By Xander Snyder
Turkey is in the unenviable position of being surrounded by historical adversaries: Russia to its north, Iran to its east and south (via Syria), and Europe to its west. The Ottoman Empire fought wars in all of these theaters at one point or another. Yet even at the height of its power, the Ottoman Empire could not engage in multiple theaters simultaneously and win. Its success in warfare was guided not by the religious fanaticism of its troops, as some European commentators at the time suggested, but by the cautious allocation of resources to the most pressing theater while keeping the others at bay. Today, as Turkey’s power increases, it is still exercising this strategy.
Two seemingly unrelated events – one internal and the other external – reveal how Ankara is applying this strategy. The first is the demolition of the Ataturk Cultural Center, located in Taksim Square, the site of the 2013 protests against President Recep Tayyip Er