Monday 2016-08-29

This weekend, Turkey opened a new 3rd bridge across the Bosphorus. The bridge is named after Selim 1, who expanded the Ottoman Empire greatly -- annexing Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

Selim's expansion into the Middle East represented a sudden change in the expansion policy of the empire, which, before his reign, had mostly been within the Balkans (Southeast Europe) and Anatolia (Asia Minor).
-- Wikipedia

There's nothing like reminding the populace of their former glory. However, internally it's not just a peacenik vs warmonger debate.

Selim's wars had a sectarian dimension. In particular, the emperor is believed to have ordered the slaughter of tens of thousands of Alevis, a minority sect linked to Shiism and steeped in Sufi and rural Anatolian traditions. In the eyes of some Ottoman rulers, Alevis were a heretical sect and potential loyalists to foreign Shiite powers (a similar logic informed Ottoman persecution and slaughter of Christian Armenians a hundred years ago).

According to Alevi folklore, some 40,000 practicing Alevis were killed by Selim's forces, though later Turkish historians dispute that figure.

Whatever the case, the move to name such a commanding edifice for the emperor led to protests from Alevis, who make up 10 to 15 percent of Turkey's population.

-- WaPo

All this just serves as a reminder to China that it's inheriting a whole ball of unfun in the Middle East. Although, were this populist feel-good prank to indicate more of Erdogan's ambition, then someone might be able to goad him into over-reaching.

After which, with the right card-playing, Greece might be able to get back control of the Greek side of the Hellespont. And lay claim to one-half of this bridge.