Erdogan: Other World Leaders Are Jealous of Me

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insisted in an interview published Sunday that he was unconcerned by Turkey's "isolation" on the world stage, despite deteriorating relations with several former allies, according to AFP.

"I do not mind isolation in the world," Erdogan was quoted as telling the Hurriyet newspaper after a tour of Colombia, Cuba and Mexico.

He suggested other world leaders might be "jealous" of him for speaking his mind on major issues, but claimed that ordinary people supported him.

Erdogan, who has ruled Turkey since 2003 as prime minister and then president, admitted he no longer enjoyed good relations with United States President Barack Obama, whom he last week criticized over his silence following the killings of three young Muslims in North Carolina.

"I had very good relations with Obama when I first came to power," he said, recalling White House meetings with the president.

But he added, "After all these talks, we see things started to develop in a different way which I barely understand."

The comments mark the second time in a year that Erdogan has admitted his relations with Obama had become strained. Last year Erdogan said he no longer spoke directly with Obama as he was disappointed by a lack of U.S. action over the war in neighboring Syria. Erdogan said he instead spoke with Vice President Joe Biden over issues such as Iraq.

Turkey, a vocal critic of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, has nevertheless remained reluctant to join the international coalition to fight Islamic State (ISIS) insurgents who have seized large chunks of territory in Iraq and Syria right up to the Turkish border.

Under Erdogan, Turkey's relations with Israel have also been left in tatters with the president declaring in July that the Jewish state had "surpassed Hitler in barbarism", his latest in a series of verbal tirades against Israel.

A supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Turkey also condemned the ouster of Mohammed Morsi after a "coup", and labelled Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah al-Sisi a "tyrant."

In an escalation of tensions, Ankara has withdrawn its ambassadors from both Israel and Egypt.

Erdogan has been in “attack mode” recently as he becomes increasingly outspoken about what he sees as rising Islamophobia in the West.

In December, Erdogan slammed European countries for criticizing deteriorating press freedom in Turkey, saying they should instead try to find a solution for the increasing Islamophobia in Europe.

"We are not Europe's scapegoat," Erdogan said at the time, adding, "We are definitely not a country that Europe can point its finger at and scold. Instead of criticizing us, Europe should find a solution to increasing racism and Islamophobia.”

Erdogan became president in August after more than a decade as prime minister, but the opposition accuses him of transforming the state by imposing a gradual Islamization and riding roughshod over democracy.

Throughout his time in power there have been more signs of Turkey turning more extremist, with the government carrying out moves such as internet censorship, limiting the sales of alcohol and charging citizens with “insulting Islam” over comments made on social media.


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