On the eve of Turkey’s military operation in Afrin, Syria, a new state-sponsored TV show made its debut. Mehmetçik: Kut’ül Amare is about the WWI Battle of Kut in modern-day Iraq, in which the Ottoman armies were victorious against the British Empire. Among other state-sponsored TV shows, such as The Last Sultan and Revival: Ertugrul, this latest series also serves as an ostensible instrument for the government agenda.
On the 4th of November 1872, a newspaper in Istanbul featured a rather poetic editorial claiming that “if all the improvements in the world were photographed in a picture, the whole civilised world could only show as much as London”. Signifying somewhat of an internalised orientalism, literary depictions of the ‘civilised’ West were common in late-19th century Ottoman Empire. Nevertheless, there is more to this than meets the eye.
Neo-Ottomanism and New-Turkey are two popular terms to define the current politics of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the 12th and incumbent President of the Republic of Turkey. Since he became Prime Minister in 2003, Erdoğan has increased his clout over government and state. Today, after this year’s contested referendum, he is undoubtedly the strongest man in Turkey and his ideas shape a new ‘national identity’ for the country.