The U.S. may have a new problem in the Middle East, and it's not the Islamic State.
With the Nov. 1 election of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the U.S. must now rely on an emboldened leader who is expected to push the country toward a more authoritarian state dominated by his Islamist AK Party.
Washington sees Ankara as not only an essential ally in the fight against the Islamic State, but due to its geostrategic location, is also a necessary partner when it comes to countering a resurgent Russia. Both points give Erdogan leverage over President Obama and his foreign policy.
That leverage is most evident in the delicate dance by U.S. officials between providing support for Kurdish groups on the front lines of that fight in both Syria and Iraq and accommodating Ankara's insistence in preventing Kurdish independence by any means necessary. Further complicating things, one expert said, is the fact that the country just handed Erdogan a mandate.