As the Middle East is going through political turmoil, Turkey has produced a soap opera — Dirilis Ertugrul (or Ertugrul Resurrection) – which features a number of political indications such as the resurrection of the Ottoman caliphate.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan highly praised the TV series and even paid a visit to the shooting location in November 2016. The crew accompanied Erdogan on a visit to Kuwait in May 2017.
Drama is one of Turkey’s instruments to penetrate the Arab world. It promotes the restoration of the Ottoman caliphate amid the deadly conflicts in Syria.
Although the soap opera narrates the birth of the Ottoman dynasty in the 13th century, it seeks to impose the Turkish hegemony on the Arab countries under the cloak of the restoration of the Islamic caliphate.
Aleppo’s central role
Aleppo plays a pivotal role in any call for the foundation of a caliphate. The Umayyads and Abbasids were keen in seizing the Syrian city to cement their rule.
At present, a number of Islamist groups, which embrace the caliphate theory, have been keen to seize Aleppo as well. Daesh sought to control Dabiq, in Aleppo.
Turkey also seeks to control Aleppo whether virtually as in Dirilis Ertugrul or in reality.
The soap opera’s vision is in line with the present situation in north Syria. It has made the Arab viewers justify the Turkish interference in Manbij and Afrin (Operation Olive Branch in January 2018) as a sort of help to the people of Aleppo like Ertugrul did in the series.
The north of Syria has become under Turkey’s control.
Turkey claims to be the sole defender of Islam as part of its endeavors to promote the Islamic caliphate. Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood claim that the Turkish model is the best example of Islamic rule, and Erdogan is the ideal ruler in the modern times.
The soap opera boosted that concept by emphasizing that Ertugrul’s tribe is the only defender of Islam and Ertugrul is the sole hero of the Muslim world.
The soap opera glorified the Turkish nationality and neglected the role of other Muslim nationalities. Certainly, Ertugrul’s tribe lived under the rule of the Abbasid caliphate. The soap opera did not feature that.
It also claimed that Ertugrul’s tribe warded off Crusaders. From a historical perspective, the Ayyubids resisted the Crusaders. That is a political implication that the Turkish-European disputes are part of the Crusades.
It also neglected the role of the Khwarazmian dynasty in fighting the Moguls, who later conquered the Abbasid caliphate. This neglect comes in line with Turkey’s present policy, which promotes that it is the only country concerned with the Islamic causes such as Jerusalem and Gaza.
It neglects any efforts by other countries in the region to lift the embargo on Gaza and reach a solution to the cause of Jerusalem.
A glance at home
As the series promotes the restoration of the Ottoman caliphate, it also bolsters the Turkish regime, which was hit hard by a foiled coup in July 2016.
In November 2016, Erdogan and his family paid a visit to the studio, where Dirilis Ertugrul was shot. He lauded the soap opera’s crew. It was an attempt to make a link between the foiled coup and the conspiracies plotted against Ertugrul.
Erdogan is the modern Ertugrul and the founder of the new Ottoman caliphate.
The soap opera seeks to change the image of the Ottoman caliphate in Egypt and the Levant. However, the peoples of the Levant still remember the massacres of Turkish military commander Djemal Pasha. Egyptians have never forgotten the civilizational impoverishment carried out by the Ottomans, who sent all the Egyptian skilled artisans to Turkey.