We have just put together given information and comments in the WikiCables about Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Foreign Affairs Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, to show our readers their images in those files. Ultimately We have concluded that this documents are very speculative and their content is inconsistent.
: "Erdogan is Charismatic, pragmatic and empathetical "
Who are we dealing with?
¶5. (C) Charismatic, and possessing a common touch and phenomenal memory for faces and functions of thousands of party members across the country, Erdogan has a strong pragmatic core. His pragmatism has led him away from the radical Islamist milieu of his past, a point noted to us unhappily by his (radical) former spiritual leader Kemal Hoca. His pragmatism has also led him to avoid precipitously pushing Islamic agenda items such as the wearing of Islamist headscarves while using his outstanding preacher skills and persona as someone persecuted by the secularist Establishment to maintain his hold on the hearts of his more religious supporters.
¶6. (C) In short, a natural politician, Erdogan has a common touch and an ability to communicate his empathy for the plight and aspirations of the common citizen. He projects the image of the Tribune of Anatolia, ready to take on corruption and privilege and to defend conservative traditions. As a result his AK Party won a two-thirds parliamentary majority in Nov. 2002 national elections. Owing to AK's image as the party of change at the national level, good record in providing services at the municipal level, and lack of viable political alternatives, AK could gain around 50% of the vote in March 28 nationwide local elections. Party insiders project that such a result would give AK control of 65% or more of the 3,200 municipalities in Turkey, including probably Istanbul and Ankara and perhaps even Izmir, where AK has not done well to date, plus most of the other large cities. Every step by the Turkish Establishment to try to diminish him – whether by blocking legislation or attacking his motives – cements his popularity in Turkey's urban sprawls and across the Anatolian heartland. While opposition to him remains bitter in various loci of the State apparatus, Erdogan currently faces no credible political opponent or party.
¶9. (C) Erdogan recognizes that U.S. support can be important for Turkey's economy and EU aspirations. He sees his task as managing Turks's ambivalence toward us; at the same time he wants to avoid being labeled pro-American. From the low point in bilateral relations in March 2003 he has taken several supportive steps, while being careful not to be too closely associated with us since opening Turkish airspace for the Iraq war.
: "Tayyip bey believes in God... but doesn't trust him"
¶17. (C) Inside the party, Erdogan's hunger for power reveals itself in a sharp authoritarian style and deep distrust of others: as a former spiritual advisor to Erdogan and his wife Emine put it, "Tayyip Bey believes in God...but doesn't trust him." In surrounding himself with an iron ring of sycophantic (but contemptuous) advisors, Erdogan has isolated himself from a flow of reliable information, which partially explains his failure to understand the context -- or real facts -- of the U.S. operations in Tel Afar, Fallujah, and elsewhere and his susceptibility to Islamist theories. With regard to Islamist influences on Erdogan, DefMin Gonul, who is a conservative but worldly Muslim, recently described Gul associate Davutoglu to us as "exceptionally dangerous." Erdogan's other foreign policy advisors (Cuneyd Zapsu, Egemen Bagis, Omer Celik, along with Mucahit Arslan and chef de cabinet Hikmet Bulduk) are despised as inadequate, out of touch and corrupt by all our AKP contacts from ministers to MPs and party intellectuals.
¶18. (C) Erdogan's pragmatism serves him well but he lacks vision. He and his principal AKP advisors, as well as FonMin Gul and other ranking AKP officials, also lack analytic depth. He relies on poor-quality intel and on media disinformation. With the narrow world-view and wariness that lingers from his Sunni brotherhood and lodge background, he ducks his public relations responsibilities. He (and those around him, including FonMin Gul) indulge in pronounced pro-Sunni prejudices and in emotional reactions that prevent the development of coherent, practical domestic or foreign policies.
: "Erdogan reads mainly the Islamist-leaning press"
¶5. (C) According to a broad range of our contacts, Erdogan reads minimally, mainly the Islamist-leaning press. According to others with broad and deep contacts throughout the establishment, Erdogan refuses to draw on the analyses of the MFA, and the military and National Intelligence Organization have cut him off from their reports. He never had a realistic world view, but one key touchstone is a fear of being outmaneuvered on the Islamist side by "Hoca" Erbakan's Saadet Party. Instead, he relies on his charisma, instincts, and the filterings of advisors who pull conspiracy theories off the Web or are lost in neo-Ottoman Islamist fantasies, e.g., Islamist foreign policy advisor and Gul ally Ahmet Davutoglu.
: "Prime Minister Erdogan is a perfectionist workaholic, democratic, very skilled and influential in personal relations and his health is perfect"
¶1. (S) SUMMARY AND COMMENT. Prime Minister Erdogan, chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), is a perfectionist workaholic who sincerely cares for the well-being of those around him, according to a top-level Prime Ministry insider. His boss is very "democratic," he said, but the overall description sounds more like a benevolent patriarch who runs his domain according to strict autocratic rules. While this is only one man's impressions, they come from someone whose daily exposure to the PM lends credibility and color to his comments. END SUMMARY AND comment.
¶2. (S) xxxxx provided a glimpse of PM Erdogan's personal style. Erdogan demands perfection from himself and from those around him; he finds a way for even perfect things to be improved. At the Central Decision-making and Executive Board meeting after the July 22 election (in which AKP soared above even its high expectations to win 46.6 percent of the vote), members expected Erdogan to praise the results. Instead, he laid out the party's next goal of gaining a foothold in the very few places left in Turkey without AKP representation: "Only one and a half years until local elections. For AKP to be the party of Turkey, we need to get Izmir, Trabzon, Tunceli, and (presidential palace) Cankaya."
¶3. (S) The PM is a workaholic, xxxxx During the election, he traveled to three provinces a day – a daily logistical feat for his staff in this huge country. Erdogan is on vacation now for three days, which for him is a long time. Outside of the election period, his staff routinely works until 11pm or midnight; they stay in the office until they hear that the PM has gone to bed.
¶4. (S) "If you know the Prime Minister well, then you know he is very stubborn," our contact told us. Once he sets his mind to something, or more importantly, once he believes in something, there is no dissuading him. He is a very determined individual. He is also very skilled and influential in direct personal relationships, which he works to cultivate with foreign leaders. As examples, xxxxx mentioned his long meeting with President Bush, and noted that even ice-cold Putin embraces Erdogan.
¶5. (S) The PM is a very fair person in his relations with employees. He supports his staff; he takes interest in and the utmost care of his employees and is attentive to their needs and concerns. He has a compassionate heart and inspires tremendous loyalty, xxxxx stated. Last Ramadan, when Erdogan got locked inside his armored car after collapsing from low blood sugar, his bodyguard Halit grabbed a sledgehammer from a nearby construction site and smashed the windshiel to break Erdogan out (Mercedes was apparently upset that it only took him six minutes). Despite the fiasco, made much of in the press, Halit kept his job; the PM viewed his action as one of true devotion and love for the Prime Minister.
¶6. (S) Erdogan expects employee initiative. xxxxx PM's health, which he described as "great." If he were not Ankara 00001905 002 of 002 in good shape, would he be able to travel so much and work such long hours?
CABLE 5: "Erdogan is a fundamentalist"
¶1. (C) During an October 26 call on the Ambassador, Israeli Ambassador Gabby Levy registered concern over the recent deterioration in his country's bilateral relations with Turkey and the conviction that the relationship's decline is attributable exclusively to Prime Minister Erdogan. Levy said Foreign Minister Davutoglu had relayed a message to him through the visiting Czech foreign minister that "things will get better." He had also fielded messages from senior civil servants, xxxxx urging him to weather quietly Erdogan's harsh public criticisms of Israel. The latter claimed Erdogan's repeated angry references to the humanitarian situation in Gaza are for "domestic political consumption" only.
¶2. (C) Levy dismissed political calculation as a motivator for Erdogan's hostility, arguing the prime minister's party had not gained a single point in the polls from his bashing of Israel. Instead, Levy attributed Erdogan's harshness to deep-seated emotion: "He's a fundamentalist. He hates us religiously" and his hatred is spreading. Levy cited a perceived anti-Israeli shift in Turkish foreign policy, including the GoT's recent elevation of its relations with Syria and its quest for observer status in the Arab League.
¶3. (C) Comment: Our discussions with contacts both inside and outside of the Turkish government on Turkey's deteriorating relations with Israel tend to confirm Levy's thesis that Erdogan simply hates Israel. xxxxx discusses contributing reasons for Erdogan's tilt on Iran/Middle East isues, but antipathy towards Israel is a factor.
CABLE 6: "Davutoglu have led to accusations of neo-ottomanism"
¶7. (C) The idea of Turkey using its cultural and religious links to the Middle East to the advantage of both Turkish interests and regional stability is not new with the AKP, but has been given much more priority by it, in part because of the Islamic orientation of much of the party, including leaders Erdogan, Gul, and Davutoglu. Moreover, the AKP's constant harping on its unique understanding of the region, and outreach to populations over the heads of conservative, pro-US governments, have led to accusations of "neo-Ottomanism." Rather than deny, Davutoglu has embraced this accusation. Himself the grandson of an Ottoman soldier ANKARA 00000087 003 OF 006 who fought in Gaza, Davutoglu summed up the Davutoglu/AKP philosophy in an extraordinary speech in Sarajevo in late 2009 (REF A). His thesis: the Balkans, Caucasus, and Middle East were all better off when under Ottoman control or influence; peace and progress prevailed. Alas the region has been ravaged by division and war ever since. (He was too clever to explicitly blame all that on the imperialist western powers, but came close). However, now Turkey is back, ready to lead -- or even unite. (Davutoglu: "We will re-establish this (Ottoman) Balkan").
¶8. (C) While this speech was given in the Balkans, most of its impact is in the Middle East. Davutoglu's theory is that most of the regimes there are both undemocratic and illegitimate. Turkey, building on the alleged admiration among Middle Eastern populations for its economic success and power, and willing to stand up for the interests of the people, reaches over the regimes to the "Arab street." Turkey's excoriating the Israelis over Gaza, culminating in the insulting treatment of President Peres by Erdogan at Davos in 2009, illustrates this trend. To capitalize on its rapport with the people, and supposed diplomatic expertise and Ottoman experience, Turkey has thrown itself into a half-dozen conflicts as a mediator. This has worked well, as noted above, with Iraq, and was quite successful in the Syrian-Israeli talks before Gaza. Turkey has also achieved some limited success on Lebanon and in bringing Saudi Arabia and Syria together. As noted below, however, this policy brings with it great frictions, not just with us and the Europeans but with many supposed beneficiaries of a return to Ottoman suzerainty. Furthermore, it has not achieved any single success of note.