As the man dubbed “the sultan of 21st century Turkey,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been given more power than any other democratically elected leader in modern Turkey.
Many believe Erdogan would like to revive the old Ottoman empire, and his erratic behavior has many allies and trading partners asking if he is a friend or foe.
Turkey was once in line to join the European Union, but Erdogan all but destroyed his chances this week when he threatened to flood the EU with millions of Syrian refugees if any EU nation dares call his invasion of Syria “an invasion.”
He has been a willing trading partner with Israel, and yet a Turkish newspaper aligned with Erdogan’s party has suggested the Islamic world form a giant army to wipe out the Jewish state.
He has been building alliances with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, but Erodgan’s invasion of Russian ally Syria now puts the two leaders at odds.
And while a NATO ally of the United States, Erdogan essentially kidnapped American pastor Andrew Brunson on trumped-up spy charges and held him in prison as a bargaining chip.
He has enabled terrorist groups, from the Islamic State to Hamas to Boko Haram.
Last year the pro-Erdogan daily Yeni Safak called America “the enemy,” declaring “The United States is no longer a trustworthy country for Turkey. It is no partner, nor ally…” and said Turks would lay siege to the U.S airbase at Incirlik.
Once secular Turkey is today ruled by an Islamist with an unprecedented amount of power.
After the failed July 2016 coup against him, Erdogan launched a nationwide crackdown, arresting more than 50,000 people in the armed forces, police, judiciary, education, and media. He used the coup attempt as an excuse to purge “old guard” secular forces out of government and the military.
Erdogan says he wants to raise pious generations of Muslims and vows to turn the historic Hagia Sophia church and museum into a mosque again as the ultimate symbol of his imagined revival of the Ottoman Empire.