Recep Tayyip Erdogan
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey seems to be on his own wonderland trip ostensibly to pursue his dreams to establish a Caliphate. His actions, demonstrated in ample measure in the last few months, is clearly evident that the ambitious Turkish Head of Government is on a reversal mode by overturning all the progressive measures undertaken by visionary Turkish leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk who had taken Turkey towards modernisation through extraordinary radical measures in the early part of the 20th century.
Just to display to the Ummah that Erdogan is the only Islamic leader of world stature, he could checkmate Saudi Arabia and its trend of Wahhabism has started emerging as the Islamic policeman. First major turning point towards his Islamic agenda was visible when he converted several century old Hagia Sophia Byzantine monument in Istanbul to a full-fledged mosque commencing Friday prayers from day one to assert an Islamic 'supremacy' over other religions. This was resented by Christians the world over and Greece was more than vocal in its condemnation. This act of sacrilege was soon followed by yet another significant change by converting the Kariye museum in Turkey to a mosque.
While this brazen action was lauded by pro-Government Islamic fundamentalists, this didn't augur well with EU countries and other liberal countries. Turkish opposition leader Garo Pylan of the HDP vehemently criticised Erdogan for his unsavoury act. He described the move to convert into a mosque as a shame of Turkey. He also termed the stark action as a sacrifice of one of the symbols of Turkey's deep multicultural identity and multi religious history. This is surely a very strong castigation of the country's President for his communal actions.
These couple of acts, singularly executed by Erdogan is more than a proof that he has definite plans to establish a Caliphate. Experts are wondering if that's his blueprint then what's the difference between him and Al Baghdadi of the ISIS? Baghdadi mobilised huge armed cadres with ruthless killings for a Caliphate indoctrinating thousands of innocents all over the world. Here, Erdogan too is thought to be pursuing the same dream by clearly misleading the Ummah.
He stands exposed but given his ambitious designs and efforts to assume the role of an undisputed Islamic leader, he remains relentless with scant respect for history hence lessons are not learnt. This is because ISIS and Al Qaeda failed to create a Caliphate despite so much of grotesque killings. Erdogan's investment in Iran which is also believed to be supportive of a Caliphate is likely to draw a blank. Erdogan, isolated in the world, is looking for friends in Pakistan to expand his Islamic agenda. He has found Kashmir as a common ground but nothing has been achieved by this misplaced alliance.
Coincidentally, President Erdogan has decided to visit Dhaka, Bangladesh (BD) next March to attend Sheikh Mujib centenary celebrations. This apart, overzealous with his designs, Erdogan has stated that he would even visit Dhaka earlier if Covid looks under control. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is thought time have extended a formal invitation to Erdogan to visit her country mainly for the D-8 summit.
BD Foreign Minister, Dr AK Abdul Momen, who was in Turkish capital Ankara on September 16, met the Turkish President who seemed very enthusiastic to forge ties with BD. Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu was also present at the meeting and he disclosed his visit to Dhaka to open the new Embassy premises. This development looks more than ordinary and also more than a coincidence as Pakistan, the staunchest ally of Turkey has resumed full-fledged and High Commissioner level relationship between the two countries.
Besides this, Turkey has assured cooperation to Bangladesh in the fields of Agro Processing Industries, halal meat factory, highways, and airports and in SEZ projects. It's a clear signal that Turkey is warming up to BD and the new emerging equations may need close watch from the angle of geo political perspectives.
Further, Turkey's offer to help the Rohingyas sheltered in Bangladesh camps must be treated with caution as Erdogan is notorious for shoving his Muslim Brotherhood (MB) agenda amongst the innocuous lot principally to neutralise Saudi Arabia and its ideology. Mature Muslim countries must take Erdogan's overtures with a pinch of salt and abundant caution as his hidden agenda of a Caliphate might be detrimental to all. These countries should also see that they don't fall into the Erdogan trap of allurements which do not seem lasting as any dream of a Caliphate looks distant as also impossible.
The writer is a security analyst, a free-lance columnist and a former National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister of Mauritius. Views expressed are personal