Home Opinion Op-Ed Tayyib Erdogan: A New Turkish Sultan and A Caliph in Making

Tayyib Erdogan: A New Turkish Sultan and A Caliph in Making

Recep Tayyib Erdogan, a great leader for Muslims of the world but a thorn in West's eye which sees him as a dictator and morally corrupt unfit to rule. Muslims world sees him as a new caliph who will help rebuild Muslim image

Tayyib Erdogan

Recep Tayyib Erdogan is, for sure, one of the few great leaders that the Muslim world has ever produced. Turkish people in particular and the Muslim populace of the world, in general, are infatuated with him. He has been seen rising to the occasion whenever any Muslim country comes under attack by adverse forces and he is the first to condemn brutality, oppression and tyranny, perpetrated against the Muslims all around the world.

For the Turkish nation, he may be a messiah and a beacon of hope but for his detractors at home and abroad, he is nothing but the worst dictator and an autocrat—hitting hard against his dissidents, muzzling the press and curbing human rights. However, his popularity on global political canvass is gaining currency day in day out. His opponents foresee that he is likely to assume more and more dictatorial powers in the days to come and would eventually emerge as a new Turkish Sultan.

Erdogan’s dream state is not Ataturk’s Turkey; the land of his dreams is the Ottoman Empire and its golden age. That’s why some of his supporters nick named him as “SULTAN”- harking back to the Ottoman Empire

His meteoric rise to power depicts an interesting and incredible account. Born in February 1954, Recep Tayyip Erdogan grew up the son of a coastguard, on Turkey’s Black Sea coast. When he was 13, his father decided to move to Istanbul, hoping to give his five children a better upbringing. As a teenager, the young Erdogan sold lemonade and sesame buns to earn extra cash. He attended an Islamic school before obtaining a degree in management from Istanbul’s Marmara University – and playing professional football.

While at university, Erdogan met Necebettin Erbakan, who would become the country’s first Islamist prime minister and a mentor to the young would-be politician. Following the military coup of 1980, Erdogan joined Erbakan’s Welfare Party; rising through its ranks until his election to parliament in 1991 (he was prevented from taking his seat on a technicality). A more resounding success came in 1994 when he was elected Istanbul’s mayor, sparking fears among the city’s elites that he would try to impose restrictions on alcohol and ‘non-Islamic’ ways of life. Although he proved to be a capable and pragmatic manager of the city, his time as an elected official was short-lived. In 1997, he was stripped of his position and sentenced to ten months in prison for reading an Islamic poem in a public address.

The poem included the line, ‘the mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers…’ and was considered a violation of the country’s Kemalist principles by the secular judiciary. He served only four months behind bars, but this was to be a seminal moment for the future president, who used his trial and the attention it garnered as a lightning rod for Islamist-minded Turks angered by the oppressive secularism of the country’s constitution.

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Forced to give up his position as Istanbul’s mayor, he was also banned from parliamentary elections for five years, a ban that the AKP government promptly overturned in 2003, after it became Turkey’s largest party in the 2002 elections, winning over a third of the votes cast. In March 2003, Erdogan contested and won, a by-election in Siirt, his wife’s home city, completing a long-awaited turnaround in Islamist politics in Turkey.

Unlike the secular Ataturk, Erdogan is a moderate Islamist who dreams of restoring a great Turkish state. Erdogan’s dream state is not Ataturk’s Turkey; the land of his dreams is the Ottoman Empire and its golden age. That’s why some of his supporters nicknamed him as “SULTAN”- harking back to the Ottoman Empire. He has, indubitably, taken a 180-degree turn from- secularism and Kemalism to Islamism. Though Erdogan apparently denies that he is not determined to impose Islamic values and affirms that he is committed to secularism yet he supports Turk’s right to express their religion more openly and with sufficient latitude.

To this end, in October 2013, Turkey lifted rules banning women from wearing headscarves in the country’s state institutions – with the exception of the judiciary, military and police – ending a decades-old restriction. Critics also pointed to Erdogan’s failed bid to criminalize adultery, and his attempts to introduce “Alcohol-free zones”, as evidence of his alleged Islamist intentions. Further, a father of four, he has said: “no Muslim family” should consider birth control or family planning. “We will multiply our descendants,” he said in May 2016. He has extolled motherhood, condemned feminists, and said men and women cannot be treated equally.

Erdogan also introduced educational reforms that removed teaching Darwin’s theory of evolution from curricula; at the same time, to Islamize the syllabi, Islamic teachings have been incorporated

It is now an axiomatic fact that Erdogan wants to re-shape turkey by resurrecting its’ lost identity that was based on Islamism. He, therefore, needs unrestrained power to put his theoretical mission into practice. He is, for this prime reason, aggressively working on the agenda of multiplying his power and influence in the country.

The conspiracy theorists do believe that the failed coup of July 2016 was a planned event–orchestrated by Erdogan and his ideologues. This story as concocted by the conspiracy theorists does have some weight since the subsequent events of the failed coup corroborate the fact that the major beneficiary of this smart move was none other than Recep Tayyib Erdogan. Let me give you some examples of how the said failed coup proved to be a blessing in disguise for Erdogan.

The failed coup attempt provided Erdogan with opportunity to settle scores with those who were not in consonance with his views. The attempted coup seemed to justify the waves of repression and the witch hunt that broke out in Turkey in July 2016 and continues to this day.

Read more: Turkey launches air and land operation against Kurds in Syria

To add, it provided an opportunity to blame fatehullah Gulen and his movement for various problems that Turkey has recently been faced with, mostly due to Erdogan’s policies and those of administration. This creates the image of the enemy both within and without. Since Gulen lives in the US, Erdogan could link both the US political elite in particular and the west in general to the coup; Ankara was able to blame the west for interfering in Turkey’s affairs and even for spreading terrorism.

It further, added even more trump cards to Erdogan’s hands, which allowed him to strengthen his position and amend the constitution, granting the presidency even more power. This so–called referendum essentially made him the sole ruler of Turkey. Erdogan also introduced educational reforms that removed teaching Darwin’s theory of evolution from curricula; at the same time, to Islamize the syllabi, Islamic teachings have been incorporated.

Moreover, the coup drew many Turks around Erdogan, since it appeared that some people had tried to overthrow a legitimate head of state. Even those who had little love for him came to the defense of democracy and their lawfully elected leader. The second part of this clever trick is that it drew people’s attention away from security issues (growing Islamic extremism, ISIS activity) and also provided at least a temporary distraction from the conflict with Kurds and economic hardships.

All these events vividly suggest that Erdogan fairly exploited the failed coup of 2016 to his advantage for strengthening his power and silencing dissension. Now, he is all in all, enjoying more power than his predecessors in Turkish history after Ataturk. Hence, it would not be hyperbolic to dub him as Sultan of Turkey.

Turkey had to renounce sovereignty over Cyprus, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Iraq and the Levant, except cities which were located in Syria, such as Urfa, Adana and Gaziantep and Kells and Marsh

Inter alia, the expiration of the treaty of Lausanne by 2023 has also triggered a new debate among the global geo-political and geo-strategic thinkers about how Turkey would respond to this tectonic development. Will Turkey resurrect the Ottoman Empire? Will the geopolitical and geo-economic map of the region change? Will Turkey re-assert herself by using its hard power and thereby creating regional dominance?  Queries consonant to these and several others, nowadays, are part and parcel of every transnational discourse.

Recep Tayyib Erdogan‘s statement on the eve of the centennial anniversary of the Turkish republic is conspicuous indicative of the fact that something revolutionary is about to happen after 2023. He declared that Turkey will shape the future of the entire region when it reaches its goals for 2023. Turkey is on the threshold of new victories and successes, he added. Moreover, Erdogan is also of the opinion that “opponents of Turkey” forced it to sign the “Treaty of Sevres” in 1920, and that of the “Treaty of Lausanne” in 1923, forcing the country to abandon the islands in the Aegean Sea to Greece. Erdogan dubs the Treaty of Sevres, as the first knife in the back of the Ottoman Empire for it forced Turkey to concede vast tracts of land under its domain. Turkey had to renounce sovereignty over Cyprus, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Iraq and the Levant, except cities which were located in Syria, such as Urfa, Adana and Gaziantep and Kells and Marsh.

Ottoman Empire also had to relinquish its political and financial rights, in November 1914, over Egypt and Sudan. Additionally in a commemoration ceremony held in 2016, Erdogan stated that he rejects any understanding of history that takes 1919 as the start of the 1,000-year history of his nation and civilization” Whoever leaves out our last 200 years, even 600 years together with its victories and defeats, and jumps directly from old Turkish history to the Republic, is an enemy of our nation and state, he stated…

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His statements clearly reflect that he is intended to revive the ottoman caliphate after the expiration of treaty of Lausanne by 2023; if everything happens in accordance with plan of Erdogan, it would, for sure, transform Erdogan from contemporary “Sultan” of Turkey into a future” caliph” of neo-ottoman caliphate.

Abdul Rasool Syed Legal Practitioner & columnist based in Quetta. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.

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