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Turkey is critical to a more moderate Islam

Turkey is a successful example of a non-Arab land where Islam and democracy coexist and the economy prospers.

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Despite a prickly relationship between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel remains a key US ally in the Middle East.

Yet there’s another relationship critical to the entire US policy in the Middle East and the direction of the Islamic world: Turkey.

The relationship between the United States and Turkey is going to require deft handling in the rocky months and years ahead.

Turkey is a successful example of a non-Arab land where Islam and democracy coexist and the economy prospers.

Indonesia, the largest Islamic, non-Arab country in the world, is another such example. Both could play a constructive role in tempering Islamic extremism in the Arab world. But Indonesia lies in distant Southeast Asia, whereas Turkey is in and of the Middle East, with adjacent Arab neighbors.

Turkey has long been seen as a land bridge between East and West. For decades it has tried to impress Europe and to persuade Europe to let it join the European Union.

In recent times, Turkey has been refurbishing its ties with countries that border it like Iran, Iraq, and Syria. And it has planned to launch its own Arabic-language satellite TV station in order to connect more intimately with the Arab world.

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