(1) Grey Wolf Public Relations Failures.
Despite massive funding from organizations within Turkey as well as generous American and now Israeli support (Part VI, items 1-2), pan-Turanian Grey Wolf activists have not been successful at swaying the majority of Iranian Azerbaijanis to their separatist cause. This was dramatically illustrated when Olympic gold medallist, Naim Suleimanoghlu (himself a Bulgarian Turkish migrant – see photo at left) asked Hossein Rezazadeh (Iran’s heavy weight Olympic gold medallist – photo at right) to renounce his Iranian nationality, accept Turkish citizenship and join the Turkish Olympic team. Among the rewards promised to Rezazadeh were 10 million dollars in cash and luxury automobiles. Suleimanoghlu’s offer was made in public to Rezazadeh in the November of 2002, who had arrived at Istanbul airport. Rezazadeh responded to Suleimanoghlu’s offer with the following statement: "I am an Iranian and love my country and people."
For a full detailed report refer to Payvand News Website:
Suleymanoglu offers Rezazadeh Turkish citizenship
This event has perhaps been one of the greatest public relations disasters ever faced by the Grey Wolves, as it has undermined the very basis of their beliefs and racism. Put simply, Rezazadeh’s response was not exactly what they wanted to hear. Many “Grey Wolves” activists were reportedly “shocked” at hearing this news.
It is reputed that a very large number of English speaking media outlets and academics (see Brenda Shaffer, Part VI, item 4c) were hoping that Rezazadeh would accede to Suleimanoghlu’s request, as this would allow for the commencement of an anti-Iranian separatist campaign in the western media. Similar tactics were deployed against the Federalist State of Yugoslavia to encourage its destruction in the 1990s (Part VI, item 2b).
Failures like these have been consistently hushed up by the Grey Wolves and their supporters in the western world who remain committed to recruiting prominent Iranian Azerbaijanis to their cause. What is interesting is the inability of these activists to accept the fact that the vast majority of Iranian Azerbaijanis, like Rezazadeh, not only reject separatism, but are also offended by such actions.
(2) Hostility to Grey Wolf Activism among Iranian Azerbaijanis.
Undeterred by the cool reception of the majority of Iranian Turcophones in general, the Grey Wolves are adamant to “support the aspiration of our Turkish kin in occupied Azerbaijan (meaning Iran)”.
These efforts are doomed to failure for the simple fact that history and scholarship is not on the side of the pan-Turanian activists. Most important of all however are the opinions of the Iranian Azerbaijanis themselves.
Keyvan Valizadeh, an Iranian Azeri, graciously gave permission for excerpts of his earlier statements to be published in this commentary. His e-mail (dated 21/09/2005) to me stipulated that:
“…The link between Chehregani and the Pentagon is a thing that the Azaris also don't know, the hatred and fights between Ottoman Turks and Iranian Azaris are also ignored!…Thank you and don't forget that it is not a fight of Azaris alone but of the Iranian Nation as a whole against pan-turkism.”
Excerpts from Mr. Valizadeh’s earlier messages aptly summarize how many Iranian Azerbaijanis and people of Iranic Caucasian descent feel about Mr. Chehreganli, his Grey Wolf allies and western Geopolitical supporters in particular:
“…Years before in Maragheh (were I am from) the pan-turkists gave me leaflets that said the "first Azeri hero that fought the Persians for their independance was Babak Khorramdin". I was now shocked because I knew it was false. I knew that Babak (whose name I noticed was not Turkish) was fighting the Arabs and not the Persians and wanted to restore the glory of Persia and the ancient religion of the Persians. And I distanced myself from them Because I hated their ocean of lies…
Mr. Valizadeh then quotes Persian poet Hafez to vividly describe Grey Wolf activism:
Do not consider the intestinal conflicts of sects
For, not having found the truth, they went to the invention
The following quote by Mr. Valizadeh is also significant, as it summarizes the feelings of the majority of Iranian Azerbaijanis:
“…Many of the Azaris I spoke had discovered the Truth too and were glad to say that their ancestors were Cyrus or Dariush (Darius) and not the Mongols the Turks claim to be their ancestors…”
(3) Tepid Reception in the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Despite claims to the contrary, Pan-Turanianism has also failed to make major inroads in the Republic of Azerbaijan. As with all racialist movements, the followers of the Grey Wolves in the Republic constitute a minority at best. There are also unconfirmed reports stating that many of the residents of the Republic of Azerbaijan view Grey Wolf ideology with cynicism. Many in that state are cognizant of their past historic links to Persia.
Dr. Brenda Shaffer of Harvard University (see part VI, item 4c) claims to have “proven” that the majority of the people of the Republic of Azerbaijan dislike Iran. In fact, this is untrue (see discussion of Professor Zia Boniyadov in Part VI, item 4c).
Then there is the unfolding drama within the Republic of Azerbaijan itself. The Republic of Azerbaijan is a new nation state whose inhabitants have been robbed of their thousands of years of association with Persia, making them extremely vulnerable to tough questions regarding their national and ethnic origins. The deformities and vulgarities of racism have the potential to tragically complicate Azerbaijan’s nation-state building efforts and seriously undermine democracy in the country. Nevertheless, the Republic is moving towards a healthy democratic model, barring geopolitical interference of course. A democratic process allows for the full expression of a wide spectrum of opinion. It is in such an atmosphere of healthy debate that the modern inhabitants of the Republic of Azerbaijan will be made fully aware of their historical links with Persia.
Finally, Persian culture remains firmly rooted in the Republic of Azerbaijan, despite powerful attempts by Stalinism, pan-Turanianism and present western geopolitical and petroleum lobbies to stamp it out. The Iranian Nowruz is celebrated every year in the Republic, as seen by these girls in Baku dressed in traditional Iranian attire reminiscent of Sassanian times (left photo by Hamid Zargarzadeh). Below right is another Persian tradition of the Nowruz seen in Baku – the “Sabzeh” (recall Part I, item 2i):