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Basking in the shadows of the Ottoman era

By Daniel Ben-Ami - posted Monday, 5 February 2018


It is hard to fathom why Turkey’s President Erdogan, who embarked on the most impressive social, political, and economic reforms during his first ten years in office, turned around and systematically destroyed all that he had achieved. In doing so, he transformed the country into a police state where Islamic nationalism runs supreme.

It is no secret that Erdogan is an ambitious man who aspires to become the leader of the Sunni Muslim world and dreams of restoring the “glory” of the Ottoman Empire. He is sparing no efforts to extend Turkey’s wings over countries that he can manipulate and exploit in the Middle East and the Caucasus.

Even a cursory review of his actions at home and abroad unmistakably shows that there is a pattern to his madness to resurrect not only images but the influence of the vanished Ottoman Empire that died disgracefully in the wake of World War I.

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The Ottoman Empire will always be remembered by its last infamous chapter—the genocide of the Armenian people.

Thus, when Erdogan recounts the presumed splendor of the Ottoman era, it should have a chilling effect on any country with which Erdogan seeks active bilateral relations, because there are always sinister intentions behind his overtures.

To expand his regional influence, Erdogan has followed the footprint of the Ottomans by first taking extraordinary coercive measures to consolidate his absolute powers at home.

Following the July 2016 failed military coup, he ruthlessly cracked down on his real and perceived political adversaries, including anyone suspected of having an affiliation with his arch enemy Fethullah Gülen, whom he accused of being behind the coup. He took control over the civilian and government institutions by repeatedly extending the state emergency laws. Instead of continuing to promote freedoms and human rights to encourage creativity and competitiveness, he is choking the Turkish people’s natural resourcefulness and ability to excel.

With little or no opposition at home, Erdogan moved to promote his Ottoman penchant to establish military bases in Qatar and Somalia, and military ties with Tunisia. Now he is scheming to build another military installation on the strategically located Sudanese Island of Suakin. Erdogan intends to utilize the island as a military outpost, the way it had served during the Ottoman era.

Egypt and Saudi Arabia believe that Erdogan’s military adventure will upset the regional balance of power, which is the recipe for instability and incessant violence. Thus, instead of alleviating the plight of the nearly 20 million Turks under the poverty line, Erdogan is spending billions on his foreign exploits.

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To seize on the chaotic conditions in Syria, Erdogan decided to undertake a military offensive to crush the Syrian Democratic Force (YPG), which he accuses of being supportive of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), against whom he has been fighting a war of insurgency for 34 years.

Although he asserts that his purpose is the elimination of all terrorist elements to protect his people, his real objectives are: establishing a permanent foot-hold in Syria, which was ruled by the Ottomans; maintaining the support of his nationalistic constituency; demonstrating that he is independent and free to use his military as he sees fit; and most importantly, preventing the Syrian Kurds from cementing their autonomous rule.

Hence, instead of solving the conflict with his own Kurdish community, who merely seeks to preserve their culture, he invades Syria under false pretenses to secure his other objectives which are consistent with his Ottoman vision.

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About the Author

Daniel Ben-Ami is the author of Ferraris for All: In Defence of Economic Progress, he spoke in March in Sydney for Thought Broker www.thoughtbroker.com.au.

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Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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