Monday, April 13, 2009

Obama's Turkish Delight

In case you didn't get enough Obama in Turkey coverage, I have a dispatch up on the Foreign Policy website about the president's successful effort to woo the Turkish public, known, in recent years, for its strong anti-American sentiments. From the FP piece: 
If there was a golden age in U.S.-Turkey relations, it was probably the several-day visit that then U.S. President Bill Clinton made to Turkey in 1999. Clinton is still fondly remembered for visiting an area outside Istanbul that had been hit by a devastating earthquake only a few months before and for delivering a rousing speech in parliament. Pictures of a smiling Clinton are still easy to find in the small shops in Istanbul's Grand Bazaar, where the former president's image is often displayed as shorthand for "We like Americans."

It's likely that Obama pictures will soon be on display in the bazaar. On a visit there during Obama's first day in Turkey, I spoke with Ismail Aksahin, a kilim rug merchant who has been working the Grand Bazaar since 1992. "We are feeling good about Obama. Bush was a bad option for us for eight years. We feel about Obama the way we feel about Clinton."

"If you had asked most of us here a year ago if we were ready to embrace America, everybody would have said, 'No,'" he added, waving his hand dismissively.

"Now the wind is blowing in a different direction."
You can read the rest of the piece here.

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