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Multi-sided Turkey in the 21st century – neoosmanic loop of history

Multi-sided Turkey in the 21st century – neoosmanic loop of history

Experts and political analysts of the CIPDH prepared an analysis of the political regime in the Republic of Turkey and possible options for the development of the situation. The CIPDH Working Group  worked in Istanbul on June 19, 2018. The work group consisted of the members of the Administrative Council , expert-political analyst Sergei Dvorianov, deputy of the Great National Assembly of Turkey Ismail Safi, Expert in the east – Mr. Koramangala Purshotam.

In the 21stcentury Turkey gives the world many surprises and turns. One of the oldest members of the unfriendly to Russia NATO, which is traditionally covering the southern flank, though isn’t the member of the European Union, but supports it on a wide range of questions, the ally of the USA though who began to move away slowly both from the USA and from NATO for various reasons, and, of course, one of the most difficult partners of Russia with which was at war in all history 12 times.

Axis around which many events of the last several years – the neoosmanism (or neoottomanism) phenomenon are developed. Today ascertaining of the fact of an acute crisis of the Turkish state became a platitude. However all a few years ago everything was absolutely on the contrary. The economy prospered, society closely approached the solution of the ethnic and religious problems shaking the country of decade, Turkey approached a provision of regional predominant force. What way of the country from “strategic depth” to “strategic nightmare” was? And, above all – do we observe the crash of a neoosmanism, or it goes through major, but temporary difficulties?

The Republic of Turkey was created in 1923 by Kemal Ataturk. The kemalist project was reaction to disintegration of the Turkish Empire and was aimed at inclusion of Turkey to Europe. For implementation of this purpose it was necessary to create the Turkish nation and to carry out laicization of public life, as it was made Ataturk on regulations of that era – “iron and blood”. The kemalist project was not the unique crisis plan, but he won then. In spite of the fact that the majority of the Muslim countries built and implemented Islam canons in the policy and the right – Turkey was recreated, developed and even exists as the secular state to this day and it very distinguishes it both from brothers on belief, and on the Turkic ethnic camp.

To the 1980th the kemalist project reached a deadlock, entry into Europe didn’t turn out. In response to it a part of the Turkish elite pushed and began to perform actively the new project called a neoosmanism. Coming to power of the Justice and Development Party in 2002 arranged transition of Turkey from the kemalist project of the national state to the neoosmanic imperial project. The current president of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan performing the project of a neoosmanism promised to construct new Turkey by 2023 (century of declaration of the Republic of Turkey). “Zero” years became triumphal for the neoosmanic project. However a few years ago problems began.

Today Turkey is shaken by powerful system crisis. The integrity of the power and elite is destroyed, the focus in country government disappeared. The following is considered as the most serious of problems which the neoosmanic project monopolizing the power in Turkey faced. New format of the Kurdish problem. Growth of influence of military. Crash of foreign policy: exchange of the concept “Zero problems with neighbors” on, so to speak, “Zero neighbors without problems”. The crisis of the Turkish economy aggravated by a world economic crisis. Close examination of these mutually influencing problems of the Turkish state, their genesis and history, allows to understand more deeply politicians of a neoosmanism and to specifically depict it’s history.

Army – is active participant of the Turkish policy. Kemal Ataturk created the Republic of Turkey as exclusively secular state. The army acted as the main guarantor of kemalist statehood. Throughout all history of the republic military without hesitation interposed in the matter of the government to which they, theoretically, shall submit as soon as they saw signs of revival of political Islam. For this reason the Justice and Development Party (Party of Social Reforms) and Erdogan personally after seizure of power in 2002 began repressions against military. One of episodes of these repressions – trial of 2013 of the Turkish generals who performed “postmodern” revolution. Regular political cleanings of ranks of army didn’t allow to be created to the power center alternative to the Party of Social Reforms. In the middle of the 2000thin Turkey the laws which are stripping of power army were adopted. It seemed that the neoosmanic project subordinated military to the will. What changed the developed balance of forces? In July, 2015 in Turkey there was relevant the Kurdish problem again. After the input of Russian Air Forces to Syria which caused changes of balance on fronts of the Syrian war for benefit of Assad and Kurds, the Kurdish question in Turkey only became aggravated. Armed rebellions in the Kurdish viyalyat (Ils) – it now filling of a news line of Turkey. For suppression of the Kurdish revolts all military means up to heavy artillery are used. Effectively prevented to suppress Kurds the military the laws adopted for replacement of army from policy. Erdogan destroyed this barrier and delegated a part of the political power to military. The power of army on places already exceeds the power of civil structures: the decision on need of power suppression of revolts is made by generals, but not governors. The active foreign policy of Turkey, its last failures and the growth of external threat caused by it also play for benefit of military in their conflict with the neoosmanic project. Acute internal political crisis promotes growth influence of military.

The provision of army so got stronger that the General Staff of Turkey makes far-reaching political statements. Among them – sharp criticism of a possibility of the Turkish invasion into Syria. (A condition of the beginning of war with Syria the General Staff calls either the decision of the UN Security Council, or the solidary decision of parliament, Security Council and General Staff of Turkey). Other indicative and symptomatic statement is the recent speech of Ilker Bashbuga – former heads of the General Staff of Turkey (2008-2010) which left the post under pressure of the Party of Social Reforms, said by it at Ataturk’s University in Erzurum. “I prosecuted it (Alpasran Chelik, the murderer of the pilot of SU-24). From the point of view of international law murder of the catapulting pilot is war crime and violation of the Geneva Convention. Besides, this court can accelerate normalization of the Russian-Turkish relations”, – the general said. Also he noted that despite crisis between Russia and Turkey, probability of war between them is “zero”, and hoped that the relations of two countries will be improved soon.

As background of military position strengthening serves the expectation of a military coup which is warmed up by media, and not only Turkish. Among other it’s also possible to allocate and an economic component of the conflict of a neoosmanism on behalf of Islamic business and kemalism on behalf of family business (which as partners often included generals), what it will be told below about.

All influence of army was in one stage nullified after attempt of a coup in July, 2017. The army was beheaded by dismissals and criminal cases concerning the considerable number of the highest ranking officers. Everything was so seriously organized and performed that there was a real threat of life of Erdogan and only the help and hidden intervention of Russia salvaged it.

The kemalist project was directed to entry into Europe and deprived of the expansionist beginning. Neoosmanism by determination is the project which integral component – external expansion. Ahmed Davutoglu, the author of the book “Strategic Depth” (2001) former prime-minister of Turkey, and before it –  the Minister of Foreign Affairs said, addressing members of the Party of Social Reforms in 2009: “There is a heritage which was left by the Ottoman Empire. We are called “new Ottomans”. Yes, we – “new Ottomans”. We are forced to be engaged in neighboring countries, and we go even to Africa”.

The book “Strategic Depth” by Davutoglu – one of program texts of the neoosmanic political project. Special attention in it is paid to the strategy of Turkey in adjacent by it the Arab states (Syria and Iraq) and so in the Balkans. In the book especially makes a reservation that tactics of achievement of strategic objective of creation of the neoosman empire – “soft power”. This line item was consensus for “new Ottomans”. So, acting in the International center of strategic researches (USAK) in Ankara in 2009, the president of Turkey A. Gül said: “Turkey is convinced of need of “soft power” which can win hearts and minds of people”.

The policy of a neoosmanism doesn’t contradict integration of Turkey into Europe. According to Davutoglu’s plans stated in “The strategic depth”, the Balkan countries shall become the bridge for integration into Europe. Turkey plans to keep them in the orbit with a support on Muslim diaspores of these countries. But the crucial element is an economic expansion, “economic diplomacy”. After creation of the free trade area and opening of the markets, export of Turkey to the Balkans increased ten times, and amount of the Turkish investments – six times.

It is necessary to understand that the neoosmanism is not the project of the Party of Social Reforms, Erdogan or Davutoglu. The neoottoman project began to be performed by the Turkish elite at least since the beginning of the 1980s. So, in 1989 Ozal Turgut created the organization of the Black Sea economic cooperation which purpose were returns of Black Sea Coast under control of Turkey. The dream to Ozal which he didn’t manage to perform was to create “The Islamic eight” – D8. I performed it in 1997 Ozal’s successor – the president Nedzhmettin Erbokan. The idea of D8 – to unite the world of Islam, to become one of the most influential forces on the planet and to enter equal dialogue with the West. In case of impossibility of partnership also the confrontational scenario wasn’t excluded. Turkey acted as model of the relations with the West for D8. Malaysia, Indonesia, Egypt, Nigeria, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Bangladesh became members of the eight. It is important that from the Arab states D8 included only Egypt and there were neither jellied monarchy, nor the Iraqi and Syrian republics. However, in three days after creation of D8, Erbakan resigned under pressure of generals during a military coup. At a meeting of the First Deputy U.S. Secretary of State Strouba Talbott and the deputy chief of the General Staff of Turkey general Chevik Bir, passing one week prior to a constituent congress of D8, the general said that “at military the patience came to an end”, they aren’t intended to be reconciled with a pro-Islamic rate of the government trying “to destroy secular bases of the state”. But this revolution couldn’t change the fact of structural changes in foreign policy of Turkey.

Prior to events of “the Arab spring”, the neoottoman project unambiguously staked on use of “soft power”. The principle of application of “soft power” – to become for certain segments of society of an object of impact a reference point or an ideal, and then to manage opinion and the political interests of these people. The historical community, cultural and national proximity, coincidence, real or imagined, political interests, religious identity or economic model can be the directions of impact. Neoosmanism used all range of these impacts, creating a lobby in foreign states. It both a panturan subject, and religious communications (many Russian muftis studied in Turkey), and Islamic business, and networks of nursist schools of Gülen, and many other things.

Necessary conditions of effective application of “soft power” on which the neoottoman project staked are:

1) steady political system;

2) successful, effective economy;

3) properly designed humanitarian aspect.

The Turkish elite long time moved in this waterway. The economic basis of a neoosmanism was pledged in the 1980th. The humanitarian aspect of soft power was worked Ozal Turgut in the book “Turkey in Europe and Europe in Turkey” (I left in 1988 in French, in 1991 – in English, in Turkey – in 2010 under the name “History and heritage. Anatoly from antiquity times to the Republic, the Turkish and Islamic civilizations”), Said Nursi the interpretation of the Koran “Treatises of light”, the pupil Nursi Fethullah Gülen with his system of schools, Ahmed Davutoglu in “The strategic depth” and others. The political system constructed by the Party of Social Reforms after receipt of the power in 2002 long time seemed steady and allowing to put effectively into practice neoosmanizm ideals: The Party of Social Reforms continuously is in power nearly fifteen years. “Soft power” worked.

It is indicative that on March 9, 2011, at the beginning of the Libyan crisis, Muammar Gaddafi said: “All of us are osmanets. We have a single history”, in hope to use a neoosmanism resource in own favor. But he didn’t manage to make it: Turkey actively supported events of “the Arab spring”. An indicator of existence of the backlog created by the neoottoman project with the help of application of “soft power” is also pro-neoottoman orientation of a number of the Russian experts in the Middle East. Once again I will emphasize that “soft power” first of all is based on ideal motivation. We will pass to events of “the Arab spring” of 2011.

Turkey approached events of global “Islamic political awakening” to prepared – history with “freedom fleet” provided to Turkey unprecedented political authority at anti-Israel the adjusted Islamists, being “fuel” for the fire of “the Arab spring”. And also – I destroyed the partnership of Turkey and Israel existing decades. The results of investigations claiming that “freedom fleet” – the thought-over provocation conceived and performed by the immediate environment of Erdogan and it personally were published. This share is in a concept of the “Strategic depth” of Davutoglu claiming that the Turkish nation was aloof from historical “Me” and identifies itself with a forgery, others essence, and the existing Turkish-Israeli partnership – “an alienation factor” from the truth of the Turkish identity. It is important that Fethullah Gülen living in the USA since 1999, one of the most influential religious leaders of Turkey, called the idea “freedom fleet” “disgusting” including what it won’t yield fruitful results.

Gülen’s forecast was close to the truth. Despite initial success, neoottomans didn’t manage to ride out “the Arab spring”. And a number of experts call the military coup in Egypt which overthrew Muslim Brotherhood demonstration of a failure of model of a neoosmanism for the Arab world at all.

It is appropriate to tell several words about Gülen and his religious award “Hizmet”. Fetkhulla Gülen (river of 1938) is Said Nursi Posle’s follower of death Nursi in 1960, its movement Nurdzhular, deystvovashy across all Turkey, broke up into several directions. Fethullah Gülen became the leader of one of the directions which relied on creation of an education system and its use in the sermon. By the end of the 1980th, Gülen’s movement became one of the most numerous and influential Islamic organizations of Turkey, yielding only to Islamic political parties created by Nesmetinn Erbakan. From the middle of the 1990th Gülen’s movement was focused at work in Central Asia. This work was promoted by the president Turgut Ozal who pushed a slogan: “Great Turkestan from the Mediterranean Sea to the Chinese wall”. Creation of “adopt towns” was tactics of an award of Gülen of “Hizmet”: member businessmen of movement of Gülen from some city of Turkey, for example Erzurum, orderly began to work in some one Central Asian city, for example Bishkek. Hizmet managed this flow. Having become stronger in the territory, gyulenist passed to promotion and the organization of schools, creation of local branches of the hizmetovsky newspaper “Zaman”, etc.

A number of the western experts speak about Gülen as about the creator of “the post-Islamic direction of Islam”. And authoritative Russian Muslim theologians, for example Valiulla Makhmutovich Yakupov killed by radical Muslims, call the doctrine of Nursi and Gülen “Anti-Islam” at all. Whether there is a historical base under these estimates? A Bayram Baldzhi, the American politician and the ethnographer, the researcher of Islam in Turkey, Central Asia and in the Caucasus, claims: “In Turkey in the twilight of the Ottoman Empire all elite studied at the western schools created with the assistance of Jesuits”. Gülen imitated Jesuit model. Gülen, based on the representation of Islam, created the post-Islamic direction in Islam”.

More than 2 thousand schools and 7 universities on 5 continents, 2 modern hospitals, the Zaman newspaper, Samanyolu TV channel, Burç FM radio station, one of the leading news agencies of Turkey of the DREAM, the leading weekly of news Aksiyon enter the empire of Gyulena. Besides, Gülen’s community will regularly organized national and international conferences, interreligious dinners-iftary on the occasion of Ramadan, visits to Turkey of representatives of the different countries for interreligious dialogue, the numerous programs financed by Fund of journalists and writers. At last, are connected with Hizmet insurance company I şı k and Islamic bank Bank Asya.

In Othman Nuri Gyundesh’s memoirs (in 1993–1997 – the chief adviser of investigation in case of the prime minister of Turkey) “The direct witness of revolutions and anarchy”, published in 2010, is brought the following certificate: “at the opened schools, in particular in the Turkic republics, Gülen’s community contained the American CIA agents with diplomatic passports as teachers of English”. About 70 such employees worked in Uzbekistan, 60 – in Kyrgyzstan, etc. Commenting on this information, many experts claim: Gülen’s schools are a part of the American project of the Big Middle East.

In 1999 on the Turkish television record of a secret sermon of Fethullah Gülen was shown: “You shall move on system arteries so that nobody noticed your existence, you won’t reach all centers of the power yet… You shall wait until you are ready and yet conditions when you are able to shoulder the whole world and to carry him won’t ripen … You shall wait until receive all government, you won’t win round all force of the constitutional institutes of Turkey yet… Up to this point any step will be premature how to break egg, without having waited until there pass 40 days that the chicken arose. All the same that to kill a chicken in egg. Our case — to resist to the world. I opened for all of you the feelings and thoughts secretly, hoping for your commitment and ability this secret to store”. Not long before publication of this material, Gülen hastily left Turkey and located in Pennsylvania. Having come to the power in the union with Gülen, Erdogan cancelled his criminal prosecution. However, on statements of analysts, from the middle of the 2000th, allies began to clash. Public the conflict became after the events of “freedom fleet”. One of driving belts of attempted coup in Turkey which happened in 2013 and accompanied with street disorders, analysts call the Hizmet organization of Gülen.

In March, 2014, right after the victory on local elections, Erdogan said on air of the Turkish television: “There [in Syria] – our historical lands, the earth of our ancestors. We won’t allow Americans to handle us sitting in the Pennsylvanias. There is a war in which many forces are tied. We won’t allow to separate the lands kept at the price of blood of our ancestors. Our people shall return on the way of osmanism. We will construct new Turkey”. By summer 2015 of these lands almost managed to be attached. But in September Russia interfered with the Syrian conflict, having caused rage of the Turkish elite. Destruction of SU-24 reduced the foreign policy Russian-Turkish relations to the level of a Cold War, stopped economic cooperation, profitable to a neoosmanism, with Russia. It is impossible to tear away from Syria northern territories in today’s situation: concerning Kurds – the USA won’t allow to use military force and Russia won’t allow  neoottomans to do the same with Assad.

Problems for neoosmanizm arise also with use of “the weak force”. A keynote wedging Turkey in domestic policy of other states there was a thesis: “these countries – our brothers, we shall help them”. Also ordinary Turks, uchuvstvovavshy in this work, and target groups of policy of “soft power” believed in it. So, expansion of Turkey to Central Asia to the 1990th went under the slogan: “We shall repay a debt”, first of all cultural – affirmed that Islam and high culture in Anatoly were brought by the Turkic peoples who came from Central Asia. Believed in it, for the sake of it worked with enthusiasm and rank-and-file members of Hizmet sacrificed something. Now, when at Turkey the image of an aggressor beyond its limits is created, there took place resonant corruption scandals in which the highest figures of neoottoman elite are involved – whether it will be possible to pursue policy of “soft power” also effectively?

The neoottoman project arose in a situation of the exhaustion of the kemalist republican project caused by the West line item. The neoottoman project was performed in a paradigm of “soft power” by several generations of the Turkish elite. The beginning of implementation of the project is marked by the “Islamic economy” created by Turgut Ozal. This economic system provided respectability of Islamic policy which Nedzhmettin Erbakan began to carry out. Coming to power of the Party of Social Reforms provided rise of the neoottoman project. Till 2010 the power of Turkey inevitably increased. However, since 2010 the series of mistakes of “new Ottomans” began. Till 2015 these difficulties could be considered growth problems. But after making by neoottomans of war crime on November 24, 2015 to write off everything on problems of growth becomes impossible. This war crime cardinally worsened a situation of Turkey. Turkey was also so surrounded with the military and diplomatic conflicts on all perimeter. And after November, 2015 it was also clamped in a geostrategic vice between our Crimea and our military base in Syria. In general a huge mistake and nonsense to try to put pressure upon Russia in the military way. After military aggression in Syria in large numbers was the corresponding military systems are developed. Russia “started from Kronstadt to Vladivostok”: society was somewhat mobilized, economic and other costs became acceptable. Who gave to Recep Erdogan so wise advice?

That we observe: false start of neoottomans, or the blow struck to a neoosmanism by external force? Anyway, the potential of a neoosmanizm is substantially undermined, he lost the offensive force and an initiative and showed the person. Whether the chance “to get out” has a neoosmanism? I think, has. On it play the following factors. The first factor – external: a neoosmanism with the clipped wings – very convenient tool. The West set Turkey on Russia in the 18th century, and, actually, took it under external management in a century 19. If the West then coped with an osmanism – why don’t it tame a neoosmanism now? The western analytical community draws parallels between today and the Crimean war. And in implementation of strategic plans of the West concerning Central Asia for which a big fight just about will begin Turkey plays very important role.

The second factor – internal. Neoosmanizm – qualitatively and deeply developed concept. The neoosmanizm scoops the power from objective processes: raising of the Islamic world, fading of a modernist style, exhaustion of modern western culture. Neoosmanism relies on powerful historical tradition of the Ottoman Empire. Neoosmanizm possesses own metaphysics developed by Nursi in “Treatises of Light”. (In the expert environment there is an opinion that many nursist consider Said Nursi the prophet, on greatness commensurable with the Prophet Muhammad.) Neoosmanism force – in people who trust in it and such people in Turkey is a lot of.

How to fight against a neoosmanism? It is possible to do it only with a support on the internal processes happening to a neoosmanism and Turkey. For example, the conflict Gülen – Erdogan sharply proceeds. Who should accompany in this conflict? To the eccentrical, having a great number of enemies Erdogan subject to rash decisions, or thin, cold prudent Gülen? It is considered that Erdogan had only two tools by means of which he can remain in power – terror and unleashing of the external conflicts. Erdogan is very tenacious politician who will hold on for the power like grim death. Why not to direct, owing to the opportunities which are available for us, these objective processes to the least costly for us and the most costly party for a neoosmanism?

Last political, constitutional reforms and also triumphal victory of Erdogan at presidential elections and his batch at parliamentary elections in June, 2018 will only strengthen his positions and also give him absolute carte blanche on any actions because his power isn’t limited by anything now. In fact, it has little difference from Ottoman sultans of imperial times unless the power isn’t descended. And now it for certain will continue this course begun many years ago and now serious obstacles on it’s way aren’t visible. So, now – the only enemy and potential crusher of his course – is himself. Just think what will be if there is one more incident to knocking down of the Russian plane and murder of the catapulting pilot.

In general, for this purpose to fight against something, it is necessary to be proportional to this phenomenon. The sea of a neoosmanism is fed with a set of different streamlets. It’s both the world economic and geostrategic agenda. And exhaustion of the western culture. Both pan-turkish and pan-islamic movements. And many other things. Neoosmanism manages these flows, strengthening himself. And until we become deeper and cleverer than a neoosmanism, we won’t learn to manage these flows in own favor – we will be capable to weaken only a little it, to reduce its speed, but not to win. And to become such, we need to push the project, the idea, to light the historical fire by means of which only and it is possible to manage flows of the phenomena.