In its relatively new role in the Middle East, Turkey holds great potential as an influence for democratic, economic, and diplomatic good. But its dispute with Israel over the Gaza flotilla incident is holding it back.
Some might suggest Egypt because it is the heart of the Arab world. But the fact is that Turkey, perhaps with memories of past Ottoman glory, seems intent on becoming the most influential leader in the greater Middle East, and might overtake Saudi Arabia and Egypt in significance regionally, and for the United States.
Some have surmised that Turkey, a Muslim but non-Arab country with an image as “Islam lite,” could become a constructive counter to extremist Islamists in the area. In particular, it could be a counterforce to Iran, which already aspires to regional dominance. Thus Turkey would join Indonesia, another large Muslim but non-Arab country, as an example of impressive moderate Islamic statehood.
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