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Turkey: Obama Visit Sparks Hope of Reinvigorated US-Turkish Strategic Partnership

Turkish and American observers are hailing President Barack Obama's upcoming three-day visit to Turkey as an important step in repairing a significant - though troubled - strategic alliance.

Ankara and Washington had been at loggerheads on numerous occasions over the last few years. Turkey opposed the American invasion of Iraq and its parliament refused to pass a 2003 motion that would have allowed American troops to enter Iraq through Turkish soil. The United States, meanwhile, had at times been uncomfortable with Turkey's active re-engagement with the Middle East, particularly its growing relations with Syria and Iran.

During eight years of the Bush administration, Turkish public opinion of America reached new lows: a 2007 survey found that only 9 percent of Turks held a favorable view of the United States, down from 52 percent in 2002.

"I would say that we have had a very rough eight years - rough at the policy level, but also rough at the level of public opinion. And in modern times, public opinion has an impact on policy," says Ian Lesser, an expert on Turkey at the German Marshall Fund (GMF) of the United States in Washington.

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Yigal Schleifer is a freelance journalist based in Istanbul.

Turkey: Obama Visit Sparks Hope of Reinvigorated US-Turkish Strategic Partnership

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