Ottoman Revival?

Cihan Tugal in Sidecar:

During a war in which most countries have either taken sides or remained silent, Turkey has positioned itself as a mediator between Russia and Ukraine – seeking to negotiate with both Putin and Zelensky, and playing an important role in the semi-restitution of grain trade last summer. It has opposed Western sanctions on Russia, yet it has also limited Russian warships in the Black Sea. Such geopolitical manoeuvring – treading a fine line between Great Powers – is not confined to the current crisis, nor to Turkey’s bilateral relations with the two warring states. Rather, it is a reflection of Erdoğan’s broader foreign policy direction.

Ever since the Arab Spring, Turkey’s governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been reimagining the country as an independent actor: not simply a ‘bridge’ between the West and the rest, but a force that both the declining American empire and its emergent competitors must reckon with. This, however, is more an expression of fantasy than fact. As we shall see, the material basis for an autonomous Turkish foreign policy is weak, and domestic class dynamics are unfavourable. No matter how much Islamist media outlets try to promote their thin and mostly antisemitic version of ‘anti-imperialism’, it does not amount to a coherent overseas strategy. In the absence of such material and social anchors, the AKP’s search for independence ultimately amounts to a haphazard series of short-termist adventures.

This is in marked contrast to the country’s experience during the mid- to late-twentieth century. The Republic of Turkey’s first two decades were an early harbinger of Third Worldism, with all its merits and demerits.

More here.