This issue of TPQ comes at a time when the relationship of the West with Russia is at its most difficult since the Cold War, and a new cold war is said to be in the making in the Middle East. Turkey is between the two hotspots where this geopolitical upheaval is playing out most dramatically: Crimea and Syria.
Twenty five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the optimism it engendered, Euro-Atlantic resolve is being severely tested in the East. In the Levant, four years after the so-called Arab Spring began (creating its own share of optimism), ethnic, sectarian, and tribal divisions are challenging the Sykes-Picot borders and the regional order. The points of contention are not only geostrategic but also normative – contestation between democracy and tyranny, between liberal democracy and managed democracy, between secularism and sectarianism. Specifically for Turkey, the upheaval comes in the wake of a decade of unfortunate wavering on the part of both Ankara’s leadership and leaders in the EU about Turkey’s civilizational belonging. At a time when trust between Turkey and its allies is most important, it is regrettably at its lowest point.