Erdoğan’s blinding ideological fixations

Erdoğan’s blinding ideological fixations

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is the master of loaded cryptic statements that go down well with his unquestioning supporters but have no real meaning as they result in more questions being asked than answered being provided. 

He believes that the crisis between Saudi Arabia and Iran in particular and the sectarian divisions in the Middle East in general are the products of a “higher mind” which aims to shake the Islamic world to the core. 

Erdoğan repeated this again during a recent address to elected village and neighborhood prefects heads.

“Sectarian afflictions are once again shaking the Islamic world and pitting Muslims against Muslims. This is being managed by a higher mind. The aim is to have sectarian strife so that the Islamic world is fragmented within itself,” Erdoğan said.

He is never clear about who this “higher mind” is though. When pressed he merely provides more ambiguity by inventing equally confusing terms like the “international interest rate lobby.” 

What is clear, though, is that as far as he is concerned the Islamic world cannot be blamed for the morass it finds itself in today. In other words it is unthinkable for him that the Islamic world would self-destruct if left alone. Therefore it has to be the proverbial “outside forces” that are behind all of this. 

This leaves few choices. Given the inbuilt hatred of Islamists for the U.S. and Israel, one can safely assume that these countries are an integral part of the “higher mind” he is referring to. 

He also has Russia that he can accuse now, even though he used to use Ankara’s good ties with this country as a counterbalance to its deteriorating ties with the West. Erdoğan would also like to accuse Iran of being part of the “higher mind,” because he hates this country, also now for undermining his ambitions in Syria.
But he can’t do this because Iran is part of the Islamic world that the “higher mind” he refers to is out to destroy. Taking Erdoğan’s remarks at face value, the impression one gets is that the Islamic world was happy until the “higher mind” put its nefarious plans into force. 

In other words, it was a world free of bloody sectarian conflicts that go back 1400 years. It was also a world which enjoyed human rights to the full, which had no tensions based on massive social inequality and was free of oppressive policies of all sorts, not to mention the regional rivalries based on the worldly interests of one privileged class or another.

There are outside powers, of course, which are trying to promote their regional interests, starting with the U.S. and Russia. Even Turkey with its overt and covert meddling is trying to influence the course of events in Iraq and Syria. If there is a vacuum in a critical part of the world others will try to fill it. That is the nature of international relations.

However, overlooking the social backwardness of the Islamic world and refusing to note its overbearing deficits in democracy and human rights while trying to pin the blame for the turmoil in this part of the world on a “higher mind” is to bury one’s head in the sand.

The main causes for the current turmoil in the Middle East have to be sought in the region itself. This is what Erdoğan is not prepared to do, because it would go against the grain of his Islam-based ideological outlook. 

It seems it is easier for him to throw the blame on the non-Islamic world rather than displaying the courage to look at some basic truths relating to the Islamic world in the face. That is how blinding ideological fixations can be.