An Ottoman Empire?

TimeWatch Editorial
April 18, 2017

Dr. R. James Ferguson in his paper entitled The Division and Fall of the Roman Empire” makes the following point that the Eastern portion of the Roman Empire fell to the Ottoman Empire.

“The political 'fall' of the Roman Empire has long been regarded as one of the pivotal events in world history. Ever since Edward Gibbon completed his History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in 1788, there has been considerable debate on the causes for this 'event'. It must be stressed, first, that though there was a real decline of the political power and unity of the Western Roman Empire, the cultural heritage of the empire would persist in the West through the middle ages and in an altered form into the modern period (as noted by Brown 1971). The eastern portion of the empire continued as the relatively Byzantine Empire, which was eventually conquered by the Ottoman Turks in 1453 C.E” Dr. R. James Ferguson,The Division and Fall of the Roman Empire” page 1.

Eugene Rogan, in his book entitled “The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War In the Middle East,” opens his journal this way.

“It was standard practice by the early twentieth century to refer to the Ottoman Empire as Turkey. This usage neglected the ethnic and religious diversity of the Ottoman Empire, where Arabs, Kurds, Greeks, and Armenians had as much claim to an Ottoman identity as Turks did. Yet, to avoid the tedious repetition of the word “Ottoman” throughout the following pages, I have adopted this usage and frequently use “Ottoman” and “Turkish” interchangeably, particularly with reference to the army. Whenever I wish to distinguish a specific ethnic or religious community from the Turkish majority, I write of “Ottoman Arabs” or “Ottoman Armenians”. Eugene Rogan,The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War In the Middle East,” page xviii

Eugene Rogan continues to look at the power of the Ottoman Empire, and its subsequent fall.

“The fall of the Ottomans was an epochal event. For over six centuries, theirs stood as the greatest Islamic empire in the world. Founded at the end of the thirteenth century by tribesmen from Central Asia, the Ottoman sultanate emerged as a dynasty to challenge the Byzantine Empire in both Asia Minor and the Balkans.” Eugene Rogan,The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War In the Middle East,” page xviii

You might ask, why is all this relevant? Nick Danforth authored an article in the Foreign Policy website on October 23, 2016 entitled Turkey’s New Maps Are Reclaiming the Ottoman Empire.”  The objective of the article clearly reveals the desire on the part of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to re-establish the old borders of Turkey’s days of supremacy. Listen to Nick Danforth in his opening thoughts.

“Erdogan’s aggressive nationalism is now spilling over Turkey’s borders, grabbing land in Greece and Iraq. In the past few weeks, a conflict between Ankara and Baghdad over Turkey’s role in the liberation of Mosul has precipitated an alarming burst of Turkish irredentism. On two separate occasions, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized the Treaty of Lausanne, which created the borders of modern Turkey, for leaving the country too small. He spoke of the country’s interest in the fate of Turkish minorities living beyond these borders, as well as its historic claims to the Iraqi city of Mosul, near which Turkey has a small military base. And, alongside news of Turkish jets bombing Kurdish forces in Syria and engaging in mock dogfights with Greek planes over the Aegean Sea, Turkey’s pro-government media have shown a newfound interest in a series of imprecise, even crudely drawn, maps of Turkey with new and improved borders.” Nick Danforth, Turkey’s New Maps Are Reclaiming the Ottoman Empire.”Foreign Policy Website, October 23, 2016

Like Saddam Hussein, who began the rebuilding of the city of Babylon, in his desire to restore the Babylonian Empire, and the Iranians who still long to reestablish the Persian Empire, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan seems determined to restore Turkish power, a new Ottoman Empire. Steven A. Cook in his article entitled Rest in Peace Turkey, 1921 – 2017on the Foreign Policy Website, dated April 16, 2017, describes the fact that President Erdogan won a vote that changed the Turkish Constitution, giving him Presidential Authoritarian power. Says the article;

Recep Tayyip Erdogan didn’t just win his constitutional referendum — he permanently closed a chapter of his country’s modern history.  Erdogan is an authoritarian, like those found throughout the world. But he is also inspired by Ottoman history, and there are aspects of his rule that echo that era. As the Turkish president has come to rely on a smaller and smaller group of advisors, including members of his family, his “White Palace” — the presidential palace in Ankara he built on land once owned by Ataturk — has come to resemble, not merely in grandeur, the palaces of the Ottoman sultans.” Steven A. Cook,Rest in Peace Turkey, 1921 – 2017

Erdogan’s referendum victory is a first step as far as he is concerned. According to

“In many conversations and encounters I had over the years with former Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, he emphatically echoed his boss President Erdogan’s grandiose vision. The vision was that by 2023 — the 100th anniversary of the Turkish Republic — Turkey will become as powerful and influential as the Ottoman Empire was during its heyday.”

But even though this is Erdogan’s hope, Alon Ben-Meir says that under the best of circumstances, Turkey cannot realize that far-fetched dream. Steven Cook also agrees that the return of an Ottoman Empire could not work. Still Erdogan and his people still long for the day.

“It would be impractical and impossible to re-create the governing structures of the Ottoman state, but in the Turkish-Islamist imagination, the age of the Ottomans was not only the apotheosis of Turkish culture and power, but a tolerant and progressive era. For Erdogan’s core constituency, in particular, the AKP era has been a golden era, a modern day analogue to this manufactured past. These predominantly pious and middle class Turks enjoy personal and political freedoms that they were once denied. They have also enjoyed upward economic and social mobility. By granting Erdogan the executive presidency he has so coveted, they are looking forward to even greater achievements.” Steven A. Cook,Rest in Peace Turkey, 1921 – 2017

We have arrived at the time in history when the nations of the world are seeking to dominate. Notice also that these nations all have relevance in scripture. God is truly Great.

Cameron A. Bowen

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