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Turkey

The Ottoman Dynasty – Rise of Muslims Episode 6

Based entirely on the book by Ali Mahmood titled “Muslims” –

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The Ottoman dynasty governed the Muslims and built one of the largest empires the world has ever seen

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Are Saudi-Turkish relations deteriorating?

The relations between Turkey and Saudi Arabia are now becoming a subject of mediatic interest following the alleged killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khoshoggi, a critic of Riyadh’s current government, in his country’s consulate in Istanbul. To better understand this event and its consequences, it is necessary to put it in the broader context of the bilateral relations between the two states, which dates back to the 1920s.

The collapse of the Ottoman Empire and its aftermath.

Once the main power in the Middle East, the Ottoman Empire was dismantled in both political and territorial terms in the wake of its defeat in WWI; thus reshaping the region’s geopolitical order. Many of its former lands became de facto colonies under the rule of either Great Britain or France (on the basis of the Sykes-Picot agreement), but two cases stand out as exceptions: the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Turkey.

During the Great War, Britain was fighting against the Ottoman Empire, who was allied with Germany and Austria-Hungary. In this context, the British were actively supporting an Arab uprising to weaken the Ottomans and extend their influence on the Middle East. This led to a deal with the Saud family: in exchange of aid against the Ottomans, the House of Saud would rule an independent kingdom after the end of the war.  This resulted into the establishment of Saudi Arabia (which takes its name from the ruling al-Saud dynasty) in 1932.  An important aspect of the newborns state was its affiliation to Wahhabism, a juridical and religious doctrine of Islam known for its conservatism and that became the basis of the Saudi political system. This made the Kingdom the champion of Sunni Islam, even though its adherence to Wahhabism has recently become less marked under the influence of Crown Prince bin Salman. After the discovery of huge oil reserves in the 1930s, Saudi Arabia gradually became a major producer and started accumulating wealth. During the Cold War, it forged an alliance with the United States, thus becoming (in spite of occasional divergences, like the 1973 oil crisis) one of its main allies in the Middle East. As of today, the House of Saud is still in power and its cooperation with the US remains a central element of its foreign policy.

On its part, the Ottoman Empire was weakened by war, politically delegitimized and in social unrest; and had to face the consequences of defeat. With the nationalist movement led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk gaining more and more influence, the imperial rule did not last. The last Sultan (and Caliph) was deposed, and a Republic was proclaimed. But its territory was much smaller than the pre-war Empire. Other than Iraq, Syria, Palestine and Arabia, it even lost some lands in mainland Anatolia; which it recovered after a war with Greece in 1919-22 that gave the country its current shape. Atatürk promoted westernization in the newly-born Republic, notably to transform it into a secular state after centuries of religious-based Ottoman rule.  This is a major difference from Saudi Arabia, which instead based its polity upon religious conservatism.  But like the KSA, Turkey decided to side with America after WWII, joining NATO in 1952. During the decades, the country experienced several coups, the last of which occurred in 2016 as an attempt to overthrow President Erdogan, who has held the office since 2014 after serving eleven years as Prime Minister.

The history of Turkey – Saudi Arabia relations

Official relations between the two countries were established in 1932, when the KSA was founded. During the pre-WWII era, when the Middle East was still largely influenced by European powers, their bilateral relations were stable and no major issue emerged. During the late ‘40s following the withdrawal of colonial forces, new states appeared in the region and started pursuing their own geopolitical objectives, thus complicating the regional dynamics.

A first factor of disagreement was the Palestinian issue and the creation of Israel. Turkey recognized the Jewish state and adopted a moderate stance towards it during the Arab-Israeli wars, whereas Saudi Arabia refused to establish official relation with it and actively supported the cause of Palestinians as well as that of Arab states fighting against Israel.

Relations with Iran would soon become another problematic issue. Before the 1979 Revolution that overthrew the Shah and established the Islamic Republic, Ankara maintained good relations with Teheran. The instauration of the new Iranian regime resulted into colder relations for some time (due to Turkey’s friendly ties with the US and Israel, the arch-nemesis of Iran) but then they gradually improved. Prior to the Islamic Revolution, Riyadh also enjoyed generally positive relations with Teheran, with the two main points of disagreement being religious divides (Sunni vs Shia respectively) and the recognition of Israel by the former. But this dramatically changed after 1979: the difference in faith combined with the Saudi’s amity with the US turned their mutual relations into strong hostility.

The Iran-Iraq war that raged between 1980 and 1988 saw the KSA and Turkey taking a different stance. Riyadh, in spite of strained relations with Baghdad, considered Teheran’s revolutionary regime to be the main threat to its security and therefore supported the former with financial aid. In contrast, Turkey was more conciliatory with Iran: keeping a neutralist policy, it maintained economic ties with both belligerents, thus refusing to implement the US-led embargo on Iran. The outbreak of the Gulf War in 1991 following Iraq’s occupation of Kuwait saw both Saudi Arabia and Turkey joining the US-guided coalition against Iraq.

Ankara and Riyadh also took different postures after the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq by US forces. The fact that most of the terrorist that had hijacked the planes used to strike the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were Saudi nationals caused some strain between Riyadh and Washington, but in general the Saudis cooperated with the US in the War on Terror the latter launched after 9/11. On its part, Turkey supported the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, but opposed that of Iraq in 2003 out of fears that the instability that would follow the end of Saddam’s regime would allow the Iraqi Kurds to obtain an independent state.

Saudi-Turkish relations in recent years

The year 2011 can be seen as a turning point in the history of contemporary Middle East, and the events that took place since then had a profound effect on Turkey-KSA relations. In 2011, the “Arab Spring” shook the region, leading to the outbreak of a bloody and still-unsolved civil war in Syria. The US withdrew its last combat forces from Iraq and reduced its direct involvement in the Middle East in accordance with President’s Obama “Leading from Behind” policy. Since then, the region’s geopolitical landscape has significantly changed and local actors have become more active.

Both Turkey and Saudi Arabia have supported the rebels trying to topple the al-Assad regime in Syria. The two also found some common ground in the fight against the auto-proclaimed “Islamic State”. In 2014, this Sunni extremist group rapidly seized control of considerable swathes of territory in the northern parts of Iraq and Syria. An international coalition started hitting its position with airstrikes to support the local forces on the ground. Both Saudi Arabia and Turkey have condemned the group, even though there have been allegations that wealthy Saudi nationals founded the group and that Turkey has secretly traded oil with it. The struggle against the IS also explains why both have sustained the Iraqi state, even though their involvement responds to a slightly different logic. Ankara did so to avoid that a Kurdish state may emerge from the fragmentation of Iraq, plus to prevent that Teheran may complete a pipeline that would allow it to export its hydrocarbons without having to pass via the Turkish territory; while Riyadh acted to limit Teheran’s influence in the area, given that Iraq’s population is mainly Shia. Also, in the frame of the Iran-KSA proxy war in Yemen, the two powers are both helping the government forces to defeat the Houthi rebels sustained by Iran. Finally, the Saudis promptly expressed their support for Erdogan’s government during the 2016 coup attempt.

Yet, in the broader struggle for influence over the Middle East, the divergences between Riyadh and Ankara have multiplied. First, there is some form of ideological divergence. Since Erdogan became President in 2014, he promoted a reintroduction of religious-based norms in Turkey; and many consider this as being contrary to the secular spirit that the Republic has had since its foundation by Atatürk. At the same time, Saudi Arabia moved in the opposite direction under the leadership of Prince bin Salman. Even though he centralized power (similarly to Erdogan), he lifted many of the traditional Islamic limitations in many aspects of Saudi society. But beyond that, there is much realpolitik underneath.

The two support opposing factions in Egypt: the Saudis favor the government led by General al-Sisi; whereas the Turks support the opposition forces, notably the Muslim Brotherhood. This is not a factor to neglect, because having a friendly government in Cairo makes easier the access to the Red Sea and its shipping lanes, an objective that Ankara is pursuing. In regard to Iran, the KSA maintains its longstanding hostile stance, while Turkey (in spite of the differences) has shown more willingness to cooperate with it (and Russia) in regard to Iraq and Syria. In turn, this is linked to their relations with Israel. Riyadh, considering that Teheran is the main regional rival of Tel Aviv, is unofficially but concretely establishing closer ties with the latter; all with Washington’s patronage. The Trump administration has clearly shown its willingness to support both Saudi Arabia and Israel, so this come with no surprise. At the same time, Turkey’s ties with the Jewish State have been deteriorating during the past decade, notably since Erdogan became President in 2014. Israel does not appreciate Turkey’s support for Islamic movements and for the Palestinian cause, something which recently led to a verbal escalation between Erdogan and Netanyahu. Plus, Tel Aviv does not see positively Ankara’s closer ties with Teheran. The access to offshore gas deposits in the Eastern Mediterranean is another factor that is straining their bilateral relations. Israel is collaborating with Cyprus and Egypt to exploit these energy resources, whereas Turkey is asserting its rights in a quite aggressive manner against other players. In this context, Tel Aviv is also fostering closer ties with Athens, whose relations with Ankara are historically problematic. Lastly, there is the Qatar issue. In 2017, the KSA and other countries (including Egypt) initiated a blockade on the small Gulf state, because of its friendly ties with Iran and for allegedly sponsoring terrorism; a move that Israel approved. Soon, Turkey showed its support to Qatar by providing economic aid and even by dispatching its troops.

The result is that an informal yet tangible entente is forming between Saudi Arabia, Israel, the US and other powers to counter Turkey, which in turn is creating closer ties with Iran (and Russia). The most recent events are to be interpreted in this context.

The current crisis: the alleged killing of Jamal Khashoggi

The Saudi-Turkish standoff that is making the headlines these days is just the latest episode of the deteriorating ties between the two countries, but relations with other powers should be factored in as well.

The Turkish authorities accuse the Saudis to have assassinated Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist known for its critic position towards the government in Riyadh, at the Kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul. This has sparked a crisis between the two countries and has attracted much mediatic attention. One interesting thing to note is that Turkey has decided to exploit this occasion to free US pastor Andrew Brunson, who had been detained for two years over accusation of being involved in the failed 2016 coup attempt to overthrow Erdogan. It appears that Turkey is trying to exploit the Khashoggi affaire to restore its ties with the US, which have been damaged in recent years due to various issues. First, this is due to Turkey’s cooperation with Russia and Iran combined with its growing enmity toward Saudi Arabia and Israel. Second, the US refuse to extradite Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish cleric that Ankara blames to be responsible for the 2016 coup attempt. This leads to the third factor, namely the imposition of US sanctions on Turkey, something that caused a considerable depreciation of its currency (the lira), putting the country’s economy under stress and forcing it to take restrictive economic measures in the form of higher interest rates; a measure necessary to stop the fall of the lira’s value but that will damage Turkey’s economy by adding pressure on its negative trade balance and on its external debt.

As such, the timing Andrew Brunson’s liberation now appears both as a conciliatory act towards the US in the hope of having sanctions lifted and to restore better political ties, as well as an attempt to improve its international image all while damaging Saudi Arabia’s. It is another application of Turkey’s traditional policy of tilting alternatively towards the US and then towards Russia and Iran so to keep viable relations with all and maximize its own benefit. After a period where it built its ties with Washington’s adversaries, it is therefore to be expected that Ankara will now seek a reconciliation; but this will likely be only partial. Still, the US-Saudi ties are indeed becoming more strained following the episode, but in the long term it is likely that mutual interests will prevail. What will happen next is yet to be seen, but it is certain that the complex power interplay in the Middle East will not end here.

The Geopolitics of the Black Sea

In the mounting tension between Great Powers, the Black Sea holds a particular strategic importance. It represents the waterway connecting Europe, Russia and the Middle East and is believed to host substantial reserves of hydrocarbons. It’s unique location makes it an important gateway for gas pipelines fuelling European markets and is a key theatre in the confrontation between Russia and NATO.

I’m Kasim and welcome to KJ Vids. In this video, we will look at the geopolitics of the Black Sea based on strategic reports by two analysts.

The first report is by Alessandro Gagaridis on the geopolitical monitor website published on September 19, 2018

Link – https://www.geopoliticalmonitor.com/the-geopolitics-of-the-black-sea/

Link to Mr Gagaridis’s personal website – www.strategikos.it

The second is an essay by Boris Toucas from the Centre for Strategic & International Studies published on 2nd February 2017

Link – https://www.csis.org/analysis/geostrategic-importance-black-sea-region-brief-history

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America and Turkey, FRIENDS or FOES? – KJ Vids

The close U.S.-Turkish relationship dates back to the early days of the Cold War. That’s when Turkey sent its troops to fight alongside U.S. soldiers in the Korean War. In return, Turkey become an important NATO member and a bulwark against Soviet expansionism in the eastern Mediterranean. As of 2018, Turkey’s armed forces are the fourth most powerful in the Alliance. And the Incirlik air base in Southern Turkey serves as a critical hub for U.S. fighter jets in their Middle East missions, particularly over Iraq and Syria.

But despite the current cooperation between the U.S. and Turkey, the strategic alliance and trust between the countries began to falter with the end of the Cold War. I’m Kasim, this is KJ Vids and in this video, we will look at the US-Turkish Relationship.

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TURKEY and QATAR, Brothers or FRIENDS in NEED? – KJ Vids

TURKEY and QATAR, Brothers or FRIENDS in NEED? – KJ Vids

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TURKISH-QATAR Relations | FRIENDS in Need | KJ Vids

A week since the Turkish Lira crisis hit the headlines and whilst Erdogan and Trump play out a diplomatic tussle, the Turkish lira improved from record lows after Qatar’s Sheikh – Thamim bin Hamad Al Thani – said Qatar was standing by it “brothers in Turkey,” as he announced a $15bn investment into the country’s financial markets and banks.

But why has Qatar entered the scene and helped to temporarily, temper the crises. I’m Kasim, this is KJ Vids and in this video, we will look at the Qatar-Turkish alliance and the motive that Qatar has in allying with Turkey.

Qatar and Turkey are bound by strategic relations at the political, economic and military levels.

Top 5 Facts About Turkish-Israel Relations

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The leaders of Turkey and Israel have exchanged angry remarks, further straining the countries’ already tense bilateral relations. The war of words, which erupted after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticised a controversial law adopted by Israel’s parliament last week, which defines the country as the nation-state of the Jewish people. In light of these latest developments, we present you with the top five facts about Israel-Turkish Relations.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_toggle title=”Fact 1: Turkey was the first Muslim country to recognise Israel”]Turkey was the first Muslim country to recognise Israel, in 1949, and the states enjoyed relatively warm relations for many decades. Turkey and Israel shared many interests in the region as allies of the West and modern, relatively secular countries in a region dominated by Arab nationalism and religious conservatism.

[/vc_toggle][vc_toggle title=”Fact 2: Turkey is Israel’s 11th largest trading partner”]Below is a list showcasing 15 of Israel’s top trading partners, countries that imported the most Israeli shipments by dollar value during 2017. Also shown is each import country’s percentage consumption of total Israeli exports.

  1. United States: US$17.2 billion (28.2% of total Israeli exports)
  2. United Kingdom: $5.2 billion (8.5%)
  3. Hong Kong: $4.2 billion (6.9%)
  4. China: $3.3 billion (5.5%)
  5. Belgium: $2.7 billion (4.5%)
  6. Netherlands: $2.3 billion (3.8%)
  7. India: $1.9 billion (3.2%)
  8. France: $1.7 billion (2.9%)
  9. Germany: $1.6 billion (2.7%)
  10. Switzerland: $1.5 billion (2.4%)
  11. Turkey: $1.4 billion (2.4%)
  12. Italy: $935.4 million (1.5%)
  13. Brazil: $905.5 million (1.5%)
  14. South Korea: $894.1 million (1.5%)
  15. Japan: $844.2 million (1.4%)

[/vc_toggle][vc_toggle title=”Fact 3: Turkey has formally downgraded relations with Israel three times since Israel’s creation”]Three times in the past decades, in 1956, 1980, and 2011, Turkey initiated a formal downgrading of relations with Israel.

1956: Israel invaded Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and occupied the Suez Canal, after which Turkey downgrades its diplomatic representation to the level of charges d’affaires.

1980: Turkey announced its plan to downgrade diplomatic relations with Israel to a symbolic level after the Knesset passed the Jerusalem Law in 1980 —Turkey cited Israel’s continued “unconciliatory” policy on Middle East problems.

2010: Turkey suspended diplomatic relations with Israel in the wake of the deadly Mavi Marmara incident. In 2016 Israel accepted Turkish preconditions for normalising relations, including demands to compensate families of Mavi Marmara victims. Israel paid about $20 million into a compensation fund for the families of those killed on the Mavi Marmara. Turkey, in turn, dropped criminal charges it had filed against Israeli officers.

[/vc_toggle][vc_toggle title=”Fact 4: Israeli President Shimon Peres was the first Israeli statesman to address the Turkish parliament, in 2007″]

Shimon Peres became the first Israeli president to speak before the legislature of a Muslim country.

“We may be saying different prayers, but our eyes are turned toward the same sky and toward the same vision for the Middle East,” Peres told an audience that included the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, as well as the Turkish prime minister, Abdullah Gul.

[/vc_toggle][vc_toggle title=”Fact 5: Israel is the most hated country in Turkey”]A 2014 Pew Research poll  found that Israel is the most hated country by Turkish citizens. Responders were asked whether they have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of a selection of states (US, China, Brazil, Russia, Iran, Israel) and entities (such as the European Union and Nation).

Israel was found the most disliked country of the offered options, with 86 percent of responders saying they have an unfavourable opinion of Israel and only 2 percent seeing Israel in a positive light.

[/vc_toggle][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_facebook][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”4988″ img_size=”full” onclick=”custom_link” css_animation=”bounceInUp” link=”https://www.fundmypage.com/postbanner”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Who was behind the Turkish Coup?

On the night of 15th July 2016, roads were blocked on the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul and jets were flying over the Turkish Parliament in Ankara.

Tanks brought Istanbul to a standstill as soldiers invaded the headquarters of the ruling party, seized control of the State broadcaster and announced that the army was in charge.

But the next day it was clear that a military coup attempt had failed. More than 250 people including the coup plotters, civilians and loyalist officers were killed and many more injured.

The Turkish government blamed the failed coup attempt on Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish preacher and former Erdogan ally who has long been living in self-imposed exile in the United States.

A state of emergency was declared and anyone who appeared to have the faintest link to Gulen and his supporters was punished swiftly.

In a matter of weeks, tens of thousands of people in the military, police, judiciary, civil service and education were detained, suspended or sacked for alleged links to the Gulen movement.

But Gulen told VOA’s Turkish Service Erdogan had falsely accused him, and that he wouldn’t have returned to Turkey even if the coup had succeeded.

Other observers have speculated that the coup was stage-managed to give Mr Erdogan an opportunity to purge the military of opponents and increase his grip on Turkey.

Ryan Heath, the senior EU correspondent at Politico, used Twitter to share comments from his “Turkish source”, who called the events of Friday night a “fake coup” which would help a “fake democracy warrior” [Erdogan].

It remains to be known who was behind the coup, but one thing for sure is that the coup has been used by both Erdogan and Gulen to cast themselves as victims of repression.

Erdogan highlighted his status as a democratically elected leader under attack by “parallel” (Gulenist) and secularist elements
Gulen also highlighted his victimhood as a political outsider and former political prisoner when he was interviewed during Friday’s dramatic events.

Research suggests that this ratcheting up of victimization rhetoric could have important attitudinal and electoral consequences.

Kimberly Guiler, in a paper recently discussed at the Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS) annual conference, finds that voters in Turkey are more likely to feel positively toward candidates who cite experiences of political suffering in their biographies.

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Ertuğrul Gazi And The Birth Of The Ottomans

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Diriliş Ertuğrul and the Birth of the Ottomans

Brand new KJ Vid in special collaboration with Dilly Hussain – Co-founder of 5Pillars Media – the biggest Muslim news site in Britain – 5Pillars

Millions have been inspired by the hit Turkish documentary on the founding father of the Ottoman State.

It’s very easy to understand why!

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Millions of Muslims around the world have been watching the hit Turkish show, ‘Dirilis Ertugrul’.

The show is a fictionalised historical drama series on the life and struggles of Ertugrul Gazi and the Kayi tribe.

Ertugrul Gazi was the father of Sultan Osman I, who founded the Ottoman State in 1299 CE (698 AH).

Most Ottoman chroniclers date the dynasty’s lineage back to the Kayi tribe.

The Kayis migrated from Central Asia to escape the Mongol raids in the beginning of the thirteenth century.

They eventually settled in Anatolia under the protection of the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum (the Western Seljuk State).

Initially led by Suleiman Shah, the father of Ertugrul Gazi and the grandfather of Sultan Osman I, the Kayis were loyal citizens of the Seljuk State.

They defended the Western frontier of the Seljuk State, which neighboured the Eastern Roman Byzantine Empire.

The Kayis led by Ertugrul Gazi, fought the Byzantines, the Crusaders and the Mongols under the banner of the Seljuk State.

Ertugrul Gazi was an advocate of Muslim unity and the establishment of a State which would rule with the Divine justice of Islam.

The renowned Sufi mystic, Ibn al-Arabi and the famous Anatolian scholar, Shaykh Edebali both documented their encounters with Ertugrul Gazi.

After the gradual decline and subsequent demise of the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum, independent ‘Beyliks’ (principalities) began to emerge in Anatolia.

One of these Anatolian Beyliks in the late thirteenth century was the Kayi principality, which evolved to the Ottoman Sultanate in 1299 CE.

Ertugrul Gazi is a revered figure among Turkish Muslims because he laid the foundations for the Ottoman State.

Ertugrul Gazi died in 1281 in the city of Sogut, which was the first capital of the Ottoman State and is regarded as the birthplace of the Osmanli Dynasty.

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Key Middle East Publics See Russia, Turkey and U.S. All Playing Larger Roles in Region

Read original on Pew Research Centre or read below;

Most do not expect Syrian war to end in 2018

Majorities across five Middle Eastern and North African countries agree that Russia, Turkey and the United States are all playing more important roles in the region than they did 10 years ago, according to a spring 2017 Pew Research Center survey.

While a median of 53% across the same countries also see Iran playing a more important role, fewer in the region say that Israel and Saudi Arabia have gained influence in the past 10 years. The only country the surveyed publics see as less influential a decade on is Egypt.1

Overall, a number of influential powers in the Middle East are not seen in a favorable light. Roughly one-third or fewer view Russia (median of 35%) or the U.S. (median of 27%) positively. Within the region, views of Iran are particularly poor (14% favorable), though Saudi Arabia fares better (44%).

Middle Eastern and North African publics also tend to rate leaders of other countries in their region negatively. A median of roughly one-third have positive opinions of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Saudi King Salman. Views of Jordanian King Abdullah II are similarly low. And very few view Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu favorably, while a median of 12% have a positive view of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad or Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan is the exception to the generally negative views, but opinion of him is still mixed.

With respect to the ongoing conflict in Syria, publics are divided on how long they expect it to continue; a median of 26% expect the war in Syria to end in the next year, 32% expect it to end in the next five years and 29% think it will continue for more than five years. Overall, just 32% in Jordan are optimistic about the war ending in the next year, but 64% of Syrians living in Jordan expect the conflict will end in 2018.

Additionally, on the issue of allowing Syrian refugees into their country, people in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon are strongly in favor of letting in fewer, with many volunteering “none” as the best option.

These are among the major findings from a Pew Research Center survey conducted among 6,204 respondents in Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia and Turkey from Feb. 27 to April 25, 2017.

Influence of Russia, Turkey, U.S. seen as increasing in the Middle East

Middle Eastern publics see both the U.S. and Russia playing more important roles in the region today than they did 10 years ago.

At least half in all of the nations surveyed say Russia is more influential now compared with a decade ago. Lebanon is particularly likely to say Russia’s role has grown, with Shia (81%) and Sunni Muslims (77%) sharing this view.

Majorities in four of the five nations surveyed also say that the U.S.’s prominence in the region has grown in the past 10 years. A plurality in Israel agrees, although roughly a quarter each say that the U.S.’s role is as important (24%) or less important (27%) now.

In Lebanon, Sunni Muslims (78%) are more likely than Christians (64%) or Shia Muslims (52%) to believe the U.S. has become more prominent.

Within the region, many say that Turkey plays a more important role. People in Turkey and Jordan are the most likely to say Turkey’s role in the region has grown. Israel is the only country where a plurality says Turkey has lost influence over the past decade. This view is more common among Israeli Jews (45%) than among Israeli Arabs (29%).

About eight-in-ten in Lebanon say that Iran is more influential in the Middle East today than it was 10 years ago. Large majorities across all religious groups hold this view: 89% of Shia Muslims, 77% of Sunni Muslims and 71% of Christians. The view that Iran now plays a less important role in the region is held by roughly a quarter in both Israel (24%) and Turkey (26%).

More than half of Israelis and Jordanians say that Israel has taken on a more important role in the Middle East. And in Israel, Jews and Arabs are similarly likely to hold this view. By contrast, roughly three-in-ten in Lebanon (31%) say that Israel’s role has decreased.

Across the region, fewer say Saudi Arabia’s role in the region has grown. Jordan is the only country where more than half hold this view, though a majority (61%) of Sunni Muslims in Lebanon say this. Only a quarter or fewer in Israel and Turkey agree.

Few say that Egypt plays a more important role in the Middle East now compared with 10 years ago. Instead, at least four-in-ten in Turkey, Lebanon, Tunisia and Israel say that Egypt’s prominence in the region has waned.

Widely negative views of Iran

Overall, the Middle Eastern and North African nations surveyed have a very poor opinion of Iran and generally rate Saudi Arabia and Turkey more positively.

Majorities in both Tunisia and Jordan espouse positive views of Turkey. Lebanese are split based on their religious views, with more than half of Sunnis and Christians but only 8% of Shias holding a favorable opinion. Similarly, Israeli Jews and Arabs strongly disagree on Turkey; 72% of Israeli Arabs but only 7% of Israeli Jews think well of Turkey.

Many view Saudi Arabia negatively, but Jordan – which has deepened its ties to Saudi Arabia in recent years – has a very positive opinion of the neighboring kingdom. More than half in Tunisia agree. As with views of Turkey, Sunni Muslims in Lebanon hold significantly more positive views of Saudi Arabia than Shias.

Opinions of Iran are remarkably poor. Fewer than one-in-five in Turkey, Israel and Jordan have positive views of Iran. Jordan’s extremely negative views are similar to views in 2015, but have soured substantially since 2006 – the first time the question was asked in Jordan – when roughly half (49%) viewed Iran favorably.

Compared with its neighbors, Lebanon holds more positive views of Iran overall, but opinions are once more sharply divided by religious background; 93% of Shia Muslims in Lebanon view the Shia-majority nation positively, compared with only 27% of Christians and 16% of Sunnis.

Mixed views of Erdogan; poor ratings for Assad, Rouhani, Netanyahu

Publics in the Middle East tend to see Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan more positively than other Middle Eastern leaders. Yet, views of the Turkish president vary drastically across the region. Fewer than half in Lebanon and only 15% in Israel express a positive opinion of Erdogan. Israeli Jews (4%) and Lebanese Shia Muslims (7%) hold particularly negative views.

Views of Erdogan have improved in Tunisia (up 10 percentage points since 2014) and Jordan (7 points since 2015). Lebanese views have become less favorable since 2015 (down 8 points).

Middle Eastern publics have much more tepid views of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Israelis have the most positive opinion of Sisi among the countries surveyed, but Israeli Arabs (22%) view him significantly less positively than Israeli Jews (49%). Sisi receives the most negative ratings in Turkey, where only 12% view him favorably. Erdogan, the Turkish Prime Minister in 2013, publicly opposed the overthrow of Sisi’s predecessor, Mohamed Morsi.

Saudi King Salman is generally viewed poorly, especially in Israel where only 14% hold a favorable view and no Israelis say they have a very favorable opinion of the Saudi leader. By contrast, 86% in Jordan view Salman positively and half view him very positively.

Jordanian King Abdullah II receives ratings more similar to those of other Middle Eastern leaders. Views of the king are the least positive among Turks; only 18% view him favorably, but a plurality (43%) does not express an opinion.

Views of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are negative across all of the Middle Eastern and North African nations surveyed. Only 7% in Israel and 1% in Jordan view Assad positively. Syrians living in Jordan have similarly negative views of the Syrian president; only 3% have a favorable view of Assad.

Views of Assad are more favorable in Lebanon than in any other country, but they vary starkly between Shia and Sunni Muslims in the country. A large majority of Shias (93%) and only 13% of Sunnis have a favorable opinion of the Syrian president.

In most countries, ratings of Assad have been similarly low since the first time this question was asked. However, opinion has become more favorable in Tunisia over the past five years (up 13 percentage points since 2012).

Opinions of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani are generally similar to opinions of Assad. Fewer than 10% in both Israel and Jordan hold a positive view of the Iranian president.

Public views of Rouhani have become more negative in Jordan – 13% held a positive view of the leader in 2015 – but views in Israel have remained very low. Israeli Jews (0% favorable) and Israeli Arabs (22%) share low opinions of Rouhani. And in Jordan, both Syrians (1%) and Jordanians (4%) have very negative opinions of the Iranian president.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu receives extremely negative ratings from nations in the Middle East and North Africa. Only 7% in both Tunisia and Turkey, 1% in Jordan and 0% in Lebanon have a favorable view of Netanyahu. And the negative opinion in Jordan and Lebanon is particularly intense; 95% of Jordanians and 97% of Lebanese say they have a veryunfavorable view.

Lebanese opinion on leaders diverges by religious group

In Lebanon, Christians, Shias and Sunnis have remarkably different views of the Middle Eastern leaders tested. Overall, Shias and Sunnis disagree the most, with Christians’ views falling somewhere in the middle.

Shia Muslims in Lebanon hold more positive views of both Rouhani and Assad, compared with Sunni Muslims. Rouhani supports Assad in the civil war in Syria, as does Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shia-run militant group labeled a terrorist organization by the U.S. A Pew Research Center survey in 2014 found that a large majority of Shia Muslims in Lebanon held a positive view of the group.

Sunni Muslims show the strongest preference for Erdogan, a 66-percentage-point difference compared with Shia Muslims. Salman, Sisi and Abdullah II – all leaders of Sunni-majority countries – are also viewed more positively by Sunnis than Shias.

Netanyahu is the only leader whom Sunni and Shia Muslims in Lebanon view similarly; none of the Lebanese surveyed hold a positive view of the Israeli leader.

The Syrian civil war

The Syrian civil war, now in its seventh year, pits many of the region’s key players against each other. Few are optimistic that the war will end within the next year, though many believe it will not last beyond the next five years.

Views are most optimistic in Jordan. Fully 80% expect the war in Syria to end sometime in the next five years, including 32% who think it will end within the year. Syrians living in Jordan are even more hopeful about the war in their homeland; 64% expect it will end within the year, 26% say it will end within the next five years and only 10% think it will continue for more than five years.

Roughly two-thirds in Israel say the war will be over within the next five years, and 48% in Lebanon agree.

Turks are the most pessimistic about the length of the civil war in Syria. Nearly half say the war will continue for more than five years.

While the conflict continues, many in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon want their country to accept fewer refugees. As of mid-2016, these countries and other neighboring nations have taken in about 4.8 million Syrian refugees. Only 8% in Jordan and 4% in Lebanon and Turkey support accepting more refugees from Syria.

A majority in Jordan wants its country to accept fewer Syrian refugees and around one-quarter (23%) say their country should not accept any refugees (a volunteered category). However, Syrians already living in Jordan have very different views. A large majority of them say the country should accept more refugees from Syria and 0% say that Jordan should stop accepting refugees all together.

In Lebanon, similar numbers say their country should either accept fewer refugees (40%) or none at all (42%). Christians are more likely than Shia or Sunni Muslims to say that Lebanon should not accept any refugees from Syria.

Three-in-ten in Turkey want their country to accept fewer refugees from Syria and more than half say their country should stop accepting refugees entirely.

KJ Poll Result – 83% of Muslims believe Erdogan should cut political, economic and military ties with Israel and America

On December 5th 2017, KJ Vids ran a poll amongst it’s 270,000 Facebook fans and asked the question “Should Erdogan cut political, economic and military ties with Israel and America for crossing a “Red Line.”

We received a total of 7,000 votes and the results were a landslide victory for “YES” with 83% of people voting “Yes” to the question and only 17% voting no.

Should Erdogan cut political, economic and military ties with Israel and America for crossing a "Red Line"

Posted by KJ Vids on Tuesday, December 5, 2017

We decided to run this poll following the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by Donald Trump. Following the announcement, the Turkish leader called Trump’s recognition of the holy city as a ‘red line’ for Muslims.

With Trump disregarding such warnings, the Turkish president used his position as the current chairman of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to call a summit of the group.

 

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has accused the United States of ignoring Palestinian claims to Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem and “trampling on international law”, has invited leaders from more than 50 Muslim countries to agree on a response.

Albeit years of rhetoric, Turkey in 2016 agreed to resume full diplomatic relations with Israel after the crisis triggered by the deadly storming by Israel of a Turkish ship seeking to break the Gaza blockade in 2010.

Trade and energy deals have prospered increasing year to year. Cooperation has resumed, most significantly in energy.

We wanted to see if our fans believed that Erdogan should follow through on his critical words with political action. The result was a resounding “Yes”

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