Egypt and Turkey

Two of the region's most important countries - Egypt and Turkey - are at a crossroads. Egypt has the chance to again be the Arab world's central power; in contrast, Turkey's government is throwing away the opportunity to become a major diplomatic player in the region while hammering the last nail into the coffin of its chance for European Union membership.

Let's consider Egypt first. In the Gaza war's aftermath, everyone is asking Cairo its preferences for policing the border with Hamas's radical Islamist semi-state next door. Egypt must take the lead in any new arrangement to stop arms' smuggling. Moreover, that country is now the Palestinian Authority's indispensible patron and will determine whether a coherent international effort will be made to bring down Hamas. Any hope for an Arab-Israeli peace process or, more likely, simple stability is riding with Egypt now.

But that's not all. In recent months, Egypt has taken decisive public steps toward being the leader of moderate Arab resistance to the Iran-Syria axis, radical Islamism and - in most Arabs' minds - the Shi'ite threat.

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