Middle East power shifting to Turkey and Iran
President Obama and the West need to adjust accordingly.
While the United States and Europe have been struggling to find a path forward in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Afghanistan, and Iran, the strategic ground upon which their assumptions about the region rest has begun to shift dramatically.
Most significantly, Turkey has finally shrugged off the straitjacket of a tight American alliance, grown virtually indifferent to beckoning European Union (EU) membership, and turned its focus toward its former Ottoman neighbors in Asia and the Middle East.
Though not primarily meant as a snub to the West, this shift does nonetheless reflect growing discomfort and frustration with US and EU policy, from the support of Israel's action in Gaza to Iran and the frustrated impasse of the European accession process. It also resonates more closely with the Islamic renaissance that has been taking place within Turkey.
If Turkey continues successfully down this path, it will be as strategically significant for the balance of power in the region as the emergence of Iran as a preeminent power thanks to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the later destruction of Sunni dominance in Iraq by the US invasion.