Ak Saray, the residence of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is a complex of around 1,100 rooms in acres of hillside over Ankara. It is not garish or tasteless, like some of Saddam Hussein’s architectural monstrosities were, but then Turkey’s President sees himself not as just another Kalashnikov-wielding strongman, but heir to the legacy of Ottoman sultans.
A few colleagues and I were given a conducted tour of Ak Saray, “White Palace” in English, soon after last summer’s attempted coup, when Erdogan was being presented as a defender of democracy against the perfidy of a treacherous exiled cleric, Fethullah Gulen, and a renegade military faction. But the White Palace definitely seemed a home more befitting a potentate than that of a champion of the people and Turkey’s referendum has now confirmed Erdogan in that position. And, at the same time, any effective international backing for attempts to dethrone him is now relatively meaningless after Donald Trump called him from the White House to congratulate him on his victory.