Nationalism is on the rise in Europe. But in Turkey, President Recep Tayip Erdogan is introducing a new kind of nationalism according to a study conducted by the Center for American Progress (CAP).
Max Hoffman, a researcher from CAP, describes the new brand of nationalism as highlighted by “real hostility” toward Germany, Europe but most particularly the United States. In addition, Erdogan has crafted a nationalist narrative that instigates widespread hostility toward the Syrian refugees and other immigrants to Turkey:
“He (Erdogan) is doing this with his political rhetoric, but he is also drawing on a genuine upswelling of nationalism from the Turkish populists.”
What is the reason behind Erdogan’s increased hostility toward the United States whose new President, Donald Trump, also advocates nationalism with his “America First” policy?
According to Ali Cinar, President of the Turkish Heritage Organization, the root of Erdogan’s anti-U.S. sentiment is Washington’s refusal for not extraditing U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gullen and for its continued support of the Syrian Kurdish militia group YPG in the war versus the Islamic State:
“Everybody in Turkey, both government and opposition, are sensitive about these two issues and they are in consensus. So it’s wrong to see this as AK Party’s cause and this is the biggest mistake countries are making.
“I don’t think the main reason for the increase in nationalist rhetoric in Turkey is clearly reflected in the report. Also, it’s not clear to me how realistically the report has reached to a conclusion that there were sharp divides about the overall direction of the country.”
Gullen is suspected of masterminding an attempt to overthrow the government last year. President Trump is mulling the possibility of extraditing Gullen to Turkey.
The study describes Erdogan’s new brand of nationalism as, “assertively Muslim, fiercely independent; distrusting of outsiders; and sceptical of other nations and global elites which it perceives to hold Turkey back.”
The CAP poll also found that only 10% of Turks have a favourable opinion of the United States while an overwhelming 83% have a negative view. For Europe, 21% of Turks view them favourably.
Hoffman believes relations between the United States and Turkey are at a breaking point. Whether relations with the U.S. will finally fall apart will depend largely on Erdogan.