The ‘Lion’ of the Mediterranean?

“At the time of the end the king of the South will engage him in battle, and the king of the North will storm out against him with chariots and cavalry and a great fleet of ships. He will invade many countries and sweep through them like a flood. He will also invade the Beautiful Land.” (Daniel 11:40-41a)

        Known as the Lion of the Mediterranean, Barbaros Hayreddin Pasa, the grand admiral of the Turkish Ottoman army in the early 16th century, displayed a remarkable seamanship and one of a naval power to be reckoned with. He was nicknamed ‘Barbarossa’ because of his red beard. Ottoman Sultan Selim 1 gave him the honorary name ‘Hayreddin’ which means ‘best of the faith.’ When he was a young man, Hayreddin Pasa was noted for his firebrand rhetoric. He was brave but prudent. He was strong-willed, but with an innate fighting instinct. He became a successful fleet commander in the Mediterranean.

       In 1504, Hayreddin and his brother engaged in a struggle for naval dominance against Spain, Genoa and France in the Mediterranean. They eventually emerged as victors. The Barbarossa brothers then attacked Algiers and took over the country from the Spanish state in 1516. He offered the conquered land to Selim 1 and Algeria became part of the Ottoman state. Hayreddin Pasa maintained security of sea routes by ending the Venetian hegemony in the eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean. Barbaros participated in many operations in the Mediterranean. He knew all the Mediterranean ships because he saw them occasionally at the coast of Algeria, examined them and attached them to his forces.

       Following the death of Selim I, his son Suleiman (the “Lawgiver” for Turks and the “Magnificent” for Europeans) was crowned as the sultan of the vast Ottoman empire.  Suleiman made Hayreddin Pasa the chief admiral of the empire. At one point in the 16th century, historians say Hayreddin Pasa was the most powerful sea lord, commanding both fear and respect from both friends and foes. In about two decades, he expanded his influence in North Africa, the Mediterranean and the eastern Atlantic. He had both fleets of privateers and a land army. He attacked the coast of Southern Europe and seized Spanish ships coming from America with gold.

      Following the rising power of the Ottoman Empire in the Mediterranean, which was about to become an ‘Ottoman lake’, Pope Paul III organised a sea crusade against the top Ottoman admiral in 1538. The pope’s naval crusade was led by Andrea Doria, who was a Genoese statesman. Doria led the fleet of almost 250 galleys, while Hayreddin Pasa’s navy had only 122 vessels. In the war of September 28, 1538, in Preveza, the Ottoman navy, under the command of Hayreddin Pasa, sank ten of the Christian alliance ships, capturing more than thirty of them without losing a single ship. Almost three thousand soldiers of the Christian alliance were captured where the Ottoman Navy lost 400 of its soldiers.

       Because of Hayreddin Pasa’s victory against the alliance raise by Pope Paul III, Ottoman supremacy in the central and eastern Mediterranean was enabled and expanded in the following years. After the huge victory, he went to Istanbul and received by Suleiman the Magnificent at Topkapi Palace where he was promoted to Kaptan-i-Derya (Chief Admiral) of the Ottoman Navy, and beylerbeyi (Governor of governors) of Ottoman North Africa. He was also given the governorship of Rhodes. Hayreddin Pasa also captured Tunis and Tripoli.

     It is now an established fact that Recep Tyapp Erdogan is an ardent promoter of Turkish Ottoman Power and behind Turkey’s insistence it has a right to drill for natural gas in the disputed area within the Eastern Mediterranean Sea is not only to bring revenue into Turkey but to make Turkey a naval and maritime power to be reckoned with. Undoubtedly it would seem in his quest for a Turkish Ottoman Empire of global proportions the man from Turkey sees himself as another ‘Barbarossa’ or ‘Hayreddin’ meaning ‘best of the faith (the islamic faith).’ No doubt he also sees himself as the supreme Caliph of a resurrected Turkish Ottoman Empire with global ambitions.

      He has openly revealed he is an adherent to the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideology whose motto states; “Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Qur’an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.” Right now we see the naval forces of Greece and France deploying naval vessels in the Eastern Mediterranean to oppose Turkish drilling and to confront any aggressive moves that Turkey might make towards Greece. The EU’s constant reluctance to act and confront Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ambitions will only encourage him to further pursue his dangerous game of brinksmanship and further destabilize the Middle-Eastern region economically and politically. Turkish forces are now mobilized in Northern Cyprus with the presence of Turkish naval vessels in the Eastern Mediterranean safeguarding their seismic research vessels now drilling in the sea for natural gas.

       In the prophet Daniel Chapter 11:36-45 we are told that the the last king of the south being Egypt and its allies will engage the last king of the north being Turkey and its allies in a battle that will see the deployment of armoured vehicles and a great fleet of naval vessels. It will not only be a land battle but also a naval battle. The ultimate agenda for Turkey will be the conquest of Israel and the establishment of the Turkish Ottoman Caliphate. It will be a Middle- Eastern conflict. (Daniel 11:41) We are also told in Daniel that this last king of the north will meet his demise at Jerusalem at the hands of the Messiah. (Daniel 11:45) Already we see the man from Turkey converting historical Christian Churches in Turkey into Mosques which will be a conspicuous mark of the man of sin. While on the surface it looks like Turkey is claiming natural gas drilling rights in the Eastern Mediterranean in deference to Greece, also claiming the same rights, there is another somewhat ‘hidden agenda’ behind Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s claim to the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.

       It seems he may want to become another ‘Barbarossa’ and bring back the former glory of the Turkish Ottoman naval power of the 16th Century when it was at the zenith of its power under its commander Barbarossa. The Great Turkish Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent bestowed honour, accolades, territory and rank upon Barbarossa. Suleiman the Magnificent was most probably the greatest Turkish Ottoman Caliph to rule in the 600 years or so of the history of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. Under his administration, the Ottoman caliphate ruled over at least 25 million people. Suleiman personally led Ottoman armies in conquering the Christian strongholds of Belgrade and Rhodes as well as most of Hungary before his conquests were checked at the Siege of Vienna in 1529. He annexed much of the Middle East in his conflict with the Safavids and large areas of North Africa as far west as Algeria.

       It also seems not only does Recep Tayyip Erdoğan desire to be known as one in the likeness of Barbarssa but more so as one exhibiting the character and conquests of Suleiman himself and having an even greater empire than Suleiman had. The rise of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to power is not without its difficulties, even from those within Turkey itself, but the uncanny thing is that a comparison with the rise of Erdogan with the rise of Adolph Hitler cannot be dismissed. Both WW1 and WW11 were started by a regional conflict that eventually drew into its arena the nations of the world.

      While the world ‘reels’ under the Coronavirus ‘pandemic?’ there are global events like the one we see fermenting in the eastern Mediterranean that could possibly broaden into an all- out war in the Middle-East. In Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will we see another ‘Barbarossa’ immerge in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea whose ambition is not only to be the supreme Caliph of a resurrected Turkish Ottoman Empire but also to be known as the Lion of the Mediterranean?