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Yemen Crisis Sparks Ottoman Nostalgia in Turkey

 "Recep Pasha, intervening in the interior affairs of the countries of the region, has participated in the massacre  of 130,000 innocent people’s in Syria. Erdogan thinks he can take a place among the other sultans as a winning sultan, yet Recep Pasha must give up Neo-Ottomanism ideology and apologize to the great nations of the region," - Deputy President of the commission for Security and Foreign Policy Affairs of Islamic Republic in Majlis of  Iran Islamic Republic  reacted in such way to the recent statement made by the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Yemen given to France 24 in which he particularly stated:

"No doubt, Iran wants to take control over the whole region. This is certainly not a positive development. We have discussed Syria and Iraq with them [the Iranians]; still, we have not noted a positive move yet. As for the Islamic State, Iran’s actions are not sincere in that matter. Iran tries to take control over the territories which are under ISIS’s possession and take actions at the background of Shia-Sunni split."

In his turn Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif noted on the occasion: "It would be better if those who have created irreparable damages with their strategic mistakes and lofty politics would adopt responsible policies."

What does stand behind this new diplomatic crisis between Turkey and Iran? What does Turkey aspire by presenting itself with the sharpest stance against Iran in the context of Yemen crisis?

To answer these questions  the wording used by the Iranian officials "Neo-Ottomanism" should be elaborated, which can explain the Turkish long-term political and hegemonic ambition in the Middle East.  The long-carried hopes of the Turkish president to see Turkey as a regional leader made him take every tool, along with religious radicalism and terror to fulfill its goal. The declaration of the current Prime Minister of Turkey Ahmet Davutoğlu made in 2012 in which he particularly stated "Whatever we lost between 1911 and 1923, whatever lands we withdrew from, we shall once again meet our brothers in those lands between 2011 to 2023," presents a vivid interpretation of Turkish neo-ottoman policy.

In this context the actions undertaken by the Turkish government since the spread of the recent wave of terrorism in the region with the rise of Islamic State terrorist organization and often heard accusation against Turkey of its involvement with "black army", according to which Turkey supports terrorist radical organizations in the region to fulfill its long-term held goals of territorial expansion is not by chance.

But why does the crisis in Yemen become a kind of new momentum for the Turkish new expression of "Ottoman nostalgia"?  No matter how simplistic the answer may sound at first glance, however, recent developments in the region seem to restore the memory of  some conservatives and nationalist in Turkey according to which  Yemen historically belonged to the Ottoman Empire; the fact which  is vividly expressed  by the Turkish media’s psychological war,  as it is rightly stated by Fehim Taştekin in his article entitled "Turkey Impulse". In practical reality the "nostalgia" of the past is expressed by "the  current war of words" by Turkish authorities, by which Turkish authorities  strive to regain their lost authority in the Sunni bloc in the region.

The interesting thing to notice is the tool used by the Turkish authorities to struggle against Iran and to regain the trust of Sunnis in the region. Here again, if one pays attention to the wording used by the Turkish President in his accusations against Iran, it will become obvious that the Turkish authorizes, loyal to their strategy, cling to the same tools used  against them by other countries. The Turkish authority blames the Iranians for "trying to take control over the territories which are under ISIS’s possession and take actions at the background of Shiite-Sunni split"; the accusation which was made against Turkey by many countries, even by the US, Turkey’s NATO ally. In this sense the similarity of the wording used by US Vice President Biden at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University is not by chance.  In particular Joe Biden stated:  

"Our allies in the region were our largest problem in Syria. They (Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the UAE) were so determined to take down Assad, that in a sense started a "proxy Sunni-Shiite war" by pouring "hundreds of millions of dollars and tens, thousands of tons of weapons into anyone, who would fight against Assad."

Thus to sum up all the above-mentioned, we can state that Ottoman nostalgia of Turkish authorities, no matter how  naïve it may sound, comes to explain the Turkish present-day stance in Yemen. Turkey strives to achieve its long term desired hegemony in the region by allying to the Sunni camp blaming the others, such as Iran, not to be blamed itself. For the picture to be complete it just should be mentioned that such kind of ambitions from Turkey along with Turkish nostalgia of past are also based on rational calculation of benefits Turkey can derive after allying with Sunnis in the region such as money of Gulf countries, hope to restore its strained relations  with the US  etc. - factors each of which demands further elaboration.  

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