ABDULLAH – Turkey, caliphate and ErdoIan

Turkey, caliphate and ErdoIanThe narrative, behavior pattern and policy decisions of Turkeyand#39s chief political Islamist Recep Tayyip ErdoIan suggests that he believes the caliphate can be resurrected, with himself as the sole contender to become caliph, thereby gaining autonomous political authority over at least part of the Islamic world.For this grand ambition, ErdoIan has built a personality cult to reflect his image in the government and many political lackeys just parrot what he says or take their cues from ErdoIanand#39s speeches.

Sensing andldquoMasterandrdquo ErdoIanand#39s (the name people around him call him) expectations on this matter, his protandeacuteandeacutee and caretaker Prime Minister Ahmet DavutoIlu publicly announced in Skopje last week that his government will deliver a Turkish flag, Quran and Turkish dictionary to each and every home in Macedonia Speaking at a political convention in his hometown Konya a few days later, DavutoIlu joyfully reaffirmed this utterly interventionist policy that is sure to raise eyebrows in many capitals in the Balkans.As the political Islamist government finds it increasingly difficult to manage its affairs amid a deepening crisis of governance in Turkey, the suspension of the rule of law and gross violation of rights and liberties, weand#39ll likely see more religiously toned rhetoric and policy actions that are motivated by ideological considerations.

DavutoIluand#39s holding hands with Hamas leader Khalid Mashaal — who showed up in a surprise visit to Turkey — at a political rally is another indication that sensitive issues that draw the attention of pious Muslims, such as Palestinians, will be played out loudly in the coming months.From ErdoIanand#39s insider circle, two key people seem to have emerged as influential figures in implementing policies that earn ErdoIan political credit to spend at the domestic front.

One is BeIir Atalay, former deputy prime minister and now the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesperson. He handles the Muslim Brotherhood network overall and Hamas specifically.

Considering that he is the top pro-Iranian official in the Turkish government, he must have a lot of help from Iran in exploiting issues like Palestine for political purposes.The other is Emrullah IIler, the former deputy prime minister and special envoy for ErdoIan in Libya He used to be the point man for ErdoIan in the Arab world until he effectively became persona non grata when he started bashing Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and met Libyaand#39s self-declared leader Omar al-Hassi.

IIler reportedly entertained the idea of rejuvenating the caliphate on the sidelines of the Parliamentary Union of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Member States (PUIC)onference held on Jan. 17-22, 2013 in Khartoum, Sudan.

The dream of turning ErdoIan into a caliph fell apart when Turkey was isolated in its own neighborhood and insulated from much of the world due to the interventionist policies Islamists have pursued in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia, Southeast Asia and even in Latin America ErdoIan quickly wore himself out after pulling so many punches that are beyond his capacity and capability to deliver The anti-American and anti-EU discourse antagonized Turkeyand#39s allies and partners, while the paranoia of boogeyman imperialists that always haunts ErdoIan prompted him to come up with unreasonable policies.As a result, ErdoIan increasingly turned his attention to domestic matters, propagating the idea of the infallible leader through government-controlled media outlets.

His sycophants have spread the word that total obedience to the ruler should be accepted as righteousness rather than authoritarianism, and that it is necessary to overcome conspiracies plotted by global powers working in tandem with domestic critics and opponents.Given that resurrecting the title of caliph has a strong appeal in militant Islamic movements, ErdoIan has likely catered to radical groups in Turkey and abroad with the belief that investing in proxies would help build his reputation as the leader of the Islamic world.

All types of al-Qaeda affiliated groups were allegedly given sanctuary in Turkey by the ErdoIan regime as all the police investigators and members of the judiciary who had probed extremist groups were punished and journalists who wrote about them were sent to jail andor threatened.The fatal blow to ErdoIanand#39s utopian dream of securing the title of successor to the caliphate, most recently held by the Ottomans, was dealt after the public exposure of the massive corruption scandal worth billions of dollars that incriminated him and his family members.

The overwhelming majority of Turks realized he is just another corrupt politician and perhaps the most corrupt considering the amount of money involved in this case, which is unprecedented in Turkish history.That must have dashed ErdoIanand#39s long-cherished hopes to build a lasting legacy as the leader of the Islamic world, making him so angry that he declared total war against each and every criticopponent of his rule.

However, many in the government are reluctant to join in ErdoIanand#39s personal fight to survive because he is seen as yet another corrupt politician who is driven by sheer profit, material benefits and opportunism for himself and his family members. In short, his hypocrisy was laid bare for all to see.

The fact that most caliphate movements have emerged as a reaction to perceived corruption and hypocrisy in the existing government, ErdoIanand#39s corruption scandal was a major blow to his dream to one day claim that title. The evidence suggests that ErdoIan has difficulty coming to grips with his fate and does not seem to have altogether given up hope.

Perhaps he has no other avenue left other than stepping up the rhetoric on the dream of a caliphate. He has been testing the limits of Turkeyand#39s allies and partnersand#39 patience by adopting an increasingly hard-line approach toward the West, as well as Arab and Muslim countries.

This may be the last bargaining chip for ErdoIan, who is ready to dump his ideological convictions in a snap if he sees an opportunity.By exploiting religious references — in what is clear disassociation with facts in his public speeches — ErdoIan is increasingly looking like late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi who in 2007 invoked the resurrection of the 10th century Fatimid caliphate in North Africa, which ruled the region from the 10th to the 13th century.

In trying to counter the influence of the Arab Leagueand#39s heavyweights and position himself as a leader in North Africa, Gaddafi adopted harsh language against the West and other Muslim nations while aligning himself publicly with Iran by calling for the re-establishment of the caliphate.Perhaps ErdoIan also espouses to re-establish the Ottoman caliphate using similar reasons.

Like Gaddafi, he also makes controversial speeches condemning Arabs and the West, while also citing historical inaccuracies such as rebuilding an old mosque in Cuba and the discovery of the Americas by Muslims. His conspiracies and unique interpretations of facts have been conveyed to Turks via government-controlledsubsidized media He called Iran his second home and helped move Iranian state funds through front companies set up in Turkey.

Ironically, Iran was the arch-enemy of the Ottoman caliphate, but that is a moot point for ErdoIan.Just as all Muslims must oppose the ideology of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), vicious terrorist groups that plan to overthrow governments in Muslim nations and establish a caliphate based on their perverted interpretation of Islam, Turks must also confront efforts by ErdoIan and his ideological allies to turn this great country into a bastion for a hypocritical authoritarian regime that simply abuses Islamic references to sustain its powerIslamic scholar Fethullah Gulen, the key moderate mainstream Muslim leader, has become ErdoIanand#39s main target because Gulen is leading the charge in the battle to counter the extremist ideology of political Islamists.

With his strong, principled stand rooted in solid and clear religious references, Gulen exposed the hypocrisy of ErdoIanand#39s political Islamist regime, which had promised to root out corruption, favoritism and mismanagement in Turkey, as well as aenturism and interference abroad.ErdoIan lost his credibility and the trust of the people amid tightening political oppression and increasingly partisan governance in Turkey.

His long-running cunning game is over In a futile attempt, he is trying to hold on to power for fear of being defenseless in the face of potential charges in the future for constitutional crimes and criminal acts.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman