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Flagging a Change: Not since the Ottoman Empire ...

By Yigal SchleiferCorrespondent / February 5, 2009



Reporters on the Job: Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s walking off the stage in Davos after berating Israeli President Shimon Peres for his country’s recent actions in Gaza has made him a political hero at home. (Read more about that in the Monitor's story today.)

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Upon his return to Istanbul, Erdogan was greeted at the airport by hundreds, maybe thousands, of cheering fans, some of them holding signs: “A new world leader.” Television stations, meanwhile, were referring to him as “The Hero of Davos.”

Erdogan was also being hailed by people throughout the Arab world. To me, one of the most striking images was seeing images of a rally in Gaza in honor of Turkey and Erdogan, where a multitude of Turkish flags were being flown. Turkey and the Arab world have had a very ambivalent relationship since the end of the Ottoman Empire, which ruled large parts of the Middle East for centuries. Seeing the crescent and star flying over Gaza again made me think that some interesting changes are taking place.

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