- From the Managing Editor
At the time this issue of the Mediterranean Quarterly went to press, the civil war in Syria raged, with Aleppo having fallen in the face of a combined assault by Syrian government forces and their Russian allies. Through its intervention in the conflict, Russia is now a key player in the Syrian peace process, while the United States finds itself largely sidelined. On the other side of the Mediterranean, political populism continues to spread in several European countries, with the real possibility that the coming French election may see Marine Le Pen of Front National as the next French president. The rise of populism in Europe, which previously generated the vote for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, is in no small part driven by the migrant crisis created by the ongoing turbulence across North Africa and the Middle East and Europe's inability to respond to it effectively. It is quite possible that the migrant crisis may lead to the fall of Germany's Angela Merkel as well, even though she was until recently known as Europe's steady, calm, and strategic hand that helped see the continent through the euro crisis.
Populism has also reached the United States, with the surprise victory of Donald Trump in the November 2016 US presidential election. During the campaign, he openly questioned the US leadership role in the international community and its role as the guarantor of the European security order. At the same time, he called for a more aggressive approach to counterterrorism and the Islamic State, which continues to hold territory in both Iraq and Syria. The actions of the incoming US administration will therefore have major implications for the broader Mediterranean community, although its specific outcomes remain unclear.
What is clear is that the wider Mediterranean region is once again at the [End Page 1] center of world events and helps shape and influence conditions and decisions far from its shores. We are therefore pleased to present the latest issue of the Mediterranean Quarterly, with fascinating essays that shed light, add context, and offer a diverse range of perspectives on the rich political, social, historical, and economic environment that is the broader Mediterranean region. This issue opens with "A Stabilization and Development Dilema: The United States, Transatlantic Relations, and Southern Europe in the 1960s" by Sotiris Rizas. It provides a closer look at US relations with Greece and Italy during the key post–World War II period of their economic and political development and examines how Washington leveraged the Bretton Woods system to nudge development forward in those two countries and swing them away from the Eastern bloc.
Next is "Cyprus's Natural Gas Strategy: Geopolitical and Economic Preconditions" by Theodoros Tsakiris. This essay provides an important corrective to the perhaps overblown enthusiasm about the natural gas finds off the coast of Cyprus. Tsakiris argues convincingly that the gas deposits will certainly benefit the island, but the effect will be gradual and will do little to alter the political dynamics around the talks for a resolution for the Cypriot question. This essay is followed by "Ukraine and the Middle East" by Michael B. Bishku, which provides a fascinating look at how Ukraine has developed its relationship with Middle Eastern countries, in particular Turkey and Israel, since Ukraine's independence from the Soviet Union.
Anthony N. Celso's "Hama's Ominous Shadow and the Stalled Jihadist War in Syria" provides a broader context to the current civil war in Syria and looks at how it is influenced by previous conflicts in the region and groups such as Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. It is followed by Spyridon Pla koudas's essay "The Syrian Kurds and the Democratic Union Party: The Outsider in the Syrian War." This piece adds an important element to the many groups and parties who play a role in the raging civil war in Syria.
The issue concludes with an important essay by Muhammad Yaseen Gada, "Muslim Responses to the Crusades: A Brief Survey of Selected Literature," which provides a unique look at the currently available literature focusing on the Muslim perspective on the period of the Crusades.