One of the themes that I continuously harp on in the course of writing this blog is the vital importance of the U.S.-Turkish relationship. The U.S. and Turkey are strategic partners and have been for decades and cooperate on a host of security and trade issues. While U.S.-Turkey ties rest on a shared foundation of common interests, they are ultimately sustained by government officials, business leaders, and opinion makers in both countries who are committed to keeping the relationship strong. Starting today, I am officially going to be part of this group.

For the next two weeks (and then again for two weeks in Turkey in the spring) I will be participating in the Young Turkey Young America program, which is run by the Atlantic Council and sponsored by the State Department and aims to connect 30 young professionals from the United States and Turkey to examine key foreign policy issues and build a group of emerging leaders committed to bilateral cooperation. This year’s group has a bunch of really impressive Americans and Turks who are, among other things, government advisers, journalists, non-profit executive directors, CEOs, local elected officials, and academics, and I can’t help but feel that I kind of snuck in the back door. We are starting off in Minneapolis today, then moving on to New York and finally Washington, and will be having meetings and panels with members of Congress, executive branch officials in charge of Turkey policy, corporate leaders, academics, and policy experts. The agenda looks great, and I am really excited to spend the next two weeks constantly thinking and speaking about the current and future state of the U.S.-Turkey relationship with smart and talented folks from both countries.

Keeping up my usual daily blogging schedule over the next two weeks is going to be tough, but I am going to try to blog as often as possible. Many of the conversations and meetings the group will be having are going to be off the record and so I am not going to be able to write about them specifically, but I plan on writing about the general insights that I glean from my colleagues – particularly the Turkish ones – about the opportunities and challenges in the bilateral relationship, and some thoughts about where U.S.-Turkey ties are headed. So basically, the blog is going have a changed tenor for the next two weeks and will not be as news-focused as usual, but hopefully it will be just as interesting (to the extent that it is ever interesting) in a different way. And don’t worry, if something big happens in Israel or Turkey I will make sure to leave all of you with my two cents.