New type of CUP activism

The Ottoman dynasty held political power; however, that dynasty-based Ottoman rule was transformed into the rule of the Turks in the republican era. The Justice and Development Party (AK Party) administration believed that it could reclaim domination and influence in the lands the Turks lost in the past for the near and far future.

The point that the leading AK Party figures have been missing is that the “interim period” between the classical Ottoman era and the modern republican era has caused serious alienation and a disconnect in the ways Muslims perceive each other in political culture. In classical states, communities did not have any problem attaching or subscribing themselves to a dynasty — Umayyad, Abbasid, Seljuk, Safavid or Ottoman. But because a sense of belonging is expressed in the modern nation state by reference to a race or a nation, every nation or community naturally and inevitably assumes sovereignty. Despite the fact that they got along with the Ottoman dynasty in the Ottoman era, the Kurds have experienced great problems with the Republic of Turkey and reference to ethnicity is the main cause of this problem.

The breakpoint in the interim period between the Ottoman and republican eras is the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP). Arabs do not want to recall this period. They hate this period so much that they wrongfully attempt to read the Ottoman era through the lens of the CUP; they believe that they have been ruled under a colonial regime for four centuries. Associating the Ottoman era with the CUP mentality is unfair and it is detrimental to the Muslim mentality and perception of the Muslim ummah (community).Our collapsing foreign policy is an example that proves this point.

The problem is somewhere else: from the perspective of a pro-CUP and pro-republican culture, it becomes evident that our general political approach is flawed. This also explains the problems that Turkey has been experiencing in its orientation since 2011. Regardless of our political or religious inclination, we are unable to get rid of the pro-CUP and pro-republican perspective where Iranians, Arabs and Kurds are considered Muslim brothers but not equal partners. We do not forgive Iran because historically they did not bow to the Ottoman state. There are some figures who are still interpreting developments through the clash between Ottomans and Safavids. The Kurds have been living in a buffer zone between the Anatolian region and the Arabs since Yavuz Sultan Selim. They supported the Ottoman state in the fight against the Safavids; but in the end, they are considered subjects who submitted to the Ottoman rule. And from this vantage point, it is obvious that the Arabs have remained under Ottoman rule for four centuries. This leads us to develop a vision that Turkey should become a leader in the region, as if this is its inherent role to play. This is the main source of our mindset that we are a nation chosen by Allah to rule.

Religious groups do not oppose the idea of ummah; but they ask this question: “Are you referring to ummah under Turkey’s leadership? Why should we seek an alternative leadership under Turks, Persians or Arabs, given that the ummah itself is considered the leader?” This is contrary to the definition of the ummah. The argument is that Turkey has a strong state tradition. Is that so? Iran and Egypt also have strong experience ruling a state. In the new era, all states are the same. The original version of the present form is the modern nation state as devised in the West. All non-Western states, including Turkey, are copies of this original form. Besides, Prophet Muhammad urges Muslims to obey a ruler even if he is an ordinary man, as long as he adheres to Islamic provisions and precepts. In the early 21st century, we developed a project called New Ottomanism that raised many eyebrows. We declared that we will maintain control in the area where the Ottoman state was dominant before 1911. This is actually a new form of CUP activism with the title of New Ottomanism.