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Why Turks no longer love the U.S.

US Secretary Rice arrives Friday to defuse tensions over Kurdish rebels in Iraq.

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The US has hailed Turkey as moderate Islamic democracy, the kind it would like to see develop elsewhere. It's a key NATO ally, with US aircraft stationed here.

Yet, as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrives in Ankara Friday to defuse tensions over Kurdish rebels operating in Iraq, she faces a nation that is now the most anti-American in the world, according to one survey. In the meetings with Ms. Rice, and next Monday in Washington with President Bush, Turkey's prime minister is expected to press the US to take steps against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) rebels in Iraq.

That might help soften attitudes here toward the US. But given the depth of anti-American feeling that has developed in just the past few years, few expect Turkish public opinion to turn quickly.

In a recent global survey by the Pew Research Center, only 9 percent of Turks held a favorable view of the United States (down from 52 percent in 2000), a figure that placed Turkey at the rock bottom of the 46 countries surveyed.

"People have become accustomed to this plot line of America being a threat to Turkish national security. This was inconceivable five years ago, but now it has come to be the prevailing view," says Ihsan Dagi, a professor of international relations at Ankara's Middle East Technical University.

That perception has been reinforced in the past two years by some of Turkey's most popular books and films which portray the US and Turkey at odds – if not at war. Turkey's all-time box office champ, 2006's "Valley of the Wolves," saw a ragtag Turkish force square off heroically against a whole division of bloodthirsty American soldiers in northern Iraq.

"Metal Storm," a bestselling political fantasy book from the year before, went even further, describing an all out war between Ankara and Washington in the not so distant future (the year 2007, to be exact), in which Turkey ultimately prevails with the help of Russia and the European Union.


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