Turkey is re-emerging to the Middle Eastern scene playing an actual role in the coming solutions. Whether or not those work for the best and persist is anyone’s guess. The Ottoman Empire comprised most of the areas that are in turmoil in the Middle East, today. One thing can’t be denied – they ruled an impressive space. A space that western forces do not seem to quite understand.

Image courtesy of The Islam Project.

Erdogan has made it mandatory to learn the dead language of the Ottomans in schools, a move no doubt meant to revive the identity of the Ottoman empire. They want to make Turkey great again. The cries of Allahu Akbar are heard in Turkish military training. This Turkish training video showcases an ancient Ottoman chant.

The Turks are pushing into the MENA (Middle East North Africa) region and becoming a prominent and relevant reality for many. They’re expanding in hopes to return the empire. The Turks blatantly want to re-assert themselves into the affairs of the Middle East. Like Iran, they’ve cloaked themselves in different clothing – but like all nation states – they desire power and influence.

Some believe that Erdogan and his followers want a conquest. Turkey has been quiet for sometime but is consistently gaining steam and momentum. They’re an important bridge between Europe and MENA. They’ve always been a critical geopolitical player and economically relevant to the two continents. Even now as the world is more global and digital, that location is still important. Turkey has factored prominently in the current situation in Syria and the fight against ISIL.

But skeptics suspect Turkey of either directly or passively supporting ISIS. The idea is that they share an ideology, an idealistic view of the Middle East with old Islamic borders re-established. While ISIL represents a war effort to see the re-establishment, the Muslim Brotherhood is engaging in a cultural, civilized war. It’s longer term than ISIL’s thinking, and less dangerous than Al-Qaeda’s methods. However, their goals are similar. The Muslim Brotherhood has factored prominently in Turkey.

Turkey is an interesting model where Islamism and practical government solutions have found synergy. A report released by The Brookings Institute entitled “Turkey: The New Model“, addresses the recent phenomenon:

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) went through five incarnations before it found a balance that voters would embrace but the military would also accept, albeit reluctantly. Its evolution reflects how democratic traditions and institutions can both interact with and moderate political Islam, at least in one geostrategic country. In Turkey, a tradition of free and fair elections and capitalism has encouraged Islamic parties to play by the rules. Turkey’s radical secularism, enforced by the military, has also tamed the strident religious dogma that once landed Islamic politicians in trouble—and even in prison.