The Sultan of Istanbul


Turkish tanks are massed on the border with Syria. They have been sitting there for days watching the Islamic State besiege the town of Kobani, defended by the Kurds. The Kurds are our “boots on the ground” in this fight. Not only is Turkey not helping, they are not even allowing Turkish Kurdish men or equipment to cross the border to join the fight. Instead they are bombing the Kurds.

Recep Erdogan, the Turkish President, is supposed to be our ally. Turkey is a member of NATO. Is that the behavior of an ally? Erdogan is so afraid of Kurdish Nationalism and obsessed with the “Kurdish problem” that he is willing to help their enemy (and ours).

Charles Krauthammer has compared his cynical maneuver with that of Stalin during World War II: “During the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, Stalin ordered the advancing Red Army to stop at the outskirts of the city while the Nazis annihilated the Non-communist Polish partisans. Only then did Stalin take Warsaw”
Recep Erdogan’s domestic record is nothing to boast about either. President Obama cites Turkey as a model of Islamic-enlightened democracy. Yet Erdogan has repressed demonstrations, imprisoned journalists, blocked access to Facebook, Twitter and You Tube and purged the army of secular officers. During the Arab Spring, Turkey was often cited as a model of the kind of Islamic society to achieve. That is because when Ataturk founded the modern Turkish state in 1923 he looked toward European democracies as a model. This model is slowly eroding under Erdogan and Turkey has become more anti-Western since its bid to join the European Union was rebuffed (mostly by France). It has also slowly moved toward a more fundamental Islamism.

Turkey used to have friendly relations with Israel . Since the Mavi Marmara incident during which a Turkish flotilla tried to breach the Gaza Blockade and suffered some losses in the process, Erdogan has shown total hostility toward Israel.

Just as Putin dreams of a greater Russia and yearns for a return to Catherine the Great’s Empire, Recep Erdogan is dreaming of his own new Caliphate. The last Caliphate was claimed by the Turkish Sultans of the Ottoman Empire. They were then the leaders of the Islamic World. Erdogan’s Putinesque dream is that of his own Caliphate.

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