Wednesday, December 30, 2015

'Islamist' Turkey's foreign policy in the Balkans promotes a neo-Ottoman agenda.


'Islamist' Turkey's foreign policy in the Balkans promotes a neo-Ottoman agenda. (Huffington).By David L. Phillips.

Turkey's foreign policy in the Balkans promotes a neo-Ottoman agenda, aimed at expanding its influence in former territories of the Ottoman Empire. Turkey exports Islamism under the guise of cultural cooperation. It also seeks economic advantage, using business as leverage to consolidate its national interests.

The Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA) is a vehicle through which Turkey advances its ideological agenda. TIKA is the vanguard of Turkey's Justice and Development Party (AKP), which supports Muslim Brotherhood chapters around the world. TIKA runs a parallel and complementary foreign policy to official state institutions, coordinating with Turkey's Ministry of Culture and the Presidency of Religious Affairs to promote the AKP's Islamist agenda.

In addition, TIKA supports regional Islamic unions and institutions. It subsidizes community based social mobilization projects, which promote Islam. TIKA's network of Muslim community leaders and imams, which includes imams from Turkey, actively promotes Islam. Its benevolence includes food for the Iftar meal during Ramadan, delivered to impressionable Kosovars in poor rural areas.

Erdogan asked the Government of Kosovo to close schools established by Fetullah Gulen, with whom he had a falling out. Kosovo officials acquiesced, though Gulen schools offered quality education to Kosovars.

Turkish businessmen also benefit from Turkey's aggressive religious and cultural promotion. A well-respected Turkish scholar asks of the AKP, "Are they Islamists or just thieves with a religious rhetoric?"

Since become Speaker of Kosovo's Parliament, however, Vaseli has not said a word about Turkey's economic dominance. He and other prominent Kosovo politicians, including Foreign Minister Hashim Thaci, have close ties to Erdogan, as well as Turkish business and political leaders.

Turkey has cemented its influence through security cooperation. Around 2,000 Turkish soldiers were deployed as part of the KFOR peacekeeping mission in 1999. There are still 350 Turkish soldiers in Pristina and Prizren. Turkey has indicated its willingness to assume control of Bondsteel, the US base in Kosovo, as US forces withdraw.

Davuto─člu explicitly linked Turkey's foreign policy to its Ottoman legacy during a trip to Bosnia-Herzegovina in 2009. "The Ottoman centuries of the Balkans were a success story. Now we have to reinvent this." He announced, "Turkey is back."

Faster integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions is the best antidote to Turkey's influence in Kosovo and the Western Balkans. US interests would also be served through intensified engagement in the region.

Closer cooperation between the US and Kosovo would be a bulwark against Turkey's export of Islamism. It would also prevent the further radicalization of Kosovo society, staunching the flow of Kosovars to join ISIS. Hmmmm........Sadly with Obama being the BFF Of Erdogan this Islamist advance won't be stopped, hopefully the next POTUS Will recognize the danger. Read the full story here.

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