Gavrilo Princip’s modern-day reincarnation

Gavrilo Princip’s modern-day reincarnation

As one good friend from distant lands has reminded recently, Turkey these days looks like the man who shot Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. Once again, it’s the never-ending struggle, the (Islamic) “dawa” – the fight for the advancement of Sunni Islamism. “Dawa” commands fighting the infidel at home and abroad, including in (non-Sunni) Muslim lands. 

At home, “dawa,” or the “cause,” can come in the shape of a group of angry men who fire shotguns, slam tables and threaten people with sticks and döner kebab knives just because peaceful people were enjoying an evening out at a “raki festival.” They drink raki = they are infidels = we must attack them = “dawa.” 

Along the Syrian border, it may come in the shape of a rocket fired from a Turkish F-16 to shoot down a Russian Su-24 because the Russian plane was damaging the “dawa” by protecting the non-Sunni dictator in Damascus and obstructing our ambitions for a Sunni dictator to replace him. In Iraqi territory, the “dawa” comes in the shape of an insolent desire to reinforce Turkish troops in a foreign country that declares Turkish troops “non grata” and appeals to the U.N. Security Council for their removal. It’s the never ending “dawa.”

Funny, Turkish and Iranian leaders who in the past years cheerfully play-acted by hugging and exhibiting every possible Kodak-moment solidarity with “our Muslim brothers” now accuse each other of pursuing perilous sectarian ambitions in the Middle East. It’s a good sign that they speak the truth now for they are both right. Though they are wrong when they claim only the “other” pursues sectarian ambitions. 

In the days ahead, the neo-Ottoman “dawa” may come in the shape of dangerous war toys – or of $$$$ spent for them for nothing. In 2012, the state scientific research institute, TÜBITAK, reported that its scientists in the same year would finish an all-Turkish missile with a range of 1,500 km, and, in 2014, another with a range of 2,500 km (no typo here). The head of TÜBITAK then, Professor Yücel Altınbaşak, said the order for the missile program had come from then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Fortunately, the Turkish program is still crawling at around a few hundred kilometers. 

Put Turkey at the epicenter of a circle with a diameter of 2,500 km, and here are some of the cities which may in the future see Turkish missiles over their skies: Athens, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Beirut, Brussels, Geneva, Algiers, Jeddah, Cairo, Copenhagen, Kiev, London, Milan, Moscow, Paris, Rome, Stockholm, Damascus, Tehran, Tel Aviv, Tripoli, Warsaw, Vienna, Zurich and Amman. Which one(s) of these cities would, realistically, be a security threat and deserve to be hit by a Turkish missile? The answer would be different depending on Turkey’s choice of a threat at any given time. Tel Aviv in 2010, Moscow or Tehran today – the same Tehran that has the 1,300-km Shahab-3 missiles in its inventory.

Senior defense officials say that the order for a long-range Turkish missile has now been refreshed: Not surprising at all, especially when the “dawa” has taken a more military turn these days. The effort is futile. Firstly, because missiles often lack precision, can be intercepted and can carry limited payload (an average 500-1,000 kg). In comparison, a conventional fighter jet can carry a payload four or five times bigger and is considered an agile war asset (unless, of course, you are a rogue state and plan to equip a missile with biological, chemical and nuclear warheads.) 

Second, the justification for spending hundreds of millions of dollars for missiles is too weak while, at the same time, Turkey has earmarked billions of dollars on fleets of new generation fighters. And third, since Turkey is a signatory to the Missile Technology Control Regime, it may find difficult access to some of the “ingredients” necessary to make a missile. 

Understandably, military might is part of the hardware Islamists think is necessary for “dawa.” But once again the vessel called Turkey is setting out to rough seas beyond its endurance. And that’s not bad news for Turkey only.