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2/28/16

Turkey: The 'Tribune of Anatolia': America's Dark View of Turkish Premier Erdogan - by Maximilian Popp

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is the most important Muslim ally of the United States. On coming into office he promised a democratic Islam -- a vision that could have become a model for other countries in the region.

But if the US dispatches are to be believed, Turkey is far from realizing that vision. Erdogan? A power-hungry Islamist. His ministers? Incompetent, uneducated and some of them corrupt. The government? Divided. The opposition? Ridiculous.

US diplomats have sent thousands of reports from Ankara to Washington in the past 31 years. Recent documents, though, are merciless. They convey an image of Turkey which is at odds with almost everything the US government has officially said about the country.

First and foremost, the US distrusts Erdogan. A dispatch dated May 2005 says that he has never had a realistic worldview. Erdogan, the document says, thinks he was chosen by God to lead Turkey and likes to present himself as the "Tribune of Anatolia."

US diplomats claim that Erdogan gets almost all of his information from Islamist-leaning newspapers -- analysis from his ministries, they say, is of no interest to him. The military, the second largest among NATO member states, and the secret service no longer send him some of their reports. He trusts nobody completely, the dispatches say, and surrounds himselves with "an iron ring of sycophantic (but contemptuous) advisors." Despite his bravado, he is said to be terrified of losing his grip on power. One authority on Erdogan told the Americans: "Tayyip believes in God ... but doesn't trust him."

Read more: The 'Tribune of Anatolia': America's Dark View of Turkish Premier Erdogan - SPIEGEL ONLINE

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