Imperial Delusions and Tales of Devastation
Imperial Delusions and Tales of Devastation
Erdogan’s words were not meaningless when he threatened Greece with a devastating fate if it dared to challenge what he considers his country’s rights in Mediterranean waters after large gas reserves were found there, since the belligerent rhetoric and stories of encroachment and sabotage have become mirrors of his obsessions and delusions about reviving the Ottoman Empire and its dark history.
He openly declares that limiting his country to a small area allocated to it ninety years ago is unacceptable. He aspires to resurrect the so-called “Blue Homeland,” evoking his ancestors’ bloody history on the shores of three seas: the Aegean, the Black Sea, and the Mediterranean, and consequently, the heinousness of the murderous and destructive invasions led by Hayreddin Barbarossa to expand into neighboring countries, seize their territory and wealth, and persecute their peoples...
The earliest of Erdogan’s devastation stories began with his attempts to exploit the region’s crises that accompanied what were known as the waves of the “Arab Spring”. No effort was spared in the provision of all forms of support for currents of political Islam, especially the Muslim Brotherhood, in order to allow them to control the simple peoples’ movements. This interference fuelled the power struggle between religious and civilian factions, which led to the disintegration of some Arab Spring countries, and their national consensus being wiped out.
True, Erdogan’s ambitions had been dealt a heavy blow with the fall of the Brotherhood’s rule in Egypt, but he was quick to compensate by reinforcing his intervention in Syria and his military incursion into its territory, soliciting malicious alliances with terrorists and utilizing them to achieve his ends, which is linked to his insistence on maintaining his military grip in Iraq and his repeated bombardments and attacks on the country’s territory under the pretext of confronting Kurdish terrorism.
We also should not forget his financial support for the “Yemeni Congregation for Reform” or the so-called “Yemeni Brotherhood,” under the guise of relief efforts and the fact that he provides them with opportunities to broadcast their propaganda from Istanbul.
However, worst of all is his brutal military intervention in Libya, where he sent some of his forces, as well as thousands of Syrian and Turkmen terrorists, to fight alongside the Sarraj government’s militia. He bet that it would grant him massive influence in Libya, allowing him to benefit from its oil wealth, and strengthen his ability to blackmail Europe by expanding his control over the immigration ports.
The above bears on tales of inner devastation, as Erdogan’s aggressive impulses have had dire economic and social ramifications on Turkish society. The most obvious manifestations are the steep decline in stock market indexes, ongoing capital flight, especially foreign investors, the exacerbation of unemployment and inflation and the accelerating devaluation of the Turkish lira.
It also exposed the political degeneracy of his exploitation of religious sentiments to inflame sectarian strife by deliberately chipping away at the monuments of secular civilization that had distinguished Turkey, the most recent of which is his tendentious decision to transform the Hagia Sophia into a mosque. Most importantly, it revealed the extent of his contempt for democratic values, human rights and social justice, which he had always vaunted. It also exposed the viciousness with which he punishes the opposition, as prisons brim with political opponents, and his insistence on obliterating ethnic diversity by denying ethnic rights to minorities such as Kurds, Arabs, Circassians and others. Let alone his tightening of the stranglehold on the press for the most frivolous reasons and clamping down on free thinkers to such a degree that Turkey’s ranking on the freedom of expression index has become very low and has been described as the world’s largest journalist prison.
On the other hand, one does not need to think very hard to recognize the truth in what has been said by more than a few political analysts and Western officials; that there is no place where Iran intervened that did not end up destroyed and seeking international aid to stay alive, alluding to the magnitude of the devastation that followed and continues to follow the Iranian authorities’ fantasies of extending their control and expand their regional influence.
Indeed, after the victory of what they call their “Islamic revolution”, Tehran’s leaders did not conceal their aspirations to revive Persia’s imperial legacy, but with religious slogans and sectarian tools. And if we take into account the adoption of the mullah regime in Tehran of what it calls Islam’s “global” rights, its claim to support the oppressed all over the world, liberating Palestine, and confronting Zionism and the greater American Satan; then their propagation of their fantasies of national uniqueness and superiority to other nations, which is entrenched in the constitution and education system, and we also took into account Tehran’s rulers boast about controlling of four Arab capitals and their narrative that Iran lives on only 30 percent of its historical borders; we find the most important reasons for the rulers in Tehran’s aggressive and ruinous approach and what compels their insistence on the logic of power and victory to export their revolution and expand their influence regionally.
We thereby also understand their role in fragmenting some Arab societies along sectarian lines, utilizing armed groups that are not hindered by any scruple or deterrent, such as the Shiite militias in Iraq, the Lebanese Hezbollah, the Houthi groups in Yemen and the murderous regime in Syria. They did not bat an eyelid after Baghdad, Beirut, Sanaa and Damascus became synonymous with destruction, devastation and failed states.
Regarding Iran’s internal ruin, one can talk endlessly about the country’s militarization of life, impoverishment, the destruction of the society’s regenerative cells and its transformation into a weak and exhausted society being eaten away by the accumulation of complex problems, as a result of its energy and wealth being sucked out for use in battles over regional influence.
The devastation is shown by the miserable economic conditions, the massive decline in the value of the Iranian currency, the absence of a minimal standard of living and the way that the coronavirus pandemic ravaged Iranians. The frequency of liquidation and murder of political opponents is also on the rise, as are waves of arrest and forced disappearance of the tens of thousands of demonstrators who refuse the persistence of authoritarianism and corruption.
Still, those pushing the Persian and Ottoman empires’ resurrection, who bet shared religious affiliation and mutual support for the Palestinian cause to win over the Arab peoples, have lost their bets after consequences and events in more than one place exposed the falsehood of their claims, the truth about their selfish covetousness for the fortunes of others and their political motives of strengthening their political positions and ability to manipulate others, which have nothing to do with Islam and Palestine.
It is true that there are opportunities for fleeting success and expansion of foreign influence, and subsequently to revive and nurture imperial tendencies from a bygone past. But it is also true that, today, this path has become painful, costly and rejected by all peoples. Regardless of the justifications, let us say it opens the door to a world of vain conflicts, destruction, victims and crises. We all remember what happened to the Soviet Union and its imperial delusions and, the United States’ retreat after that, when it was no longer able to carry the weight of its imperial ambitions and the consequences of its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.