Europe must wake up to Erdogan’s neo-Ottoman ambition

Turkey’s strongman president is bent on creating a warped, 21st century version of the Ottoman empire. As former French President, Francois Hollande, has said Recep Tayyip Erdogan is ”seeking to militarise the eastern Mediterranean; he has breached Nato obligations by buying Russian missiles; he has imprisoned hundreds of journalists and political opponents; he is obsessed with Islamism”. But Europe has yet to wake up to the militarised, Islamist threat on it’s doorstep.

Having initially rebranded his AKP party as pro-market and pro-Western, it didn’t take long for Erdogan’s deep-seated Islamist ideology to emerge. Now he combines the Kemalist foregin policy of former President Özal with a more Islamist worldview. Europe is bearing witness to the fruits of that approach, with Ankara exporting jihadist fighters to Libya, potentially triggering another migrant crisis, and ratcheting up tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Whilst it may alarm, it should not surprise observers. President Erdogan’s neo-Ottomanism is all about projecting Turkey’s power beyond it’s borders by disseminating a Muslim Brotherhood-inspired agenda in hotspots like Syria, Libya and Greek waters. Turkey has adopted Iran’s strategy of using deniable proxy activities to obscure the exact nature of its plans.

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