The Ottoman empire was decimated nearly a century ago after ravaging the Balkans and pillaging the holy city of Madinah. The only people mourning its unravelling are Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the atavistic president of Turkey and his jingoistic acolytes. Mr Erdogan's all-consuming nostalgia for the Ottoman era is matched only by Vladimir Putin's for the Soviet empire. Had this been a case of mere patriotism, it would not matter as much. But Mr Erdogan's fantasies are dictating Turkey's foreign policy. Having breached the sovereignty of Syria by deploying his forces in Afrin, he is now threatening to intervene militarily in Sinjar in northern Iraq.
Mr Erdogan's threat on Monday to the sovereign government of Iraq, threatening to do "what is necessary" if Ankara's wishes weren't immediately fulfilled by Baghdad, was delivered with the hauteur of a sultan. The president's claims that he is taking action against insurgents from the Kurdish Workers' Party does not legitimise his aggression. Mr Erdogan is plainly pushing to see what he can get away with; he is effectively justifying Turkey stamping on the sovereignty of other nations. How long will the international community tolerate this egregious behaviour? Certainly, Ankara's aspirations to become a part of the European Union, stalled for a decade and all but obselete, were further frustrated at a summit on Monday in Bulgaria, where EU leaders ranked Mr Erdogan's propensity for illegal foreign interventions among their chief concerns but fell short of outright censure. Mr Erdogan has alienated both Europe and his neighbours in the Middle East. In these circumstances, Turkey's membership of Nato has to be called into question, especially given that Ankara is threatening to attack Kurdish-controlled Manbij in Syria if its Nato ally, the US, does not comply with its wishes, despite the fact the US has troops stationed there. Threats and acts of aggression will not be tolerated. Draped in delusions of grandeur, Mr Erdogan is igniting deadly new fires in the Middle East. It is time for him to accept the days of empire are dead.