There was a time we expected Turkey to grovel for a place at the table with the Big Boys. We were willing to consider allowing our only Muslim NATO ally into the European Union but only once it showed itself a deserving supplicant. That was then. This is now. Behold what may be the rebirth of the Ottomans.
Amid revolt and revolution, the Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and his country are lionised across the region as Islamic and democratic role models in post-dictator Libya, Egypt and Tunisia; and, perhaps, even in Syria.
The essential ingredients in all of this are Erdogan's propensity to speak his mind and Turkey's modern success - a secular democracy in which a modern, moderate Islamist party presides over a surging economy, which is the world's 17th biggest.
'You can't imagine the popularity, after decades of seeing Turkey as atheist, anti-Islamic, anti-Arab, the friend of Israel that abolished the caliphate,'' a senior Egyptian official told the International Crisis Group. ''Suddenly we see a new Turkey - the Arab street is not only fascinated by Erdogan, but by the phenomenon of Turkey.''
Turkey quickly [took advantage] advantage of what [foreign minister Ahmet] Davutoglu describes as Turkey's ''psychological affinity'' with much of the Arab world, to offer itself as the right model for Islamic countries in transition to democracy and, at the same time, seeking sufficient economic horsepower to generate the jobs of the future.
The magical mix of Davutoglu's strategic logic and what one Turkish commentator describes as Erdogan's ''animal-like political intuition'' were on display during a tour of Egypt, Tunisia and Libya last month by Erdogan, Davutoglu and 280 Turkish businessmen, who, on a single day in Cairo, reportedly signed deals worth $1 billion.
Feted like a rock star, the Turkish prime minister offered himself as a proud Muslim and democrat who was firmly on the side of the region's revolutions and that of the Palestinians in their struggle with Israel.