern Turkmenistan, though placed politically under sovereignty of Iran. Then retained a degree of local autonomy. However under the impact of the change in the Russian regime following the October Revolution of 1917, Iran was pushed to assert her dominatio in the area, crushing Turkmen nationalism at any cost.

   Upon the withdrawal of Russian troops from Certain areas in Turkmenistan Khomeini regime for being involved in the Center for Village Councils" affair. An intensive propaganda and persuasion campaign was launched in Turkmen Sahra to win-over the Turkmens to i'Khomeini- 's line". The organizations in charge of the reorientation campaign included the Cihad-i Sazendegi (the organization of Holy War for Reconstruclion) and the Komite-l Imam ( The Comrmittee for Relief)

   As  the   activities   of  these organizations unfolded, efforts to distort the turkmen culture intensified. Turkmen national traditions and  their folk music were discouraged, wedding cerenloIlies were turried into lamentation sessions. The turkrnen female, traditionally predominantly used to put on red and white attire were forced to cover up under the black chadoor. Education in Persian culture became imperative.

   Politically; the Iranian regimes have attempted to destroy turkmen integrity, initially by annexing the southern part of Turkmenistan through an agreement concluded with a third party against the will of the turkmen people; and by merging the Turkmen territories with the provinces of Mazanderan, Khurasan and Semnan. Consequently they have disrupted Turkmen integrity politically, economically. socially and culturally. The turkmens in the south-west (of the Republic Turkmenistan) cherish the hope for reunion with the motherland.


5. The Tribes of Southern Turkmenistan


   Southern Turkrnenistan. is spread over a land mass of 200.000 km2, situated to the north of the east to west line along Salihabad, Damgan, Behshehr and the Caspian sea coast, within the present boundaries of Turkrnenistan, is estimated at about two million. They speak a pure turkish dialect, belong to the Hanefi branch of the sunni sect of Islam, despite the regime ' s pressure to convert them to the Cafery Shi ' ite sect.Tribal breakdown of the turkmens in the southwest and their respective places of settlement are as follows:


      1. The Goklen Tribe


      They live in Desht-i Gurgan the Gülli-Dagh and Gara Balkan mountains on the frontier of the Irarliarl Turkmenistan; as well as in Kelale, Gurgan and Goklan.


   2 The Yomul Tribe:


   It consists of two clans; the Atabeys and the Caferbays  they live in BenderTurkmen, Gunbed-i Qabus, Kumush Tepe, Hoca-nefes and Ak-gala.


   3 . The Aynalu/ inayli/ Inanli Tribe:


   They   live   in   Khurasan  in Nowkhandan, Chagwroglu, Kochan, Budcnurd, Kalat-i Chenar, Aman Mergan, Arbab Asaf. Gal'a Chenar and Muhammedabad.


  4. The Mehinli tribe:


  They live on both side of the present border between the Republic of Turkmenistan and Iran. Those in the Iranian or southern Turkrnenistan, generally inhabit in Deregez and Lutfabad. They use Lutfabad and Miyankuh as their summer pasture, and Yogul and Zerrirn-kuh as winter quarters.



  5. The Teke tribe


  They mostly live in the Republic of Turkrnenistan. But yet there exist more than a hundred household of the Teke Tribe in the Gunbad area in Southern Turkmenistan. i iley are reputed as producers of fine Saccadehs (or prayer carpets). The women folk are good at weaving quality hand made textile.


   6 The Gäwus Tribe:


  They live in Deregez and Gala Mir areas. During the winter season they stay in Yagul and Zerrinkuh; and during the spring and the summer they graze in the pastures of the Lutfabad Valley and Miyankuh.


   7. The Alili Tribe:


   They live in the Ebyurt area, and use Lutfabad and Miyankuh as winter quarters.



 8. The Madvanli Tribe.


   Originally they belong to Ashkabad but also manifest presene in Deregez and Nowkhandan. They graze in Yogul and zerrin- kuh in summer, and the skirts of the Hazar Mescid serve as their winter quarters.


   The other turki groups who exist in Khurasan in concentration, live in Nowkhandan,    Lutfabad.    Miyankuh    and Muhammed-abad. The turks of Khurasan belong to the Afshar wing of the Oguz lineage.They graze at the pastures of Tekab, Boz Dagh, Kansas Old Hazar Mesced hiohlands and use the Yagul region as their winter quarters They have always maintained good fraternal relations with the turkrnens. Also in the same areas live Azeri turks, who too belong to the Oguz ancestry.


6. The Economy of Southern Turkmenistan.


   Animal husbandry and farming constitute the mainstay of the economy of Southern Turknlenistan Cotton yield, which had recorded a promising upward trend with introduction of mechanized farming, has been considerably reduced since the Revlution on account of the suspense in the organization of ownership rights (propriety) and splitting up of the cultivable   land into   ever-diminshing dimensions. The cotton producers of the region tend to shift to cultivating wheats melon and water-melon instead.

   The fertile basins of the rivers Gurgan, Eterek, Kara-suw and Sumbar are no longer gifted with rich pastures as it used to be in the past. The increase in the fodder prices of has had serious discouraging effect on animal breeding. Many a families engaged in animal husbandry had to quit the business carpet  brokerage has been  a rewardina occupation in Turkmen Sahra. The Persians carpet brokers collect the carpets woven by turkmen girls at very low prices. and market them at exorbitant rates within Iran and in foreign countries under Persian trade marks .


7. The Cultural Fabric of Southern Turkmenistan.


   Such   monuments  of  historic significance as the Fortress of Alexander. (Sedd-i iskender), the ruins of Gumbed-i Kabus and the tombs of Halit Nebi, Mahdum Quli and his father Dövlet Mämet Azadi are located in Southern Turkmenistan. The cultural fabric of Southern Turkrnenistan has been significantly eroded as the people of the region are deliberately condemned to ignorance and illiteracy. The Kerwensaray-i Ribat-i Mahi. situated on the Tus-Seraks highway; the Kerwensaray-i Ribat-i Sharif; and the Friday Mosque of Damgan represent magnificent examples of architecture of the Selcuki turks that have survived to this day.

  There are very few hospitals and physicians in Turkrnen Sahra. Implements of health-care and cleaning agents are beyond thereach of the local people. In brief, they are conderrLned  to  live  in  an  urffiltvgienic environment. Life expectancy there ranges between 40 to 50.

    The Turkmen children, who grow up speaking their own mother-language, i.e., Turkish,  to  age  seven,  receive  basic compulsory education in Farsi.  They are deprived of the right to he educated in Turkmen Turkish. Besides, publication of books and periodicals in the Turkmen language is prohibited. So the young Turkmen grows up ignorant of his own national culture.

   The few Turkmen youth. Otherwise qualified for higher education, have  little chance for admission to the universities unless they declared their religious affiliation as Caferi shiit. 











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