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Turkey Under Erdogan - Will The Saudis Let Him Become Another Ottoman Sultan Selim-I?

*** A Rare Anger Rose In The Whole Muslim World In The Week Which Followed The Three July 5 ISIS Suicide Bombings In Saudi Arabia's Western And Eastern Provinces - Shaking The Wahhabi Kingdom:

*** One Hit Islam's 2nd-Holiest Site In The Hijaz City Of Madina - With The Bomber Detonating Himself Just Out Of The Exit Door Of Masjed Al-Nabawi (The Prophet's Mosque) - Which Killed Four Guards And The Terrorist, A Pakistani

*** One Hit A Shi'ite Mosque In Qatif City On The Gulf Coast In The East

*** And One Hit Near The US Consulate In The City Of Jeddah, On The Red Sea Coast - The Latter Two Attacks Only Tore The ISIS Terrorist To Pieces

*** US Secretary Of State On July 6 Met With Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir To Present His Condolences, With President Obama Having Done The Same In A Phone Call To King Salman

*** Lebanon's Ex-Minister Gen Ashraf Rifi, Previously Head Of Internal Security, During The Week Told The Saudi-Owned TV Al-Arabiya That Sunni Arab And Shi'ite Iranian Terror Groups Had The Same Face - Pointing To Tehran-Guided Terrorist, Ahmad Al-Mughassel Of IRGC Unit Saudi Hizbullah (Al-Hijaz), Who Led The June 25, 1996 Bombing Of Al-Khobar Towers Which Killed 19 US Military Personnel & One Saudi National - He Was Arrested In Beirut In Aug. 2015 As He Arrived From Iran And Was Transferred To The Riyadh Interior Ministry; It Was The Worst Attack Since Hizbullah's 1983 Killing Of 241 US Marines In Their Beirut Barracks

ISTANBUL - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a Neo-Ottoman, is trying hard to become as powerful a ruler as the president of the US. He wants the parliament to amend Turkey's current constitution to give him the powers to become the country's chief executive as well as military commander in chief. His idol being the Ottoman Empire's Sultan Selim-I - behaving as the Iranian Shi'ite theocracy's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is doing, the latter claiming to be God's man on Earth - the most important question is whether or not Saudi King Salman will let him have the most important title in the Muslim world.

This title, Khadem al-Haramain al-Sharifain (Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques) - of Makkah and Madina, Islam's two sacred cities in the Hijaz (part of Saudi Arabia's Western Province). The Prophet's Mosque in Madina. The Prophet Muhammad is buried just out of its exit door.

King Salman on Jan. 23, 2015, became the third Saudi monarch to take up this title after King Fahd and King Abdullah. Salahudin (Saladin) was the first Muslim king to take up this title as a means to attain closeness to Allah when he was fighting the Crusaders. The second to take up the title was Sultan al-Ashraf Abu-Nasr Barsbay in the Mamluk era. The first Ottoman sultan to have the title after the Mamluk ruler was Selim-I.

King Faisal was the first who introduced this title in Saudi Arabia. When the kiswa (cover) of the Ka'ba was made during his reign, Faisal said he did not want his name on it. After King Faisal's March 1975 death, King Khaled did not use the title. But King Fahd took up the title when he became monarch in 1982. After Fahd's Aug. 1, 2005 death and Abdullah took the throne, he told the people not to call him "King of Hearts" or "King of Humanity" because, he said, "Allah is the true King and humans are His worshippers".

Erdogan once held up Turkey as a model of Muslim democracy. But now he frequently attacks democratic institutions. The editor of Turkey's largest daily has fled the country, and another is on trial on charges of revealing state secrets. Other prominent Turkish journalists who are secular note that, since Aug. 10, 2014 when he became the first president in the republic's history to be elected by the people, Erdogan has been showing his true colour: a Neo-Ottoman ruler acting as a sultan.

It was under Selim-I, who ruled from 1512 to 1520 AD, that the Ottoman Empire had its biggest expansion in the Greater Middle East (GME). In 1516-17 he took the entire Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt, including al-Sham (Greater Syria), al-Hijaz, Tihama (the Red Sea coastal plain of Arabia from the Gulf of Aqaba to the Bab al-Mandab Strait, and Egypt. He was made Khadem al-Haramain al-Sharifain by the Sharif of Makkah in 1517. That strengthened the Ottoman claim to caliphate for the Muslim world.

Before his reign, the Ottoman sultanate had been mostly within Anatolia (Asia Minor) and the Balkans (south-eastern Europe. On the eve of his death in 1520, the empire spanned about 4m sq km, having tripled in size.

Erdogan, 62, has grown intolerant of criticism. He has purged long-standing allies - including co-founders of the ruling Justice & Development Party (AKP) from his inner circle and replacing them with yes-men and relatives. His son-in-law is the energy minister.

In frequent speeches on TV, Erdogan hints darkly that foreign powers are plotting to destroy him. He has moved from a modest house in central Ankara to a grandiose palace on the edge of the capital built at the cost of about $615m out of which, it is alleged, he pocketed about $50m. Brown and pink buildings for his personnel dot meticulously land-scaped grounds so enormous that the staff move around in mini-buses.

Critics say that, once the constitution has been amended, he could become "president for life". On the night of the recent suicide bombing of Istanbul's Ataturk International Airport (Europe 3rd busiest next to London's Heathrow and Paris' Charles de Gaulle), the AKP-controlled parliament worked till 5:45 am to pass sweeping legislation which will purge most judges from Turkey's top two courts. Constitutional lawyer and ex-adviser to Erdogan Prof Ergun Ozbudun says: "The ship is going very fast to the rocks. God help us".

The story of how Turkey, a NATO member with the eighth-largest economy in Europe and a population the size of Germany's, ended up there is as much about Erdogan as it is about the country's geography which is not lucky in a convulsing GME - a huge part of the world including Russia and the AfPak front and stretching east of China's Central Asian borders and west to North Africa's Atlantic coast (Mauritania & Morocco) and south of the East Mediterranean from Egypt to the Horn of Africa (HoA).

While he has wriggled out of many crises, however, Erdogan now is cornered by conflicts on many fronts, including deep divisions in the power base he helped create. Prof Soli Ozel of Kadir Has University in Istanbul says: "Erdogan is still the most popular political leader, but there is uneaseA lot of people are thinking this is an un-tenable situation".

Having risen from a poor part in Istanbul to the top of power, Erdogan has won elections since November 2002. He succeeded where others had failed in tearing down Turkey's rigid, classist system of government, sending the secular military back to its barracks and opening up the bureaucracy, long deeply suspicious of Turkey's pious under-class. In his early years as PM, the economy soared and, as incomes rose sharply, so did his popularity. But his critics and even some of his admirers say he has become so absorbed in battling his enemies, both real and perceived, that he lost his way. He has drowned in delusions of imperial grandeur. In the process, he has damaged institutions critical for a functioning democracy. Even former friends who have known him for 40 years say they can no longer recognise Erdogan.

Erdogan adviser Ilnur Cevik says the recent the rapprochement with Russia and Israel might be followed by similar measures to quiet some of the storms he has raised, like Egypt, with which he fell out in 2013 over Abdul-Fattah al-Sissi's ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) from power, which was represented by the country's first democratically elected president - Muhammad Mursi who is serving long prison terms along with almost the entire MB leadership. Cevik adds: "We have to improve our foreign policy, raise the number of friends and reduce that of the enemies as much as possible". But that might turn out to be mere wishful thinking, as Erdogan has become a most un-predictable ruler.

Because of his frequently shifting positions, the ruling AKP now is split into several factions ranging from moderate to excessively radical Islamists. AKP co-founder and until August 2014 Turkey's president Abdullah Gul is said to be fed up with Erdogan. Having been economic adviser to the Jeddah-based Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (OIC) for years, Gul is close to the Saudi royal family. He was among the first VIPs to visit King Salman on July 6 to present his condolences on the July 5 bombing in Madina.

For many years and in order to gain control of Turkey's bureaucracy, Erdogan had an alliance with an opaque religious movement led by radical Islamist preacher Fethullah Gulen, who since 1999 has been living in the US. But that alliance ended in 2013 because of disputes over several issues. Now, Gulen is not only Erdogan's worst enemy but also a serious threat to the president's power base. Since 2013, Erdogan has purged Gulen's followers from the judiciary, the security establishment, the media and the education sector. Gulen has publicly vowed to work on the down-fall of Erdogan, concentrating on the president's corruption and nepotism.
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Title Annotation:Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Publication:APS Diplomat News Service
Geographic Code:7TURK
Date:Jul 11, 2016
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