Maybe the Turks Will Unfurl the Banner Named Barack

For those of us with long memories, an old conflict resurfaces:

The shooting down of a Russian jet by Turkey is a “stab in the back” committed by “accomplices of terrorists”, Vladimir Putin has said.

The Sukhoi Su-24 was warned 10 times before being downed near the Syrian border by two Turkish F16 jets for violating the country’s airspace, according to the Turkish military.

In Ottoman/Tsarist times, the two countries were serious rivals.  And the Ottomans, Muslim caliphs though they were, had the support of “Christian” Britain and to a lesser degree France against the Russians.  That was what the Crimean War was all about, and that too is in play again these days.

Given Erdoğan’s Islamicist tendencies, perhaps he’ll want to unfurl the banner named Barack, as Sultan Abdul Hamid II did at the start of the Russo-Turkish war:

The banner of the Caliphate, to which the Sultan alludes in his speech, is that which the Turks call ‘the Heavenly Standard,’ and, in their language, ‘Bairack.’ (Barack) Its color is green, and they believe it to have been the banner of the Prophet Mohammed, delivered to him by the angel Gabriel, through the medium of Ayesha, as an indubitable token of victory over their enemies. This standard was formerly laid up in the Treasury of the Sultan of Constantinople, but Is now kept in the Mosque at Eyoob (Eyub), where the new Sultans on the day of their coronation gird on the sabre of the Caliphate. In case of any serious struggle, a religious duty compels the Sultan to give orders to the ‘Mullas,’ (Mullahs) or Mohammedan clergy, to display the Prophet’s standard before the people and army, and proclaim ‘Al Jehad,’ (Jihad) or the holy war, by exhorting the Moslems to be faithful to their religion and defend their Kingdom.

If Erdoğan is not careful, he’ll get the same result as Abdul Hamid did, i.e. lose.  He has squandered two legacies of Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey: a secularist state and a strong military.

But this is a dangerous situation.  People always speak of a Sarajevo-like event to plunge the world into war, and this is one of them.  That’s especially true if Barack answers the call of the banner that bears his name.

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