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Erdoğan, Atatürk and Abdülhamid: Turkey’s Past, Present and Future

Dr. Can Erimtan

21st Century Wire

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (whom I like to call ‘the Prez’) is quite fond of his Ottoman forebears and their accomplishments.

And though, upon abolishing the Caliphate in 1924, the Kemalist regime exiled the members of the dynasty, recently quite a few Ottomans (bearing the surname Osmanoğlu) are back on Turkish soil: in ‘1952, female members of the dynasty were granted amnesty and the men were allowed to return to Turkey in 1974.’ These men and women trace their origins to the fertile loins of Sultan Abdülhamid II (1876-1909), the one Ottoman whom the Prez truly admires and attempts to emulate. And, as if to underline this preoccupation, the Turkish state broadcaster TRT has been airing an historical soap titled Payıtaht: Abdülhamid (meaning The Capital, as in İstanbul, and originally released between 24 February 2017–4 June 2021) supposedly dealing with the reign and rule of Abdülhamid II, but in reality easily transposing 21st century concerns and issues to the 19th century.

Piety, Pride and Ottomanitas: Twitter as a Sound Source

In this century, the Republic of Turkey has been led by the Justice and Development Party (or AKP, in abbreviated Turkish). Established in 2001, the AKP swept to power the following year and has been dismantling the previous nominally secular system ever since. And now, on the verge of the Republic’s centenary next year (1923-2023), some voices predict the electoral end of the Prez and his AKP cohorts – arguably a somewhat premature if not outright misleading verdict. In this vein, Tayyip Erdoğan continues doing what he does best: travelling the country while addressing huge crowds of devoted voters and sympathizers. The other day, he attended an event organized by his party’s youth wing (AK Parti Gençlik Kolları) in the southern city of Adana. This “Youth Celebration” (or ‘Bir Gençlik Şöleni’), held in the Yeni Adana Stadı football stadium, included performances of various popular artists such as Erdem Kınay, Uğur Işılak, Tuğçe Kandemir and Oğuzhan Koç. The Prez was not shy about addressing the full-capacity crowd in the stadium, and, as always, he got straight down to brass tacks, attacking the opposition İYİ Parti’s leader. Meral Akşener had namely compared his one-man rule to the ‘legendary’ despotism of the Ottoman Sultan Abdülhamid II:m “Youngsters, one needs to ask this lady attacking, [even] sticking [her] tongue out at Sultan Abdülhamid, [who] ruled the Ottoman [state], characterised [at the time] as a ‘Sick giant,’ for 33 years without losing [even] an inch of territory, [one needs to ask this lady whether] insult[ing] Sultan Abdülhamid does not cross the line, and those crossing the line, I believe, will be taught a lesson by the people in the elections of 2023. Who is Mrs Akşener to [show] disrespect to Sultan Abdülhamid . . . one has to teach those who insult Sultan Abdülhamid who resides in Heaven a lesson. It is easy to say 33 years. This nation will teach those who insult their forebears a lesson.” These words have since reverberated throughout the Turkish media, with everybody having his or her say on the topic.

The media-savvy and popular historian Prof. Dr. İlber Ortaylı, whose presence graces many a Turkish television programme, came out and unequivocally stated that “[t]here is no claim that territories have not been lost.” In his own popular history book Yakın tarihin gerçekleri (‘Realities of Recent History’), Ortaylı puts it like this: “It has been said that [Sultan Abdülhamid II] did not enter [any] wars, but we lost a lot of territories during his reign.” In contrast, as long ago as 22 September 2016, the prominent AKP member Burhan Kuzu tweeted that ‘Abdülhamid II was a statesman on the global stage, [who] ruled this land for 33 years in a most confused era without losing [even] an inch of territory.’ Tayyip Erdoğan has clearly used Kuzu’s tweet as his source, even literally employing the same words and expressions (“bir karış toprak kaybetmeden yönetti”). Admittedly, Dr Kuzu is not a historian, but an expert on constitutional law. Yet, he seems quite at ease tweeting historical falsities (or Fake News, if you will) into the ether, particularly concerning Sultan Abdülhamid II. This particular Ottoman is a favourite among Turkish Islamists, as I explained in 2017: ‘In 1883, the French journalist Gabriel Charmes (1850-86) coined the term “panislamisme“ to describe . . . Sultan Abdülhamid II’s . . . policy of consolidating his hold over the remaining Arab provinces of the Empire, in view of the increasing loss of European territories in the Balkans. Charmes’ programmatic book on ‘Turkey’s future’ – L’avenir de la Turquie: le Panislamisme, suggested creating a united Islamic front against the common enemy – the Great Powers (or Düvel-i Muazzama, in Ottoman), that is to say Great Britain, France, Austria-Hungary, Italy, Germany and particularly, the Russian Empire. As a result, the Sultan was thus “singularly reluctant to use the army against Muslims,” as opined by the renowned French specialist François Georgeon and translated by Dr Selim Deringil. I would like to argue that it was these ‘Islamist credentials’ that led the poet and writer Necip Fazıl Kısakürek (1904-83) to commence the intellectual rehabilitation of Sultan Abdülhamid in 1965 – writing the panegyric book Ulu Hakan Abdulhamit Han on the Sultan and his reign. As a “Born-Again-Muslim,“ Necip Fazıl’s poetic oeuvre has been long-favoured by Turkey’s Islamists, opposed to the permissive and modernist innovations introduced by Mustafa Kemal [Atatürk] (1881-1938) and the subsequent liberal atmosphere that has led many to speak of “Turkish Secularism.” The independent journalist Ayfer Erkul characterises Kısakürek as an “Islamofascist poet and ideologue,” who dreamt of a “totalitarian country completely determined by Islam,” of a country inhabited solely by “Muslim Turks.” And recently, Dr. Umut Uzer suggested that “the AKP leadership is trying to create a new identity and historical thesis for Turkey based on Kısakürek’s ideas,” ideas that appear crystalised in the figure of the perfect Ottoman that was Abdülhamid II, the sultan who ruled the Ottoman dominions for 33 years without losing an inch of territory.

On the other hand, the renowned Ottomanist and Abdülhamid specialist Dr Selim Deringil – he did write the book on the man, but don’t be misled by the title, The Well-protected Domains Ideology and the Legitimation of Power in the Ottoman Empire 1876-1909 (1998) – describes those 33 years as the “most critical period in [Turkey’s] recent history.”

Sultan Abdülhamid as a Trope: Ottoman Realities and Turkish Dreams

But what did Meral Akşener really say and was Abdülhamid really such a perfect Ottoman? In the latter part of the month of May, Akşener appeared on the opposition television channel Halk TV where she compared today’s Turkey with the situation a hundred years ago. Akşener spoke about a “revolt” against a “dictatorial system, against a system that was moving towards autocracy.” Adding that the essence of that system was “Abdülhamid, if that is what our friends are saying, then the essence of today [‘s system] is [none other than] Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.” Akşener was commenting upon the so-called Young Turk revolution of 1908, a military take-over that led to the reinstatement of the short-lived Ottoman Constitution (or Kānûn-ı Esâsî, 1876-8). But rather than talk about the finer points of historical parallels and/or justified and/or misguided comparisons, the Prez took her words as a personal insult, as I explained in 2016, for him the political is personal.

In order to get a grip on the Hamidian reality (1876-1908) and the man behind the myth, I would now like to turn to the well-esteemed Professor Stanford J. Shaw (1930-2006). Professor Shaw is one of the last historians to have attempted to write a full Ottoman history, from its early beginnings till the very end and its aftermath: History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey, in 2 volumes published in 1976-77. As an outspoken Turcophile, Shaw’s tomes paint a sympathetic yet meticulous picture of the topic, from the Empire of the Gazis (vol. 1) to Reform, Revolution, and Republic (vol. 2). Dr Shaw begins his argument on the much-maligned sultan as follows: “[i]t is a mistake to assume that Abdülhamit came to the throne with the intention of establishing his autocracy . . . [i]n fact, he initially reversed [Sultan] Abdülaziz’s personal rule by accepting the Constitution.” But, “which he later abolished when he found the opportunity in 1878,” as interjected by Dr. Nurullah Ardıç. Dr Shaw concedes by saying that Abdülhamid’s “turn toward autocracy was determined by the events and conditions he witnessed following his accession.” This Ottoman may have been a moderniser, but circumstances forced him to abandon the path towards democracy that was opened by the Ottoman Parliament and Constitution. Shaw even provides a quotation to underline this verdict. Sultan Abdülhamid II made the following written confession, as quoted in Shaw’s book:

I made a mistake when I wished to imitate my father, Abdülmecid, who sought to reform by persuasion and by liberal institutions. I shall follow in the footsteps of my grandfather, Sultan Mahmud. Like him I now understand that it is only by force that one can move the people with whose protection God has entrusted me.

But in the present context, it seems pertinent to examine the popular claim that he ruled the Ottoman dominions for 33 years without losing ‘an inch of territory.’ Looking at a map of the 19th century Ottoman Empire clearly shows that AKP members are basically drinking their own Kool Aid. Kuzu, Erdoğan, and numerous other hapless Turks are clearly firm believers in their own
rosy-coloured narrative – an Ottoman story that is their very own Ottoman counter-narrative to the seemingly secular Republican ideology and its concomitant historical myths.

On the opposite end of the ideological spectrum, the anti-racist and feminist world history teacher Bram Hubbell puts it like this on his website Liberating Narratives – World History of the Oppressed:

At some point during the middle of the nineteenth century, European diplomats, believing that the Ottoman Empire was near its end, began calling the Ottoman Empire the “Sick Man of Europe” . . . We can easily see that the Ottomans lost control of more than half their territory. On the eve of the First World War I, the Ottoman Empire had contracted to the area around Istanbul, Anatolia, the Levant, and Mesopotamia.

Looking at the map, Ottoman territorial losses in Sultan Abdülhamid II’s reign can be listed as follows: in the aftermath of the Treaty of Berlin (13 July 1878), “the Ottomans had to leave Kars, Ardahan, and Batum to Russia,” ceding integral parts of the Ottoman homeland to its northern rival; in addition the following extra-Anatolian territories were also lost: Bosnia-Hercegovina (1878), Serbia (1878), Bulgaria (1878), Cyprus (1878), Tunisia (1881), Egypt (1882), and Crete (1898). Shaw remarks dryly that “the Treaty of Berlin ended the Ottoman Empire as a significant European power.” In other words, Sultan Abdülhamid II’s time of 33 years on the Ottoman throne was hardly a period in Ottoman history that saw no territorial losses. Quite to the contrary, I would like to add. The myth of Hamidian invincibility is clearly a product of the blind faith put in the writings of Necip Fazıl Kısakürek and partiularly his hagiographic image of the Ulu Hakan Abdulhamit Han, the awesome Ottoman sultan (the “Grand Ruler”) who gave Islam its due while supposedly keeping foreign powers at bay. The late Stanford Shaw expresses these sentiments in the following way:”[t]hrough his autocracy Abdülhamit managed to restore and defend his shattered empire, revitalize its society, and bring to a successful conclusion most of the [Ottoman] reforms.”

And in this context, I would like to point out that “Ottoman Modernization [or reform] was a defensive and progressive program carried out by the ‘authority’ in order to preserve the continuity and territorial integrity of the empire in the face of Western imperialism,” as worded by the doctoral student Tunay Şendal. Still, as expressed by Deringil, Abdülhamid II “is clearly the last sultan who ruled and reigned,” in contrast to his two successors (Mehmed V and Vahdettin), who “were nothing more than figureheads who had only symbolic power.” As a result, the “Grand Ruler” Abdülhamid II does stand out as the true last Ottoman Sultan in the minds and memories of many Turks and most (if not all) Turkish Islamists. And with a bit of poetic licence, this final “Grand Ruler” became an Ottoman sultan successfully holding on to his lands and territories, though the reality on the ground was quite different. In fact, for people like Tayyip Erdoğan and his folowers (or believers), “Abdülhamid II” has become the “Founding Father of the Turkish State,” quoting the title of Dr Edhem Eldem’s 2018 paper in the Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association. In a nutshell, this Hamidian story represents the Turkish dream pursued by the Prez and his AKP henchmen: not Atatürk, but Abdülhamid II as the man (or Muslim Turk) who was convincingly defeated by Turkey’s enemies, but was thereby able to lay the foundations of the Republic of Turkey on the Anatolian pensinsula (the Ottoman heartland) – the territories Abdülhamid did safeguard and that Mustafa Kemal solidified in 1919’s ‘National Pact’ (or Misak-ı Millî) and that subsequently became the ‘geo-body’ of today’s Turkey, to use Thongchai Winichakul’s 1997 coinage.

What is Jihad? 

Nowadays the term jihad is much bandied about and used and/or abused at will by Muslims as well as non-Muslims the world over. What most people do not seem to realize is that there is the distinction between the greater jihad (al-jihād al-akbar) and the lesser jihad (al-jihād al-asghar). The ihād al-akbar denotes a personal struggle in the way of Allah, that should be practised by each and every Muslim (crf. Surah 29:69). The jihād al-asghar, on the other hand, refers to an armed struggle to protect believers against oppression and violence perpetrated by unbelievers.

Islamic Réveil: From a Turkish Poet to Anatolian Tigers

Turkey’s AKP government has over the years also transformed the poet Kısakürek into a quasi-mythical figure. The other day, the Prez himself called Kısakürek’s Ulu Hakan a “manifesto of struggle,” using the Turkish term ‘dava,’ as if his poems were to encapsulate the Turkish nation’s struggle for Islam, and the Turks’ commitment to the Prophet’s cause. Nowadays, audiences in
the West have become quite familiar with the term Jihad and as such, the Turkish term ‘dava’ basically corresponds to the Arabic Jihad, when used in a broadly religious or rather Islamic context. In 2014, Turkey’s government even started hosting annual ‘Necip Fazıl ödülleri’ award ceremonies – won by such Muslım luminaries as the poet Mustafa Aydoğan, the novelist Mukadder Gemici, or the theologian Dr Mustafa Uludağ, intellectuals whose works have honoured the glory of Islam inside the New Turkey and in this way served the nation’s dava or Jihad.

In the above-quoted speech, Tayyip Erdoğan added that “Necip Fazıl believed that in order to understand today’s Turkey it is necessary to first understand Abdülhamid II.” In this context, the notions of Islam as a political force seems to necessarily rear its ugly head. This is another link between the Prez and his favourite Ottoman. In connection with Abdülhamid II, the concept of ‘Pan-Islamism’ pops up in connection with his domestic and international policies. In the aftermath of the Treaty of Berlin, the prolific French journalist Charmes suggested in L’avenir de la Turquie: le Panislamisme that the Ottomans would (or could) create a united Islamic front against the common threat – the Great Powers or (or Düvel-i Muazzama Great Britain, France, Austria-Hungary, Italy and Germany and particularly, the Russian Empire. Writing in his seminal Üç Tarz-i Siyaset (or ‘Three Types of Policy,’ 1904), the Ottoman writer and historian Yusuf Akçura (1876-1935) explains the ideological permutations that swept through the late-Ottoman Empire, from multi-confessional Ottomanism to strict Islamism:

When the policy of creating an Ottoman nation failed, the policy of Islamism appeared. This idea which the Europeans term Pan-Islamism . . . Sultan Abdulhamid the Second strove to follow this policy . . . [and he] tried to substitute the religious title of Caliph for the terms Sultan and Padişah. In his general policies, religion, i.e. the religion of Islam, held an important place. In the curricula of the secular schools the time allotted to religious instruction was increased; the basis of education was religious. Religiosity and pietism–even if it were external and hypocritical– became the most important means for attracting the protection of the Caliphal favor.

As Muslim Tatars living in the Russian Empire, upon the death of her husband, Akçura’s mother emigrated to İstanbul, turning her son into an Ottoman citizen (in line with the official ideology of Ottomanism). As a graduate of the Harbiye Mektebi (War College), Yusuf Akçura became active in opposition movements to Sultan Abdülhamid’s autocratic rule and was sentenced into exile, only able to return following the so-called “Young Turk” or Constitutional Revolution (İlan-ı Hürriyet or ‘Proclamation of Freedom,’ forcing the sultan to reinstate the abrogated constitution, 24 July 1908). Known in the Turkish Republic as a Pan-Turkist or Turkist, Yusuf Akçura’s above-quoted words could in some ways very well be used to describe the AKP policy of Sunnification (a phrase I coined in 2013). At the same time, Akçura’s assessment of the figure of Sultan Abdülhamid II would also seem quite applicable to the figure of the Prez. For instance, on 12 June 2011, the then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan gave one of his well-known balcony speeches on the night of his national election victory, and there and then he said that “Sarajevo won today as much as Istanbul, Beirut won as much as Izmir, Damascus won as much as Ankara, Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin, the West Bank and Jerusalem won as much as Diyarbakir.” By means of enumerating these Muslim cities beyond Turkey’s borders, Erdoğan as much hinted at one-time Ottoman greatness, as at an intangible yet strong sense of Muslim solidarity binding pious (or AKP-voting) Turks to masses of non-Turkish believers in other political constellations and nation states. But, his first and foremost concern are of course Turkish believers – Anatolian Muslims.

In order to get to grips with the social dynamics underlying the AKP’s political success, I would like to point towards the social transformations that took place under PM and then President Turgut Özal (1983/89-1993) – transformations that constituted the popular roots of Tayyip Erdoğan’s subsequent meteoric rise. Earlier, I declared that Özal’s “premiership in the aftermath of the 12 September Coup ushered in the official albeit somewhat surreptitious return of Islam to Turkey’s public life.” On an economic level, as a self-confessed Thatcherite, Özal was a champion of privatization but also opened the way for the ascent of the so-called ‘Anatolian Tigers’ as a result of his economic policies, that “contributed most to the emergence of Anatolian capital,” as expressed by Ömer Demir, Mustafa Acar and Metin Toprak. These authors further note that “a boom has been observed in production and capital accumulation of companies with many shareholders in Konya, Yozgat, Denizli, Çorum, Aksaray and Gaziantep provinces of Anatolia among others after the 1980s” – hence, the handy moniker of Anatolian Tigers. And these businessmen were for the most part pious Muslims as well as shrewd wheelers and dealers. Demir, Acar, and Toprak assert that these Anatolian “business circles . . .disapprove interest and interest-based financial institutions.” These Muslim business leaders even set up their own lobby and interest group called MÜSİAD (Association of Independent Industrialists and Businessmen) in 1990. This association was formed in opposition to the Association of Independent Industrialists and Businessmen or TÜSİAD (established 1971). It might seem trivial, but the TÜ morphing into MÜ all but symbolizes that the ideology of Turkish nationalism has now been replaced by the religion of Islam in Turkey’s business world – from Turkish (or Türk) entrepreneurs to Muslim (or Müslüman) businessmen.

Mind over Matter: Islam vs Inflation

As long ago as 2013, I spoke about the AKP establishment’s long-term goal, “as arguably expressed in the AKP’s policy statement Hedef 2023, [which] is to transform the nation state Turkey into an Anatolian federation of Muslim ethnicities.” For the nominal nation state Turkey hosts a wide variety of ethnic groups within its border: in addition to a large majority of Turkish Muslims, there are also Kurds, Arabs, Lazes, Muslim Georgians, Albanians, Macedonian Muslims, Pomaks, Serbian Muslims, Bosnian Muslims, Tatars, Circassians, Abkhazians and Dagestanis among others. This idealised Islamic state on Anatolian soil could then possibly even be linked to a revived caliphate and the imposition of Sharia Law. For in the Republic of Turkey (established in 1923), the nation’s founding father Mustafa Kemal and the Ankara government abolished Sharia law in 1926, only to then replace the Islamic legal codex regulating human actions and social relations with the so-called Kanun-ı Medini, itself a copy of the Swiss Civil Code:

Islam is one of the religions which puts much importance on political and social affairs. One of its tenets may be formulated by the saying that “religion and nation are the same.” Islam abolishes ethnic and national loyalties of those who embrace it. It also tends to do away with their language, their past and their traditions. Islam is a powerful melting pot in which peoples of various ethnicities and beliefs, produces Muslims who believe they are a body with the same equal rights.

These words would seem quite applicable to the current state-of-affairs in Republican Turkey, but were originally written at the outset of the previous century by none other than the Tatar-turned-Turk Yusuf Akçura. The Ottoman precept of Din ü Devlet (or ‘State and Religion’) seems to have returned to the supposedly staunchly secular Turkish nation state, with the Prez having turned the once-humble Directorate for Religious Affairs (or Diyanet) “into a massive organization with a huge budget,” a budget that exceeds those of many ministries. This year, for instance, the Diyanet’s “budget . . . increase[d] by 3.2 billion liras to 16.1 billion liras . . . making it better funded than seven ministries.” Over the years, successive AKP governments have dismantled the Kemalist principles of the Turkish state, with nowadays allowing (or forcing) each and every male government employee (or memur) to attend the Friday Prayers. The school curricula have turned state institutions into educational establishments that have quite some “time allotted to religious instruction,” including the teaching of Arabic under the guise of instructing Ottoman (or Osmanlıca). As a corollary, the huge number of Arabic-speaking refugees from Syria in the country has also given the authorities a good excuse to erect Arabic-language street signs all over the place. These refugees are also served in the state-owned national Family Health Clinics (or Aile Sağlık Merkezi or ASM), which have subsequently been swamped with Arabic language brochures and signs. This preoccupation of Turkish Islamists has a long-standing tradition in Turkey. In 1912, for example, the historian Ahmed Refik [Altınay] (1881-1937) noted that the “honourable ulema [are] supporters of the Arabic language to an even greater degree than the Arabs [themselves].” While Ahmed Refik was criticising members of the Ottoman class of religious scholars (the “ulema”), a social grouping that no longer exists in Republican Turkey as a result of the “proclamation of the Tevhid-i Tedrisat Kanunu (Law on the Unification of Education), effectively abolishing the institution of the medrese [Islamic college], on 3 March 1924.” Nowadays, Turkish Islamists easily outdo the erstwhile ulema in their zeal for the Arabic language and the Arabic script.

Alas, these lofty concerns of the country’s AKP leadership have now encountered an insidious enemy in the form of a failing economy and rampant inflation: “the Global Source Partners‘ country analyst for Turkey, Atilla Yeşilada quite openly speaks about the blatant economic mismanagement of the country by the AKP government and he does not shy away from laying the blame directly at the feet of none other than the Prez himself.” The economic researcher and one of the founders of the Association of Kurdish Economists in Syria, Khursheed Alika, on the other hand, also believes that “the Turkish currency will continue to decline unless the interest rate is raised in line with inflation rates and the markets calm down, and unless the volume of control over markets and prices is increased. Therefore, the central bank’s failure to raise the interest rate and the policy followed by Turkey to launch a military operation against the Kurds in north and northeastern Syria put pressure on the Turkish lira, and the rise in energy, goods and services prices as a result of the Russian-Ukrainian war casts a shadow over the continuous decline of the Turkish lira in light of the useless policy of palliatives pursued by the Turkish government.” For the Prez is a true Muslim who does not believe in usury and abhors the principle of interest, which is arguably why he is so keen to pursue his own personal whims when it comes to monetary policy.

Instead, Tayyip Erdoğan and his AKP government persist in putting mind over matter, while actively prospecting for oil, gas and even rare earth minerals underneath Turkey’s soil or hidden beneath Mediterranean waters: “Turkey may deploy its new drill ship Abdulhamid Han in the Mediterranean Sea, a move that could reignite political and military tensions with Greece and Cyprus over hydrocarbon exploration rights.” These frankly rather desperate attempts to discover valuable energy resources (and sources of income) are nothing but hare-brained schemes meant to secure a quick fix (or divinely inspired miracle, if you will) for the the woes and troubles of the Turkish people . . . who are getting ready to cast their ballots in next year’s general elections.

And, make no mistake, Tayyip Erdoğan and the AKP establishment feel that they have to win these elections in order to achieve their very own Hedef 2023, as they named their manifesto containing their practical goals and targets – practical goals and targets that are but prerequisites for achieving the unspoken aim of the transformation of the Turkish nation into a state once again beholden to the religion of Islam and regulated by Sharia law on the centenary of the foundation of the Republic of Turkey.

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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