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Middle East power shifting to Turkey and Iran

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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.

In recent months, a spate of new agreements have been signed by Turkey with Iraq, Iran, and Syria that suggest a nascent commonality of political vision. A new treaty with Armenia further signals how seriously Ankara means its "zero problem" good-neighbor policy.

More important, however, the agreements with Iraq, Iran, and Syria reflect a joint economic interest. The "northern tier" of Middle Eastern states are poised to become the principal supplier of natural gas to central Europe once the Nabucco pipeline is completed – thus not only displacing Russia in that role but gradually eclipsing the primacy of Saudi Arabia as a geostrategic kingpin due to its oil reserves.

Taken together with the economic stagnation and succession crisis that has incapacitated Egypt, it is clear that the so-called moderate "southern tier" Middle Eastern states that have been so central to American policies in the region are becoming a weak and unreliable link indeed.

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