May 24, 2024

Al-Tikriti Discusses Recent Iraqi Developments, Military-NGO Relations

Associate Professor of History and American Studies Nabil Al-Tikriti appeared on Los Angeles-based KPFK’s “Radio Uprising” program on Wednesday, April 15, to discuss the latest developments in Iraq and the region. Al-Tikriti has now appeared on this program, hosted by Sonali Kolhatkar, at least three times in the past two years.

The segment lasted just over five minutes, and can be screened via this podcast link. (Direct video link here.) In the course of this discussion, Al-Tikriti compared the current Iraqi Prime Minister to the previous officeholder, and commented on the state of the Iraqi military, as well as American media coverage of Iraq in general.

On Monday, April, 20, in his capacity as a member of the Board of Directors for MSF/Doctors Without Borders USA, Al-Tikriti represented MSF on a joint panel addressing military-humanitarian cooperation. The panel was part of the Marine Corps University’s “Nine Innings” exercise on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief at Quantico, Virginia. In the course of this panel, Al-Tikriti joined representatives from ICRC, IMC, OCHA and Islamic Relief to provide institutional perspectives on these and related concerns.

Al-Tikriti Presents Paper on Ottoman Scholar Kâtip Çelebi

Nabil Al-Tikriti, associate professor of history and American studies,  delivered a paper, “An Ottoman View of World History: Kâtip Çelebi’s Takvîmü’t-Tevârîh,” to the 1st International Kâtip Çelebi Research Symposium on  Friday, March 28. This symposium was organized by Izmir Kâtip Çelebi University (established 2010) in Izmir, Turkey. This was an invited presentation.

Nabil Al-Tikriti Explains Takvîmü't-Tevârîh TextIn this paper,  Al-Tikriti provided historical context and analysis of Kâtip Çelebi’s Takvîmü’t-Tevârîh, a chronology, summary, and attempted reconciliation of ancient and Islamic history completed in 1649 C.E. Kâtip Çelebi (d. 1657), the namesake for this recently established Turkish state university off the Aegean coast, was a prominent 17th century Ottoman scholar who is widely considered the foremost representative of “secular” scholarship in his era. In addition to this work, Kâtip Çelebi is renowned for completing the most detailed encyclopedic catalogue of Islamicate manuscripts prior to the 20th century, the most advanced Ottoman world geography text of its time, and roughly 20 other historical, geographical, and political texts.

The work Al-Tikriti presented, Takvîmü’t-Tevârîh, was a very popular text, with at least five translations (Latin, Italian, French, Arabic, Persian), 45 known manuscript copies, and three continuations. In 1733 the first Ottoman publisher, the Müteferrika press, published over 250 copies of this text for sale throughout the empire. 

With this text, Kâtip Çelebi appears to have set out to reconcile all known calendars of the ancient world, offering a chart of five prominent calendar systems and comparing their respective dating systems. He also chronicled what he considered the most important events of the pre-Islamic world, and provided an annual calendar of events in the post-Islamic world up to his own day. After providing charts of Ottoman sultans, grand viziers, judges, prominent elites, and other figures, Kâtip Çelebi closed with his own theory of history and dynastic continuity, which bears some resemblance to the theories of the prominent pre-modern historian and sociologist, Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406).

Nabil Al-Tikriti Facilitates Debate on Forced Migration

Nabil Al-Tikriti, associate professor of history and American studies, participated in the annual Field Associative Debate (FAD) for MSF staff serving in Athens, Greece, on March 7. Al-Tikriti is board member of the United States section of  MSF/Doctors Without Borders.

Children in Evros Detention Center Near Greek-Turkish, With Numbered ArmsThe Athens team debated on issues connected to forced migration in the Mediterranean and Balkans regions — their primary programmatic focus. In the course of these debates, participants addressed questions concerning the importance of “people on the move” consisting of refugees, economic migrants, or mixed groups; the propriety of MSF providing general humanitarian relief as opposed to narrow medical assistance; the possibility of MSF providing relief in detention centers without becoming instrumentalized as part of state policy; and other issues connected to providing medical humanitarian relief to vulnerable populations on the move in the Mediterranean and Balkan regions.

Prior to this year’s FAD, Al-Tikriti went on a brief field visit to an MSF urban referral clinic in Athens, and upon his return helped the team start a FAD report, and completed a brief memo on regional operations for internal review.

Al-Tikriti Publishes Article on 16th Century Captives

bookThe Turkish History Foundation [TTK: Türk Tarih Kurumu], recently published the conference proceedings from the “International Piri Reis and Turkish Maritime History Symposium” [“Uluslararası Piri Reis ve Türk Denizcilik Tarihi Sempozyumu”], which Professor of History and American Studies Nabil Al-Tikriti participated in at Istanbul in September, 2013. The title of this peer-reviewed volume is Findings in Turkish Maritime History [Türk Deniz Tarihi Bildiriler]. Al-Tikriti‘s contribution is entitled “Advocating for Release: the al-Dārānī Appeals,” and can be downloaded from this link:
In this submission, Al-Tikriti briefly summarizes and describes two letters written in the early 16th century by individuals identified separately as Abū Bakr al-Dārānī and Taḳīyüddīn Dārānī, who may have been the same person, and were at one time prisoner(s) of the Knights of St. John in Rhodes. The first letter, in Arabic, was translated into modern Turkish by İsmail Hakkı Uzunçarşılı in 1954, and translated into French by Nicolas Vatin in 1994. The second letter was translated from Ottoman Turkish into French in 1994 by Nicolas Vatin, who described the letter, stating that the reverse side of the paper probably contained the original Arabic letter, and that it was probably written at some point after 1516. Al-Tikriti thinks it might have been written during Bayezid II’s (d. 1512) reign, but otherwise concurs with both Uzunçarşılı’s and Vatin’s earlier analyses.

Al-Tikriti Writes Book Chapter

Nabil Al-Tikriti, associate professor of history, recently published a chapter in an edited volume entitled “Hall Ishkal al-Afkar: An Ottoman Royal’s Shari’a Argument For Imperial Control Over Sea Ghazi Plunder.”

This segment of an edited volume originated as a chapter in Al-Tikriti’s dissertation, and was then expanded and refined for a presentation for the “La Frontiere Mediterraneenne du XVe au XVIIe Siecle: Echanges, Circulations, et Affrontements” conference in Tours in 2009. It appeared in print in 2013. It summarizes and analyzes in English an Arabic work by Sehzade Korkud (d. 1513), entitled “Hall Ishkal al-Afkar fi Hill Amwal al-Kuffar.” Also appearing in 2013 was a facsimile edition of Korkud’s entire text, along with a Turkish translation of the entire text, and a lengthy scholarly introduction of the text. This text (in the context of its 2013 publication and translation into Turkish) does appear to carry certain implications for contemporary developments in the region concerning concubinage, plunder, and “the imperial fifth.” Al-Tikriti’s chapter in this conference’s edited volume provides a brief synopsis and analysis of the text in English for those interested in understanding certain Ottoman positions in the early 16th century. The full citation of the Turkish edition is: [Sehzade Korkud, “Islam’da Ganimet ve Cariyelik: Osmanli Sistemine Iceriden Bir Elestiri,” Asim Cuneyd Koksal, ed., and Osman Guman, trans., Istanbul: ISAR, 2013].

Editors: Albrecht Fuess and Bernard Heyberge
Publication Date: 2013
Publication Name: La Frontiere Mediterraneenne du XVe au XVIIe Siecle: Echanges, Circulations, et Affrontements

Nabil Al-Tikriti Presents Paper on Ottoman Cultural History

On Nov. 23, 2014, Associate Professor of Middle Eastern History Nabil Al-Tikriti presented a paper at the 2014 Middle East Studies Association Conference in Washington, D.C. The paper, entitled  “Greatness Denied: Firdevsi-yi Rumi on the Cusp of Ottoman Sunnism,” was part of an Ottoman History panel, entitled “The Sunnification of the Ottoman Ideology and Polity, 16th to 17th Centuries.”

The paper abstract is as follows: “Ilyas Çelebi “Firdevsi-yi Rumi” (fl. 1512) served primarily at the courts of Sultan Bayezid II (d. 1512) and Prince Korkud (d. 1513), authoring works of narrative history, elegiac poetry, gestes, and hagiography. In this paper, I will summarize what is known of his biography and analyze his presentation of Ottoman, Turkish, and Muslim identity.

Firdevsi, a litterateur with a considerable sense of self, completed more than twenty works while serving at the apex of Ottoman cultural production. While very successful at attracting patronage and support for lengthy and ornate literary works, his oeuvre was mostly lampooned by those who followed in the decades after his death.

Why would a writer who was so successful in his own lifetime be so reviled within a few decades of his death? Analyzing the political content and identity positions staked out by Firdevsi provides a tentative answer – societal views changed abruptly in the first tumultuous decades of the early 16th century. Firdevsi’s use of the term “Sunni” in his Qutb-name, explanation of Turkish conversion to Islam in his Süleyman-name, and portrayal of Anatolian Sufism in his Vilayet-name each provide clues as to why subsequent literary critics found his scholarship unreliable, his poetry unspeakable, and his views objectionable.”

The panel abstract is as follows: “Sunni identity of the Ottoman Empire is often taken for granted. However, recent research has begun to question the nature of Ottoman Sunnism and the process by which the Ottoman state began to distance itself from ‘confessional ambiguity’ that prevailed in Central Asia, Iran and Anatolia from the mid 13th to the late 15th century, and became increasingly concerned with formulating and enforcing a Sunni orthodoxy. While it is well known that the religious ideology of the Safavid Empire, based on Shia principles and folk Islam, began to be formulated in the early 16th century, it is not commonly acknowledged that Sunni theology was simultaneously experiencing a transformation, both in reaction to the developments in the Safavid realm and as a consequence of various socio-political processes within Ottoman territories. Titled ‘Sunnification of Ottoman Ideology and Society, 16th-17th Centuries’ our roundtable will examine this historical process from the perspective of the state, other agents of Sunnification, and those who were targeted by the new measures for correcting belief and practice.”


Al-Tikriti Lectures on Ottoman Intellectual and Maritime History

On Nov. 14, Associate Professor of Middle East History Nabil Al-Tikriti presented a lecture entitled “Ottoman and Safavid Religious Identities of the 16th Century” to the Philosophy Department at Texas State University, in San Marcos, Texas. In the course of this lecture, Al-Tikriti outlined the effects of the Safavid rise to power on religious identities in both Iran and the Ottoman Empire, as well as its longer term legacies on sectarianism in the Middle East. In addition, he drew parallels with developments which shaped Europe during the same period, pointing out that widely recognized trends experienced during the “Age of Reformation” took place well beyond the regions covered in most Western Civilization textbooks.

On Nov. 15, Al-Tikriti offered the keynote lecture for the Texas State University Phi Alpha Theta Graduate History Conference. During this lecture, entitled “Warrior Knights and Sea Ghazis in an Age of Empire,” Al-Tikriti criticized the narrative of most Western Civilizationtextbooks, which ignores what McGill University’s Professor Giancarlo Casale has referred to as the “Ottoman Age of Exploration.” In doing so, he first described Ottoman patronage of “sea ghazi” activities in the Mediterranean, particularly against the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem. He then elaborated on the Ottomans’ “pivot to Asia,” whereby the imperial strategy shifted focus towards the Indian Ocean, where they successfully engaged with the rival Portuguese. Al-Tikriti thanks his colleagues at Texas State University for making this engaging and productive visit possible.

Al-Tikriti Discusses Military-NGO Relations and Recent Middle Eastern Developments

In this past month, Associate Professor of History and American Studies Nabil Al-Tikriti discussed both military-NGO relations and contemporary Middle East politics at three public forums, each invited appearances.

Prof. Nabil Al-Tikriti addresses Officer Candidates at Ft. Leonard Wood

Prof. Nabil Al-Tikriti addresses Officer Candidates at Ft. Leonard Wood

On Oct. 6, in his capacity as a member of the MSF/Doctors Without Borders USA Board of Directors, Al-Tikriti addressed U.S. Army staff at Missouri’s Fort Leonard Wood. Appearing in five meetings overall, he discussed MSF’s field relationship with the U.S. and other military counterparts, particularly in cases he had either experienced or been informed about in Somalia, Albania, Turkey, Haiti, and other locales in the Middle East and Africa. He also presented the movement’s overall goals, orientations, and decisions throughout its history. Much of the day was concerned with explaining MSF’s determination to maintain its institutional neutrality, impartiality, and independence in field operations, particularly in conflict situations. In the wake of this lengthy and fruitful exchange of views, he remains grateful for the hospitality displayed by the U.S. Army counterparts he met at Fort Leonard Wood.

On Oct. 19, Al-Tikriti presented a talk to the National Community College Peacebuilding Seminar, entitled “Things Fall Apart: Prospects for Conflict in the Middle East and Beyond.” Integrated with a working dinner, Al-Tikriti offered a presentation which combined elements of his humanitarian field experience and scholarly expertise in Middle East studies to discuss the current direction of regional conflict, as well as the role of humanitarian actors in such conflicts. His presentation was part of a community college faculty seminar entitled “Teaching about Global Conflict and Resolution,” which was hosted by Northern Virginia Community College and funded by the U.S. Institute of Peace.

On Oct. 28, Al-Tikriti offered a lecture entitled The Iraq Crisis Today” to over 100 students at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. In the course of this presentation, Al-Tikriti surveyed the multiple legacies of U.S. foreign policy in the region, particularly the effects of the 2003 Anglo-American invasion on Iraqi and regional politics and society. This talk was sponsored by the College’s Middle Eastern Students Association, who hosted Al-Tikriti for a dinner after the lecture was completed.

Al-Tikriti Discusses Humanitarian Affairs, ISIS and Islamophobia

Nabil Al-Tikriti

Nabil Al-Tikriti

Over the course of two Rappahannock Rotary Club morning meetings, Professor of History and American Studies Nabil Al-Tikriti discussed current humanitarian challenges, the rise and spread of the “Islamic State” (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria, and related issues concerning American and European fears concerning Muslims in their home societies.

In the first meeting, on Aug. 27, Al-Tikriti began by summarizing his involvement in humanitarian affairs with MSF/Doctors Without Borders USA, initially by presenting the growth and evolution of the medical humanitarian agency since its founding in the late 1960s. He then discussed challenges facing NGO actors in the world today, particularly with recent conflicts in Gaza, Syria, Iraq, Central African Republic, and South Sudan, as well as with the rapid outbreak of the Ebola epidemic. In the course of the Q&A, fears were expressed concerning the intentions of Muslim communities in both Europe and the United States. Al-Tikriti, in the course of offering his own perspective on such fears, encouraged the audience to explore the following information sources:

Reach of War 5 minute video on MSF in Syria:

Vice News Documentary on ISIS (Difficult Material):

Syria map:

ISIS threatening ancient burial sites:

Yezidi Book:|+August+|+Academics+and+General+Readers

Patrick Cockburn, “The Jihadis Return”

As a result of points raised in the first discussion, a second presentation on related topics was felt to be beneficial for all concerned. For that reason, on Sept. 17, Al-Tikriti explored further the background causes and political motivations for the rise and spread of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, attributing the phenomenon primarily to the regional collapse of the state monopoly on violence in the course of the past generation. Following a summary of Western involvement in the region since the Great War, Al-Tikriti cautioned that no easy outcome for regional developments should now be expected. Following that, Al-Tikriti turned to fears concerning Muslim communities in Europe and the United States, pointing out that prominent Muslim leaders have spoken out against ISIS on several occasions, that extremism also exists in several self-identified Christian groups throughout the West, and that some of the same groups harassing American Arab and Muslim communities appear to have also been  harassing Mardi Gras revelers in downtown New Orleans. He closed with a discussion of the “Andrew Berwick” manifesto of 2011, pointing out that the author in question was also responsible (as Anders Breivik) for the Oslo massacre of the same year. In the course of the discussion, audience members were urged to investigate the following sources of information:

Iraq Displaced Populations, according to Relief Web International:

Muslim Leaders Speak Out Against ISIS:

Malta Boat Sinking Kills 700, mostly from Gaza:

ISIS Issues New Education Curriculum:

ISIS Bans Evolution in Curriculum:

Clarion Project Website Addresses “No Go Zone” in Dearborn:

Detroit Free Press Article and Slides on Same 2012  Dearborn Protest:

ABC News Story on same 2012 Dearborn Protest:

Same (or similar?) Protesters at Mardi Gras:

Article Tying 2003 Iraq Invasion Supporters to Calls for Muslim Deportation, Conversion and Violence:

Original Call for Muslim Deportation, Conversion, and Violence (referred to in previous link):

Op-Ed Argues that ISIS Shaped by Western Philosophy:

“Andrew Berwick” manifesto calls for European Independence against Islamic threat (see pdf p. 54 for Nabil Al-Tikriti citation):

Denver Post Picture Gallery on Anders Breivik (aka Andrew Berwick) 2011 Oslo attacks:

Nabil Al-Tikriti Discusses Obama Speech on Iraq/Syria on KPFK Radio Station

Prof. Nabil Al-Tikriti

Nabil Al-Tikriti

On Thursday, September 11, 2014, Associate Professor of History and American Studies Nabil Al-Tikriti appeared on Los Angeles-based KPFK’s “Radio Uprising” program to discuss President Obama’s speech the previous evening concerning the latest developments in Iraq and Syria. Hosted by Sonali Kolhatkar, Al-Tikriti was also joined by Marjorie Cohn, professor at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law, and author of the forthcoming book “Drones, Targeted Killings: Legal, Moral, Geopolitical Issues.”

The segment lasted just over 34 minutes, and can be screened via this podcast:

In the course of this discussion, Al-Tikriti described the regional factors which contributed to the rise of the “Islamic State,” the role played by certain U.S. regional allies, the legacy of the 2003 Anglo-American invasion of Iraq, and the difficulties to be faced by Washington policymakers in the days to come.