Is a government to promise “martyrdom” to its citizens?

Erdoğan appears to have reached the stage of holding “martyrs” in a tighter embrace and saying, “God willing, the mound of martyrs will not remain empty” in accentuating the religious-ideological grounds for his policy.

Speaking at a foundation-laying ceremony for the tram line in Izmir’s Kınık sub-province, for the second time in the past two weeks Erdoğan again aired the promise, “God willing, the mound of martyrs will not remain empty.”

This is because Erdoğan is now having great trouble replying to the questions, “Why are we in Syria?” and “Why are we in Libya?” through advancing political justifications. This is because the Erdoğan administration, which now portrays Idlib as being Turkish territory, not Syrian territory, and has reached the stage of going to war against Syria to topple the Syrian government, has become incapable of maintaining its defence of its current position in Syria with its former justifications.

The arrival now of soldiers’ remains from Libya will also bring the reason for being in Libya into greater questioning. Hence, faced with the collapse of the political justifications for his neo-Ottoman foreign policy, Erdoğan has turned to trotting out ideological reasons of Medieval provenance so as to prevent disintegration in his own base if nothing else!


Arguing in his speech in Kınık that, “Turkey’s Syrian and Libya policies are neither an adventure nor a trifling matter,” Erdoğan, in saying, “We say that we are engaged in a new independence struggle as a country and people. We are there (Libya) along with our directing heroic military and our teams from the Syrian National Army (SNA). Of course, we have a few martyrs. My brothers, we will never forget that the mound of martyrs will not remain empty!” clearly articulated the jihadist, conquestorial mentality behind the neo-Ottomanist policy in Libya, Syria and in all corners of the globe.

Let me point out straight away that the Erdoğan administration’s neo-Ottomanist policy is in dire straits in both Syria and Libya. These straits have by now stripped demagogic justifications aimed at concealing the truth of their credibility. Indeed, in invalidating propaganda premised on “We do not have our eyes on an inch of Syria’s territory” or “We respect Syria’s territorial integrity,” the Erdoğan administration has reached the stage of speaking of going to war against the Syrian regime.

And, on the day following that on which he spoke of war in Syria, Erdoğan, by saying the other day, “We are there along with our directing heroic military and our teams from the SNA” following on from his comments, “We are consulting with the Serraj administration. Members of the Turkish armed forces are not participating in the war” acknowledged that Turkey was waging war along with the Haftar forces in the guise of the Turkish Armed Forces and SNA.

Here, Erdoğan brushes off the affair by saying, “We have a few martyrs,” but, in conjunction with the deaths of three Turkish armed forces members, one of whom was Colonel Okan Altınay, in clashes in Libya, it will be no great error to say that the “numerical measuring of martyrs” will also raise questions in his own base.


The Erdoğan-AKP administration, its political justifications gradually losing credibility, needs to cloak events in an ideological sheath to prevent disintegration among those of its own persuasion if nobody else.

With the political justifications for his Libya and Syria policies becoming less credible, Erdoğan appears to have reached the stage of holding “martyrs” in a tighter embrace and saying, “God willing, the mound of martyrs will not remain empty” in accentuating the religious-ideological grounds for his policy.

What this means, in turn, is, “We will and must yield far more martyrs on the road embarked on today!”

This thinking constituted one of the predominant concepts of Islamic culture in the “wars of religion” that Islam waged against non-Islamic religions, chiefly Christianity, in the seventh century in which Islam’s period of “conquest” occurred and which has become crystalized in the “martyrdom” that such bunches as ISIS, Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood have popularized.

Indeed, to cover up the administrative issues and administrative liability that was clearly apparent in the Elazığ earthquake and in Van, on 7 February following the avalanche disaster in Van Erdoğan attributed what had happened to “accident and fate.” However, Erdoğan did not stop at this and, saying, “We will walk undauntedly and fearlessly towards the Shahada so that, God willing, the mound of martyrs will not remain empty,” set out to make the declaration that “the mound of martyrs will not remain empty” not just into a veil for his own liability but, at the same time, into good tidings, a promise!


As has been seen, to prevent its own goals from henceforth coming into open view and the quagmire into which it has dragged Turkey in the interests of a handful of capital groupings from becoming visible and to furnish legitimacy for its bankrupt foreign policy, the Erdoğan administration is using the slogan of the jihadist and conquestorial mindset of “martyrdom” and trying to save face.

Today, unless it is of a jihadist and conquestorial ideological persuasion, no sensible government or state promises becoming martyrs to its people and populace! And, for sure, it does not try to turn the “arrival of martyrs” from across borders into a “martyrdom” that is the product of its own policies and an occurrence that is to be “coveted” and “encouraged” based on “nature,” “fate” “faith” and “hadith.” On the contrary, today, the first duty of every state, every political party and every administrator imbued with a degree of modern thinking is to ensure citizens’ safety of life.

The chief aim of domestic and foreign policy is thus ensuring citizens’ safety of life!

If the government’s domestic or foreign policy opens the way for the “martyrdom of youth,” to secure the success of these foreign policies, it renews policies, not in a way that encourages the yielding of far more martyrs and becoming martyrs, but that changes these policies and prevents citizens from becoming martyrs.

The eighteen-year AKP rule has brought Turkey into a domestic and foreign political orientation fashioned on a foundation that is rooted in seventh-century jihadism and hallows the concepts of “jihad,” “conquest” and “martyrdom” of such bunches that conduct politics through religion as ISIS, Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood and that is combined with the issue of “survival” coloured by these concepts.

This orientation will see far more “martyrs” coming from Libya, from Syria, from Iraq, …!

Article by İhsan Çaralan

Translated by Tim Drayton

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