Anti-Ottoman drama series latest blow to Erdoğan’s soft-power - analyst

A new high-budget drama series by Saudi-owned television network MBC, claiming to expose the tyranny of the Ottomans, symbolises the changing relations between Turkey and the Arab world, visiting scholar of political science at Cal Poly Pomona College in Los Angeles, Pınar Tremblay, wrote.

“Kingdoms of Fire” (Mamlakaat Al-Nar), which tells the story of the early 16th century demise of the Mamluk state at the hands of the Ottoman Empire, debuted last month and has been lauded by the Saudi Gazette as “the largest drama project in the Arab World in 2019”.

The show is the latest blow to Erdoğan’s Ikhwani (Muslim Brotherhood) dreams and soft-power rhetoric, Tremblay wrote in the Jerusalem Post on Sunday.

The show, which has an estimated to cost $40 million has angered Turkey’s neo-Ottomans under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who have always looked the Arab world with affinity, the article said.

The article also pointed to a shift in attitude towards Arabs in Turkey, since the country began hosting some 3.6 million Syrian refugees fleeing the conflict in the neighbouring war-torn country.

“Erdoğan repeatedly initiates campaigns blaming the West for growing white supremacist terrorism and Islamophobia, surviving as an Arab inside Turkey is becoming increasingly difficult. Only five to six years ago, speaking Arabic was praised and valued. Today, we are back to the 1990s, when all things Arab were second rate,’’ Tremblay wrote.

Arabs are now following the same path as Turkey in profiting from its state-supported shows that glorify their history and culture, the article, pointing to the example of the ever-popular historical Turkish drama Magnificent Century, which caught the attention of the Arab world in particular. 

“We think it will be banned soon, Ottoman tyranny [as portrayed in the show] resembles too much of Erdoganistan,” the article quoted one viewer of Kingdoms of Fire as saying. 

The Turkish president will not sleep on this show for much longer.

A show that criticises Ottomans is another chink at Erdoğan’s armor, Tremblay wrote, and will likely be banned in Turkey.