The successor to the great Ottoman Empire has long sought to regain its role as a regional power in both southeastern Europe and the Middle East. Prime Minister Recep Erdogan has worked strategically to improve Turkey's relations with the powers of Europe, the Arab nations, the United States, and Israel. It wants to be powerful once more. However, trying to play such a balancing act may prove to be fatal to its "zero problems with neighbors" policy-- in the past few years, all of Erdogan's maneuvering has been challenged
. Hopes of Turkish acceptance into the European Union have been all-but-vanquished. Kurdish separatists are causing problems on the Turkey-Iraq border, which has prompted Turkish invasions into Northern Iraq, complicating relations with both that country and the United States. Relations between Israel and Turkey are now at one of their lowest points in years. As Iran continues to pursue the atom bomb, Turkey has accepted part of NATO's missile shield, roughening relations there. And the nations of Syria and Turkey are practically involved in a war against each other as the former regime massacres thousands of its citizens in reaction to the Arab Spring.
With Europe paralyzed by its own crises, the United States weary of wars in the Middle East, and Israel settings its guns on Iran, the issue of Syria rests in Turkey's court. If they are to be a resurgent power, handling Bashar al-Assad is going to be their first major test, with the Iranian nuclear program following close behind it. Now is the time for Turkey to either prove it can shine or accept that it is not quite ready to claim being a great power just yet.