Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday invoked a militaristic Turkish myth that symbolizes world domination and unification of all Turkic peoples as military operations continued on the Kurdish region of Afrin in neighboring Syria.
According to a report by online news outlet Kurdistan24, “We are heading toward the Kızıll Elma,” Erdoğan told an audience at his Ankara palace, referring to the cause of “Red Apple” that far-right Turkish nationalists aspire in pursuit of conquering new lands and bringing all Turkic peoples under one banner.
Erdoğan claimed all citizens were supportive of the ongoing aerial attacks and ground invasion of Afrin which the US-backed People’s Protection Units (YPG) have kept secure since the beginning of the Syrian conflict six years ago. “People pray at mosques, come up to kiss our soldiers’ forehead, these are all beautiful instances. Yes, we have a ‘Kızıl Elma,’” Erdoğan continued, in remarks carried by the state-run Anadolu news agency.
According to the Turkish Language Association’s definition, the “Kızıl Elma” meant the cities of Constantinople (İstanbul), Vienna, and Rome for the Ottomans who conquered the first in 1453 and laid an unsuccessful siege two times on the second in the 16th-17th centuries.
Erdoğan brought up the idea of conquest, originated from the founding ancient Turkish myth of Ergenekon, after a soldier deployed on the Afrin front said his unit’s destination was “Kızıl Elma” when asked where they were going by the pro-government aHaber TV.
Over the weekend, Erdoğan alleged that a clear majority of Afrin was Arab and the Kurds there were relocated from elsewhere, adding that the Syrians who sought refuge in his country needed “to go back to their land.”
Meanwhile, the Ottoman military band, Mehter, has reportedly performed on Monday in the border province of Hatay for soldiers taking part in Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch in Syria’s Afrin. Some soldiers filmed the performance with their mobile phones, which included a number of anthems such as “Conquest” and “Malazgirt.” Later, soldiers took pictures with the band at the end of the concert.
Mehter, the oldest military band of its kind in the world, performed in Hatay’s Reyhanli district along the Turkish-Syrian border. Hatay metropolitan municipality organized the performance as a show of support for Turkish troops.
On Saturday, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch to remove PYD/PKK and allegedly ISIL terrorists from Afrin. According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkish borders and the region as well as to protect the Syrian people from “the oppression and cruelty of terrorists.”