President Erdogan of Turkey, known for his colorful speeches, his language sympathetic to a vision of an halcyon Ottoman past, and his ability to channels them into a revived nationalism that has gripped the eurasian nation from the Dardanelles to Lake Van, was unsurprisingly re-elected to his office in June 2018. The man, who portrays himself as a sultan aspirant before the leader of one of the world’s largest economies and militaries, has a plan to, borrowing from the Trump campaign, “make Turkey great again,” and in form true to any oriental despot borrowing from the pages of Machiavelli’s 15th century observations about power in the Ottoman realm , by any means and force necessary to achieve it.
When a group of Turkish protestors met Erdogan’s September 2017 visit to the USA with shouts and signs from afar, Erdogan’s bodyguards returned their words with fists and beatings that have been since captured on video for the world to see. The incident was ignored by the USA, and for the few people who did attempt to raise questions about the incident, “diplomatic immunity” was given as the excuse for why these modern beuluklar could not be held accountable for their actions. None dared to question the sultan aspirant’s petulant rampages in the USA, and so not surprisingly, his systematic campaign of hunting down Turkish nationals who criticize his policies has gone ignored by the world’s nations.
In a recent article from Arab News, the former diplomat Talmiz Ahmad argues that Turkey is at a crossroads with Erdogan.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has ruled Turkey for 15 years, first as prime minister from 2003 and then as president from 2014. In May this year, he called for snap elections on June 24, nearly a year-and-a-half before they were due. The elections would take place in a state of emergency, declared in the wake of the attempted coup in July 2016.
Erdogan had already obtained popular support for major changes in the country’s constitutional set-up, which have now been realized thanks to these elections. The country now has a presidential rather than a parliamentary system; the size of the national assembly has increased from 550 to 600; and the minimum age to stand as a candidate is now 18 instead of 25. Not surprisingly, Erdogan’s critics at home and abroad saw in these changes an attempt by the president to consolidate his authoritarian rule in the country.
Opposition parties made a major effort to present a united front. Though there were six presidential candidates, Erdogan’s principal opponent was Muharrem Ince, who heads the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and campaigned on a secular platform. The other candidates included Meral Aksener, of the newly formed Good Party, and Selahattin Demirtas, of the Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), who has been in prison since 2016 as he is accused of backing a Kurdish insurgency.
The opposition campaign consisted of severe criticisms of the president’s dictatorial approach and promises to return the country to parliamentary rule, end the state of emergency and, in the case of the Kurdish candidate, establish local democracy in place of strong central rule.
In the event, opposition hopes were dashed: In a voter turnout of 87 percent, Erdogan obtained 53 percent of the vote, while Ince got 31 percent. In parliament, Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) got 295 seats, just short of a majority. However, his electoral ally, the right-wing Nationalist Action Party (MHP) got 49 seats, giving Erdogan a comfortable majority in parliament. The CHP and Meral’s Good Party got 146 and 43 seats, respectively. The Kurdish party did well to get 67 seats.
Erdogan’s success has been ascribed to his ardent nationalism and his military forays in Syria to confront the expanding territorial gains of the Kurds, while standing up to the Americans who were backing them.
The election results have also exposed the hostility that sections of the Western political establishment and media have for Erdogan personally, projecting him as a hard-line Islamist, largely on account of his tough posturing toward the EU, his criticisms of US support for the Kurds in Syria, his overt shift toward Russia, and his participation in the Russia-led peace process in Syria alongside Iran.
A month before the elections, the London Review of Books published a long essay by a commentator on Turkey, Ella George, where she spoke of “repression and fear” in Turkey, the “capriciousness of arbitrary power” exercised by Erdogan, and the “deeply traumatized society” he had created.
The New York Times, meanwhile, published an opinion piece strongly supportive of the opposition alliance as the champion of Turkish democracy. A detailed report in Time magazine published after the election result described Turkey’s “deeply polarized society” and pessimistically predicted the “marginalization of nearly half of Turkey’s voters.”
Despite dire warnings from such observers, Erdogan is unlikely to be either capricious or dictatorial: His authoritarian instincts will be restrained by his dependence on an ally for majority support, the strong presence of the opposition in parliament, and the clearly asserted democratic values of the Turkish people.
But there are formidable challenges before the newly elected president. Erdogan, with five years in power ahead of him, will need to urgently address the economy, where the currency has lost much of its value and inflation and unemployment have dealt serious blows to the very people who see him as “our father” and depend on him for salvation. Turkey is also facing the impact of hosting more than three million Syrian refugees.
Erdogan will also need to heal the divisions in his country, mainly between his government and the Kurds. He has long seen their aspirations for political, economic and cultural space in their country as a security threat, without accepting that perhaps his own high-handed policies could have added to their sense of alienation.
Erdogan enjoys certain advantages as well. Large numbers of Turkish people accept his narrative relating to the “Gulenist conspiracy” that tried to overthrow him in 2016, with the help of foreign powers. Most Turks are also comfortable with his vision of Turkey as neither European nor Asian, but in the vanguard of shaping a new “Eurasian” identity, which would give Turkey more deeply anchored ties with Russia and China, while maintaining a close political and economic relationship with the EU.
We will know soon enough whether Erdogan uses his new mandate to further polarize Turkey or emerge as a statesman who shapes a new vision and global role for his nation and lead it into a new era.
Erdogan’s actions are of no surprise because they are consistent with the historical character of Turkey post-Byzantine Empire. While the Byzantine Empire was indeed an empire, her influence as a world power was only twice, the first time under the Macedonian conqueror Alexander the Great who brought his Empire into the Hindu subcontinent and to the Talas River valley in Uzbekistan, which is the same path the Armies of Islam would follow in the century following the death of Mohammed, and when she was united with the Western world under the Roman Empire. The partitioning of the Roman Empire into east and west by Constantine in the fourth century, while necessary to ensure the survival of what remained in the face of increasing barbarian invasions, social disarray, and political factions, the Byzantine empire only continued to shrink in her physical size and political influence to the status of a regional power until she was eventually annihilated by the Turk. While some in the east may blame the Fourth Crusade for the fall of Byzantium, it is but a convenient excuse to ignore that it was the very nationalism and identitarianism so characteristic of life in the eastern world that sowed the division among the Byzantines allies and people which gave way to the Turk being able to, in time and with measured patience, absorb the former jewel of Christendom into the house of Islam.
The presidential campaign song for current Turkish President Erdogan
Turkey does stand at a crossroads today, as Ahmad noted. But the idea that Erdogan’s polarization of Turkey would be an obstacle to furthering his power while making the same nation into a greater economic and military power than she already possesses does not need to be a paradox. It was the polarization of Turkish society in 2016 through the false-flag Gulen coup, most likely taken as a lesson learned from the American and European strategic use of domestic and global conflicts either allowed to happen or intentionally manufactured by cover military operations, that Erdogan used to justify expanding his power and suppressing or destroying his political enemies. Openly admitting that he is following the Germanic economic model and with the extensive military help given to Turkey by both Germany and the USA as part of post-World War II stay behind operations against Russia, Erdogan’s support of Islam and hatred of Christianity must be seen as nothing more to him as the support of Allah for his policies, and if he does not believe it, he knows the people of his nation will believe it and so he will see to it that it continues.
But Islam alone is only part of the motivation, for as with the ethnonationalist movements in Europe, Japan, and the USA, Turkey’s drive to power is based on a concept of a shared racial identity, geography, and history. Since the very people which occupy the nation of Turkey today are the mixed descendants of Turkic, European, and Caucasus people who converted to Islam, it is the manufactured concept of identity that matters more just as for how many nations the shared mythos of history is more important than the real history itself at defining a man’s identity. Perhaps the difference between the “WE WUZ KANGS” attitude espoused by Afro-American nationalists, the Odinism of the Vikings so talked about in Euro-American and European nationalists, and the Turkic nationalism being pushed by Erdogan is the level of credibility which each one has in selling what is a philosophy masquerading as history to their people and others who would not accept it as a personal philosophy but regard it as a legitimate intellectual posture.
Islam and Turkish ethnonationalism need not be separated, and for Erdogan, he does not show any desire to separate them, but to recombine them in a way adapted to modern times.
The Origins Of Turkish Nationalism
Ethnic nationalism has always seemed to have been a part of Turkic culture going back to pagan times. Erdogan’s “Ottoman Dream”, a term which I have used frequently to describe his imperial ambitions, is a historical incident that supposedly took place in 1291, when the last of the Crusader States fell at Acre. At that time there was a Turkish tribal warlord named Osman in Anatolia who had a dream. In his dream, he was promised a great empire and that he would become the guardian of Islam throughout the whole world.
Osman I, the founder of the Ottoman Empire who had the famous dream
What was this dream that Osman, after whom the name “Ottoman” is taken, saw in his sleep? Was it a true dream as the Islamic legends say? Was it an incident similar to Doors band leader Jim Morrison’s claims , in which he allegedly had a vision of the devil on an Venetian canal and made a pact with it so that he could become a famous musician? Was it a complete legend fabricated centuries later in order to justify Ottoman imperialism? The answer may never be fully known, but from the earliest days of the Ottoman Empire, her expansion was justified as the will of Allah made manifest on the earth and was reinforced with each subsequent conquest.
The Ottoman Empire expanded rapidly until the end of the 17th century, and the end of the great Ottoman wars with the signing of the Treaty of Karlowitz in 1699 marked the beginning of the end of Osman’s great dream. However, it was not an immediate wake from her slumber, but a slow and gradual one that took another two hundred and two dozen years before Turkey would become a secular state and the Caliphate, an office dating back to the time of Mohammed himself, be abolished by the Ataturk government. She fought hard through a series of continual internal reforms, most notably beginning with the Tanzimat of the 19th century to increase equality between citizens became known as “Ottomanism,” which is little more than a Turkish version of the secular philosophy of the French revolution, as the movement was inspired directly by the writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
However, the Rousseauan idea that religions and even racial identities can be transformed by adherence to a secular political concept of nationhood precludes the necessity for elevating secularism as a religion higher than the religion of that which the people profess, for it is the nececssary adoption of a series of values taken on faith regardless of what one’s faith professes. This is most exemplified by the “Eastern Question”, later known better as the “Armenian Question,” which was the actual status of minorities within Turkey. As Christian peoples in the Balkans did receive support and successfully break away from the Ottoman Empire with assistance from the imperial powers of Western Europe of the day, the status of the Armenians remained unsure. When Russia entered into Turkey following her victory in the Russo-Turkish war of 1878, the Armenians asked the Russians for help, to which the Western world responded they would assist but never followed on their promises. The perceived “betrayal” of the Armenians then was used as a justification among other reasons later for their extermination.
Following the Armenian Massacre the and abolition of the Ottoman Empire, Turkey adopted a philosophy of Kemalism, which looked to the Western world for inspiration as a source of “modernity” through secularism. This was really the continuation of a trend that existed in the 19th century, and while it became the guiding principle of the government it never in a tangible way dislodged the presence of Islam from Turkey. Religious practice became dormant, but existed, reflecting the warning that Catholic Writer Hilaire Belloc said about Islam:
These things being so, the recrudescence of Islam, the possibility of that terror under which we lived for centuries reappearing, and of our civilization again fighting for its life against what was its chief enemy for a thousand years, seems fantastic. Who in the Mohammedan world today can manufacture and maintain the complicated instruments of modern war? Where is the political machinery whereby the religion of Islam can play an equal part in the modern world?
I say the suggestion that Islam may re-arise sounds fantastic but this is only because men are always powerfully affected by the immediate past: one might say that they are blinded by it.
Cultures spring from religions; ultimately the vital force which maintains any culture is its philosophy, its attitude toward the universe; the decay of a religion involves the decay of the culture corresponding to it we see that most clearly in the breakdown of Christendom today. The bad work begun at the Reformation is bearing its final fruit in the dissolution of our ancestral doctrines- the very structure of our society is dissolving.
In the place of the old Christian enthusiasms of Europe there came, for a time, the enthusiasm for nationality, the religion of patriotism.
But self-worship is not enough, and the forces which are making for the destruction of our culture, notably the Jewish Communist propaganda from Moscow, have a likelier future before them than our old-fashioned patriotism. In Islam there has been no such dissolution of ancestral doctrine_or, at any rate, nothing corresponding to the universal break-up of religion in Europe. The whole spiritual strength of Islam is still present in the masses of Syria and Anatolia, of the East Asian mountains, of Arabia, Egypt and North Africa.
The final fruit of this tenacity, the second period of Islamic power, may be delayed:_but I doubt whether it can be permanently postponed. (source)
Now scarcely a century later from the Ataturkian reforms, and Erdogan is “threatening” to reverse them with his support of Islam yet simultaneous promotion of nationalism. Yet is there really a “threat” here anyways in that to return to a pro-Islamic policy in government would be uncharacteristic of the Turkish nation or her imperial ambitions?
Islam is synonymous with the Turk in the Middle East, for while there are many diverse peoples which populate the areas of southwest Asia and Northern Africa, the Turk is a manufactured identity from the original Central Asian people who have been the most resistant to Christianity, receptive to Islam, imperialistic, and violent people in the region. For all of the words spoken against the Arabs and the Persians, neither alone or together can add up to the horror which the inhabitants of Anatolia, once one of the central lands of Christianity, have brought the world following her apostasy to the religion of Mohammed. She adopted Islam to guide and leader her people, and while her practice of Islam many times has been questionable, the violence and license which Islam gives a believer is ideal for the Turk not to elevate his person and spiritual practice, but because it reinforces that which he already supports and provides him with a religious covering to justify his barbarity.
There is not just a lack of evidence to say that Islam and Turkic ethnonationalism are incompatible, but all the evidence to say the fit together as interlocking gears on the Ottoman war machine that Erdogan so ardently is working to revive.
The Asia Times recently printed an article saying that Erdogan’s Turkish victory spells and end to any European ambitions that Erdogan may have possessed, and that in the face of rising nationalism, he will have to direct his energies towards “Eurasia”:
Profiting from a large turnout of up to 85% and fresh from obtaining 52.5% of the popular vote – thus preventing a run-off – Erdogan is now ready to rule Turkey as a fascinating mix of Sultan and CEO.
Under Turkey’s new presidential arrangement – an Erdogan brainchild – a prime minister is no more, a job Erdogan himself held for three terms before he was elected as president for the first time in 2014.
Erdogan may be able to rule the executive and the judiciary, but that’s far from a given in the legislature.
With 42.5% of the votes and holding 295 seats, Erdogan’s AKP, for the first time in 16 years, lost its parliamentary majority and must now establish a coalition with the far-right Nationalist Action Party (MHP).
The doomsday interpretation spells out a toxic alliance between intolerant political Islam and fascistic extreme-right – both, of course, hardcore nationalist. Reality though is slightly more nuanced.
Considering that the MHP is even more anti-Western than the AKP, the roadmap ahead, geopolitically, may point to only one direction: Eurasian integration. After all, Turkey’s perennially plagued EU accession process is bound to go nowhere; for Brussels, Erdogan is little else than an unwelcomed, illiberal, faux democrat.
In parallel, Erdogan’s neo-Ottomanism has been given a reality check with the failure of his – and former Prime Minister Davutoglu’s – Syria strategy. (source)
But how, effectively, is this a loss for Erdogan, let alone Europe?
What benefits would there be for Erdogan to enter deeper into European politics as a military contender in the Balkans at a time when populist sentiment is increasingly, owing to the rise of Islam in Europe and the “refugee” situation?
The European Union always was effectively a plan run by Germany and for the benefit of German industrialists and banks. The rise of nationalism has, by fracturing the EU, allowed Germany to step in as an intermediary force and with gaining more political leverage to also justify re-militarizing. Turkey is Germany’s historical ally, having worked closely with each other since the 15th century.
While it is true that the Germanic nations and Turkey have fought, the ostensible last battle with them was the Habsburg wars of the late 17th century. This is not to say that Turkey, if she was powerful enough, might attempt to intervene in Europe militarily, but given that she is only the 8th strongest military in the world and that France, the UK, and Germany are the 5th, 6th, and 9th strongest militaries in the world, and that they are backed by the USA, and that all four nations back Turkey against Russia, it would be suicide for Turkey to attempt a European invasion. Europe belongs to the Germans and Americans and those to whom they desire to give it.
Germany likewise supports Turkey’s actions in Central Asia, but outside of joint gas ventures, most likely with Turkish partnership, she is not going to invade militarily in those regions. Turkey, however, sees those areas as open game and is building economic links so to facilitate military growth in Central Asia while partnering with Europe.
A cover from the Turkish magazine Bozkurt, which ran from 1939 to 1942. Notice that the area encircled includes all of the nations of Central Asia, Northern Iran, and parts of Western China and Mongolia that would have been part of the historical lands of the Turk.
While inherently Islamic, the name “Bozkurt” means “grey wolf”, and is often referred to in series with the “sun hypothesis,” which is that all languages originally were Turkic. The “grey wolf” refers to a legend of how the Turk was guided to the lands of Central Asia and Anatolia by a pack of grey wolves, thus signifying their divinely ordained destiny as conquerors. It is all pseudo-history, but as with many of the ancient mythoi, the perception of the past is more important than the actual history of the past itself.
Race And Religion Unite As One
This is an illustrated basis of Erdogan’s philosophy that he is pursuing and really, is the ancient dream of the Turk in a united empire just as much as of Germanic dreams of a “united Europe”, as viewing all of Central Asia and descendants of Turkic peoples as an extension of her Anatolian homeland. The technical term for this is pan-Turanism, as it emphasizes a shared racial and cultural bond between all Central Asian peoples and those who descended from them into other peoples from ancient times as coming from the same group and that all should bond together on the basis of this. Pan-Turanism would include also Hungarians, Estonians, and even Finnish people or even further back a link to the Germanic peoples through the Aryans. Pan-Turkism is, however, an emphasis on the “Turkish” aspect of the cultures, which would be limited to Central Asia and not include the descendants of Turks in Europe.
Erdogan has made skillful use of both, promoting pan-Turanism as a public social policy, but pan-Turkism for a direction of economic and potential imperial goals for military growth. This reflects once again the Turco-Teutonic alliance in that Germany belongs to Europe and Central Asia to Turkey, both opposed to the Russians and while sharing a common heritage and helping each other maintain their respective spheres of political and military influence.
Nothing of this is, as one can see, in opposition to Islam and neither does it detract from the theological errors of Islam. What is does is to give the barbarity inherent to Islam a cover of civilization and mysticism that makes it more attractive to a man of manners and culture. The shamanism of the Turk becomes the ecstasy of the Sufis, of which is the means by which Islam came into Central Asia and the Turkic people and remains strongest in. It allows for the liberalism of cultural differences, which Islam does permit in so far as the practices do not alter Islamic theology, and gives way to the differences in expressions of Islam found but who do not differ in their theology.
This is also why it is dangerous to call “political” what is in reality a theological war with Islam. The secularist and those who would attempt to use Islam for their own ends, as many governments have done throughout history due to the deadening of the senses to accept blind faith on propositions which are intellectually impossible and unreasonable that Islam necessarily cultivates in its followers, love the term “political Islam” because it equivocates Islam as one of another competing political philosophical systems that may or may not be rooted in the belief in an absolute truth. This naturally leads to a division where one can say that there is a difference between “violent jihadism” and “moderate Islam,” of which such a distinction is at best an exercise in academic fancy and most likely a sinister deception.
The Turk can be looked at as a practitioner of a “political Islam” that is also “moderate” through his expression and cultivation of civil culture and mysticism by his practices. However, this is just the superficial expressions because the theology itself does not change. It is the difference between violence in the street and violence in the home, the former one sees and can call out for the shame it is, and the latter none sees and do not know about, and the only way one can know is if one enters into the home or believes the word of another who has seen it.
The Islam of the future is going to be less of the black-robed, niqab-wearing women of Saudi Arabia, where hands are chopped on the corners of dirty streets after Friday prayers to braying crowds of bearded Arabs wearing turbans. It is going to be just as it was in the centuries before that enticed many Europeans with secular leaning to become entranced with the Turkic culture. It will be the luxury, the opulence, the feigned mysticism of the whirling dervish and the scantily veiled harem girl, the patter of drums to belly dancers and the smell of Turkish tobacco with a cup of Turkish coffee and a Turkish delight at the local maqhaa while businessmen talk over money and corporate deals. All of this will be wrapped in the clothing of nationalism, nation building, and traditionalism, and Turkey is going to be as in the past there to be once again the leader in bringing Islam to the world.
In an upcoming article, we will delve into the intellectual currents behind pan-Turkism more, who promoted them, and for what reasons they were promoted.
 The examples of these two governments in our time are the Turk and the King of France. The entire monarchy of the Turk is governed by one lord, the others are his servants; and, dividing his kingdom into sanjaks, he sends there different administrators, and shifts and changes them as he chooses. But the King of France is placed in the midst of an ancient body of lords, acknowledged by their own subjects, and beloved by them; they have their own prerogatives, nor can the king take these away except at his peril. Therefore, he who considers both of these states will recognize great difficulties in seizing the state of the Turk, but, once it is conquered, great ease in holding it. The causes of the difficulties in seizing the kingdom of the Turk are that the usurper cannot be called in by the princes of the kingdom, nor can he hope to be assisted in his designs by the revolt of those whom the lord has around him. This arises from the reasons given above; for his ministers, being all slaves and bondmen, can only be corrupted with great difficulty, and one can expect little advantage from them when they have been corrupted, as they cannot carry the people with them, for the reasons assigned. Hence, he who attacks the Turk must bear in mind that he will find him united, and he will have to rely more on his own strength than on the revolt of others; but, if once the Turk has been conquered, and routed in the field in such a way that he cannot replace his armies, there is nothing to fear but the family of this prince, and, this being exterminated, there remains no one to fear, the others having no credit with the people; and as the conqueror did not rely on them before his victory, so he ought not to fear them after it. (source)  In The Lost Writings of Jim Morrison, he claims “I met the Spirit of Music, an appearance of the devil in a Venice canal. Running, I saw a Satan, or Satyr [Pan], moving beside me, a fleshly shadow of my secret mind…”. Ray Manzarek, one of the drummers for The Doors, asserted that Morrision was a shaman before a performer, and that his music possessed an inherent shamanistic purpose.