Further to this post,
ErdoVlad? Plus Turkey and the Caliphate
New Turkish cabinet spells little policy shift, Erdogan stays dominant
Let us now look at the new (subservient) prime minister. First a Turkish view:
Turkey’s Imperial Fantasy
…Mr. Davutoglu is not a “neo-Ottomanist” — a label often applied to him. He is a pan-Islamist. The movement known as Ottomanism emerged in the 1830s as the empire’s elites decided to replace existing Islamic institutions with modern European-style ones, in fields from education to politics. By contrast, Mr. Davutoglu believes that Turkey should look to the past and embrace Islamic values and institutions.
But, ironically, he bases his pan-Islamist vision on the political theories that were used to legitimize Western imperial expansion prior to 1945. While purporting to offer Turkey a new foreign policy for the 21st century, his magnum opus draws on the outdated concepts of geopolitical thinkers like the American Alfred Thayer Mahan, the Briton Halford Mackinder and the German Karl Haushofer, who popularized the term “Lebensraum,” or living space, a phrase most famously employed by Germany during the 1920s and 1930s to emphasize the need to expand its borders.
According to Mr. Davutoglu, the nation states established after the breakup of the Ottoman Empire are artificial creations and Turkey must now carve out its own Lebensraum — a phrase he uses unapologetically. Doing so would bring about the cultural and economic integration of the Islamic world, which Turkey would eventually lead. Turkey must either establish economic hegemony over the Caucasus, the Balkans and the Middle East, or remain a conflict-riven nation-state that risks falling apart.
As foreign minister, Mr. Davutoglu fervently believed that the Arab Spring had finally provided Turkey with a historic opportunity to put these ideas into practice. He predicted that the overthrown dictatorships would be replaced with Islamic regimes, thus creating a regional “Muslim Brotherhood belt” under Turkey’s leadership.
He sought Western support by packaging his project as a “democratic transformation” of the Middle East. Yet today, instead of the democratic regimes promised three years ago, Turkey shares a border with ISIS’s self-proclaimed caliphate. Two months ago, its fighters raided the Turkish consulate in the Iraqi city of Mosul, and is still holding 49 Turkish diplomats hostage. Mr. Davutoglu, who has argued that Turkey should create an Islamic Union by abolishing borders, seems to have no idea how to deal with the jihadis in Syria and Iraq, who have made Turkey’s own borders as porous as Swiss cheese…
Behlul Ozkan is an assistant professor at Marmara University and the author of “From the Abode of Islam to the Turkish Vatan: The Making of a National Homeland in Turkey [more here].”
Then an American one:
Talking Turkey with an Islamist academician
In June 2005, when Mr. Davutoglu served as chief foreign policy adviser to Mr. Erdogan, I spoke with him for an hour in Ankara…… I asked him about the goals of Turkish foreign policy in the Middle East in the era of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) that had begun in 2002, noting Ankara’s new ambitions in a region it had long disdained. He conceded this change, then took me on a quick tour d’horizon from Afghanistan to Morocco, noting Turkey’s special ties with many countries. These included the presence of Turkic-speakers (e.g., in Iraq), the legacy of Ottoman rule (Lebanon), economic symbiosis (Syria), Islamic ties (Saudi Arabia), and diplomatic mediation (Iran)…
While Mr. Davutoglu has done remarkably well for himself in the intervening years, he did so exclusively as consigliere to his sole patron, Mr. Erdogan. His record, by contrast, has been one of inconsistent policy and consistent failure, a failure so abject it borders on fiasco. Under Mr. Davutoglu’s stewardship, Ankara’s relations with Western countries have almost universally soured, while those with Iran, Iraq, Syria, Israel, Egypt and Libya, among other Middle Eastern states, have plummeted.
Symbolically, Turkey is slipping away from the NATO alliance…
Daniel Pipes (DanielPipes.org) is president of the Middle East Forum.
Nice. And somehow Turkey is going to have to be a–if not the–major player in the regional, Sunni, coalition that President Obama considers essential to defeating the Caliphate:
“Rooting out a cancer like [ISIS] will not be quick and will not be easy,” he said [oncology again].
Obama said he has also asked Secretary of State John Kerry to travel to the Middle East to build a coalition against the militant group.
Such a coalition will need to include regional players, namely Sunni leaders [that lets out Iran I guess]. He said he is encouraged that surrounding countries recognize the threat ISIS poses…
On verra. And here’s a really good question about the other key country, from the well-sourced David Ignatius:
Can Saudi Arabia help combat the Islamic State?
Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds