Obama’s friend in Turkey

In his ongoing effort to atone for Davos 2009, David Ignatius writes: As President Obama was feeling his way in foreign policy during his first months in office, he decided to cultivate a friendship with Turkey’s headstrong prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Over the past year, this investment in Turkey has begun to pay some big dividends — anchoring U.S. policy in a region that sometimes seems adrift.

Erdogan’s clout was on display this week as he hosted a meeting here of the World Economic Forum (WEF) that celebrated the stability of the “Turkish model” of Muslim democracy amid the turmoil of the Arab Spring. One panel had the enraptured title “Turkey as a Source of Inspiration.”

In a speech Tuesday, Erdogan named Turkey’s achievements over the decade he has been in power: Its economy has grown an annual average of 5.3 percent since 2002, the fastest rate of any country in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development; gross domestic product has more than tripled, as have its foreign reserves; investment from abroad has increased more than 16 times.

For Erdogan, receiving a visit from the WEF was a kind of vindication. The Turkish leader walked angrily offstage at the group’s 2009 meeting in Davos, Switzerland, after a panel moderator (yours truly) didn’t allow him time to respond to Israeli President Shimon Peres’s remarks about the Gaza war. This week, that moment seemed well in the past. [Continue reading…]

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