When World War I ended, the Ottoman Empire finally ended. While the Western colonial powers had occupied the disintegrated lands of the empire, at the end, almost all Muslim lands had fallen under the yoke of Western colonialism.
Under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal and his brothers and sisters-in-arms, the War of Independence was waged against the occupying forces, first spontaneously through national militia forces. Provincial offices of the formerly ruling Committee of Union and Progress were turned into local posts of the War of Independence.
During World War I, Germany's destructive military power had exhausted the warring capacity of Britain and France. Thus, the winning parties of the World War decided to leave the Anatolian lands in the face of sheer resistance. When Greece attempted to occupy Anatolia, the resistance movement defeated the Greek army and gained independence.
The new Republic was founded only on a small
fragment of the Ottoman lands. Once the heartland of the Empire, the Balkans and the Western Thrace were lost for good. Especially the separation and disintegration of the Balkans constituted a deep trauma for the Republican political elite.
Reborn from Ottoman ashes, the new Republic emerged despite the destruction and poverty of numerous wars, and thus the modern Turkish nation-state was gradually founded.
The colonial empire did not let Turkey embrace its imperial legacy and vision. The new Republic should have not become a great state that could establish a network in the Islamic countries and that relied on its own cultural and religious values. Instead, for the colonial powers, the new Turkey must have become "a purely Western" country ruled by a Jacobin class.
Yet, the Cyprus War awakened the Turkish intelligentsia about the true motives of Western colonial powers over Turkey's national interests. In the 1970s, then-Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan launched a massive movement of national industrialization and development. In this respect, the National Vision Movement was aimed at rejuvenating our own cultural values and historical legacy by pulling the country through Western snares.
After the end of the Cold War, the President Turgut Özal not only reconstructed Turkey's relations with the newly independent Turkic Republics, but also integrated the Turkish economy with the global economy. The process of rapid urbanization concluded with the rise of the Anatolian people in politics. The demands of these newly founded middle classes on freedom of thought and religion, their economic interests and Erbakan's persistent opposition led the Welfare Party to political power. Yet, except for this short-lived political power of the Refahyol, the period ranging from the end of Özal's presidency to the Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) political power constituted Turkey's lost years.
Under the leadership of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey has regained its position in the international arena as a growing economy and a rising political power. Setting the political agenda not only in Turkey but also abroad, the political influence of Erdoğan has always been indisputable. As Turkey grows in power, the Erdoğan administration has faced serious challenges and interventions.
The military tutelage, the PKK's terrorist attacks and the Gülenist Terror Group's (FETÖ) attempt of taking hold of the state bureaucracy have not halted or paralyzed Turkey's rise.
Today, Turkey is facing a new war, a purely economic war. Imposing embargoes on China, Mexico, Iran and Russia, the U.S. President Donald Trump threatened Turkey with economic embargoes too. Under the guise of demanding the release of a pastor, Trump is actually addressing his evangelical constituency. Yet, the reaction of the markets against the political tension between the U.S. and Turkey has been extraordinary until today.
Turkey is one of the leading powers in the region with its qualified labor force and its growing industry. Yet, we still need to establish a much more productive economy that is supported by a strong justice system. Germany's unshakable economy, for instance, relies almost wholly on production. If Turkey could have access to the most advanced technologies and technological knowledge, a national mobilization that is based on production will certainly resolve Turkey's troubles and pave the way for the continuation of its rise.
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