"The (Egyptian) people expect a very different decision from Mubarak," Erdogan said. "The current administration does not inspire trust so far as the democratic change wanted by the population is concerned."
Erdogan abruptly canceled his February visit to Egypt.
What, then, are the crucial elements of the new Turkish policy?
First, a new deference and respect for Islam. Second, make Turkey the champion of the causes of the Arab and Muslim masses, foremost among which is the cause of the Palestinian people. Third, defy the United States and denounce Israel.
What the Turks are about has been called "neo-Ottomanism," a 21st century policy to reclaim the position they held for centuries.
As the British elbowed aside the Ottoman Turks and the Americans shouldered aside the British after Suez, now it is America that appears to be the receding power in the Middle East and Turkey the rising power.
Indeed, the American hour seems to be rapidly approaching its end.
In weeks, President Ben Ali, our man in Tunis, was overthrown. Mubarak, our man in Egypt for 30 years, was overthrown. Hezbollah became the real power in the Lebanese government. The king of Jordan dismissed his prime minister and cabinet. For the first time, voices are speaking against the royal family, especially the king's wife.
The Palestinian Authority has been discredited by Wikileaks documents revealing the concessions it was prepared to make for a tiny rump state on the West Bank. Benjamin Netanyahu forced President Obama to back down completely from his demands that Israel halt new construction in East Jerusalem and all expansion of settlements on the West Bank. The Middle East peace process is dead.
Our ally, the king of Bahrain, is now under siege. President Saleh of Yemen, our ally against al-Qaida, has been forced to pledge he will not run again in 2013, nor will his son. Pakistan is aflame with anti-Americanism.
By year's end, all U.S. troops are to be out of Iraq, where the influence of Iran is rising and the man behind the throne is the anti-American Muqtada al-Sadr.
The U.S. press is transfixed by all this, but a question arises: What vital interest of a United States staring at bankruptcy would be imperiled if we got out of the way, stopped fighting these countries' wars and paying these countries' bills and let these people determine their own future for good or ill?
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