by Barry Strauss
January 21, 2014
Turkey is in the midst of dramatic change. That matters for both American foreign policy and the world, because Turkey is of enormous strategic significance. With an industrious and increasingly wealthy population of 74 million people, Turkey is larger than Britain or France. No less significant, Turkey occupies one of the world’s most strategic locations, between Russia and Iran. Its largest city, Istanbul, lies at the crossroads of east and west. Under the Justice and Development Party (AKP), Turkey’s economy has become freer and wealthier. Yet, the AKP has moved away from the secular and pro-western positions of the Republic’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, in favor of more Islamic-world-centered positions. In August 2014 Turkey will, for the first time, choose its president via direct elections. Prime Minister Recept Tayyip Erdogan, a member of the AKP, is expected to run. While Turkey and the U.S. will remain allies, friction and disagreement will only increase.