Erdogan redraws the political map of the world

Erdogan’s influence in Middle East and Africa was dubbed by Western media as “neo-Ottomanism”.


The Ottoman Empire by Erdogan

Turkish President intends to revive the Ottoman Empire

September 13, 2019 (Moskovsky Komsomolets) – With the beginning of the “Arab Spring” and the wars caused by it, Turkey, taking advantage of the weaknesses of its neighbors from among its former provinces, occupied part of their territories and expanded its zone of influence throughout the Middle East region. This course, chosen by President Erdogan for the country, was dubbed by Western media “neo-Ottomanism,” or simply by attempts to restore the Ottoman Empire.

Times far and near

The ruling Justice and Development Party in Turkey, headed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in foreign policy emphasizes the “good old days”, that is, the times of the Ottoman Empire, as a symbol of the highest rise of the Turkish state.

Culturally, this is expressed in the fact that the country regularly makes films about those legendary times when Istanbul’s influence stretched from the Balkans and the Northern Black Sea Region to North Africa and the Red Sea. At the highest state level, popular science literature about the Ottoman army is being promoted. Local clothing manufacturers use medieval motifs. It even happens that President Erdogan prefers to use fighters dressed in ancient armor and spears at the meeting instead of the classic guard of honor. In a word, everything is emphasized on the “Ottoman roots”.

To advance the “Ottoman ideas” methods are also selected proven by time. In the last decades of the Ottoman Empire, the Turkish sultans actively used the means of “ideological struggle.” The ideas of pan-Turkism and pan-Islamism were actively used. That is, in other words, the Turkish Sultan acted as an intercessor of all Islamic and Turkic peoples around the world. The current ruler of Turkey, who received the nickname “Sultan”, and his cabinet are also actively playing this card.

Turkey actively sponsors the Muslim Brotherhood international organization (an organization whose activities are prohibited in the Russian Federation), which professes the ideas of a world Islamic state in all countries where Muslims live. Support for this movement allows Turkey to advance its interests throughout the Islamic world. And primarily in Syria, Libya and Egypt.

From a “pan-Turkic” position, Turkey is actively supporting the Uyghur Muslim minority in China (so do not be surprised if Turkish stamps in your passport raise questions on arrival at the Celestial Empire).

During the “Arab Spring” Muslim brothers took power in a number of Arab states (or tried to do so).

In Egypt, their power was eventually overthrown. In Syria, everything turned into an endless war. In Libya, after the overthrow of Gaddafi, an actively pro-Turkish government operated for some time. It continues to maintain control over Tripoli and a number of regions of the country, but gradually loses its influence. The failures of the “protégé” in Ankara caused a desire to actively support the allies, including by military means.

So, in Libya, until recently, Turkish government support in Tripoli remained the subject of speculation and speculation. It was known that Turkish tankers regularly call at the country’s ports, buying oil from local armed groups, but nothing more. However, in the spring and summer of 2019, after the military defeats of the Tripoli government and its loss of control over most of the territory of Libya, Ankara went for almost open intervention in the conflict.

In Libya, Turkish-made shock drones were first seen. At least three of them were shot down. According to anti-government forces, in June 2019, actual control over Tripoli and local military groups was established by a group of Turkish army officers led by General Irfan Tur Ozsert.

Also, according to a number of media reports, the Ukrainian Il-76 transport aircraft with weapons for the Muslim brothers, destroyed at Tripoli Airport, brought weapons to the city, bought at the direction of Turkish intelligence and with Turkish money.

According to independent experts, Libya, as an oil region, is the “goal number 1” for Ankara and is unlikely to be surrendered to anyone without a fight. However, drones and arms deliveries – this is not a military occupation. But it, as life shows, cannot be ruled out.

For the time being, Turkey chose not to intervene in the Syrian conflict. The situation changed after the Kurdish minority living in Syria created an independent state entity near the Turkish borders. Ankara was particularly alarmed by the military support given to the Kurds by the United States and its allies. A stream of weapons poured across the Turkish-Syrian border, which began to settle near the Kurdistan Workers’ Party formations operating in Turkey. This organization has been at odds with the Turkish authorities for the past 50-60 years. To fight the Kurds, Ankara decided to start full-scale hostilities.

In August 2016, Turkish President Erdogan announced the start of the Shield of the Euphrates military operation in the north of the Syrian province of Aleppo, whose goal is to fight “terrorist groups of Syrian Kurds threatening Turkey.” The Turkish military contingent of 5-8 thousand people invaded Syrian territory, with tanks, light armored vehicles and aircraft.

As a result of the operation, which lasted until March 2017, territories of 2,000 square meters passed under the control of the Turkish army. km Around the same time, a military operation began against the Kurds of Iraq, as a result of which the Turkish army occupied a number of territories in the north of this country.

In January 2018, Turkish troops launched a new operation in the Syrian province of Aleppo. This time the goal was the area of ​​compact residence of the Kurdish diaspora – the city of Afrin and its environs. The army, armored vehicles, and aircraft were again moved into battle (according to the statement of the General Staff of the Turkish Armed Forces, only in the first day 72 planes were involved in air strikes, which hit 108 of 113 intended targets). And although the losses of Turkey in manpower and armored vehicles at the initial stage of the operation were quite large, the Kurdish resistance was eventually suppressed.

What is even more interesting is not the very course of hostilities, but how Turkey approached the organization of life in the occupied territories. In Afrin and its environs, a real Turkization of the local population began. The Kurdish language was excluded almost everywhere in the official media, in the field of education and culture. All names and signs began to be translated into Arabic with mandatory duplication in Turkish.

A branch of the Turkish National Postal Service was opened in Afrin. Textbooks of the Turkish educational system began to be enrolled in schools, and portraits of Erdogan now hang in school classes.

The actual head of the region was the governor of the Turkish province of Gaziantep, who regularly makes working trips to Afrin. Although de facto the territory of Afrin is recognized as sovereign Syrian territory, it is clear that the Turks are in no hurry to leave this land.

From Ankara’s point of view, there is no question of turning to international law in this case. By the way, the situation in Afrin is not the first case of “Ottoman re-expansion.” Since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire at the beginning of the last century, Ankara has not missed the opportunity to grow its territory at the expense of the former Ottoman provinces. In 1939, Turkey occupied the Hatay region (under the terms of agreements following the First World War, it was considered a self-governing territory in northern Syria). In 1974, the Turkish army took advantage of the internal political crisis in Greece to occupy part of the island of Cyprus.

However, in both of these cases, it was a question of regions where a large Turkish majority lived. Erdogan’s policy is aimed at expanding the military presence both on the former Ottoman territory and beyond.

Turkish base in Mogadishu

A Turkish military officer participates during the opening ceremony of a Turkish military base in Mogadishu, Somalia September 30, 2017 REUTERS/Feisal Omar

Carrot and stick

However, Turkey does not always use direct military force to expand its zone of influence. And even the opposite. The political crisis in the Middle East – extremely confusing and ambiguous, allowed Turkey to enter into new, even the most unexpected alliances.

So, in 2017, Turkey received two military bases at once: in Qatar and Somalia . The first appeared after the Qatar authorities entered into diplomatic conflict with neighbors – the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. In early June 2017, when the media reported on the impending war between the oil monarchies of the gulf, Turkey unexpectedly announced military support for Qatar.

In the following weeks, additional forces from the Turkish army were sent to Doha, so that the total contingent reached 3,000. Together with the military, tanks, armored vehicles and artillery were deployed. In March 2018, countries signed an agreement on the construction of the Turkish air and naval bases in Qatar.

The Turkish military base in Somalia , where personnel are being trained for the army of the African state, was also opened at the request of local authorities. At the same time, there are about 1,000 Somali military personnel at the base who are trained under the leadership of 200-300 Turkish officers. According to local media, the base is used as a springboard to promote the Turkish military presence in the Muslim part of Africa. Moreover, in addition to the limited contingent of the United States and UN troops, no one dares to be in Somalia .

Both bases are located in key strategic areas – in the Persian Gulf and near the Bab el-Mandeb Strait.

What next?

The Turkish “reconquista”, as we can see, is going in different directions and using various methods. On the one hand, Turkey is engaged in the increment of the territory through the occupation of part of neighboring countries, followed by the Turkization of the local population. On the other hand, Ankara is promoting its influence in key regions through a limited military presence.

Where possible, local armed groups receive assistance. Where there is no way to drag chestnuts out of the fire with the wrong hands, a regular army comes.

As a counter to Turkish expansion, a military coalition has formed from Egypt (whose modern leadership is dissatisfied with Turkey’s presence in Libya), Cyprus and Greece (which strongly condemn the Turkish military presence in the north of the island). The armed forces of the three countries regularly conduct military and naval exercises, often in the immediate vicinity of Turkish territorial waters.

In Syria, the appetites of Turkey are somewhat restrained by Russia and the United States, which, for completely different reasons, do not approve of the transfer of Syrian territory to Turkish control. But it’s far from the fact that this will always continue.

The Turkish army is targeting the territory of the Syrian province of Idlib, where many local residents (mainly militants and their supporters) favor the arrival of Turkish troops, as well as areas on the eastern bank of the Euphrates, where Kurds are pretty annoyed by Ankara.

In the event of the occupation of one or both of these territories, they will be subject to subsequent Turkization according to the established scheme. And where is the boundary of these aspirations – it’s quite difficult to establish now.

But the growth of Turkey’s point military presence, it seems, will only gain momentum. Moreover, the precedent of “return to control” has already appeared. This means that the Middle East coordinate system that has developed after the world wars can undergo the most serious changes.


At the same time, Erdogan is not averse to see Turkey as a member of the “nuclear club”. At least, speaking the other day at the regional congress of his party in the city of Sivas, the Turkish president said that the West forbids Ankara to have nuclear weapons, which is absolutely unacceptable. “In some countries there are missiles with nuclear warheads, and not one or two. But we are told that we can’t get them. I can’t accept this. We have Israel nearby, it’s almost neighbors. It scares them (nuclear missiles. – “MK”). No one can touch him, “said Erdogan.

By Artemy Sharapov

Description of source: Daily Russian newspaper featuring mostly sensational and provocative news of Russian political and social life. Also covers Moscow criminal chronicles. Includes images. Country of origin: Russia
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