Sultan of the Muslim World

Why the AKP’s Turkey Will Be the East’s Next Leader

Courtesy Reuters

Turkey may be the most Muslim nation in the world. It was forged through blood and war as a state exclusively by and for Muslims -- a claim it shares only with Pakistan. Fleeing persecution in Europe, Russia, and the Caucasus, millions of Turkish and non-Turkish Muslims settled there, and today almost half of Turkey’s 73 million citizens are descendants of these disparate peoples. This little-known story is why modern Turkey was born a Muslim nation: when the Ottoman Empire finally collapsed at the end of World War I, Muslims from all over the empire joined with ethnic Turks to defend the new nation against Christian foes -- the Allied forces, Armenians, and Greeks. Since then, the balance between this Islamic aspect of Turkey’s identity and its other -- secular nationalist -- side has guided the course of Turkish foreign policy.

Religion remained a salient national identity well into

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