A recent study by a Middle East analysis organization based in Washington DC revealed that the Turkish president’s call for 57 nations to join together to form an anti-Israel army of Islam could create the most formidable military force on the planet. One Israeli expert on Islam stated emphatically, “make no mistake; this is war,” and lest the message is missed, he also emphasized that this call for jihad includes a direct threat against the US.
A report on Wednesday by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) investigated an article that was published in December in the Turkish daily Yeni Şafak, a media outlet which is closely affiliated with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling AKP party. The article titled, “A Call for Urgent Action,” which also appeared on the paper’s website under the title, “What If an Army of Islam Was Formed against Israel?” called on the 57 member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to form a joint “Army of Islam” to besiege and attack the state of Israel. The article went into specifics, describing in detail how such an army would overwhelm the Jewish State.
Once warm, relations between Turkey and Israel have been shaky in the last decade. But this call for a religious war against Israel is a relatively new development. The political differences between the two countries took on global religious overtones last May when Erdogan called for Muslims to flood the Temple Mount.
“Each day that Jerusalem is under occupation is an insult to us,” Erdogan had said from the International Forum on al-Quds Waqf in Istanbul.
The article in Yeni Şafak explained how Erdogan’s Islamic military campaign against Israel would play out, citing logistical details that portrayed this theoretical Army of Islam as being formidable.
“If the OIC member states unite and form a joint military force, it will be the largest army in the world,” the article said. “These countries’ total population is 1,674,526,931. The number of soldiers in active service in these countries is at least 5,206,100. Their [overall] military defense budget, of $174,728,420, is also worthy of emphasis.”
“As for Israel, it is significantly inferior,” the article continued. “The population of this country, which attempted to occupy Jerusalem while surrounded by Muslim states, is 8,049,314. Note that the population of Istanbul alone exceeds 14 million. The number of soldiers in active service in the [Israeli] occupation forces is 160,000, and [Israel’s] defense budget is approximately $15, 600,000,000.
In comparison, the US military has 1,281,900 active soldiers, less than one quarter of the proposed Army of Islam. The US military budget, which is the largest of any single country in the world, is approximately $580 billion and over 30 times that of the proposed Army of Islam.
The article also described the details of the battle plans, with Turkey being the headquarters, and emphasized that Turkey’s army is the seventh largest in the world and the second largest in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
“The Zohar states that the end-of-days conflict will begin with a confrontation between Ishmael, represented today by the world of Islam, and Esav (Esau), represented today by aspects of America and parts of Europe.” Rabbi Winston told Breaking Israel News.
“Unfortunately, the Zohar states that Esav will lose this war, which will then become a war between Ishmael and Yaakov, represented by Israel.”
As a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Turkey is technically a US ally, but recent developments in Syria have made a US-Turkish confrontation seem more likely. In January, Turkey launched an incursion into Syria, which Istanbul claimed was targeting the anti-Turkish Kurdish forces on the Syrian border. This offensive pushed eastward, putting Turkish forces in uncomfortable proximity with US forces in Manjib.
The very real risk of an armed confrontation between these two NATO armies is being handled in a noticeably aggressive fashion that is not normally seen in a relationship between allies. The situation is further complicated by the US military’s support for Kurds militias in the past.
Two weeks ago, the White House warned Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that should US troops in Syria be threatened, they would return fire. Erdogan responded, ““those who say that they would respond if they are hit have never tasted an Ottoman slap.”
The “Ottoman slap” is a legendary Turkish fighting technique involving an open handed blow that if properly executed, is claimed to be fatal.
Dr. Mordechai Kedar, a senior lecturer in the Department of Arabic at Bar-Ilan University, believes that Erdogan’s threats should be taken seriously.
“In the language of Islam, the message is embedded in codes,” Dr. Kedar told Breaking Israel News.
“Right now, there is no such thing as the Army of Islam. But a call to form an army was a call for Jihad against anyone who opposes their views, which, for now, are focused on Jerusalem. This includes a call against America. He didn’t call explicitly for war against America because that would open the Gates of Hell on his head.”
Nonetheless, Dr. Kedar said the message to the world of Islam was clear.
“It doesn’t matter what he says,” Dr. Kedar said. “The Muslims heard the message that they are at war with America, and he was very clear on how this threat should be handled.
“If anyone succumbs to the threats of Islam, they are doomed,” he continued. “They take you seriously only if you are too dangerous to mess with. And they know that Trump is dangerous.”
The plans described in the Turkish article for an Army of Islam are already progress.
“In a statement, Malaysian Defense Minister [Hishammuddin] Hussein described Trump’s recognition [of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital] as a blow to Muslims,” the article stated, adding, ‘”the Malaysian armed forces are ready to fulfill their duty regarding Jerusalem.”
“In recent years, Turkey has launched a series of collaborations with [OIC] member states. The joint military drill with our Iraqi neighbors conveyed a clear message to the terrorists, and Turkey is [also] engaging in new collaborations with Qatar, Somalia and other Gulf and African countries. In this context it should be underlined that Turkey is taking steps to realize the model of the ‘Army of Islam,’ forging alliances with many Muslim countries to increase its military mobility.”
Dr Efrat Aviv, a specialist in Turkey and lecturer in the department of Middle Eastern Studies at Bar Ilan University, sees Turkey’s conflict with the US as being separate from its conflict with Israel.
“As a Muslim leader, Erdogan supports the Palestinian claim to Jerusalem, but the problem Turkey has with America goes much deeper than Trump’s support of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital,” Dr. Aviv said. She referred to a case in 2014 in which US servicemen who were visiting Turkey were beaten by crowds in the streets of Istanbul. “Anti-American sentiment goes as deep as anti-Israel sentiment.”
“Today, there is also the difficulty of US support for Kurdistan, which is entirely disconnected from Israel,” she added.
Dr. Aviv also noted that the US has resisted Turkish requests to extradite Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish Muslim preacher living in exile in Pennsylvania. Formerly a close ally of Erdogan, Gülen is now on Turkey’s most-wanted list for terrorism, a claim which the US government rejects.
“Israel and Turkey have managed to overcome their religious differences in the past,” Dr. Aviv said. “But the differences between the US and Turkey, and the resulting anti-American sentiment in Turkey, no one knows how to move past that. And it is in danger of just getting bigger.”