Turkey’s growing global ambitions and its South Asia outreach, more focus on political Islam

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NEW DELHI: Turkey’s politics is undergoing a transformation and there is more focus on political Islam under the current President.

In this context Usanas Foundation, a Udaipur-based security, and geopolitical affairs thinktank had organised a webinar on “Turkey’s Undoing of Kemalist Project and its Tremors in Geopolitics of Islamic World” on July 21

The speakers at the event were: Dr. Ahmet S. Yayla Assistant Professor, DeSales University, Director of Center for the Homeland Security, and Fellow on Extremism Program, Georgetown University, and Anil Trigunayat, India’s Former Ambassador to Jordan, Libya, and Malta. Abhinav Pandya, CEO of Usanas Foundation moderated the event.

Dr. Yayla highlighted the fact that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan established his rule by slowly shifting moderate Turkish Sufi Islam, based on teachings of Rumi towards a Salafi Islam – the political Islam.

Dr. Yalya also talked about regional and international geopolitical repercussions of Turkey’s politics. Over 60 thousand ISIS fighters came to fight via Turkey, who were given an open and free passage, without being stopped by the Turkish government, he alleged.

“When the US started to press Turkey to refrain from supporting ISIS in 2016, Erdogan started to take steps against ISIS fighters,” according to the US-based scholar.

Talking about the ambitions of Erdogan, Dr. Yayla said that Erdogan is trying to boost his image as leader of Muslim Ummah. “There are different international aid groups like IHH – which operates in India,” he alleged.

Trigunayat began by highlighting that the Ottoman empire has much sway on the regional geography. “Turkey is coming close to the revival of the defacto Ottoman Empire. During Erdogan, Turkey has grown economically, and despite internal problems, he has been able to make it a major force in the region… Since 2002, when he came to power, he has been talking about political Islam. Since then, he has been trying to strengthen his position as the global leader of Islam.”

Trigunayat recalled that Turkey is a major NATO power with the second-largest army and has constantly tried to get into the EU, but has failed.

Regarding the strategic and geopolitical importance of Turkey, he said that it is an important country – a strong one. “As the GCC countries have tried to take a backseat, Turkey has found a gap and is trying to champion the cause of Palestine… We can continue normal economic relations and tourism etc. with Turkey. I do not see that Turkey can be weaned away from Pakistan in the near future and we could have a hunky-dory relationship with it,” according to the former diplomat.

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