Intense struggle between Saudi Arabia, Turkey to lead Muslim world

Turkey is trying to emerge as the new leader of Muslim world. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s utterances on Kashmir and other Muslim issues should be viewed from this perspective. The Turkish foreign policy aims to project President Erdogan as the ‘New Sultan’ of the Muslim world, though a power struggle is on between Saudi Arabia and Turkey over the leadership.

According to foreign policy experts, Turkey wants to emerge as a modern version of the Ottoman empire. Recently Turkish President Erdoğan’s chief advisor, retired Turkish general Adnan Tanrıverdi, has been articulating a vision of a unified Islamic superpower.

The Justice Defenders Strategic Studies Center (ASSAM), of which Tanrıverdi is chairman of the board, has scheduled seven annual “congresses,” of which three have taken place, to work through the technical problems in the formation and governance of an “Islamic union.” At a recent ASSAM Congress, Tanrıverdi called for the coordination of the joint manufacturing of weapons and military equipment among Islamic countries, saying: “States cannot stand tall against the countries whose weapons they use.” ASSAM has also published a 69-page draft of a constitution for a planned shari’a-based confederation of 61 Islamic countries. This constitution declares that “sovereignty belongs to shariah,” that Istanbul is to be the capital of the confederation, that the Arabic language would be taught in all of its schools, and that its name will be “Asrica,” which is formed from a combination of Asia and Africa.

Turkey is trying to reclaim its lost glory. For four centuries, the sultan in Istanbul was also the religious leader, or caliph, of the entire Muslim world till the caliphate was abolished only in 1924.