Turkey is misleading the Ummah by promising Caliphate

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By: Muhammad Mujeeb

Turkey’s President Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party’s political triumph in 2002 marked the beginning of the implementation of a programme of unhurried and balanced change to transform Turkey. The re-introduction of Islam in public life and the gradual resuscitation of Ottoman memory in the public discourse tickles one to dwell into the paradox that whether Erdogan is imagining an Islamic State or just brandishing nationalism to remain in power for as long he could wish.

Recently, a 1500-year-old monument, Hagia Sophia was restored to a mosque which was earlier converted into a museum in 1930 by Ataturk. The move cemented the belief that the Islamisation process is aimed at creating Turkey as an Islamic power centre.

To lure large number of people to believe in his ambitions, Erdogan, established many Islamic schools and also made significant reforms in all sectors of the society to incorporate Islamic ethics. He further filled the crucial posts with his supporters in the name of restructurings. The party drifted away from its traditional western partners and initiated ties with the Muslim countries, especially Iran. Erdogan put forward his pan-Islamic views while establishing relations with Muslim nations. Apart from the policy changes, he repetitively advocated Caliphate while addressing the world Islamic community (Ummah).

With the increasing Islamic reforms in Turkey, inferences surrounded the future of Turkey and Erdogan’s intentions. After Turkey’s increasing engagement with Iran, a State that strongly supports Caliphate, most of the world speculates that Erdogan truly wishes to build a Caliphate; and Turkey being a Muslim majority State would benefit his intents. But, the creation of an Islamic State in today’s world is not simple. Though the world witnessed such a claim from ISIS and Al-Qaeda however, in what form these existed is world known.

Various organisations like ISIS and Al-Qaeda also announced their intentions of forming Caliphate but could not succeed. With all the obstacles and complexities, the formation of a Caliphate in today’s world is near impossible. Erdogan, a student of an Islamic school, is a strong believer of Islam and he has been highly influenced by the National Outlook Party which is known for its Islamic stance. It could be speculated that the Erdogan’s socio-political transformations is not intended to build a Caliphate but to make Turkey an Islamic authoritarian nation. Certain transformations made by his party also exhibit Erdogan’s desire to continue in power. His international outlook is also to assert his influence in the region rather than to collaborate towards a formation of an Islamic State.

Erdogan is trying to scuttle the influence of Saudi Arabia in Muslim world and in this endeavor Iran could be more than happy to join hands. His prime focus is to portray Turkey and his own person as the sole leaders of Ummah.

While Arab world is inching towards reconciliation and peace, Erdogan is busy parroting a narrative that suits him to extend his rule in Turkey as long as possible. UAE-Israel pact has started a new chapter in the recent history of Muslim world and Erdogan’s politics could never be comfortable with such kind of an approach.

If reports published in Khaleej Times are to be believed, unstable Lebanon is becoming a fertile ground for Turkish exploits.

Jiwan Soz, a journalist specialising in Turkish affairs and minorities in the Middle East, was quoted by Khaleej Times as saying: “Months ago (before Beirut blast), the authorities arrested four people of Lebanese, Turkish, and Syrian nationalities at Beirut airport, who were coming from Istanbul and carrying $4 million. No traveler can carry such an amount even if it is a ‘currency teller’ as these people claimed. This serves as a confirmation that these funds were to be used for Turkish military objectives. We do not really know how much Turkish money is in Lebanon, especially since the Turkish embassy has funded many projects over the past years under the guise of civil society work. The task of the people who implement these projects, in fact, has been political and military. Lebanon falls within the Turkish objectives of building a ‘new Ottoman Empire’.”

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