Turkey’s Challenge to the Regional Status Quo Begins in the Eastern Mediterranean

Turkey’s Challenge to the Regional Status Quo Begins in the Eastern Mediterranean
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, bottom center, accompanied by officials during the launch of a new Turkish Navy ship, in Tuzla, Turkey, July 3, 2017 (Presidency Press Service photo via AP).

On July 24, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan joined thousands of worshippers in the streets around the historic Hagia Sophia in Istanbul for a doubly symbolic moment. Surrounded by a swarm of politicians, soldiers, security forces and imams, the Turkish leader made his way into the giant, former Byzantine cathedral through doors once hammered open by conquering Ottoman soldiers in 1453. Inside, he read out the namaz, or Muslim prayer, formally turning the 1,500-year-old building back into a mosque. In doing so, Erdogan was turning the page on nine decades of recent history, during which this extraordinary structure and UNESCO […]

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