Update: Today 9/9/11 Egyptians attacked the Israeli Embassy causing the Israeli ambassador to flee. Egyptian police stood by and did nothing to intervene. The Moslem Brotherhood is big in Egypt. This further makes the point I make in the rest of this post.
The headline grabbed my attention because it represents a possible naval battle between Turkey and Israel. As ominous as that may be it’s the not the first time the Turks have tried to exert their influence in the Middle East and dare I say Europe.
The first map represents the height of Turkish power under the Ottoman Dynasty. The center of the Ottoman Empire is modern-day Turkey. Students of history will recognize that the borders of the Ottoman Empire roughly match the borders of the older Eastern Roman Empire (2nd map).
In fact it was the Ottomans that destroyed the remnants of the Eastern Roman Empire when they took the city of Constantinople in 1453 (now Istanbul).
The Ottomans were the last of the Moslem Turks or Moslem Arabs to present a threat to Europe and Western Civilization. What many people may not realize when they talk about who belongs where in the Middle East is that at one time the entire area covered by the Ottomans was at least nominally Christian.
Moslem Arabs from roughly the area of modern-day Saudi Arabia launched a conquest of a good part of the Eastern Roman Empire in the 7th Century. The area includes modern-day Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Morocco and even into Spain, Sicily and France. Modern day Turkey stayed Eastern Roman (Byzantine) until 1071 A.D. when the Seljuk (Moslem) Turks defeated the Eastern Roman Army at Manzikert.
It was in the wake of the Battle of Manzikert that the Catholic Pope Urban II called for a Crusade (1096-1099) with the supposed main goal of taking Jerusalem back from the Seljuk Moslem Turks.
The next few centuries saw the further decline of the Eastern Romans losing lands to both Moslems and European Balkan countries. In Palestine there was warfare between Turk, Christian and Arab with the eventual defeat of the Crusaders leaving the entire area under Moslem control.
The Ottomans replaced the Seljuks as the Moslem super power and extended Moslem influence well into Balkan Europe finally being turned back at the Battle of Vienna (Austria) in 1675- a battle won through the efforts of the Holy Roman Empire (not Holy, nor Roman) and their Polish allies. It was the famous Polish Winged Hussars that broke the back of the Turkish army.
The Ottomans went into a slow decline after Vienna and the empire was finally put to death after WW1 (Turkey was allied with Germany during WW1 largely because of centuries of war with Czarist Russia a;sp at war with Germany). When the Ottomans ceased being an empire the nation of modern-day Turkey was born. Palestine/Jordan went under a British mandate and Lebanon/Syria under the French both of whom were the victors in the First World War.
So what’s my point in giving out that headline about a possible Turkish-Israeli naval clash and then giving a mini-history lesson on the Ottoman Turks?
We Americans as a whole often have a stilted, dwarfed view of history and people. We tend to see the conflict in the Middle East apart from the march of history and the history of conflict in that region ever since man started to keep records of conflict.
In Jesus’ time modern-day Israel was Roman, then it was Eastern Roman after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire (476 A.D.). Then it was Moslem Arab and after that Moslem Turk (Seljuk). After that the Crusader Latin Kingdom and after that Ottoman Turk. After Ottoman Turk, British and after the British the Israelis.
Here’s my observation. If you click on the headline you will note that Moslem Turks are making common cause with the Moslem Arab Egyptians in facing down the Israelis. What does it mean?
Apart from the obvious hatred of a western style democracy in a sea of Moslem nations I think it’s another sign of a resurgent, aggressive Islam. In other words it’s not necessarily just about tiny Israel. The Moslem powers have never been shy about extending Islam via force when they could. They were only stopped in 1675 by the above mentioned Hussars. With the USA in decline (read Mark Steyn to see what I mean) what Hussars will stop them the next time?