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ERDOGAN: Whims of a Dictator or The New Turkey in the Islamic World?

1 Erdogan-TurkeyDr Can Erimtan
21st Century Wire

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (aka the Prez) and his ruling Justice and Development Party (or AKP) have for years been working hard to alter the appearance as well as the substance of the nation-state that is Turkey. And in this respect, the figure of the Turkish President himself seems to have been the ultimate prime-mover, forcing the execution of effective changes while simultaneously constantly dominating the headlines.

Hence, many quite easily refer to the Turkish President as a dictator.

Tayyip Erdoğan as a Dictator?!?

Dictators have been around for quite some time now, harking back to antiquity when the Roman “Senate could vote to grant absolute power to one man, called a dictator, for a temporary period.”

In modern times, the term has been more commonly employed to refer to a “ruler with total power over a country, typically one who has obtained control by force,” as defined by the online Oxford Dictionaries. And in the 20th century such characters as Adolf Hitler, Mussolini or Franco stood out as prime examples of political leaders wielding dictatorial powers. In the 21st century, public opinion and the press alike habitually refer to certain rulers as dictators and will often characterise them as ‘the next Hitler,’ before  summarily executing them through regime change operations – like with Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi or Iraq’s Saddam Hussein as the two most salient examples. Unlike Gaddafi, who had been an “international pariah” throughout most of his public life, Saddam used to be a “close American ally” until he crossed the line by invading Kuwait in August 1990 thereby forcing the U.S. to invoke the then ten-year old “Carter Doctrine.” Saddam Hussein’s story – from very humble beginnings in a mud hut on stilts to palatial complexes fit to entertain guests like Donald Rumsfeld, acting as Ronald Reagan’s special envoy (20 December 1983) – could today very well act as a cautionary tale for certain political leaders, certain political leaders who were once equally close to Washington but have since changed direction.

In particular, one leader springs to mind in this context: Turkey’s recently popularly re-elected President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (16 April 2017). The now-referendum-sanctioned near-absolute-power-wielding Prez has always protested critics calling him either a “dictator” or merely objecting to his tendency to micro-manage the affairs of the land. In equal measure, Erdoğan has also been highly critical of those objecting to his blatant championing of the religion of Islam as the nation’s sole guiding principle, as was vividly illustrated by his public spat with Vladimir Putin in the aftermath of the Turkish downing of a Russian fighter jet. On the domestic front, the ineffective leader of the basically irrelevant main opposition Republican People’s Party (or CHP), Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, has been quite vocal and outspoken in this respect. And as a result, he is one of the approximately 2,000 individuals whom the Prez has charged with a defamation lawsuit.

The Victory of “Market Islam“

Last year, in the midst of the furore surrounding the so-called Böhmermann incident, Kılıçdaroğlu, who has been leading his party from one ignominious defeat to the next since 2010, spoke to the German tabloid newspaper Bild‘s Viktoria Dümer (now Braeuner) and Peter Tiede. The subsequent piece even carries the telltale headline “Erdogan is a Dictator!“ And the CHP leader gave the German reporters ample fodder, declaring that “Erdogan is a unique dictator. It is hard to compare him to anyone.” Kılıçdaroğlu gave the reporters the backstory of his special legal relationship with the President of the Turkish nation: “I called him ‘a kind of dictator’. He then sued me and scolded me for being a ‘political pervert’. That is why I have now sued him. This is how things go back and forth between us” . . . and, the CHP leader then went into some detail explaining his personal interpretation of the phenomenon that is Tayyip Erdoğan: “1. He is convinced that he alone knows and speaks the truth. 2.  He wants to lead and rule over his party alone. 3. He ignores the constitution – the legislature, the judiciary, the basis of any democracy,” and, hinting as the AKP politician’s hubris while obliquely referring to Louis XIV, the opposition leader curtly states that “Erdogan acts as if he is the state.” But, his comments on the piety of the Prez seem to betray Kılıçdaroğlu’s basic ignorance regarding the Muslim faith as practised in Turkey: “Islam merely serves as a tool for [Tayyip Erdoğan]. If he were serious about his faith, he would hardly abuse millions in tax money for his splendour and luxury – for instance, for his gigantic show-off palace.” As I have explained at length elsewhere, on an individual as well as public level, Erdoğan is at pains to project a pious image of himself, having been the first Turkish politician to actually publicly proclaim his allegiance on live television: “alḥamdulillāh, I am a Muslim . . . alḥamdulillāh, I am a proponent of the Shariah” (22 November 1994). Moreover, the Turkish interpretation of Sunni Islam (according to the Hanafi school of thought) quite openly favours the adoption of consumerist behaviours and attitudes which more often than not result in brash displays of wealth and affluence – brash displays of wealth and affluence such as were also practised by the Ottoman Sultans, who saw themselves as the leaders of the world of (Sunni) Islam, and whom Erdoğan tries very hard to emulate. In fact, in 2005, the Swiss academic Patrick Haenni came up with the coinage “Market Islam” to describe this “Other Conservative Revolution,” which is in stark contrast to Jihadi Salafism and the puritanical Wahhabi line underpinning the thoughts and deeds of Islamist terrorists currently wreaking havoc across the world, from the Philippines over Afghanistan through Turkey into Western Europe.

1 ataturk-in-the-parliamentMustafa Kemal Atatürk, the ”Father of Turks”,addresses Parliament in Ankara, circa 1924 (Image Source: Weloveist)

The public displays of material ostentation, which are but the outcome of the enthusiastic adoption of “Market Islam,” disclose that as a society, AKP-led Turkey now sees the full bloom of a Muslim bourgeoisie which constitutes the monetary backbone of the political establishment dismantling the Kemalist consensus and destroying the personality cult surrounding Mustafa Kemal Atatürk – the proverbial founder of the republic who also set up Kılıçdaroğlu’s political party (originally, the CHP was the ideological vehicle for the Kemalist project aiming to modernise Turkey and liberate the nation from the shackles of Islam). The rise of political Islam went hand-in-hand with the rise of a Muslim middle-class, whose members, to quote Haenni, pursue “personal salvation, [and] self-improvement” in conjunction with a “quest for economic success” (as translated by Issandr El Amrani). As a result, these affluent Muslims, quite naturally, do not adhere to the ideas and ideals of Kemalism and therefore, the once very serious offence of making disparaging or critical remarks about Atatürk (punishable by law, Nr 5816, to be precise) has now been replaced by the much more grievous ‘deadly sin’ of insulting the Prez. Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu famously hails from the eastern Anatolian province of Tunceli, originally known as Dersim, and largely populated by Kurds (known as Zaza) who belong to the religious minority known as Alevi, in Turkish. This sectarian minority consist of approximately 15 to 20 million members and their creed is very unlike the strict Sunni Islam, with some calling the creed a heterodox syncretic form of mysticism (somehow related to the teachings of the the Bektashi Order or tarikat) and others declaring it to be an idiosyncratric branch of Islam with some links to Twelver Shi’ism. However, an anonymous Alevi member, speaking to the social scientist, Hege Irene Markussen made the following declaration, arguably divulging a pantheistic understanding not necessarily related to Islam: “The world is God. Whatever we call him, he is everything.” As a result, it seems rather natural that Kılıçdaroğlu has apparently never made any public statements regarding either his ethnic or religious identity, even though in 2014 he tried to reboot his public image calling himself Dersimli Kemal (or Kemal-hailing-from-Dersim), possibly in an effort to mobilise the more left-leaning segment of the electorate. As a result, public opinion in Turkey quite effortlessly holds the leader of the opposition to be a Kurd and an Alevi, which would arguably explain his lack of success in Turkey’s political arena, where Turkish nationalism and nominal adherence to Sunni Islam appear prerequisites for attaining popular favour.

A Muslim Dictator as Head of State: The New Turkey Across the World

In this way, one could reason that the Prez could not wish for a better leader of the opposition, as the further development of “Market Islam“ and the concomitant rise of a Muslim bourgeoisie steeped in Ottoman nostalgia all but guarantees the continuing electoral success of his AKP-driven “policy of Sunnification.” And, following his successful re-election-including-reverse-regime-change last April, Tayyip Erdoğan is now free to continue constructing his very own “Sultanate of Kitsch” while beefing up the personality cult that has grown up around him and depictions of his countenance now gracing untold  unsuspecting surfaces all across the country.

Last year, a short while before the Coup-that-was-no-Coup changed everything, the Prez was in the news because of doubts concerning his university attendance. The Turkish Constitution namely stipulates that the head-of-state should be a person “over forty years of age [who has] completed higher education” (Article 101). Having attended a so-called ‘İmam-Hatip School,’ or a high school-level institution for the purpose of educating religious preachers, the young Erdoğan had but limited options at his disposal, as “graduates of those schools could pursue their higher education only in theology,” as expressed by the scholar, journalist and columnist Cengiz Candar. Still, the Prez claims to have been a student at the Marmara University’s Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences. In view of the whole hullabaloo, in due time, a university diploma was released to the press, and the opposition HDP (or Democratic Party of the People) even went as far as releasing the document on its dedicated twitter account. Rather than bring an end to the affair, the diploma, indicating that Recep Tayyip  Erdoğan had graduated in 1981, only appeared to make matters worse. Candar elucidates in the following direct manner: “there was no Marmara University in 1981 and no such faculty under that name. [The] Marmara University was founded in Istanbul in 1982.“ BBC Azeri’s Tural Ahmedzade summarised the whole pickle as follows in early June 2016: “Discussion of the President’s eligibility has extended beyond social media. The former chairman of the Association of Judges and Prosecutors (YARSAV), Omer Faruk Eminagaoglu has appealed to the Supreme Election Board (YSK) of Turkey to annul Erdogan’s presidency. He submitted a 29 page document in support of his appeal, claiming that a necessary review of his eligibility was not carried out prior to his election as President. He also called for the Ankara’s Chief Public Prosecutor to begin an investigation into Erdogan’s alleged ‘use of forged official documents’. President Erdogan has yet to respond to the allegations.”

Turkey’s Coup de Grâce

But the momentous events of 15 July 2016 have turned this “discussion of the President’s eligibility” into nothing more than an academic exercise, as now Tayyip Erdoğan has really come into his own and has since really been acting in full accordance with the above-quoted words uttered by Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.

Following the FaceTime-induced popular uprising that thwarted the really rather amateuristic coup attempt, the Prez aided by the whole of the AKP machinery “accused a ‘shadowy, clearly elusive, and possibly even non-existent, organisation’ known only as the supposed terror group FETÖ (Fettullahçı Terör Örgütü or Fethullahist Terror Organization) of being behind the coup attempt.”

1 gulen-erdoganErdogan picture here with Fetullah Gülen (left). The two were allies until they clashed in 2013 (Image Source: Sol)

In the weeks and months since, untold individuals have been apprehended and locked up on suspicion of belonging to the said elusive terror group – since last April, a grand total of about 48,000 people have been “disappeared” in this way. Originally, in early 2014, Erdoğan referred to Fethullah Gülen’s organisation as a “Parallel Structure“ inside Turkey’s government, in the aftermath of the graft scandal popularly known as #AKPgate in Turkey and on the internet. But, on 7 May 2015, the Ankara judiciary employed its creative muscle to come up with an inventive phraseology resulting in the moniker FETÖ to refer to the followers of the self-exiled cleric Gülen. This somewhat elusive figure (whom I referred to last year as the “Turkish Bin Laden”) had been a staunch AKP ally until 2013, supported by the U.S. and a personal friend and spiritual guide of many a leading party member – such as, the AKP co-founder and erstwhile Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç or the former PM and FM, Ahmet Davutoğlu, in addition to many other minor party members who have in the past visited the exile in Pennsylvania, like the former Giresun MP Adem Tatlı or the still-Burdur MP Bayram Özçelik and many more. But now, the Prez is really going to town, persecuting alleged FETÖ members left and right, as well as having numerous journalists arrested on the flimsiest of charges. The organisation Turkey Purge, “a small group of young journalists who are trying to be the voice for Turkish people who suffer under an oppressive regime,” reports on its dedicated website that a total of 231 journalists is in custody at present. In addition to the many Turkish journalists, a number of foreign professionals have also been detained – the VICE journalists  Jake Hanrahan, Philip Pendlebury and Mohamed Ismail Rasool were detained after having been “embedded“ with PKK units but have since been released, but the German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel (writing for die Welt) is still kept in solitary confinement at the moment, having been charged with supporting the terror groups FETÖ and the (Kurdish) PKK on 14 February. Whereas, the “French photographer Mathias Depardon . . . has [also] been held in isolation and without charge in southeast Turkey since May 8,” as related by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). The BBC reports a few days ago that “French photographer . . . has [now] been freed and will be deported, a rights group says.” The personal intervention of France’s newly elected President Macron moved the Prez to let the Frenchman go. The remaining imprisoned journalists, however, have no such luck and are still subject to the will and the arbitrary whim of Turkey’s President. These individuals merely doing their jobs are a living illustration of the extent to which the Prez is actually afraid of people telling the truth, the truth about the New Turkey, a country where freedom of expression has become a thing of the past, confined to the proverbial dustbin of history, where the old Turkey can also be found.

The Prez & Trump: On a Collision Course

At the moment, Tayyip Erdoğan seems to have reached a point of no return.

The Turkish President appears quite content to show the world his true colours, as was graphically illustrated during his recent trip to the U.S. capital. Following his scheduled meetings with Donald J. Trump, the 45th U.S. President, as told by the Foreign Policy staff writer Robbie Gramer, “outside an event on May 16, and without warning, Erdogan’s security forces and supporters descended on anti-Erdogan protesters and violently beat them. Washington police eventually intervened, but not before nearly a dozen protesters were injured, some suffering concussions and lost teeth. The attack, caught on film, sparked widespread outrage and a diplomatic rift between the two countries.” In other words, being abroad, the Prez decided to set an example, having his “goons“ physically assault and injure opponents, opponents that might have been comprised largely of Kurds and/or Kurdish supporters. On subsequently released video footage, one can actually see how Erdoğan disembarked from his car to supposedly direct his bodyguards. In doing so, the Prez showed himself to be the epitome of a Middle Eastern potentate eager to micro-manage even the most minute of affairs, possibly including torture or, as in this case, the public beating of opponents – as if Tayyip Erdoğan had employed this public display of gratuitous violence to make a point, as if he wanted to show the U.S. President what kind of a man he is really dealing with, that he is not just any head of state hailing from the Middle East, but rather the one-and-only Prez ruling over his personal Sultanate of Kitsch, also known as the New Turkey.

Watch the following video as Erdogan’s security detail beat-up American protesters: 

At first sight, Turkey’s President and the current U.S. President might seem like polar opposites. But they also appear complementary, if not near-identical even, in many instances. Both men employ raw populism and blatant authoritarianism to good effect, thereby easily dividing the public-at-large into either blind followers or virulent opponents while simultaneously appearing to undermine the very principles of democracy and the rule of law. Still, in the short term, the Trump effect on the Middle East was such that Turkey and the U.S. would find themselves on opposite sides. For, a short while after the Turkish visit to D.C., President Trump himself embarked on his own (very first) trip abroad, and this trip was to the Middle East to boot. Trump started his first sojourn abroad in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia – and though, nobody knew it at the time, this visit was apparently to lead to quite a stir in the Arab world before long, a stir that would also shake Turkey to the core.

In order to provide a proper understanding of the really rather unbelievable turnaround that has now taken place, it seems pertinent to take a few steps back. In the recent past, Candidate Trump had been most undiplomatic about Islam and Muslims during his election campaign, and as a result Saudi Arabia as the first destination of Trump abroad came as a shock to many. In fact, during the campaign trail, Trump unleashed many verbal threats and insults endearing him to certain sections of the electorate while causing bouts of horror and consternation amongst other parts of the U.S. population and global audiences witnessing the spectacle from afar on television, computer, and/or telephone screens. In Turkey, though, the Prez remained silent, hinting at his calculations that a successful Trump could and would be useful for the New Turkey. Trump’s most outrageous words dealt with Mexicans and Muslims, threatening to build a wall to keep out the first and the institution of a comprehensive travel ban to block the latter. Since moving into the White House, Trump has not succeeded in either building a wall or banning Muslims from entering the U.S. But his hatred (or perhaps, his incomprehension) of Islam predates his political life; as does his vocal dislike of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (or KSA or Wahhabi Kingdom). In a tweet, possibly not coincidentally dated 11 September 2014, Trump beseeched the world to “[t]ell Saudi Arabia and others that we want (demand!) free oil for the next ten years or we will not protect their private Boeing 747s. Pay up!”

Bedfellows: Donald Trump and King Salman

Trump’s visit to the Wahhabi Kingdom was to have a most negative effect on the New Turkey – as the U.S. President himself would say or tweet, “Not Good.“ But his visit was nevertheless quite successful from an American point of view, particularly in business terms. Trump’s real achievements in the Wahhabi Kingdom was expressed by himself while addressing his Arab audience in the Saudi capital:

“We signed historic agreements with the Kingdom [of Saudi Arabia] that will invest almost $400 billion in our two countries and create many thousands of jobs in America and Saudi Arabia . . . This landmark agreement includes the announcement of a $110 billion Saudi-funded defense purchase.” (Friday, 19 May 2017)

But quite aside from these purely monetary gains, Trump’s speech also possessed another target: namely, “the government that gives terrorists . . . safe harbor, financial backing, and the social standing needed for recruitment. It is a regime that is responsible for so much instability in the region. I am speaking of course of Iran.” And, in this way, the U.S. has suddenly dived even deeper into a rivalry that I have earlier termed the ‘Intra-Islamic Cold War,’ between Sunni and Shi’a power blocs, as an ideological sub-set of the New Cold War between the West and the unholy Alliance of Russia and China (supportive of Iran). Yet, Trump’s words seems have had a somewhat unexpected effect, an effect most upsetting to Turkey and its Prez.

In the aftermath of these words, the Wahhabi Kingdom felt the need to act somewhat but not too swiftly, as explained by Zeeshan Aleem, the foreign affairs staff writer at the news website Vox: “On Monday [, 5 June 2017], Saudi Arabia and three of its biggest allies — Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain — all announced that they were severing diplomatic ties with Qatar, as well as suspending air, land, and sea travel to and from the country. The move came after Riyadh accused Qatar of backing radical Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and ISIS. Since then, Libya, Yemen, and the Maldives have also joined the diplomatic boycott.” Aleem explains in the next instance that “tensions between Qatar and its neighbors skyrocketed last month after Qatar’s state-run news agency published an article in which the Qatar’s ruling emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, was quoted praising Israel and Iran . . . Qatar swiftly disavowed the article as fake news manufactured by hackers, but Saudi and its friends were unconvinced. Then Sheikh Tamim made things even worse when a few days later he called Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to congratulate him on his reelection — a clear act of defiance against” the Wahhabi Kingdom. In this way, King Salman’s men succeeded in deflecting any Trumpian or other attention or scrutiny away from any dastardly deeds done by Saudi Arabia in terms of supporting Islamist militants or terrorism, and instead forced the world to focus its attention on tiny Qatar, home to the the “biggest concentration” of U.S. military personnel in the Middle East at the Al Udeid Air Base  20 miles southwest of the Qatari capital of Doha.

Qatar and Turkey: A Hitherto Unknown Old Friendship

This Arab political earthquake has also upset the Prez personally, as the New Turkey also has a military base in Qatar since early 2016 – “Turkey’s first overseas military installation in the Middle East,” harbouring air and naval units, military trainers and special operations forces, as explained by Turkey’s erstwhile ambassador to Qatar Ahmet Demirok (October 2013–February 2017). The Prez’s FM Mehmet Çavuşoğlu promptly told a press conference that “we see the stability in the Gulf region as our own unity and solidarity,” going on to state that, “Countries may of course have some issues, but dialogue must continue . . .  for problems to be resolved peacefully. We are saddened by the current picture and will give any support for its normalization.” As such, the Prez and Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad share many common interests, not least their support for the Muslim Brotherhood, or their support for the Palestinian organisation Hamas and for a number of Islamist terror factions trying hard to overthrow Syria’s Bashar al-Assad in Syria. And as a country without any serious hydrocarbon reserves of its own, Turkey all but expects good deals from oil-and gas-rich Qatar. As pointed out by the independent journalist Amberin Zaman, “pro-government accounts on Twitter” are supportive of the Qatari Emir, using the “hashtag #TurkeyWithQatar [currently] trending in Turkey. Echoing the prevailing mood, an account called @fireoftheturk tweeted a picture of [Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad] shaking hands with Erdogan captioned, “We are with you Qatar, don’t worry” and “Allah too [has] a plan.” The Turkish penchant for conspiracy theories as well as the common over-inflation of Turkey’s role in the region and beyond has led many Turks, including Tayyip Erdoğan himself, to conclude that the real object aimed at by Trump and the Wahhabi Kingdom is Turkey, rather than Qatar or Iran. Still, this sudden apparently Trump-induced earthquake might just give the Prez the opportunity to show his prowess as a wheeler-and-dealer on the diplomatic scene. And that is just what he has been trying to do, Tayyip Erdoğan has namely been on the phone with the Qatari Emir himself, but also with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, the Kuwaiti Emir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, and last but not least with King Salman.

As the days progressed and the crisis deepened, the Turkish media, or to use a more apt description, the AKP propaganda machinery, has been pushing stories about the longstanding ties between Turkey and Qatar, harking back to the 19th century when “Qatar“ was supposedly the only Arab “nation“ remaining “loyal“ to the Ottomans. Politicians and talking heads alike have even started referring to the tiny Gulf state as a “brother nation,” a sobriquet traditionally reserved solely for Pakistan. Speaking during a so-called iftar (time for breaking the fast during the month of Ramadan, 26 May-24 June 2017) meeting in Istanbul (Friday, 9 June 2017), the Prez himself told the gathering the following: “I have not witnessed Qatar supporting terror. In Qatar, numerous foundations set up to [provide] various services have been called terrorist, this in impossible. We will not leave our Qatari brothers alone.” In fact, a few days earlier (7 June 2017), the Qatari news broadcaster Al Jazeera reported that “Turkey’s parliament has approved a legislation allowing its troops to be deployed to a Turkish military base in Qatar. The bill, first drafted in May, passed with 240 votes in favour, largely with support from the ruling AK party and nationalist opposition MHP [or Nationalist Movement Party, Turkey’s extreme rightwing outfit also harbouring Islamist feelings].”  In this way, Tayyip Erdoğan has craftily used Trumpian intrigue and Saudi complicity to finally paint himself as a true Middle Eastern and/or Islamic potentate, basing himself on vague notions of Islamic solidarity and even historical debt to unilaterally dispatch troops in aid of a besieged “friend or ally.” At the same time, though, ensuring to adhere to seemingly democratic principles, relying on his AKP-led Parliament to provide authorisation for a military move that was undoubtedly his very own brainchild.

Will this diplomatic crisis have the end-effect of establishing the New Turkey as a regional (if not global) player to be reckoned with or will the Prez and his best efforts be frustrated, forcing the AKP-led nation to play catch-up with the real wheelers-and-dealers in the region, namely Russia and Iran?!??  Only following the end of the political earthquake’s aftershocks will the world be able to tell . . . nevertheless, Tayyip Erdoğan has now finally been able to strip off any pretense and show his nation as well as the world that he really is just another dictator in a Middle Eastern setting.

And last Friday, 9 June 2017, the Prez took part in a veritable public display of his own dictatorial pretensions. That day, corresponding to the 15th day of Ramadan, he went to the erstwhile Imperial Palace (now, the Topkapı Palace Museum) to partake in an Ottoman ceremony of old, known as Destimâl.  Traditionally, Ottoman Sultans would visit the section in the palace containing the Holy Relics (brought there by Sultan Selim in the aftermath of his conquest of Egypt in 1516-7 and the subsequent Ottoman seizure of the Caliphate), including the so-called Hırka-ı Saadet (a jacket supposedly once worn by the Prophet himself), and touch the hem of the garment with a handkerchief. This year, in 2017, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan performed this pious act, thereby openly and publicly declaring his claim to be the true successor of the Ottomans Sultans of old, wielding absolute power and holding the Caliphate or leadership over the whole of the Muslim world . . . The Prez is now showing the world that he really is a dictator, a dictator not shying away from covertly staking claims to the Caliphate as the culmination of his pseudo-Ottoman dreams to rule the world of Islam and be counted as a global player representing Muslims worldwide.

The apparently Trump-induced Qatar crisis now seems to have given Erdoğan the opportunity to act out his wildest and boldest dreams… openly defying Saudi Arabia, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, in Mecca and Medina respectively, and thereby the pre-eminent state in the Muslim world. Previously, AKP-led Turkey was a staunch friend and ally of the Saudis but now, the Qatar crisis has changed all that, leading the world to see that the New Turkey is a truly Middle Eastern state led by a veritable dictator: Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, aka the Prez harbouring pseudo-Ottoman dreams and lusting after the Caliphate.

21WIRE special contributor Dr. Can Erimtan is an independent historian and geo-political analyst who used to live in Istanbul. At present, he is in self-imposed exile from Turkey. He has a wide interest in the politics, history and culture of the Balkans. the greater Middle East, and the world beyond.. He attended the VUB in Brussels and did his graduate work at the universities of Essex and Oxford. In Oxford, Erimtan was a member of Lady Margaret Hall and he obtained his doctorate in Modern History in 2002. His publications include the revisionist monograph “Ottomans Looking West?” as well as numerous scholarly articles. In Istanbul, Erimtan started publishing in the English language Turkish press, culminating in him becoming the Turkey Editor of the İstanbul Gazette. Subsequently, he commenced writing for RT Op-Edge, NEO, and finally, the 21st Century Wire. You can find him on Twitter at @TheErimtanAngle. Read Can’s archive here.

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