Pat Buchanan

The fever sweeping the Middle East is now coursing through Libya, Yemen, Iran and Bahrain, where the U.S. Fifth Fleet is based.

In all four nations, state violence is being used to crush the rebels, and regime survival hangs on whether security forces and the army stand behind the government or stand aside.

A new Middle East is dawning. What will it look like?

Perhaps the nation to study is Turkey, which has already gone through a democratic and dramatic transformation.

In 2000, Turkey was a reliable U.S. ally, a friend to Israel, an aspiring candidate for membership in the EU. Since then, Turkey has set a different course, welcomed by her people, that has measurably enhanced her prestige.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's regime is far more Islamic than any Turkish government since the caliphate. He and his Justice and Development Party have effected constitutional reforms to curb the power of the judiciary and military, guardians of the secular state established by Kemal Ataturk in 1923. Scores of generals have been indicted for treason.

Turkey refused President George W. Bush permission to use its territory to invade Iraq. Denied a fast track to membership in the EU, Turkey now looks to the south and east. Relations with Syria have been repaired. Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been welcomed in Istanbul.

To the rage of Hillary Clinton, the Turks and Brazil cut a deal with Iran to transfer half the low-enriched uranium at Natanz out of the country. This was seen as undercutting U.S. policy. When the U.N. imposed the latest sanctions on Iran, Turkey voted no.

"The Turks are out of their lane," said a U.S. diplomat.

Indeed they are. And as Turkey moves out of America's orbit, she is moving back into a Muslim world much of which she ruled for centuries. A sure sign is the bristling hostility to Israel, with which Turkey has had close political and military ties.

At Davos in 2009, in a debate with Shimon Peres about the Gaza war, Erdogan shouted at Israel's president, "You know well how to kill," stormed out and flew home to a hero's welcome.

Eight of the nine dissidents shot by Israeli commandos in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla trying to run the blockade were Turks. Erdogan's backing of the flotilla and condemnation of Israel for a "bloody massacre" made him and Turkey more admired in Gaza than are Iran and Ahmadinejad.

After that first week of demonstrations in Cairo, when Hosni Mubarak announced he would not run again for president, America dithered, but Erdogan declared that Mubarak should resign immediately.


Pat Buchanan

Pat Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative magazine, and the author of many books including State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America .
 
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