Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has finally listened to the call of Imran Khan, and has spoken about Kashmir in 74th session of UN General Assembly, toeing the line of his Pakistani counterpart. The Pakistani Prime Ministers repeatedly called Muslim Ummah to speak on Indian ‘atrocities’ in Kashmir and show solidarity of their Muslim brothers and sisters.
However, many heads of states like Saudi Arabia and UAE refrained from making any statement on the ‘internal matter’ of India. But the Turkish President, in an attempt present himself as the next Caliph of Islamic World, made an incendiary statement on Kashmir, with utter disregard for India’s position, in his address to UNGA.
Erdogan raises Kashmir in his speech in UNGA. pic.twitter.com/ySrbdexhq2
— Yusuf Unjhawala 🇮🇳 (@YusufDFI) September 24, 2019
In order for the “Kashmiri people to look at a safe future together with their Pakistani and Indian neighbours, it is imperative to solve the problem through dialogue and on the basis of justice and equity, and not through collision,” said Erdogan in UNGA.
Erdogan has long been dreaming of reviving Ottoman Caliphate, which claimed the caliphate authority for almost four centuries (1517-1924). The rulers of Ottoman Empire claimed suzerainty over Islamic world, including Mughal Empire in India. The Ottoman caliphate ended in ended with partitioning of Ottoman Empire after the First World War, and the Republic of Turkey was the successor of Empire. The Islamic nation was modernized Mustafa Kemal and Turkey became a modern secular nation state.
However, in 2014, Recep Tayyip Erdogan joined the growing list of ‘strongmen’ that are popping up the world over, from Donald Trump to the likes of Rodrigo Duterte. Since then, Erdogan has actively intervened in the international matters, especially the ones related to Muslim nations in an attempt to further his ‘neo-ottoman’ dreams. However, Erdogan has often sided with Islamists in the middle-east.
In almost every aspect, Erdogan is the pole opposite of Turkey’s founding father, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Ataturk gave birth to the Turkish Republic we know today. He liberalised the conservative Turkish society and Westernised the formerly Islam-centric education, while at the same time encouraging women to pursue studies and a career. Contrary to Erdogan’s ways, he had a particular disdain for imperialism and conflict. Thanks to him, Turkey stayed out of the Second World War.
Erdogan has waged war against Kurdish minority in the country. As the situation worsened in Syria around 2014, independent Kurdish militias backed by foreign fighters took considerable territory in the north bordering with Turkey. This worried Erdogan, who wanted to prevent the Kurds within his own nation from linking up with the areas occupied by Kurdish militias in Syria such as the YPG.
Taking his war against the minority group beyond his own borders, the Turkish President announced Operation Olive Branch earlier, this year in January, which aimed to ‘liberate territory controlled by Kurdish terror outfits’ in a corridor ranging from Northern Syria to the western border of Iraq. Turkey risked direct conflict with Russia not once but twice in the past 2 years. The first instance was when Turkish air defence shot down a Russian jet over Syrian skies.
While the Western powers have spent a good portion of the last decade trying to overthrow Bashar Al Assad’s regime, Erdogan has often cooperated with Russia, and hence, indirectly with the Assad regime in its bid to meet its own strategic interests- the prevention of an independent Kurdish nation.
The growing involvement of Turkey in international matters, Islamization of a modern secular country, and unnecessary concern for global Muslim community suggests that Erdogan wants to place himself caliph of entire ummah (Muslim community).