In sharp contrast to the four decades of the Cold War when Ankara was largely preoccupied with the Soviet threat, the post-Cold War era forced Turkish policymakers to modify some established foreign policy principles and develop new strategies as instability and conflict broke out close to Turkey's borders in the Middle East, the Caucasus, and the Balkans. Turkey's foreign policy agenda became crowded with new issues and problems; for example, while Ankara sought to play a more activist role in its regional environment, it faced the specter of political Islam and Kurdish separatism at home. Dangerous Neighborhood offers useful and important essays that analyze Turkey's response to some of those challenges.
Radu highlights the theme of Turkey living in a "dangerous neighborhood" by noting that it shares "hundreds of thousands of miles of land borders" with "three rogue states." Living next door to Syria, Iraq, and Iran brought many dangers, but the Kurdish issue was of greatest concern. Syria and Iran actively provided logistical support for the Kurdish terrorist organization, the Partiya Karkaren Kurdistan (PKK) or Kurdistan Workers Party; the instability in northern Iraq enabled the PKK to establish bases there. Essays by Svante Cornell and Michael Radu (respectively, on the Kurdish issue and the PKK) shed much light on the nature of Turkey's Kurdish question and the factors that led to the PKK's rise and fall.
The Kurdish issue also lies behind Ankara's efforts to pressure Damascus and thus was a major factor in the emergence of the new strategic partnership with Israel. In a detailed and informative analysis, Efraim Inbar underscores how both Israel and Turkey "reaped strategic dividends" from this partnership in an effort to "preserve the regional status quo and fend off common threats." Other essays focus on the role of human rights and security arrangements in Turkey's relations with Europe; Turkey's approach to political and security issues in the Caucasus; and U.S.-Turkish relations in the post-Cold War era.