Wednesday, October 15, 2014
President Erdogan of Turkery Supports the ISIS Calipate: No Help for the Kurds of Kobani
The President of Turkey, Recep Erdogan, shares many of the fundamental goals of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Consequently, Turkey will not make any substantive military attacks against ISIS. Any support will be superficial and after the fact efforts only.
Observers of international conflict are currently focused on the ISIS attacks against the Turkish/Syrian border town of Kobani. If the attacks are successful, thousands of Kurds will likely be slaughtered.
Turkey, which has tanks within range of the town, has not moved to support the Kurds being attacked by ISIS despite being a NATO member and the considerable pressure from the USA and others. Turkey is, however, bombing the Kurds in and around Daglica.
Why will Turkey not support the Kurds against ISIS?
1. ISIS and the Turkish President have a common goal of a caliphate system rather than a Westphalian nation-state system;
2. The Turkish state and the Kurds have been fighting each other over other issues;
3. President Erdogan has imperial ambitions in rebuilding the Turkish Caliphate;
4. Turkey’s positions vis-à-vis Iran and Syria impel them against assisting the Kurds.
1. ISIS and the Turkish President
President Erdogan is a strong Muslim Brotherhood supporter. He repeatedly offers the Muslim Brotherhood salute (R4bia or Rabia) while in public and speaks openly about his support for the former Muslim Brotherhood president of Egypt. He has offered safe haven to senior Muslim Brotherhood figures who are being deported from other Middle Eastern countries. Under Erdogan, Turkey has moved away from its nationalist and secular positions and has become increasingly Islamist in nature.
The position of Muslim Brotherhood believers such as President Erdogan is largely consistent with that of ISIS: the development of an Islamic caliphate. Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, made it clear when he stated the aim was "to instill the Qur'an and Sunnah as the sole reference point for ordering the life of the Muslim family, individual, community and state.” In short, a caliphate where his version of politicized Islam would be all powerful.
Photo Credit AFP
Much the same can be said of the extremist write al-Maududi who is quoted extensively by the Muslim Brotherhood, Jamaah e Islami and the leader of ISIS itself. Al-Maududi believes that his brand of Islam “wishes to destroy all states and governments anywhere on the face of the earth which are opposed to the ideology and programme of Islam regardless of the country or the Nation which rules it. (…) Islam does not intend to confine this revolution to a single State or a few countries; the aim of Islam is to bring about a universal revolution.”
And what of Yousef Qaradawi, the current chief ideologue of the Muslim Brotherhood, so cherished by President Erdogan? Qaradawi says: Conquest through dawah, that is what we hope for….We will conquer Europe, we will conquer America, not through the sword but through dawah.
For those who follow the actions of the Muslim Brotherhood in Canada and the USA, much the same can be said. In a 1990s memorandum, the leadership of the Brotherhood expressed their views by saying: “Civilizational Jihad is eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and 'sabotaging' its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all other religions.”
2. The Turkish State and the Kurds
The Turkish state and the Kurds have been involved in a long standing conflict over greater autonomy or independence for the Kurdish minority in Turkey (and the surrounding region). If ISIS is killing Kurds or forcing them to use resources in combating ISIS, then this works well for the Turkish state.
3. Imperial Ambitions?
Turkey was once at the center of the Ottoman Turkish Empire that stretched over some 600 years and reached from the Gates of Vienna to Algeria to Baghdad. Many believe that Erdogan is looking to rebuild the once mighty caliphate. Combined with this is the view that Turkey wants to play a greater leadership role in the Islamic world and displace governments such as Saudi Arabia (home of the two holy mosques), Iran (home of Shiadom and the Khomeneists) and Egypt.
4. Iran and Syria
4. President Erdogan dislikes and perhaps fears Iran and Syria, especially the Shia/Khomeneist power base that continues to emerge in Iran.. Any efforts to defeat ISIS may play into the hands of Iran and its vassal state Syria, or at least those parts under the control of President Assad.
As such, Erdogan is both ideologically and practically predisposed to believe that helping "The West" defeat ISIS is not in his interests.
All of this takes place against a difficult political backdrop. Many of the region's current borders (Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, etc) were formed as a result of the collapse of the Ottoman Turkish Empire and the decline of colonialism that accompanied WWI and WWII. While political scientists like to argue that all national borders are artificial, the reality is that the borders of these countries were/are especially artificial and will change considerably in the near future. The forces that put them into place and then helped hold them there (UN, USA, Nato, IMF, WB, OPEC) are no longer relevant to the current situation. The strategy, energy and skills needed to maintain the post WWII status quo are in sharp decline. As such, more substantial change will occur. It can be violent or non-violent, but the current situation and history both suggest more bloodshed with an uncertain outcome.
Turkey is a NATO member and is currently being considered for admittance to the EU. It was also the center of the last Islamic Caliphate which finally collapsed in 1924, an event much bereaved by al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood and many others. How Turkey can continue to be in NATO and grow closer to the EU while supporting a move towards a greater Balkanization (Caliphatization?) of the Middle East is not clear.