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July 09, 2012, Monday

Is Davutoğlu Enver Jr.?

“Enver Jr.” is a nickname that Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu used in reference to Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu in an attempt to criticize the government’s Syria policy.

His reference to Enver Pasha, the defense minister and chief of staff of the Ottoman Empire during World War I and an important historical figure, implies that the CHP leader is accusing the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government of pursuing imperial policies of the Ottoman Empire. The Enver Pasha doctrine symbolizes assertive policies that culminated in disasters.

The day Kılıçdaroğlu made this reference to Davutoğlu, I, in my column published in the Zaman daily, made an analogy between the current AK Party administration and the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) government ruling the Ottoman Empire between 1908 and 1918 and referred to Enver Pasha, the number one figure of this period. Some attempts were made to relate to Kılıçdaroğlu’s “Enver Jr.” remark. What really matters is to recall this legacy and take a look at the Middle East policy from a historical perspective. Enver Pasha is a great name that deserves a refresher of our memories.

The CUP government, under the leadership of the three Pashas -- Enver, Talat and Cemal -- was the rising star of the last stage of the Ottoman Empire. The Armenian deportation was their plan. Interestingly, they made the first attempt to transition to a multiparty system. They ended the 33-year-long rule of Abdülhamid II through a military coup and administered the state relying on coercion and intimidation. They made a pact with the Germans and entered World War I. In a very short time, they modernized the army, converting it into a strong instrument that was effective on the battleground. The War of Gallipoli is their success. In the end, they were defeated. Two of these three men were killed by Armenian assassins, whereas Enver Pasha was murdered by the Soviet military in Central Asia.

Enver Pasha was a young and idealistic military serviceman. He had great ambitions. But he was not realistic. He led a life in pursuit of Pan-Turkism and Pan-Islamism. The name of Enver Pasha symbolizes unrealistic adventurers detached from reality. His style is seen as adventurous in foreign policy.

The name and personality of Enver Pasha are part of the key to becoming a great state in the minds of military servicemen. For this reason, during the civil war in Tajikistan after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the body of Enver Pasha was exhumed and taken to İstanbul by a military operation where his body and ideals were preserved and honored. In short, the state views him as significant in the field of foreign policy.

But still, it is not proper to make an analogy between Davutoğlu and Enver Pasha. Davutoğlu’s policy is not Pan-Turkism. Davutoğlu’s doctrine, focusing on the Islamic world, is closer to Abdülhamid’s foreign policy style. Like the one pursued by Abdülhamid, it is realistic and wise. Likewise, it is similar to Abdülhamid’s style in one more respect: patience.

The current stage of Turkey’s Syria policy refers to the end of a game. The game is not over yet. Turkey has made proper moves in this conundrum. This calculation will be justified when the Assad regime is gone.

It is not possible to deny the Ottoman imprints in Davutoğlu’s policy. However, these imprints were borrowed from Abdülhamid’s regional policy, not from the policies of the CUP.

Previous articles of the columnist