Sunday, November 29, 2015

Can Erimtan — All's well that ends well: Rise to the top of the new Turkey’s PM

Winding down of secular Turkey? And the rise of neo-Ottomanism?
From his safe spot away from the madding crowd and irritating spotlights, the wily Davutoglu secured Turkish support for the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya; encouraged the Tahrir Square uprising and the subsequent rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt; opposed the Shiite-led government in Baghdad by granting asylum to the disgraced Sunni Tariq al-Hashimi; and finally, cooperated with Barack Obama and others to depose Syria's Bashar al-Assad, in the process apparently freely supporting such extreme organizations as the Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS (now known as the Islamic State led by Caliph Ibrahim, aka Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi). Pseudo-Ottoman Turkey has indeed travelled far in the past five years.

As a result, the peaceful pseudo-Ottoman course advocated by the dynamic duo Erdogan- Davutoglu, a course leading to maximized profits and heightened prestige, has taken a sharp turn over the past months.

Rather than fostering commercial relations and friendly ties inside the wider Islamic world, the erstwhile advisor-turned-FM-turned-PM Davutoglu seems to have guided the Turkish state's ship into the decidedly unfriendly waters of the Sunni-Shia rivalry that I have elsewhere referred to as the intra-Islamic Cold War.

Dr. Behlul Ozkan's, Assistant Professor in IR at Istanbul's Marmara University and a former student of Davutoglu's, believes that Prime Minister Davutoglu would aim to establish an Islamic Union. Ozkan sees the politician as a "Pan-Islamist, as he is not [acting in a] defensive [manner], but [rather] expansionistically; not passive but rather [pro-] active". He goes as far as saying that Davutoglu regards Turkey as the centre of the Middle East, a Muslim realm that would also include such places like Albania and Bosnia (Muslim areas of the Ottoman Balkans), and Davutoglu's "Pan-Islamist world is an order dominated by the Sunni creed".
Davutoglu's foreign policy adventures in Libya, Egypt, Syria, and Iraq all but underline his Ottomanist strand, supporting a Sunni insurgence in the wider Ottoman hinterland, stretching from Tripoli to Baghdad and from Cairo to Damascus.…
All's well that ends well: Rise to the top of the new Turkey’s PM
Can Erimtan

Dr. Can Erimtan is an independent scholar residing in İstanbul, with a wide interest in the politics, history and culture of the Balkans and the Greater Middle East. 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 book “Ottomans Looking West?” as well as numerous scholarly articles. In the period 2010-11, he wrote op-eds for Today’s Zaman and in the further course of 2011 he also published a number of pieces in Hürriyet Daily News. In 2013, he was the Turkey Editor of the İstanbul Gazette.  

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