Speaking recently about his military’s ongoing invasion of the Kurdish-ruled Afrin region in northern Syria, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan taught much of the world a rather bizarre term.
“It is clear that those who say ‘we will respond aggressively if you hit us’ have never experienced an Ottoman slap.”
He was referring to Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk, commander of the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS.
The pro-government news website Hur Haber describes an “Ottoman slap” as “a type of strike used by Ottoman soldiers during unarmed defense or attack. It could be done with both sides of the hand and could muddle, strike unconscious or even kill the one on its receiving end. Only specialized persons could give this slap and it could only be learned after having undergone years-long training.”
The Ottoman slap has also come to mean a violent, national action by Turks to someone they consider their enemy. The slap is so powerful and effective it provides Turks with absolute victory and the enemy with utter defeat and shame.
The term is commonly used in Turkey. From 2013 to 2014, the government-funded TRT channel aired a TV series titled “The Ottoman Slap,” glorifying the Turkish invasion of the Christian Byzantine Empire in the 1300s.
Mr. Erdogan also threatened the Republic of Cyprus and eastern Mediterranean companies that are exploring for energy resources, forbidding them to “engage in activities that exceed their limits and powers” and warning them to avoid “trusting the Greek side in Cyprus,” adding that Cyprus’ courage will only last “until they see our army, our ships and our planes.”
The Ottoman Empire’s occupation of vast lands and Islam’s flag of conquest still influence Turkey’s foreign policy, including its invasions and ethnic cleansings. Cyprus was occupied by the Ottoman Empire from 1571 to 1878. And the northern part of the island has been illegally occupied by Turkey since 1974.