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Sure it's fiction. But many Turks see fact in anti-US novel.

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The year is 2007. After a clash with Turkish forces in northern Iraq, US troops stage a surprise attack. Reeling, Turkey turns to Russia and the European Union, who turn back the American onslaught.

This is the plot of "Metal Storm," one of the fastest- selling books in Turkish history. The book is clearly sold as fiction, but its premise has entered Turkey's public discourse in a way that sometimes seems to blur the line between fantasy and reality.

"The Foreign Ministry and General Staff are reading it keenly," Murat Yetkin, a columnist for the Turkish daily newspaper Radikal, recently wrote. "All cabinet members also have it."

Several other columnists have also written about the book, suggesting its depiction of a clash between the two NATO allies could become a reality. Serdar Turgut, the editor of Aksam, one of Turkey's largest newspapers, penned a recent column that took one of Metal Storm's premises - that members of Skull and Bones, the secret society that President Bush joined as a student at Yale, has taken control of US foreign policy - and presented it as fact.

"Powerful people, nearly all of whom are members of a secret 'sect,' are aiming to bring a radical change to the order of the world," Turgut wrote.

He further suggested that the US military is developing technology that would allow it to trigger earthquakes, something that will eventually be used against Turkey.

The book has arrived at a time when anti-American sentiments are running high in Turkey. A BBC poll taken last month found that 82 percent of Turks believe Bush's reelection made the world a more dangerous place, the highest figure in any country surveyed. During her recent visit, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice expressed concern about the issue to Turkish officials.

Meanwhile, there is increasing tension between Ankara and Washington. Turkey is frustrated with what it claims is US failure to take military action against the separatists of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), who are holed up in the mountains of northern Iraq. The country is also concerned about events in the oil-rich Iraqi city of Kirkuk, where the Turks say Iraqi Kurds are staging a power grab as a prelude to the creation of an independent Kurdish state, something it views as a serious threat.

Egemen Bagis, a member of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and chairman of the Turkey-US friendship caucus in parliament, says the unpopular war in neighboring Iraq continues to fuel anti-American feelings.


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