Ottomanism a belief, not a policy - academic

Ottomanism, or Ottoman Islamism, may be a motivating belief for the Turkish government but it does not represent a consistent policy platform, an assistant professor of international relations and European studies at Johns Hopkins University told Arab Weekly.

The commentary arrives on the heels of a row over the role of Ottomans in the Middle East between Turkey and the UAE. UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan had tweeted that the Ottomans had stolen money and manuscripts in the sacred city of Medina during the First World War, and the Turkish government was quick to hit back at the sheikh.

Ottoman Islamism was “a perception of Turkish national identity rooted in Sunni Islam that understands Turkey’s role in the region through a lens of former imperial might and religious legitimacy as the former home of the sultanate and the caliphate,” Lisel Hintz said.

“I believe Ottoman Islamism still best describes the set of beliefs that underpins Erdogan’s approach to the Middle East and domestic and foreign policy in general,” she added.

However, it was also a useful concept allowing Ankara to justify different courses of action, Hintz said.

“Close ties with Israel could serve as an example of Ottoman-inspired ‘harmony among religious groups’ in the region, while differences with Israel could show ‘Turkey as the Sunni brother defending the protection of Palestinians,’ she wrote.

Hintz maintains that “Iran can be a Muslim ally or a Persian Shia rival.”


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