18 Jul The Second Fall of Constantinople
Whether we are speaking of the role of the nations in last days biblical prophecy, or merely analyzing current Middle East geopolitics from a secular perspective, understanding what is presently unfolding in Turkey is absolutely critical. For the past 20 years, American foreign policy has looked to Turkey as the model for what we would like to replicate throughout the region. Turkey, it was thought, was a model of success of a moderate Muslim nation. In fact, it was the Turkish model that was the inspiration behind President Obama’s dramatic shift in American foreign policy in the Middle East. Rather than dealing with various military strongmen and Middle-Eastern dictators who could maintain control over their people, the Obama administration began to seek the ouster of these various autocrats and looked to replace them with what they viewed as moderate Islamist government. The results of course have been beyond devastating. Undeniably, it can be said that Obama’s (and by extension Hillary’s) designs for the Middle East have produced the absolute chaos that we are now seeing throughout the world. Not only has it led to hundreds of thousands of deaths, but also the global refugee crisis, and worst of all, the increasing radicalization of large swaths of the Sunni world. Further demonstrating the folly of the Obama model, it has been during the past eight years of his administration that even Turkey itself has emerged as one of the most potentially dangerous Islamist nations in the world.
In the aftermath of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, when Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (Ataturk is simply an honorific title meaning, “the father of the Turks”) established the Turkish Republic, he established a genius system of checks and balances guaranteeing that Turkey would never again become controlled by an Islamist government. If the government ever become too religious or oppressive, the military would step in and remove them. For most of the 20th century, it worked perfectly. Three times the military engaged in a coup and restored a more secular government to the nation. Since its inception in 2002 however, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), has very gradually and patiently infiltrated nearly every nook and cranny of the government, including the military. It was, as it were, an Islamist coup from within. They did this through forming an alliance with a movement known as Hizmet, led by the Islamist preacher Fethullah Gulen. Gulen, a disciple of the Sufi preacher Said Nursi, preached a form of Islam that is very moderate and service orientated on the outside, but which has clear designs to take over through patiently infiltrating the entire system. Gulen has been famously quoted as once saying, “You must move within the arteries of the system, without anyone noticing your existence, until you reach all the power centers… You must wait until such time as you have got all the state power, until you have brought to your side all the power of the constitutional institution in Turkey.” As such, most of the AKP supporters were also Gulentists. The problem however, is that although Gulen founded the movement, he has been living in exile in rural Pennsylvania for decades. The current President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has rode Gulen’s success to the top. When government protests broke out in Turkey in 2013, Erdogan led the charge to respond violently. I can attest to this, as I was actually caught in the middle of the most violent government purge of the historic Taksim Square and Gezi park on June 14, 2013. That night the government purged over 10,000 protestors from Taksim square and then proceeded to tear gas and beat them with clubs as they sought to flee the square. We managed to duck into a hotel for about 45 minutes after which we found an opening and eventually escaped the chaos:
The next day, the crushing of the more secular leaning protestors was celebrated by his supporters. From Pennsylvania however, Gulen began criticizing Erdogan’s heavy hand. Erdogan, infuriated, began to lash out at Gulen, accusing him of seeking to overthrow the government and calling for his extradition for prosecution. This was followed by a purge of any within the government whose loyalty lay more with Gulen than with Erdogan. The very organization that facilitated Erdogan’s rise to power had now become a competitor. They had become the enemy.
The coup attempt this past weekend seems to have been one last desperate attempt by the residual Gulenist elements within the Turkish military to save the nation from Erdogan. It failed miserably, giving Erdogan and the AKP far more power than they had ever had to date. As such, many are now asking if the whole thing was a complete set-up and staged by Erdogan himself. While no one can say for sure, my assessment is that while the coup attempt was legitimate, the ruling AKP party had foreknowledge of what was about to unfold and used it to their advantage. Within hours of the coup attempt, the AKP had already removed nearly 3000 judges. Obviously, the lists were ready long before the coup attempt. Over the past couple of days, there have been over 10,000 various government or military officials either fired or arrested. Many have been noting the similarities of the failed Turkish coup with the infamous Reichstag fire, which Adolph Hitler used as an excuse to purge his government of any potential dissenters. The comparison seems entirely fair.
In the west, various commentators have been celebrating the victory of the AKP government as a triumph of democracy in Turkey. Numerous videos from within the nation however do not show the AKP supporters chanting about the victory of democracy, instead, they are chanting, “Allah Bismillah, Allahu Akbar!”
In one video AKP supporters actually cut the throat of a soldier on the Bosphorus Bridge as they shout, “Allahu Akbar.” It is important to note that just ten years ago, shouts of the Arabic phrase. “Allahu Akbar” in Turkey, even among more Islamist-leaning Turks, would be extremely rare. Turks pride themselves in being above what they see as the barbaric and uncultured Arabs. No more. The overtly Islamist sentiment expressed by the ruling party and its supporters should be deeply troubling to the whole world.
What is also fascinating to note is that within Islamic apocalyptic, there is a prophecy that says that Constantinople, (now called Istanbul) would be conquered by the Mahdi, not through military action, but simply through shouts of, “Takbir” (Allahu Akbar). Surely for the increasingly apocalyptically minded Muslim world, this prophecy my be seen as having been fulfilled in our midst. Kemalism has finally breathed its last gasp. Turkey has fallen to the Islamists. Erdogan is one step closer to his goal of becoming the Caliph of the Muslim world.