Erdogan is voted “Man of the Year”

The anti-Israeli rhetoric of Ankara, as well as the support for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip is certainly not aimed against Israel, but is directed towards the Arabs to enlist their support in the establishment of a Middle Eastern analogue of the EU.

No matter how much the orthodox Islam resists the “pernicious Western influence”, the fashion for “Man of the Year” reached the Muslim world too. Naturally, the favourite was Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was voted “Man of the Year” for 2010 by readers of CNN Arabic. As reported by Today’s Zaman, Erdogan won 74% of the votes.

PanARMENIAN.Net - The choice of Erdogan in this category was not arbitrary: Turkish foreign policy of the past several years has been focused specifically on becoming a mediator between the Arab and Turkic worlds. And it must be admitted that to some extent Turkey has succeeded. In this respect, the big time for Erdogan came in Davos in 2009, when he left the forum after quarreling with Israeli President Shimon Peres for the operation “Cast Lead”. As you remember, Erdogan was met in Turkey as a national hero, and there immediately began an anti-Semitic campaign. With his demarche Erdogan killed two birds with one stone: he showed the Arabs that Turkey does not sympathize with her long-standing ally Israel and supports the Palestinian side; besides Turkey defends Islam, or rather Pan-Turanism, or to be more precise - Ottomanism, without any prefixes like “neo-”. The anti-Israeli rhetoric of Ankara, as well as the support for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip is certainly not aimed against Israel, but is directed towards the Arabs to enlist their support in the establishment of a Middle Eastern analogue of the EU. By the way, there are rumours that the Greater Middle East, being the brainchild of the United States, may still be fulfilled by Erdogan. Perhaps that is why Washington turns a blind eye to the anti-Israeli and sometimes anti-American demarches of Ankara.

One may say that Erdogan follows two goals: membership in the EU and establishment of a similar structure in the Middle East with the involvement of some former Soviet republics. It may well be that both of these goals are achieved in the years to come if the Justice and Development Party (AKP) remains in power after the elections of 2011. And only a few doubt that it will be so. Naturally Ataturk’s legacy must be preserved, but Turkey, with the exception of Istanbul and Ankara, is still an Islamic country as a whole. In the central part of the country people still live under Sharia Law and the current situation is unlikely to change in the near future. The immortal phrase of Rudyard Kipling “East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet” is relevant today too. And no matter how often Turkey repeats to the world that she is the crossroads of civilizations and the bridge between East and West, yet an Islamic country is an Islamic country.

However, these two are not the only goals of Turkey. There are still two huge troubles - the Kurds and the Ottoman history. In principle the situation is already clear with the Kurds - they have been promised an independent Kurdistan, and sooner or later they will establish it on the lands of four countries: Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria. It is sad to imagine what will happen in the region after that: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is just a child’s play as compared to the “struggle for the independence of Kurdistan”.

Well, and the second trouble (the Ottoman history) is the most painful, as no leader of modern Turkey is capable of changing the history of the Ottoman Empire. It’s not only about the Armenian Genocide, but also about the Greeks, Assyrians, and Syrian Christians. If the Young Turks had slaughtered only the Armenians of Turkey, now it would be much easier for them: one nation is not two or three after all. Moreover, excuses like “Russian colony” obviously do not fit the Greeks and everyone else. Exactly this is one of the main reasons for this kind of persistent denial of the Armenian Genocide.

If Erdogan is able to solve at least some of these problems in his time, the title given to him is justified. But hardly will he be able, since Ottoman mentality will not allow him to. On the other hand, under the best of circumstances, Erdogan can come close to attempting to become a second Nasser. The only thing he and the rest of the Turks must keep in mind is that the Arabs can’t stand them, and all the talks about Islamic brotherhood are only a means to achieve their own goals, which for the most part are fairly different.

Karine Ter-Sahakyan / PanARMENIAN News
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