Turkish Leader Tries to Calm Western Fears After Davos Dust-up With Israeli President

Turkey says its prime minister's public spat with Israel's president was not aimed at Washington.


By Larry Derfner, Mideast Watch

Turkish Prime Minister Recip Tayyip Erdogan's recent irate walkout on Israeli President Shimon Peres at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, still dominates Turkish news. In the wake of the spat, the Islamist-led government is trying to calm Western fears that Erdogan's display signals a turn away from the United States, Europe, and Israel in favor of a closer alliance with Iran. Saban Calis, a Turkish professor of international relations and supporter of Erdogan, puts a happy face on the prime minister's gesture in Today's Zaman newspaper:

Surely the prime minister's attitude was against Peres' speech and style. Therefore, it was aimed at the rulers of Israel. This attitude will push Israel to become more eager to achieve peace. But it will also send a message to Hamas calling for a more lenient approach vis-à-vis the problem; this shows that Turkey's policy and attitude will actually contribute to the achievement of a viable solution. It will be fair to argue that the recent policy will enhance Turkey's ties with the US, the EU and the West. The prime minister's discourse and attitude will be welcomed by EU leaders as well as newly elected US President Barack Obama.

Revealing the beauty of the veil

From Egypt, Al Arabiya reports on a trend among religious but fashion-conscious Muslim women to bring a new, less forbidding image to the traditional Moslem hijab, or veil.

In Egypt, a group of young women have formed the first organization for "hijab fashion" in hopes of catering to the increasing numbers of veiled women and proving that elegance can still be modest.

In Bahrain veiled models are increasingly preferred to their Western, unveiled counterparts because they more accurately represent their society. And in Morocco the popularity of tight, seductive hijab styles have earned the trend the name "shoufouni," Arabic for "look at me."

Saudi paper sees Zionist conspiracy against Obama

An editorial in the official Saudi Arab News suspects a Zionist conspiracy behind the embarrassment Obama has suffered from the financial disclosures of three of his nominees, Tom Daschle, Nancy Killefer, and Timothy Geithner.

But although Obama is taking the rap for these errors, the truth is their genesis does not lie directly with him. He made the choices . . . but it was not down to him to do the background spade work to ensure that these nominees would pass muster when put forward for confirmation. That job rested with his administration team, the key leader of which is his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel. This triple error in reality rests at Emanuel's door. Obama may, therefore, already be wondering if appointing this man, an avowed Zionist, to such a powerful position was after all a good idea, if that is he had any choice in the matter.