By Joel Richardson
Prime Minister Erdogan, who once projected, “Democracy is like a streetcar. You use it to get you where you wish to go, and then you get off.”
Several years ago, I began publicly stating that the world will witness the rise of a Neo-Ottoman Caliphate. With the Islamist party in Turkey poised to win yet another sweeping election victory next week, now is another appropriate moment to revisit the subject.
The first thing that the West must understand concerning the concept of the caliphate is that it is somewhat of a blank canvas for Muslims. To the Muslim socialist, it is through the concept of the caliphate that a socialist utopia will become a reality. For the moderate Muslim, it is in the idea of the caliphate that a tolerant Muslim empire will arise. For the radical Muslim, the caliphate is the means by which Islam will arise to supremacy in the earth. The point is that the dream of reviving a caliphate is a wide-ranging vision and is certainly not restricted to the radicals.
Second, the West must come to terms with the tectonic shift that has only recently taken place in the Middle East, beginning in 2003 in Turkey.
But first, let’s define the old order of the region. This old order saw the Middle East divided up primarily between the Arab block and the Iranian block.
Imagine a random Arab Sunni Muslim (Sunnis comprise 85-90 percent of Muslims) who has long desired to see the unification of the Islamic world under a caliphate. In yearning for someone to rise up and lead the Islamic world, this Sunni Muslim first turns his eyes toward the leaders of the Arab block (Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt). On one hand, he identifies with the fact that they are both Sunni and Arab. But they are also either corrupt monarchies or dictatorial autocrats and hopelessly compromised through their relationship with Israel and/or the United States. To the average Muslim, these nations are led by MINOs (Muslims in name only). Frustrated, this Muslim shifts his attention to Iran. On one hand, the Iranians are seen as courageous, bold and assertive. They thumb their noses at Israel, the United States and any who would defy them. This is admired, but there is still the gaping sectarian divide. In other words, being Shia, they are essentially heretical. Without hope, this Sunni Muslim lets out a long sigh and prays that Allah will soon raise up a genuine Muslim leader capable of reviving Islam’s former glory.
This was the old order of the Middle East for the past 30 years.
But suddenly, this has all begun to change. Through the rise of the Turkish AK party over the past several years, the Middle East has experienced a political shift of tectonic proportions. More here