What does Erdoğan aim in India?

TKP GS Kemal Okuyan comments on Turkish President Erdoğan’s reputation-building attempts in India
Saturday, 29 December 2018 22:37

Kemal Okuyan, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Turkey (TKP) wrote on the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s moves towards the Muslim population in India. Pointing out that Erdoğan has in fact lost to actors immensely popular in Turkey, Okuyan asserts that his moves for the Muslims in India will be in vain.

What does Erdoğan aim in India?

It was also covered in Haaretz, the “deep” paper of Israel, that Turkish President Erdoğan has fixed his eyes on the Muslim population in India.


Because his first move for leadership in the Muslim world has come to naught. The project relying on the Ikhwan or the Muslim Brothers did not hold on in Egypt, hit the wall in Syria, stirred the pot in Saudi Arabia, and while enmities have been renewed in the Arab world, Erdoğan failed to get the results he wanted.

And the world is in chaos; and the bourgeoisie in Turkey are always hungry for more profit, in pursuit of new expansions, and in the race to get their pieces of the pie. A grow in Erdoğan’s personal reputation will provide them –not Turkey, but them!– with additional advantages in that race.

Taking the down-wind, Erdoğan now gives it another try. While planning to settle in Syria with the Free Syrian Army (FSA), he (also) tends towards outside the Middle East. Turkish Airlines started flights to 55 cities in Africa, where a significant Muslim population exists and Turkey’s economic, military, and cultural presence is perceived pretty strongly. They had Fethullah Gülen set up the infrastructure of that presence and they keep building on that.

The relations are strengthening quickly with countries where Muslim populations have a weight, such as Indonesia and Malaysia. It must be considered that roughly 250 million Muslims live in those countries combined.

Now, about India…

The number of Muslims is nearly 180 million in India which is bearing down on China from the aspect of the total population. The tendencies of this country, which has an ever-increasing “value” internationally, have the power to tip the balance on its own in a world where alliances keep dissolving. India, which was the leading actor of the Non-Aligned Movement in the period of time when the Soviet Union and the US were the two poles, is now a huge economy in which the US and Russia compete over arms sales and which constantly encounters tensions with Pakistan and China.

And the Muslim population is a significant factor for the internal dynamics of this country.

The Muslims in India present non-negligible opportunities for Erdoğan who wants to catch another important role in the US-centred Western alliance. The reason why he brought up Kashmir, the region that is a constant source of tension with Pakistan, at the expense of antagonizing Hindus and his hosts during his visit to India last year was to increase his weight among the Indian Muslims.

In fact, this is not the first time Turkey has interrelated with the internal policies of India. The paths of Mustafa Kemal and (then ex-Ottoman Sultan) Vahdettin, the two opposing elements of the War of Independence, had also intersected in India. The socialist revolution in Russia and the independence movement in Turkey had given a huge amount of energy to the anti-imperialist struggle in India, which was then controlled by the British and which also included the area of today’s Pakistan, and Mustafa Kemal had become a prestigious leader among not only Muslims but also Hindus. If the revolutionaries had Mustafa Kemal and Lenin, imperialists had Vahdettin. They thought to control the Muslim population by settling the ex-sultan in India, who had fled from the independence movement and took shelter with them, but the British intelligence warned them immediately: Vahdettin was not popular in India at all! They gave up, which resulted in Vahdettin’s dreams to be revived as the Khalifa coming to grief.

Now, Haaretz gives a headline as “Khalifa Erdoğan” and asks: “Why is Erdoğan making advances to Indian Muslims?”

This is what Turkey has become 100 years after the War of Independence.

Nothing will come out of this. India has a strong left-wing tradition with its complex ethnic structure and genuine caste system; those lands have witnessed countless Benercis[1] and caliphate will not grow to anything.

It won’t grow to anything in Turkey, as well.

Millions of Muslims live in poverty in India. While one tries to create popularity among them from thousands of miles away, the popularity here in Turkey is extremely fragile and illusive.

Even only one example will suffice. The photograph of Metin Akpınar[2] leaving his house on his own in order to be deposed by the Prosecutor’s Office reveals profound incompetence, not an enormous authority. Now, they try to build up a reputation in Gandhi’s country with that sort of images.

It won’t work.

[1] Benerci is a character created by Turkish communist poet Nazım Hikmet in one of his epic works.

[2] Metin Akpınar is a 77-year-old accomplished actor who is highly popular with almost all of his works in Turkey and who was recently the subject of an investigation after being targeted by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan because of his statements on a TV programme.