For decades, Turkey was a rarity: a secular democracy with a Muslim majority, a liberal economy, and a solid alliance with the West. It was NATO’s only Muslim-majority country and, for a brief while, the likeliest candidate to carry the same distinction as a member of the European Union (EU). Traditionally, Ankara’s foreign policy has been Western-oriented, in support of the status quo, and noninterventionist.1 This posture was based on four principles: having reserved relations with the region, maintaining neutrality in cases of conflict, opposing attempts to revise the status quo, and isolating Turkey’s regional policies from its relations with the great powers.2 Even though Turkey was widely promoted as a model for the Middle East, it had little interest in or appetite for getting involved in the region.3

Against this current, there has always been an opposing camp vying for a more activist foreign policy. The Islamists were particularly strong in this camp: they were ardently anticommunist, they had an ideological commitment to Muslim solidarity, and they believed that Turkey’s imperial legacies created a historical responsibility for leadership of the Middle East.4 To paraphrase Turkish intellectual Celal Yalınız (better known as Sakallı Celal), Ankara’s efforts to be a part of the West were similar to running westward on the deck of an eastbound ship, as Turkey’s security, economy, and identity were tied to the fortunes of its neighbors in the region.5 Turkish foreign policy has been a tug-of-war between these two traditions since the mid-1950s, when the government of conservative firebrand Adnan Menderes’s Democratic Party made an ill-fated bid for regional influence: the so-called Baghdad Pact, which brought the country to the brink of war with Syria and Iraq.6

When the Islamists came to power in 2002, under the leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP), Turkish foreign policy underwent a complete overhaul.7 By the end of AKP’s first decade, however, the EU accession process, which had buoyed the AKP’s early success, slowed to a crawl.8 As Europe grew wary of Turkey’s prospective membership, Turkey’s political consensus on EU membership unraveled.9 The U.S.-led 2003 invasion of Iraq also eroded the Turkish public’s positive views of the West.10 Erdogan’s AKP seized this moment to back away from the politically expensive reform agenda, break free from Turkey’s traditional foreign policy, and pivot to the Middle East.11 The central pillars of this neo-Ottomanist turn were former foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s “zero-problems” doctrine and his views on expanding Turkey’s strategic depth.12 At first, Ankara’s sole objective was to develop good relations with all of Turkey’s neighbors.13 Building on the legacy of his predecessor, Ismail Cem,14 Davutoglu directed AKP to normalize Turkey’s relations with Greece and Cyprus.15 He also led an ill-fated charge for reconciliation with Armenia.16 Over time, however, the “zero-problems” doctrine took an even more ambitious turn: the “settlement of all disputes” that “directly or indirectly concern Turkey.”17 In his bid to expand Turkey’s global power, Davutoglu expanded the country’s interests further into Africa, the Balkans, and even Latin America and East Asia.18 As a result, Turkey took it upon itself to play peacemaker between Israel and Syria, Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Palestinian factions of Hamas and Fatah, Iran and the West, and the warring parties in Somalia.19

The bigger Turkey’s ambitions grew, however, the smaller its victories shrank.20 Most of Turkey’s mediation efforts failed.21 The signature initiatives of Turkey’s “zero-problems” doctrine, such as rapprochement with Armenia and reconciliation in Cyprus, produced more noise than results. Some others—like voting against Iran sanctions, flinching at hosting NATO X-Band radars in its territory, and supporting the Kurdistan Regional Government as a wholly independent entity from Baghdad in Iraq—vexed both the West and Turkey’s regional neighbors.22

With the civil war in Syria, Turkey’s foreign policy finally faced the fate its critics long feared. Ankara sank deep into the morass it had been expected to change by its example. Turkey became caught in a three-way fight with two groups that it considers terrorists—the Kurdish-separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the radical jihadist Islamic State—as well as a secretive cult, the Gulenists, that used to be closely allied with Erdogan but is now accused of orchestrating the failed coup of July 2016.23 Turkey is sailing into a perfect storm of political instability, economic fragility, and social upheaval.

In such an environment, the prospects of involving Turkey in any cooperative efforts to increase regional security might seem bleak. However, this report argues that Turkey can still be a valuable and effective partner in certain areas. First, it discusses how the end of the Cold War brought to the fore the dissonance between NATO’s grand strategy and Turkey’s security concerns. Then, it examines the neo-Ottomanist turn in Turkish foreign policy, arguing that it was motivated primarily by security concerns and not by economic or identity-based consideration. It then identifies three areas for cooperation: preserving the territorial integrity of Iraq and Syria, combating PKK and Islamic State terrorism, and resolving the refugee crisis.


Order from Ashes

This report is part of “Order from Ashes: New Foundations for Security in the Middle East,” a multiyear TCF project supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

> See the collection

Turkey’s Post-Cold War Juncture

Turkey’s membership in the Atlantic Alliance has long been a defining feature of its foreign policy. Its entry into the Western security structure, however, was not a straightforward development. Modern Turkey’s founding father, Kemal Ataturk, viewed independence as a pillar of Turkish foreign policy, and his legacy left an indelible mark. During World War II, for example, Ismet Inonu—Ataturk’s second-in-command and his successor as the country’s president—played a delicate balancing act to keep Turkey out of the war.24 After 1945, however, Turkey found itself facing rising Russian expansionism, including Moscow’s territorial claims on eastern Anatolia and demands for a renegotiation of the 1936 Montreux Convention, which gave Turkey sole control over the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles.25

Against this tense political backdrop, Ankara started lobbying hard for membership into NATO as a defense against the Soviets. In its early years, Turkey’s efforts to join NATO were repeatedly rebuffed.26 The Truman Doctrine, however, opened the path for Turkish membership. According to the new U.S. strategic calculations, Turkey’s key geographic location and its control of the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles made it crucial to limiting Soviet influence in the Balkans, the Caucasus, and the Middle East.

A large fire burns as Kurds from Turkey and Syria celebrate Kurdish New Year on March 21, 2015 in Diyarbakir, Turkey. Diyarbakir has one of the largest Kurdish populations in Turkey and has become home to large numbers of Syrian Kurds fleeing the civil war in their home country. A number of refugees from nearby camps also travelled to attend the event, the largest Kurdish New Year celebrations in Turkey. Source: Carl Court/Getty Images.

During the Korean War, Turks proved themselves to be a potent fighting force.27 The five thousand soldiers of the Turkish Brigade fought alongside the United States’ Twenty-Fifth Infantry Division in Korea and received unit citations for their valor and bravery.28 “The Turks are the hero of heroes,” General Douglas MacArthur said of his Turkish soldiers. “There is no impossibility for the Turkish Brigade.”29 The reward for Turkey’s trial by combat was its accession to NATO in 1952, along with its western neighbor, Greece.30

NATO’s grand strategy was purposefully ambiguous on the Middle East.31 Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, NATO’s founding and namesake document, required that Turkey be fully included in the contingency plans for the area to be defended against external attacks—namely, from the Soviet threat. However, the Alliance viewed the Middle East as being outside its responsibility, so long as it did not fall under Soviet influence and vital supply routes from the oil-rich Gulf region remained secure.32 NATO’s primary objective, to protect Western Europe against the Soviet threat and over-involvement in the Middle East, risked provoking Soviet aggression.

Turkey, too, had little interest for the Middle East beyond its borders. The trauma of imperial collapse—particularly the 1916–18 Arab Revolt, which Turks refer to as the “Arab betrayal”—left a lasting scar on the country’s collective consciousness.33 This trauma also resonated in the newly founded republic’s strategic culture: the republican policy elites aspired to make Turkey part of the West and wanted nothing to do with the Middle East. As far as they were concerned, the Middle East was a civilizational backwater and a morass of problems in which Ankara did not need to be involved.34

For most of the Cold War, Turkey had a fraught relationship with its Middle Eastern neighbors. Relations with Iran deteriorated after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, as the secular regime in Ankara viewed Tehran’s mullahs as a dangerous influence on Turkey’s own Islamists.35 Syria and Iraq were Soviet allies, and Turkey’s historic relations were fraught with competing territorial claims over the province of Hatay on the Mediterranean coast (claimed by Syria)36 and the city of Mosul, Iraq,37 as well as the issue of control over the Tigris-Euphrates river system.38 An armed conflict with either country, however, could have led to an escalation with the Soviet Union. Understandably, no NATO member was willing to take such a risk, and Ankara’s allies regularly reminded it to keep a low profile in the region.

Turkey’s force posture also reflected these strategic considerations. Under NATO’s grand strategy, Turkey’s role was “bottling up the Soviet navy in the Black Sea, tying up Warsaw Pact forces along NATO’s southern flank, and serving as a staging ground for a counterthrust against the Soviet Union.”39 Thus, Turkey’s security posture was oriented toward the north, with the bulk of its military tied up on the Caucasian border, as well as a sizable contingent on the Bulgarian border.40 Such a posture, however, left Turkey with hardly any military capability for a credible deterrent to its southeastern neighbors. Starting in the mid-1970s, this posture became a problem for Turkey’s own security. Even though Syria and Iraq were supporting the militant groups fighting Turkey—first the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia, and then the PKK—Ankara could not take action against its neighbors because its forces were deployed elsewhere.

Ankara was also vexed that its allies were ambivalent toward its security interests but were deeply committed to Israel’s. Per its traditional policy, Ankara feared getting entangled in conflict more than it feared an aggressive action from the region, and was particularly struck by how the United States came to the brink of war with the Soviet Union during the 1973 Arab-Israeli War. Turkey maintained a position of neutrality in the Arab-Israeli dispute, but during the war the Soviets deployed MiG-21 bomber planes “to an airbase ‘on the border’—presumably with Turkey,”41 which left Ankara fearing that it would be drawn into a U.S.-led operation to defend Israel against the Arabs.42 Around the same time, the embargoes following Turkey’s 1974 incursion into Cyprus had left the country dependent on Arab oil.43 Moreover, the Arab-Israeli conflict had become a hot-button issue for the domestic public: on the left, guerrilla groups like the Turkish Popular Liberation Front had organic ties with the Palestine Liberation Organization;44 on the right, religious conservatives saw Palestine as a cause for Muslim solidarity.45

With the end of the Cold War, the strategic dissonance in Turkey’s alliance of necessity with the West became even more apparent. In this regard, the 1991 Gulf War was a critical juncture. Even though Turkey had had its disagreements with Iraq and Iran, it had a stable relationship with both based on mutual interests. During the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, Turkey remained neutral, choosing to keep its relations with both sides.46 The three countries also had a shared interest in curbing Kurdish aspirations for independence. Both Baghdad and Tehran regularly allowed Turkey’s cross-border raids in pursuit of PKK fighters.47

In the period leading up to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, however, Ankara was increasingly worried about Baghdad’s nuclear ambitions, growing missile arsenal, and saber-rattling rhetoric. Therefore, Turkey strongly supported the international response to Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, passing a series of economic sanctions, including the shutdown of the Kirkuk-Yumurtalik oil pipeline.48 With the Soviet threat no longer a concern, Turkey was able to move 100,000 mechanized troops from the Bulgarian border to the Iraqi border, per the American request for a military buildup to put pressure on Baghdad in the lead-up to Operation Desert Storm.49 President Turgut Ozal not only opened Incirlik to American soldiers but strongly lobbied to deploy Turkish soldiers in Iraq along with them—allegedly, during a September 1990 meeting with President Bush, he even asked for U.S. support to annex Mosul and Kirkuk.50 Ozal’s ambitions were curbed only by the resignation of his foreign minister and chief of general staff in protest of his policies.51

Even though Turkey took a backseat in the Gulf War, its changing force posture and modernizing military gave it more confidence to throw its weight around in the region. The first half of the 1990s saw a growing power competition between Iran and Turkey, particularly for the dominance over the post-Soviet states in the Caucasus and Central Asia.52 Ankara accused Tehran of supporting religious extremism in Turkey, alleged that Iran was involved in the assassination of prominent secular intellectuals, and protested that PKK militants were finding safe haven on the Iranian side of the border.53 Iran’s weapons-of-mass-destruction capabilities, nuclear ambitions, and ever-expanding ballistic missile program were also considered a threat.54

Relations with Syria were similarly strained. Damascus was building ballistic missiles, was in possession of chemical and biological weapons, and was believed to be developing nuclear capabilities until an Israeli airstrike destroyed its al-Kibar site in 2007. 55 The particular source of contention, however, was the PKK. Syria’s support for militant groups, including the PKK, had been an issue since the 1980s.56 The PKK operated training camps in Lebanon’s Syrian-­controlled Beqaa Valley; its leader Abdullah Ocalan “lived in a district of Damascus normally off limits to foreigners; acquired a villa in that city, travelled in a red Mercedes provided by the Syrians, and enjoyed the protection of bodyguards from that state.”57 Turkey’s many démarches for Ocalan’s ouster, however, never bore fruit.58 Turkey lacked a credible military deterrent: Hafez al-Assad knew all too well that Turkish forces were tied up elsewhere and that its allies in the West had no desire to entangle themselves in the Middle East.

With the end of the Cold War, however, the situation changed. Not only was Turkey unshackled of its Cold War-era force posture, but it had also gained the capability to launch a comprehensive ground operation, on short notice, with the involvement of tens of thousands of fully equipped mechanized troops. It also had acquired new platforms like F-16 combat aircraft, Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk and AH-1W Super Cobra helicopters, and Boeing K-135R refueling aircraft.59 In late 1998, these new conditions forced Hafez al-Assad’s regime to give Ocalan up at last.60 On September 16 of that year, Turkish Army chief of staff Atilla Ates organized a press conference on the Syrian border, telling journalists that “[our] patience with Damascus is wearing thin.”61 On October 1, in his address to the parliament, President Suleyman Demirel gave an ultimatum to Damascus, saying “time is running out.”62 The last message came from Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz on October 7. “This is our last warning,” Yilmaz said at a speech to the parliament. “Either Damascus ceases its support for terrorists or we will.”63 The message was clear, the stakes were higher than ever, and Damascus no longer had Moscow to lean on. The following day, on October 8, Ocalan was out of Syria.64 Ping-ponging around the globe for about four months, Ocalan was captured in Nairobi in February 1999 and brought back to Turkey.65 Initially sentenced to death by hanging, Ocalan’s sentence was later commuted to life at the island prison of Imrali.66

The Gulf War not only allowed Turkey to turn its attention to its Middle Eastern neighbors but also gave Turkey and Israel the opportunity to build on their relationship. In 1949, Turkey became the first Muslim country to recognize Israel.67 Its history with the Jewish people, however, goes back half a millennium. When the 1492 Alhambra Decree expelled all Jews from Spain, the Ottoman Empire welcomed them. The Sephardim enjoyed power and influence over the Ottoman court, commerce, and diplomacy, and they maintained this privileged position during the republic as well.68 Jewish members of Ataturk’s inner circle included his personal dentist Sami Gunzberg,69 chief rabbi Chaim Nahum Effendi,70 and pan-Turkist ideologue Moiz Cohen (who later Turkified his name as Munis Tekinalp).71 In the 1930s—a time of rising anti-Semitism across Europe—Ataturk’s Turkey welcomed some two hundred German-Jewish emigre scientists and intellectuals.72

Turkish-Israeli relations, however, have been volatile, ebbing and flowing according to geopolitical imperatives, domestic politics, and ideological impulses.73 Until the 1960s, the desires of David Ben-Gurion (Israel’s first prime minister, from 1955 to 1963) for stronger bilateral relations were stymied by Turkey’s conservative turn under the administration of Adnan Menderes (Turkish prime minister from 1950 to 1960).74 The 1956 Suez Crisis also took its toll: the Turkish Legation in Israel was downgraded to the level of chargé d’affaires in 1956 and was not restored until a decade later.75 The Arab-Israeli wars in 1967 and 1973, the OPEC oil crisis, and Turkey’s 1974 invasion of Cyprus all blocked the path for a meaningful improvement in bilateral relations.76 Turkey restored its diplomatic representation in Israel to ambassadorial level in January 1980—for the first time since 1956—but this state of affairs lasted only six months. That July, the Knesset passed the controversial Jerusalem Law, which declared Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel. Turkey once again withdrew its ambassador from Israel.77

Turkish-Israeli relations entered a growth path in the 1990s.78 Reduced trade with Arab countries, lack of Arab support on key issues, and bilateral disputes with Iraq and Syria were all key factors in this new entente.79 The 1991 Madrid Peace Conference and the 1993 Oslo Accords improved the Turkish public’s opinion of Israel.80 Diplomatic relations were restored at the ambassadorial level in late 1991, and a series of high-profile visits from civilian and military leadership followed.81 A pivotal moment came in 1996 when the two countries signed a military cooperation agreement82 including joint trainings with the Israeli air force and navy; permission for Israeli surveillance flights along Turkey’s Iraqi, Syrian, and Iranian borders; cooperation in counterterrorism; and a $590 million contract for Israel to upgrade fifty-four Turkish F-4 fighter jets.83 Cooperation with Israel in the second half of the 1990s gave Turkey access to specialized equipment like thermal sensors and night-vision cameras, crucial for its operations against the PKK, and allowed the country to break free of the informal arms embargo it faced in the West over human rights concerns in its campaign against Kurdish militants.84 Several “foreign military sales” contracts with the U.S. Congress fell apart for similar reasons,85 and pressure from Greek American and Armenian American lobbying groups also influenced these decisions.86 In such an environment, Israel was the perfect partner for Turkey.

Israel found a similar security logic in this partnership,87 one connected with the defensive nature of its presumed nuclear capabilities and its missile defense shield. Even if the Israeli shield could be overpowered by a large-scale ballistic missile attack, access to Turkish airspace—which bordered three of Israel’s four major adversaries (Iraq, Iran, and Syria)— could give Israel the forward-defense capability needed to conduct preemptive or preventive strikes.88 Reflecting the emphasis that it placed on the interoperability with its Turkish counterparts, Israel was a regular participant in advanced aerial combat (Anatolian Eagle) and naval search-and-rescue (Reliant Mermaid) joint training exercises with Turkey from their inception in the late 1990s to the crisis that ensued after the 2008–9 Gaza War.89 Moreover, Turkish ports in the eastern Mediterranean gave the Israeli navy the offshore strategic depth it needed to sustain a credible second-strike capability: the 1996 military cooperation agreement provided that the two countries could deploy their land, air, and naval force units in each other’s territory and use each other’s airspace, airbases, and naval ports.90 Turkey was Israel’s “virtual strategic depth.”91

The Neo-Ottomanist Turn: Three Lenses

It was against this backdrop that Turkey’s Islamists—Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP—came to power. In many ways, AKP’s rise to power was a paradigm shift in Turkish politics, and the country’s foreign policy also felt its share of this transformation.92 As explained above, Turkey’s Islamists were longtime critics of Ankara’s policy of indifference toward the Middle East. They were not champions of Turkey’s participation in the Atlantic Alliance either, but they bore it throughout the Cold War as a necessary evil to ward off the communist threat. Only a year into office, however, they found themselves facing a crisis out of left field—the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq—that entirely changed Turkey’s strategic landscape.

One of the George W. Bush administration’s demands of Turkey in the lead-up to the invasion was the stationing of large numbers of U.S. troops in Turkish territory to open a northern theater against Saddam Hussein. It also wanted to use Incirlik Air Force Base in southeast Turkey, as it had done in 1991. The second time, however, was not going to be as easy. The 1991 experience had left a bitter memory among Turks. Ankara had only warily agreed to the no-fly zone in the first place, worried that it would work to the PKK’s benefit.93 The United States’ close collaboration with Kurdish Peshmerga and the PKK’s resurgence in the years that followed the Gulf War left many in Ankara believing that Washington favored an independent Kurdistan next door to Turkey.94 Therefore, when presented with the same choice a decade later, Turkey balked: despite intense lobbying from Erdogan and promises of billions of dollars in aid, the parliament refused to allow U.S. troops into the country.95

Despite the many monographs written to extol its most notable architect—former foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu—and the praise lavished on his vision, Turkey’s “zero-problems” doctrine and its neo-Ottomanist turn was actually a decision made of necessity. In the academic literature, Turkey’s neo-Ottomanist turn is often discussed as an “axis shift” reorienting Turkey toward the Muslim-majority countries, in line with AKP’s ideological commitments.96 Some, like Tarik Oguzlu, opposed the notion, arguing that it was not a dissociation from the West but a pragmatic move to increase Turkey’s chances of EU membership by diversifying its foreign policy options elsewhere.97 Onis and Yilmaz similarly claimed AKP’s shift from deep-Europeanization to soft-Eurasianism showed continuity with Ankara’s traditional emphasis on multilateralism in foreign policy.98 Others have explained Turkey’s foreign policy shift as a reflection of its expanding commercial interests in the Balkans, the Caucasus, and the Middle East.99

There is no denying that Turkey’s neo-Ottomanist turn had a profound influence on its foreign policy and left myriad controversies in its wake. AKP policies “remain essentially nationalist, Turkey-centric, and commercially opportunistic,” Hugh Pope wrote in 2010.100 “It is a misconception to think of them as Islamist, or even ideological.” Indeed, even in earlier times described as a nadir in relations, Turkey and the West kept business as usual in key security and intelligence matters.101 Turkey’s drift from the West and turn toward authoritarianism seem to have been fairly recent phenomena.


This strained state of affairs raises the question of what really caused the neo-Ottomanist turn. Given that the secular/Islamist divide is a central motif in Turkish politics, clashing identities might seem like a plausible explanation.102 The Turkish Republic was not the inevitable outcome of the War of Independence (1919–23). Many early revolutionaries were fervently loyal to the throne, and it was only because of a power grab by the small progressive faction around Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) that the modern Turkish Republic was born.103 Since then, however, Turkish politics has been defined by a divide between the secular and statist “First Group”—Mustafa Kemal’s Republican People’s Party and its successors—and its opponents, known as the “Second Group,” which branches within itself over disagreements around politicization of Islam and liberalization of economy.104

Erdogan entered politics in the “National Outlook” tradition—the Second Group’s Islamist, anti-Western, reactionary faction.105 In this tradition, the Turkish Republic and the Ottoman Empire were polar opposites.106 By this token, neo-Ottomanism was an affirmation of the Ottoman past as a negation of the Republican present. It must be cautioned that AKP was a breakaway from this tradition, and that in his earlier years Erdogan sang an entirely different tune.107 “The world has changed and so have I,” Erdogan said in AKP’s early days, and change he did.108 Even though the National Outlook’s old guard traditionally denounced the EU as a “Christian Club’ governed under the Pope’s directives,” Erdogan and his comrades managed to convince the party to take a pro-EU turn.109 Right after the November 2002 elections, Erdogan declared that his party’s priority was not the “headscarf issue” but Turkey’s accession to the EU.110 What paved the path for political Islam’s success was recasting social conservatism in the parlance of liberal democracy—it opposed secularism not because it is apostasy but because it restricts individual freedoms. Likewise, it challenged military tutelage not as Kemalist idolatry but as an obstacle to democratic development.111

It would be naive to deny that AKP’s neo-Ottomanism was at least partly motivated by its Islamist identity.112 Foreign Minister Davutoglu’s writings, for example, combined a more assertive foreign policy with a critique of the Kemalist regime in particular and the Eurocentric international order in general, highlighting incidents like Srebrenica and arguing that Islam has a separate political paradigm.113 It is also true that the “changing security discourses,”114 the “demythologization of national security,”115 and the desecuritization of relations with neighbors like Iran and Syria116 contributed to AKP’s chances of political survival by breaking military tutelage and diminishing the military’s relevance to civilian politics.

The problem with this argument is that Erdogan’s AKP is neither the first nor the only party to espouse this identity. If AKP’s neo-Ottomanism is defined narrowly as a cultural affinity with the former Ottoman hinterland, a disdain for the West deriving from the perceived cultural differences, and a pragmatic acknowledgment that Turkey’s interests are not best served with a pro-Western orientation, there is nothing new about it.117 If AKP’s neo-Ottomanism is defined as a negation of Turkey’s Republican project, then it is equally difficult to explain how this agenda managed to garner such wide-ranging support beyond AKP’s conservative core or why AKP undertook such ambitious reforms in pursuit of EU membership in the party’s early years.


An alternative explanation of Turkey’s neo-Ottomanist turn is the country’s expanding commercial interests. The year before AKP came to power, Turkey witnessed one of the worst economic crises in its history, after a series of bank failures and a period of political instability following the collapse of the country’s fragile coalition government.118 In a single year, the economy shrank by 9.4 percent119 and the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita declined by more than 6 percent.120 In AKP’s first decade in power, however, the trend was reversed. The markets viewed AKP’s strong single-party rule as a welcome departure from decades of fragile coalition governments.121 The 2001 crisis had forced Turkey to accept fairly radical structural reforms imposed by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, which brought the country’s persistently high inflation under control.122 Turkey’s EU bid also buoyed optimism about the continuity of economic and political reforms.123

The results were impressive. Turkey beat global markets with an average annual growth of 5.2 percent from 2002 to 2012, becoming the seventeenth largest economy in the world, with a GDP of $789 billion.124 Inflation came down to single digits for the first time in thirty years.125 The economic success—which came to be known as the “Turkish miracle”—was also central to AKP’s political success: in a 2012 survey by Gurkaynak and Sayek-Boke, approximately 85 percent of the respondents who had voted for AKP said that they did so “because of the economy.”126

A key dimension of this economic success was the growth in trade. Turkey’s total foreign trade volume increased from $72 billion in 2001 to $400 billion in 2014.127 Even though Western allies like Germany and the United States remained Turkey’s largest trading partners, Turkey was also expanding its economic footprint in its periphery. From 1996 to 2010, Turkey’s trade with the Middle East grew more than eightfold. By 2011, trade volume had reached $11 billion with Iraq, $16 billion with Iran, and $30 billion with Russia.128

Some outcomes of Turkey’s foreign policy shift can be explained by this logic. For example, it has been argued that the global financial crisis in the West and Turkey’s new trade relations in the East helped make its relations with the West more dispensable.129 The same dynamic was believed to bear on Turkish-Israeli relations: Turkey’s trade with Israel “is lower than Libya, Algeria and the UAE,” observed Gökhan Bacik, arguing that “such a weak economic tie falls well short of one that can sustain an enduring political rationale.”130 Similarly, the nuclear fuel swap deal Turkey tried to broker with Iran in 2011 was discussed as an unsuccessful effort to preserve Turkey’s trade ties with the country.131

Yet as trade grew, so did the influence of business interest groups in foreign policy decisions.132 The big-business lobby (TUSIAD) played a key role in mobilizing support for the 2004 Annan Plan for Cyprus and was perhaps the most vocal champion of Turkey’s bid for EU accession.133 Moreover, TUSIAD’s early support for the newly founded AKP was instrumental in breaking the stigma of political Islam and paving the path for the party’s electoral success.134 The Islamist business lobby (MUSIAD) operates like a separate foreign service throughout the Muslim world, with a strong presence in virtually every Muslim-majority country.135 The national chamber of commerce (TOBB) was active in the eastern Mediterranean, leading an “Industry for Peace” initiative between Israelis and Palestinians in parallel with Turkey’s mediation efforts in Palestine, and spearheading the formation of the “Levant Business Forum,” an annual high-level gathering of business and political representatives from Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey.136 The Gulenists’ business association (TUSKON) was particularly influential in Turkey’s opening to Africa.137

Even though Turkey’s security doctrine considered a de facto Kurdish state in Iraq a casus belli, local business groups in the Kurdish-populated southeast, like the Diyarbakır Chamber of Commerce, were a formidable lobby for increased economic integration with the Kurdistan Regional Government.138 The construction industry had a strong voice on matters involving the Caucasus and Central Asia, where Turkish companies had a sizable presence.139 The American-Turkish Council, a U.S.-based lobby, was traditionally close to the American defense industry and an anchor to U.S.-Turkish defense cooperation until the deterioration in U.S.-Turkish relations also took a toll on ATC’s relations with Ankara in 2014.140 Lobbying from business groups like the Turkish-Armenian Business Development Council played a key role in the efforts for rapprochement with Armenia.141 Traders seemed to have had become the sherpas guiding Turkish foreign policy.

Trade-based theories, however, are at a loss to explain some of Turkey’s moves in recent years. One such example is the change in Turkey’s Syria policy. Turkey’s expanding partnership with Syria in the second half of the first decade of the century had spurred cross-border trade and tourism, and trade volume between the two countries more than tripled from $729 million in 2006 to an all-time high of $2.3 billion in 2010.142 Following a mutual visa exemption in 2009, visits to and from Syria more than doubled: Turkey received approximately a million tourists from Syria and sent more than 1.5 million tourists.143

These numbers may seem insignificant at first. In 2010, Turkey received more than 27 million tourists in total.144 The same year, its trade with neighboring Iraq was almost $7.5 billion—three times larger than its trade with Syria.145 What this picture fails to appreciate, however, is the localized nature of trade and tourism with Syria. Mehmet Aslan, chairperson of the chamber of commerce in the southeastern city of Gaziantep, told journalists that with visitors decreasing “from sixty thousand per month to roughly one thousand, [Gaziantep] alone conceded about a billion dollars in tourist revenues. . . . Since Syria was our transit country to the Arab world, the transportation sector too has been [worst] hit and so has our trade with regional countries, with the hike in transportation costs hurting competitiveness and political instability stalling new investments.”146 Hikmet Cincin, chairperson of the chamber of commerce in the border town of Hatay, said that Hatay’s cross-border trade, around a quarter-billion dollars in 2011, almost disappeared as truck traffic dwindled by 40 percent, and that the decline in tourism “has cost most shop owners in downtown Antakya a minimum of 20 percent.”147 In other words, local economies bore a disproportionate amount of the cost of Turkey’s worsening relations with Syria.148 It is also worth noting that many of these provinces also voted overwhelmingly for Erdogan.149

A similar case could be made about the government’s recent showdown with the Gulen movement, a transnational religious network organized around Fethullah Gulen, an elusive cleric in self-exile in the United States since 1999. Gulen, a central figure in both Turkish politics and the country’s neo-­Ottomanist turn,150 was accused of orchestrating the 2015 coup attempt.151 Thanks to his movement’s schools, media, and businesses, he had gained such profound influence around the world that he even made it into Foreign Policy/Prospect’s “One Hundred Global Intellectuals” list in 2008.152 At the peak of their power at the end of the century’s first decade, the Gulenists were estimated to have up to ten million followers worldwide, more than two thousand educational institutions in 160 countries, and a business network believed to be worth $20–$50 billion.153 The Gulenist business association TUSKON boasted more than fifty-five thousand members and was a crucial power base for Erdogan before it was shut down as part of the crackdown after the coup attempt.154 The Gulenists were also influential in the bureaucracy, particularly over the police and the judiciary.155 Indeed, their power had such deep roots that when Erdogan turned against his erstwhile allies, he accused them of having built a “state-within-the-state.”156 The trade argument is at a loss to explain why Turkey sought policies that would have had a chilling effect on foreign direct investments because of increased political risks (geopolitical contagion from Syrian conflict) and investment risks (asset seizures targeting Gulenists).157


The prime factor behind Turkey’s neo-Ottomanist turn was post–Cold War era geopolitics that forced it to reevaluate its security options in a rapidly changing strategic environment. Lacking a common enemy in the absence of the Soviet Union, Turkey and the United States no longer shared an existential threat perception. In the United States, the threat perception had shifted to the Middle East’s “rogue states,” including Iran, Iraq, and Syria. Turkey, meanwhile, depended on these countries to effectively ward off Kurdish separatism, had growing trade relations with them, and was wary of any actions that would destabilize them.

As discussed above, Ocalan’s capture and the subsequent decline of the PKK in the early years of the new century had transformed Turkey’s strategic environment in the Middle East. Even though there remained issues in bilateral relations, the times offered an opportunity for a new foreign policy that would allow AKP to successfully pursue a quartet of policy objectives: (1) deny the PKK haven outside of Turkish borders, (2) moderate Kurdish politics by bringing Kurds into the political space, (3) break the secular military-bureaucracy’s chokehold on politics through desecuritization, and (4) expand trade ties and cultural influence in the Middle East. In this regard, AKP’s “zero-problems” policy was not solely aimed at good neighborly relations: it was a move to open the space for AKP’s survival in Turkey’s secular political space, which traditionally has been hostile to its fortunes.

It must be acknowledged that the “zero-problems” approach worked well enough up until the challenge posed first by the 2011 Arab uprisings and then by the Syrian civil war. The Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq had become a crucial partner for Turkey.158 The Erdogans and the Assads were close enough to pose for cameras during their 2008 family vacation in the Turkish Riviera (though three years later, Erdogan was to deny that he was ever on such cordial terms with the Syrian leader, a man he used to call “my brother”).159 In the Arab world, Turkey’s pivot to the Middle East sparked growing interest among intellectuals while its cultural influence rapidly grew among the masses.160 The PKK was in decline and forced out of its sanctuaries alongside Turkey’s southeastern border.161 The attempt to moderate Kurdish politics by luring them into the political space—the so-called peace process—seemed to be working.162

In reality, however, the post–Iraq War environment was already taking a toll on Turkey’s relations with the West. These frictions first came to the fore in Turkish-Israeli relations.163 The wave of anti-Americanism that rose with the 2003 invasion of Iraq and Israel’s 2008 war in Gaza made it increasingly difficult for an Islamist party like AKP to defend ties with Israel to its voters at home. Another factor that eroded relations was the decline of military tutelage. The crux of Turkish-Israeli relations was shared strategic interests.164 When AKP moved to purge Turkey’s secular generals, it eliminated both the most powerful constituency for Turkish-Israeli security cooperation and the last bulwark against its pivot to religious populism.165 Secular public opinion turned against the West as well when the United States, Europe, and Israel showed early support for the Islamists over the seculars. The rising wave of reactionary nationalism and a paranoia about disintegration came to be known as the “Sevres Syndrome,” after the post–World War I treaty that partitioned Turkey.166

Factors like the personalities and opposing ideological agendas of leaders like Erdogan and Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, the rise of ethno-religious nationalism in both Israel and Turkey, and the polarization of the Israeli and Turkish publics also helped to degrade Turkish-Israeli relations. Crises like Erdogan’s “one-minute” polemic with Israeli premier Shimon Peres at the 2009 World Economic Forum, Ankara’s increased engagement with high-level Hamas leaders, and the raid of the Gaza flotilla (“Mavi Marmara”) the same year further contributed to a climate of distrust.167

More than anything, however, Israel and Turkey disagreed over their strategic landscape: where Turkey saw opportunities, Israel saw threats.168 “Zero problems with Turkey’s neighbors is tantamount to serious problems with Israel,” wrote Oded Eran, senior fellow at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies and former ambassador to the EU. “It entailed tolerance of Iran’s nuclear effort, cooperation with the pre-Arab spring Assad regime, and support for Hamas.”169

For Turkey, the post–Cold War world was full of both promise and peril. Turkey had the opportunity to establish itself as a regional power by expanding its political, economic, and cultural influence in its periphery, but Ankara had to do so in a turbulent strategic environment that lacked the bipolar Cold War order. Complex conflict dynamics around ethnic, religious, and sectarian affiliations had replaced the Cold War’s relatively stable fault lines. After decades of calculated ambivalence, Turkey was not merely entering the Middle East’s political games: it was going all in with strong hopes but a weak hand.

First, 9/11 and the 2003 invasion of Iraq threw Turkey off balance. When Ankara refused to allow U.S. troops into Turkey, Washington’s military planners ended up having to rely on Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani’s Kurdish Peshmerga.170 The Peshmerga proved to be a strong fighting force in both the 2003 invasion and the later fight against the Islamic State.171 Their acquiescence was vital to keeping Iraq unitary, which maintained stability and warded off an all-out scramble for control over the country. Since 9/11, the United States has developed strong business interests in northern Iraq: the Kurds controlled large hydrocarbon reserves and American companies had a head start in accessing these fields, thanks to the political relationship between Washington and Erbil.172 Water was a similarly strategic resource, and the Kurds are a key actor in the Tigris-Euphrates basin. Unlike Arabs and Iranians, the Kurds are mostly secular—which makes them a more convenient partner—and they do not have dual loyalties to any other state in the region.173 Northern Iraq also has real estate value, particularly for Israel, as a forward base against both Iran and its Shia proxies in Iraq and Syria.174 In other words, with Turkish-Israeli relations as fickle as ever, a Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq can offer Israel a more dependable space for virtual strategic depth.

For Turkey, the United States’ and Israel’s coziness with the Kurds was a betrayal of the first order. Both were seen as supporting Kurdish statehood in northern Iraq, which was achieved in all but name—complete with a flag, capital, cabinet, parliament, bureaucracy, and currency—after the 1991 Gulf War.175 Along these lines, Israel’s recent support for the Kurdish Regional Government’s ill-fated referendum for independence has been particularly irksome to the Turks.176

Failures in Syria Undermine Turkey’s New Posture

In 2011, the Arab uprisings—particularly the civil war in Syria—entirely upended Turkey’s plans.177 For Turkey, the ideal solution was the swiftest: the worst outcome would be a pitched battle that would afford the PKK a haven in northern Syria in the same manner as the 1991 Gulf War had given it one in northern Iraq. Yet Ankara both misperceived Washington as willing to throw its full weight behind Assad’s swift ouster and miscalculated that Syria’s sectarian demographics would allow the Sunni majority to muster enough support for a smooth transition away from the minority Alawite-dominated Assad regime—a “naive and errant” reading of the regional dynamics.178 In the minds of many in Ankara, the prospect of having an ideological fellow-traveler in Syria—indebted to, influenced by, and modeled after Erdogan—and the Turkish Islamists’ own ideological fancies may well have added allure to the idea of Assad’s ouster.179 Yet similar aspirations had destroyed Turkey’s relations with Egypt over its support for the latter’s democratically elected and militarily ousted president, the Islamist Mohamed Morsi, and by extension, Turkey’s ties with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who had supported General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi out of fear that the Muslim Brotherhood’s success in Egypt would embolden their own Islamists and imperil their regimes.180

Events in Syria, however, were worse than Turkey’s worst expectations. The Syrian civil war has raged on for six years at the time of this writing. Not only did Turkey’s support for the Free Syrian Army and its efforts to remove the Assad regime from power backfire, but they twice brought Turkey to the brink of war: after a Syrian surface-to-air missile downed a Turkish F-4 reconnaissance aircraft in 2012, and when a Turkish F-16 downed a Russian Su-24 fighter jet in 2015.181 The country’s Syria policy reverberated in other areas as well. Turkey received more than 3.5 million refugees from Syria and Iraq at a cost of more than $25 billion, which became a focal point of controversy.182

Turkish soldiers from the 1st Border Regiment Command run through alert drills at a military outpost on the Turkey/Syria border on March 2, 2017 in Kilis, Turkey. The military exercises were held to display the new border wall and new security measures such as thermal scanning and patrols by the new Tactical Armoured Reconnaissance vehicles (Kobra-2) that are being used to tighten Turkey’s border. The government announced this week that more than half of the 511-kilometer wall has been completed. Source: Chris McGrath/Getty Images.

Further, the power vacuum gave the PKK a new base of power in both Syria and Iraq. The PKK’s fight against the Islamic State won it sympathy abroad and increased the pressure that Erdogan faced at home, particularly from Turkey’s Kurds, to cast his lot with Turkey’s longtime nemesis against the scourge of radical jihadists.183 When Erdogan balked, the Kurds turned against him and almost managed to dethrone him in the June 2015 general elections.184 Seeing that the Kurds’ ascendant power posed a threat to his ambitions, Erdogan walked away from the much-touted peace talks with the PKK, and the PKK responded with a renewed offensive, this time not only in Kurdish-majority Southeast but also in metropolises like Istanbul and Ankara.185 The Islamic State also seized on the moment with a wave of deadly attacks targeting a popular nightclub and the international airport in Istanbul, a peace rally in Ankara, and a gathering of Kurdish activists in Sanliurfa.186

To contain the dual threat from the PKK and the Islamic State, Turkey sank even deeper into the Syrian quagmire. Turkey’s 2016 incursion into northern Syria—Operation Euphrates Shield—had dual objectives. First, it aimed to prevent the formation of a contiguous Kurdish enclave alongside the Turkish-Syrian border. The area in question encompassed the Kurdish-held Afrin district in the east and the western districts of Kobani, Tal Abyad, Qamishli, and al-Hasakeh controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces, which Ankara considers the PKK’s Syrian affiliate. Second, it intended to weaken the Islamic State by pushing it farther away from the Turkish border and cutting its supply routes from Turkey.187 It is worth noting that it was widely debated at the time whether Ankara had a belated awakening or whether it was simply using the fight against the Islamic State as an alibi for its ambitions against the Kurds.188 Turkey had been criticized, perhaps unfairly, for its inaction against the flow of foreign jihadists into Syria and the Islamic State networks operating within its borders.

With the Assad regime’s survival looking increasingly certain, Ankara made a U-turn and started courting Tehran, Baghdad, and Moscow to cordon off the Kurdish threat.189 A perfect example of this volte-face is the dramatic change in Ankara’s attitude toward Massoud Barzani’s Kurdish Regional Government. Ankara and the Kurdish Regional Government used to be such close allies that Iraq once had to lodge a request for arbitration with the International Chamber of Commerce against Turkey and its state-owned pipeline company, BOTAS, for its energy business with Erbil.190 Now, with the Kurds vying for independence from Iraq, Turkey has changed from being Barzani’s worst-enemy-turned-best-friend back to being his worst enemy.

In retrospect, the opening round of Ankara’s gambit seems to have failed spectacularly.191 To quote a Turkish proverb, Ankara went to Damietta for rice and lost the bulgur at home—the further its ambitions went, the worse it failed. Turkey’s foreign policy has since devolved into a “precious loneliness.”192 With the sole exception of Qatar, which itself is under political embargo from other GCC countries, Turkey has few states to count as its allies.193 Once lauded as the living proof that Islam and democracy could coexist, Turkey is now steadily descending into a religious authoritarianism.194 The military is back with a vengeance, this time not under militantly secular generals but under a group whose Eurasianist, ethno-nationalist worldview aligns with Erdogan’s anti-Western rhetoric.195 The once-booming economy is going through tough times.196 The hopes for bringing an end to the decades-long fight with the PKK are shattered. The country once celebrated for mending fences with its neighbors, playing peacemaker in the Middle East, and carrying the mantle of civilizational dialogue on the world stage is now little more than a memory.

This is not to say that the fault was in Ankara’s stars. All other things being equal, Ankara’s Islamists probably would have sought to break with the West to some extent. Without Turkey’s changing security interests and a rapidly evolving strategic landscape, however, Turkey’s foreign policy could not have shifted as dramatically as it did.

Policy Recommendations

Given the shifting sands of the Middle East’s strategic landscape, the prospects seem bleak for any meaningful cooperation in the near future. That said, recognizing that Turkey’s neo-Ottomanist turn was in large part a poor attempt to adapt to its evolving security interests in a changing threat environment reveals that a path for collaboration, albeit narrow, still exists.197 Turkey’s gross mistake was to abandon its pro-status-quo policy in favor of a revisionist posture that was naïve at best and reckless at worst.198 As both Imran Demir and Burak Kadercan have observed, what led Turkey astray was a sunk-cost fallacy: Turkey’s Islamists got drunk on their own success and gambled away their foreign policy fortune.199 The silver lining to Turkey’s woes is that Ankara might be finally humbled: if its U-turn in Syria and recent rapprochements with Iran and Russia are any indication, Ankara is open to writing off its sunk costs.

If security is the overarching rationale in Ankara’s foreign policy, whatever cooperation emerges in the near future will be around issues that Ankara considers indispensable for its national security. First, stemming the rise of the Kurds, and by extension thwarting an independent Kurdistan anywhere along its Syrian border, whether in Syria or Iraq, is a crucial objective for Turkish foreign policy. It is perhaps the sole objective on which every regional actor—except Israel—can agree.200 Turkey is vehemently opposed to any change in territorial borders in the Middle East. This is not only because Turkey fears that the outcome of such a development would be Kurdish statehood—which it considers a fundamental threat to its national security—but also because Turkey has deep-rooted territorial disputes with Syria over the status of Hatay province, and with Iraq over Mosul and Kirkuk. From Ankara’s perspective, both questions are resolved under law: Hatay belongs in Turkey per the 1939 Alexandretta plebiscite whereby the province decided to join Turkey, and Mosul and Kirkuk belong in Iraq per the 1926 Treaty of Ankara, which ceded them to Iraq. This position, however, does not mean that the issues have been entirely resolved on either side of the border: Syria still does not formally recognize Turkey’s border as including the Hatay province, and a sizable faction of Turkish nationalists continue to think of Mosul and Kirkuk as Turkish territories. Turkey argues that the 1926 Treaty of Ankara is conditional upon the continued territorial integrity of Iraq. Should Iraq dissolve, or the Kurds secede, Ankara would face strong popular pressure to exercise its perceived rights to guarantorship over Mosul and Kirkuk.201 Such a scenario would not only leave Turkey facing intense opposition from both the West and the region, but could provoke a three-way scramble for Iraq between Shia, Sunni Arabs, and Kurds.

A second area of cooperation would be ensuring an orderly transition in Syria. As observed earlier, even Ankara is resigned to the fact that the Assad regime will remain in power for the foreseeable future. Even if an eventual transfer of power puts Assad out of office, such a change probably will be brokered behind the scenes, not forced on the battlefield. If Iran, Iraq, and Turkey can unite around their shared opposition to Kurdish independence, this convergence could unlock new possibilities in Syria. In this context, the Assad regime’s recent signals that it will not tolerate a continued Kurdish presence in northern Syria are also noteworthy.202 In the long run, however, the crucial variable will be how Israel—and by extension, the United States—would receive such maneuvers. The answer to that question depends on various external factors as well, from the fate of the Iran nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action of 2015)203 to the growing competition between Iran and Saudi Arabia.204

In this regard, it is misleading to read too much into Turkey’s realignment with Russia and its regional proxies, Iran and Syria. Contrary to popular opinion, Turkey’s pivot to the Russian sphere stems more from necessity than choice.205 With its relations with both the United States and Europe at an all-time low, Turkey has nowhere else to turn but Russia.206 In reality, Turkey’s policy objectives in Syria and Iraq remain fundamentally dissonant with Russia’s grand strategy: Ankara is keenly aware that “Russia is not opposed to Kurdish political aspirations” but “remains largely silent about Russian policies it dislikes” since “the rapid deterioration of its ties with the West has exponentially increased its dependence on Russia.”207

Indeed, the consternation over Turkey’s thawing relations with Russia seems to have been much ado about nothing. The S-400 missile deal, which greatly irked its Western allies, has since fizzled.208 After months of diplomacy, Turkey was not even able to get Russia to fully lift the ban it had placed on Turkish tomato imports.209 Even if the West’s longstanding fears of an “Axis of the Excluded” are to ever come true, such an alliance is not likely to form anytime soon—not because Turkey is solidly anchored in the West but because its strategic dissonance with Russia is no less profound.210

Despite all the criticism it has faced in recent years over what the West has viewed as a lackluster response to the Islamic State threat, Turkey remains deeply committed to combating terrorism, both from the PKK and the Islamic State. Both groups pose a major threat to the country.211 Turkey’s success on both counts, however, will depend on deescalation in Syria. Ankara’s concerns over the PKK; the growing strength of its Syrian affiliate, the Popular Protection Units (YPG); and the implications of an autonomous Kurdistan in northern Iraq are all well grounded. In this context, the United States’ ongoing expectation that Turkey should cast its lot with the YPG is tone-deaf and woefully naive.212 Even Erdogan, who enjoys cultish popularity with his own base, almost met his downfall in June 2015 because of his audacious attempt at peace with the Kurds: in AKP’s strongholds in Central Anatolia and the Black Sea coast, the pro-nationalist MHP increased its votes by more than two million, presumably by appealing to ethno-religious nationalist voters disaffected by what they saw as AKP’s fraternizing with the archenemy, PKK.213

Moreover, Turkey currently seems to be viewing the PKK as a more immediate threat than the Islamic State, for at least two reasons. First, the Islamic State is the object of an international response, whereas Turkey is fighting the PKK all by itself. Second, unlike the rest of the region, Turkey’s religious establishment remains ideationally opposed to radical jihadism. Turkey’s dominant religious networks are Sufi orders (tariqahs) like Naqshbandiyya, Qadiriyya, and Khalwatiyya.214 Tariqahs are organized under sheikhs who claim descent from Sufi saints like Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani and Baha-ud-din Naqshband Bukhari.215 Sufi saints are associated with different miracles, and their tombs-turned-shrines are considered places of worship—it is not uncommon for the faithful to pray for the intercession of these saints.216 The Wahhabi interpretation of Islam, to which the Islamic State adheres, considers the building of tombs and shrines a form of idolatry. Thus, the Islamic State executed dozens of Sufi sheikhs and demolished many iconic sites like the tomb of Jonah in Mosul and a shrine devoted to the revered seventh-century Muslim Uwais al-Qarani in Raqqa. These acts have drawn the opprobrium of Turkey’s prominent tariqah sheikhs.217 A case in point is Naqshbandi sheikh and popular televangelist Ahmet Mahmut Unlu. In July 2015, Unlu assailed the Islamic State from his column at Islamist daily Vahdet, calling the militants “dogs of Hell” and issued an edict for their execution. “If you run across them, slaughter them,” wrote Unlu. “Those who kill them and those who are killed by them will be eternally blessed as martyrs.”218 As such, Turkish officials argue, the relative number of Turks joining the Islamic State has remained much less in comparison to countries like Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Tunisia. Indeed, this is an area where Turkey’s contribution could be extremely valuable—anti-Islamic State clerics and their transnational networks could be a potent tool to mobilize in countering violent extremism.

A third strategy of cooperation should be to make progress where progress can be made. One area where cooperation is at a premium is the refugee crisis. Turkey has become an unsung hero of the refugee crisis, receiving more than 3.5 million refugees—4.4 percent of the population of the country—in the space of a few years, on whom it has spent more than $25 billion. No country can tackle such a crisis on its own, and the international community’s response has been less than praiseworthy. Without a robust and comprehensive strategy for repatriation, resettlement, integration, and rehabilitation, refugee-hosting countries will be left to bear the political, economic, and social costs of their service to their international community, which would be neither fair nor feasible.219 Failing in this task will also add to the risks of radicalization and extremism. Even if the Syrian civil war eventually winds down, it will be decades until the region fully returns to normal. Moreover, Turkey is not the only country affected by this crisis: Jordan and Lebanon are also among the world’s top refugee-hosting countries.220 In Jordan and Lebanon, refugees make up more than a quarter of the population. A tripartite regional dialogue bringing these countries together on the shared issue of refugees can also pave the path to diplomatic engagement in other, more difficult areas.

Of course, all of these are temporary solutions. The key to unlocking the stalemate is a rapprochement in Turkish-Israeli relations—and, by extension, in Turkish-American relations. So long as the three countries continue to have divergent visions on the Middle East’s strategic landscape, the situation will generate more problems than solutions. With Washington growing increasingly aggressive on Iran and supportive of Iran’s regional rivals—namely, Saudi Arabia and its allies—Turkey once again faces the risk of falling on the wrong side of history, as it so often did over the past decade. The good news is that there are many crucial areas, particularly in the security sector, where history offers a repertoire of cooperative steps that could be reproduced for slow but steady gains. Both Israel and Turkey need each other and none of their alternatives—be it an Israel-backed Kurdistan in northern Iraq or a Turkish pivot toward the Russia-Iran axis—is as mutually beneficial as mending the fences. The bad news is that the problems have deep roots and require time to resolve. The personal relationship between Netanyahu and Erdogan is damaged beyond repair, and yet neither leader seems likely to be going away anytime soon. With Israel’s growing relations with Greece and Cyprus, the strategic dissonance is starting to expand beyond the Middle East.221 If the plans for a Greece-Cyprus-Israel pipeline materialize without some sort of rapport with the Turks, Ankara is likely to view this as a repeat offense—after Israel’s support for Kurdish statehood—which harms the chances of both a Turkish-Israeli rapprochement and a lasting peace in Cyprus.222 Meanwhile, the United States, whose diplomatic heft would probably be required for Israel and Turkey to mend relations, seems to have neither the interest nor the inclination for such grand schemes under the administration of Donald Trump. Indeed, Erdogan seems to have run out of sympathy in Washington.223 Even among policy experts familiar with Turkey, the rising sentiment is that Turkey is “an ally, not a partner” and that it is “time to re-evaluate [the United States’] relationship to Turkey.”224

What those wishing to cut Turkey loose fail to appreciate is that Turkey’s trials go beyond a single man.225 Turkey always had a deep reservoir of anti-­Americanism, and troubles will persist so long as two crucial issues remain unresolved: Fethullah Gulen’s continued residence in the United States and American support for Kurdish militants.226 In such a context, one might wonder if there is anything left to salvage from the alliance between the United States and Turkey. This argument is simplistic: it “either overestimates the ease of finding substitutes for Turkey or underestimates the risk that will emanate from a breakup.”227 As former NATO Supreme Allied Commander James Stavridis recently wrote, none of what is needed to save the U.S.-Turkish alliance is easy or cost-free, but it would be an enormous geopolitical mistake to allow Turkey to drift away from the United States, Europe, and NATO.228 The overarching security objective for regional stability is the preservation of the status quo. For Turkey to make a positive contribution to that objective, it must first return to its own status quo, which is a functional if imperfect alliance with the United States and Israel.


An effort to engage Turkey in regional security cooperation must start with the premise that there is a hierarchy to Turkey’s issues. Security comes first; trade, influence, and identity matter to a lesser degree. Despite the talk of a profound shift in Turkish foreign policy under Erdogan’s AKP government—the neo-Ottomanist turn—Turkey’s policy positions on these security issues are marked by continuity, not change. Three systemic shifts—the end of the Cold War, the emergence of the post-9/11 order, and the 2011 Arab uprisings—caught Turkey in a perfect storm. Without the Soviet threat, its Cold War anchor, the dissonance between Turkey’s threat perceptions and the grand strategy of its Western allies worsened. The post-9/11 order, and particularly the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, brought the Turkish public’s nascent anti-Americanism to the surface and strained Turkey’s relations with the West. Finally, the Arab uprisings created regional instabilities that not only upended Turkey’s foreign policy strategy but also added to its domestic troubles.

The security-oriented rationale driving Turkish foreign policy might actually be a blessing in disguise. Reigning supreme in Turkey’s foreign policy thinking are dual threats: Kurdish secessionism and radical jihadism. Facing growing threats and seeing its grand ambitions unraveling, Ankara is finally intent on abandoning its revisionist foreign policy for something resembling its traditional pro-status-quo posture. This is particularly the case with regard to changes in territorial reorganization, whether through intrastate partition or interstate war. Despite the tense diplomatic relations in the region, there are narrow issue-areas where shared problems can support a joint push toward solutions. One such area is the refugee crisis: tripartite regional dialogue bringing Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon together on this topic may lead to diplomatic engagement in other, more difficult areas. In the long run, however, Turkey can contribute to regional stability only if its own politics are stable. This depends strongly on the trajectory of Turkey’s relations with Israel and the United States. For all the tough rhetoric coming from their leaders, Turkey and Israel have no better option than to cooperate with one another, particularly in defense and security. Even though their differences are too deep to resolve overnight, the main objective should be laying the groundwork for Turkey’s rapprochement first with Israel and then with the United States.


  1. Philip Robins, Suits and Uniforms: Turkish Foreign Policy since the Cold War (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2003), 138–39.
  2. This posture was known as the Inonu Doctrine. See Malik Mufti, Daring and Caution in Turkish Strategic Culture (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), 32–33.
  3. See Dov Friedman, The Turkish Model: History of a Misleading Idea (Washington, D.C.: Center for American Progress, 2015); and F. Stephen Larrabee and Ian O. Lesser, Turkish Foreign Policy in an Age of Uncertainty (Santa Monica, Calif.: RAND Corporation, 2003), 130–33.
  4. Hasret Dikici Bilgin, “Foreign Policy Orientation of Turkey’s Pro-Islamist Parties: A Comparative Study of the AKP and Refah,” Turkish Studies 9, no. 3 (2008): 407–21; and Galip Dalay and Dov Friedman, “The AK Party and the Evolution of Turkish Political Islam’s Foreign Policy,” Insight Turkey 15, no. 2 (2013): 123–39.
  5. Ayse Kadioglu, “The Role of Islam in the Democratic Transformation of Arab Countries: Can Turkish Laicism Be a Model?” in Democracy on the Precipice: Council of Europe Democracy Debates 2011–12, ed. Piotr Switalski (Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publishing, 2012), 43.
  6. See Philip Robins, “Turkish Foreign Policy since 2002: Between a ‘Post-Islamist’ Government and a Kemalist State,” International Affairs 83, no. 2 (2007): 289–304; Ayşegül Sever, “The Compliant Ally? Turkey and the West in the Middle East, 1954–58,” Middle Eastern Studies 34, no. 2 (1998): 73–90; and Malik Mufti, Daring and Caution in Turkish Strategic Culture (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), 33–36.
  7. Ahmet Sözen, “A Paradigm Shift in Turkish Foreign Policy: Transition and Challenges,” Turkish Studies 11, no. 1 (2010): 103–123.
  8. Marcie J. Patton, “AKP Reform Fatigue in Turkey: What Has Happened to the EU Process?” Mediterranean Politics 12, no. 3 (2007): 339–58.
  9. Özge Yaka, “Why Not EU? Dynamics of the Changing Turkish Attitudes towards EU Membership,” Journal of Contemporary European Studies 24, no. 1 (2016): 149–70; and Gözde Yilmaz, “From Europeanization to De-Europeanization: The Europeanization Process of Turkey in 1999–2014,” Journal of Contemporary European Studies 24, no. 1 (2016): 86–100.
  10. Ioannis N. Grigoriadis, “Friends No More? The Rise of Anti-American Nationalism in Turkey,” The Middle East Journal 64, no. 1 (2010): 51–66.
  11. Tarik Oğuzlu, “Middle Easternization of Turkey’s Foreign Policy: Does Turkey Dissociate from the West?,” Turkish Studies 9, no. 1 (2008): 3–20.
  12. See Bülent Aras, “The Davutoglu Era in Turkish Foreign Policy,” Insight Turkey 11, no. 3 (2009): 127. For a critical reappraisal, see Bülent Aras, “Davutoğlu Era in Turkish Foreign Policy Revisited,” Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies 16, no. 4 (2014): 404–18; and Alexander Murinson, “The Strategic Depth Doctrine of Turkish Foreign Policy,” Middle Eastern Studies 42, no. 6 (2006): 945–64.
  13. Ahmet Davutoğlu, “Turkey’s Zero-Problems Foreign Policy,” Foreign Policy 20 (2010).
  14. On Cem’s foreign policy views, see I·smail Cem, Türkiye, Avrupa, Avrasya: Strateji, Yunanistan, ve Kibris (I·stanbul: I·stanbul Bilgi Üniversitesi, 2005).
  15. Ziya Önis, “Multiple Faces of the ‘New’ Turkish Foreign Policy: Underlying Dynamics and a Critique,” Insight Turkey 13, no. 1 (2011): 49. On Cem’s diplomacy with Greece, see Ziya Öniş and Şuhnaz Yilmaz, “Greek-Turkish Rapprochement: Rhetoric or Reality?” Political Science Quarterly 123, no. 1 (2008): 123–49.
  16. Aybars Görgülü, “Towards a Turkish-Armenian Rapprochement?” Insight Turkey 11, no. 2 (2009): 19–29.
  17. See Ahmet Davutoğlu, “Zero Problems in a New Era,” Foreign Policy 21 (2013); and Hugh Pope, “Pax Ottomana: The Mixed Success of Turkey’s New Foreign Policy,” Foreign Affairs 89, no. 6 (2010): 164.
  18. See Mehmet Özkan and Birol Akgün, “Turkey’s Opening to Africa,” The Journal of Modern African Studies 48, no. 4 (2010): 525–46; Erhan Türbedar, “Turkey’s New Activism in the Western Balkans: Ambitions and Obstacles,” Insight Turkey 13, no. 3 (2011): 139–59; Murat Onsoy, “Latin America-Turkey Relations: Reaching Out to Distant Shores of the Western Hemisphere,” in Turkish Foreign Policy: International Relations, Legality and Global Reach, ed. Pınar Gözen Ercan (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), 237–58; and Bahadır Pehlivantürk, “East Asia in Turkish Foreign Policy: Turkey as a ‘Global Power’?” in Turkish Foreign Policy, 259-278.
  19. See Bülent Aras, “Turkey’s Rise in the Greater Middle East: Peace-Building in the Periphery,” Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies 11, no. 1 (2009): 29–41; Dimitar Bechev, “Turkey in the Balkans: Taking a Broader View,” Insight Turkey 14, no. 1 (2012): 131–46; Meliha Benli Altunisik and Esra Çuhadar, “Turkey’s Search for a Third Party Role in Arab–Israeli Conflicts: A Neutral Facilitator or a Principal Power Mediator?,” Mediterranean Politics 15, no. 3 (2010): 371–92; Aylin G. Gürzel and Eyüp Ersoy, “Turkey and Iran’s Nuclear Program,” Middle East Policy 19, no. 1 (2012): 37–50; and Pınar Akpınar, “Turkey’s Peacebuilding in Somalia: The Limits of Humanitarian Diplomacy,” Turkish Studies 14, no. 4 (2013): 735–57.
  20. Piotr Zalewski, “How Turkey Went from ‘Zero Problems’ to Zero Friends,” Foreign Policy, August 22, 2013,; and Daniel Dombey, “Turkey’s Regional Ambitions Evaporate Along with Friendships,” Financial Times, March 3, 2015,
  21. For a critical appraisal, see Doga Ulas Eralp, ed., Turkey as a Mediator: Stories of Success and Failure (Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 2016).
  22. Michael J. Koplow, “False Friends: Why the United States Is Getting Tough with Turkey,” Foreign Affairs, February 20, 2014,
  23. See Hakkı Taş, “A History of Turkey’s AKP-Gülen Conflict,” Mediterranean Politics (2017): 1-8; and Damien Sharkov, “Erdogan: Gulen, Kurds, and ISIS Are Preparing for Invasion of Turkey,” Newsweek, August 4, 2016,
  24. William Hale, Turkish Foreign Policy since 1776 (London: Frank Cass, 2000). For a detailed discussion, see Selim Deringil, Turkish Foreign Policy during the Second World War: An “Active” Neutrality (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004).
  25. Kıvanç Coş and Pinar Bilgin, “Stalin’s Demands: Constructions of the ‘Soviet Other’ in Turkey’s Foreign Policy, 1919–1945,” Foreign Policy Analysis 6, no. 1 (2010): 43–60.
  26. Paul Kubicek, “Turkey’s Inclusion in the Atlantic Community: Looking Back, Looking Forward,” Turkish Studies 9, no. 1 (2008): 21–35.
  27. See George C. McGhee, “Turkey Joins the West,” Foreign Affairs 32, no. 4 (1954): 617–30; and John M. VanderLippe, “Forgotten Brigade of the Forgotten War: Turkey’s Participation in the Korean War,” Middle Eastern Studies 36, no. 1 (2000): 92–102. For an expanded discussion, see George C. McGhee, The US-Turkish-NATO Middle East Connection: How the Truman Doctrine and Turkey’s NATO Entry Contained the Soviets (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 1990).
  28. John M. VanderLippe, “Forgotten Brigade of The Forgotten War: Turkey’s Participation in the Korean War,” Middle Eastern Studies 36, no. 1 (2000): 97.
  29. Stephen Kinzer, Reset: Iran, Turkey, and America’s Future (New York: Henry Holt, 2010), 100.
  30. Cameron S. Brown, “The One Coalition They Craved to Join: Turkey in the Korean War,” Review of International Studies 34, no. 1 (2008): 89–108.
  31. Sten Rynning, “NATO and the Broader Middle East, 1949–2007: The History and Lessons of Controversial Encounters,” Journal of Strategic Studies 30, no. 6 (2007): 905–27.
  32. Ali L. Karaosmanoğlu, “Turkey’s Security and the Middle East,” Foreign Affairs 62, no. 1 (1983): 157–75.
  33. Ofra Bengio and Gencer Özcan, “Old Grievances, New Fears: Arab Perceptions of Turkey and Its Alignment with Israel,” Middle Eastern Studies 37, no. 2 (2001): 50–92.
  34. Malik Mufti, Daring and Caution in Turkish Strategic Culture (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), 16.
  35. Nihat Ali Özcan and Özgür Özdamar, “Uneasy Neighbors: Turkish-Iranian Relations since the 1979 Islamic Revolution,” Middle East Policy 17, no. 3 (2010): 101–17.
  36. Meliha Benli Altunışık and Özlem Tür, “From Distant Neighbors to Partners? Changing Syrian-Turkish Relations,” Security Dialogue 37, no. 2 (2006): 231.
  37. Nevin Coşar, and Sevtap Demirci, “The Mosul Question and the Turkish Republic: Before and After the Frontier Treaty, 1926,” Middle Eastern Studies 42, no. 1 (2006): 123–32.
  38. Ali Ihsan Bagis, “Turkey’s Hydropolitics of the Euphrates-Tigris Basin,” International Journal of Water Resources Development 13, no. 4 (1997): 567–82.
  39. Bruce R. Kuniholm, “Turkey and the West,” Foreign Affairs 70, no. 2 (1991): 34.
  40. Bruce R. Kuniholm, “Turkey and NATO: Past, Present, And Future,” Orbis 27, no. 2 (1983): 421–45.
  41. Isabella Ginor, “The Russians Were Coming: The Soviet Military Threat in the 1967 Six-Day War,” Middle East Review of International Affairs 4, no. 4 (2000): 50.
  42. Mustafa Kibaroğlu, and Ayșegül Kibaroğlu, Global Security Watch—Turkey: A Reference Handbook (Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 2009).
  43. M. Hakan Yavuz and Mujeeb R. Khan, “Turkish Foreign Policy Toward the Arab-Israeli Conflict: Duality and the Development (1950–1991),” Arab Studies Quarterly (October 1992): 76.
  44. Robert W. Olson, ‘‘Al-Fatah in Turkey: Its Influence on the March 12 Coup,’’ Middle Eastern Studies 9, no. 2 (1973), 197–206. For a personal account, see Cengiz Candar, ‘‘A Turk in Palestinian Resistance,’’ Journal of Palestine Studies 30, no. 1 (2000), 68–82.
  45. Mahmut Bali Aykan. “The Palestinian Question in Turkish Foreign Policy from the 1950s to the 1990s,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 25, no. 1 (1993): 91–110.
  46. Sabri Sayari, “Turkey: The Changing European Security Environment and the Gulf Crisis,” Middle East Journal 46, no. 1 (1992): 10.
  47. See Henri J. Barkey, “Hemmed in by Circumstances: Turkey and Iraq Since the Gulf War,” Middle East Policy 7, no. 4 (2000): 110; and Suha Bolukbasi, “Turkey Copes with Revolutionary Iran,” Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies 13, no. 1 (1989): 102–6.
  48. William Hale, “Turkey, the Middle East and the Gulf Crisis,” International Affairs 68, no. 4 (1992): 684.
  49. Clyde Haberman, “Standoff in the Gulf: Turkish Leader Sees Chance to Avert War against Iraq,” New York Times, December 6, 1990,
  50. Berdal Aral, “Dispensing with Tradition? Turkish Politics and International Society during the Özal Decade, 1983–93,” Middle Eastern Studies 37, no. 1 (2001): 79.
  51. Hale, “Turkey, the Middle East and the Gulf Crisis,” 686.
  52. Henri J. Barkey, “Iran and Turkey: Confrontation Across an Ideological Divide,” in Regional Power Rivalries in the New Eurasia: Russia, Turkey and Iran, ed. Alvin Z. Rubinstein and Oles M. Smolansky (London: Routledge, 1995), 147–68; and Patricia M. Carley, “Turkey and Central Asia: Reality Comes Calling,” in Rubinstein and Smolansky, Regional Power Rivalries in the New Eurasia, 169–200.
  53. Mustafa Kibaroglu and Baris Caglar, “Implications of a Nuclear Iran for Turkey,” Middle East Policy 15, no. 4 (2008): 60.
  54. Ian O. Lesser, “Turkey, Iran and Nuclear Risks,” Turkish Policy Quarterly 3, no. 2 (2004): 89–112.
  55. Paul K. Kerr, Mary Beth D. Nikitin, and Steven A. Hildreth, Iran-North Korea-Syria Ballistic Missile and Nuclear Cooperation, CRS Report No. R43480 (Washington, D.C.: Congressional Research Service, 2014); M. Zuhair Diab, “Syria’s Chemical and Biological Weapons: Assessing Capabilities and Motivations,” The Nonproliferation Review 5, no. 1 (1997): 104–11; Murhaf Jouejati, “Syrian Motives for Its WMD Programs and What to Do about Them,” The Middle East Journal 59, no. 1 (2005): 52–61; and David Makovsky, “The Silent Strike: How Israel Bombed a Syrian Nuclear Installation and Kept It Secret,” The New Yorker, September 17, 2012,
  56. Suha Bolukbasi. “Ankara, Damascus, Baghdad, and the Regionalization of Turkey’s Kurdish Secessionism,” Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies 14, no. 4 (1991), 15–36.
  57. Michael M. Gunter, “The Kurdish Insurgency in Turkey,” Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies 13, no. 4 (1990): 63.
  58. Michael M. Gunter. “The Kurdish Factor in Middle Eastern Politics,” The International Journal of Kurdish Studies 8, no. 1/2 (1995): 100–101.
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  60. Mahmut Bali Aykan, “The Turkish-Syrian Crisis of October 1998: A Turkish View,” Middle East Policy 6, no. 4 (1999): 174–91.
  61. Ferhat Dervisoglu, “Suriye’ye Uyarı: Sabrımız Kalmadı” [in Turkish], Milliyet, September 27, 1998,
  62. “Turkey Losing Patience with Syria,” BBC News, October 4, 1998,
  63. “Suriye’ye Son Uyarı” [in Turkish], Hurriyet, October 7, 1997,
  64. Hale, Turkish Foreign Policy since 1776, 305.
  65. Tim Weiner, “U.S. Helped Turkey Find and Capture Kurd Rebel,” New York Times, February 20, 1999,
  66. “Ocalan Sentenced to Death,” BBC News, June 29, 2002,; and “Turkey Lifts Ocalan Death Sentence,” BBC News, October 3, 2002,
  67. Eric Rouleau, “The Challenges to Turkey,” Foreign Affairs 72, no. 5 (1993): 114.
  68. Stanford J. Shaw, The Jews of the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish Republic (Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan Press, 1991).
  69. Rıfat N. Bali, Sarayın ve Cumhuriyetin Dişçibaşısı: Sami Günzberg (Istanbul: Kitabevi, 2007).
  70. Steven Bowman, “Haim Nahum: A Sephardic Chief Rabbi in Politics, 1892–1923,” Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies 15, no. 4 (1997): 124–25.
  71. Yeşim Bayar, Formation of the Turkish Nation-State, 1920–1938 (Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 1992), 53–54.
  72. Stanford J. Shaw, Turkey and the Holocaust: Turkey’s Role in Rescuing Turkish and European Jewry from Nazi Persecution, 1933–1945 (Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 1992).
  73. Suha Bolukbasi, “Behind the Turkish-Israeli Alliance: A Turkish View,” Journal of Palestine Studies 29, no. 1 (1999): 21–35.
  74. Orna Almog and Ayşegül Sever, “Hide and Seek? Israeli–Turkish Relations and the Baghdad Pact,” Middle Eastern Studies 53, no. 4 (2017): 619–20.
  75. M. Hakan Yavuz and Mujeeb R. Khan, “Turkish Foreign Policy toward the Arab-Israeli Conflict: Duality and the Development (1950–1991),” Arab Studies Quarterly (1992): 74.
  76. Yavuz and Khan, “Turkish Foreign Policy,” 75–77.
  77. Ibid., 77-78.
  78. Ofra Bengio, The Turkish-Israeli Relationship: Changing Ties of Middle Eastern Outsiders (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), 103–27.
  79. Bolukbasi, “Behind the Turkish-Israeli Alliance,” 21.
  80. George E. Gruen, “Turkey and the Middle East after Oslo I,” in The Middle East and the Peace Process: The Impact of the Oslo Accords, ed. Robert O. Freedman (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1998), 199.
  81. Meliha Benli Altunisik, “The Turkish-Israeli Rapprochement in the Post-Cold War Era,” Middle Eastern Studies 36, no. 2 (2000): 175.
  82. Dietrich Jung and Wolfgang Piccoli, “The Turkish-Israeli Alignment: Paranoia or Pragmatism?” Security Dialogue 31, no. 1 (2000): 95–98.
  83. Yucel Bozdaglioglu, Turkish Foreign Policy and Turkish Identity: A Constructivist Approach (London: Routledge, 2004), 148.
  84. “At least five nations have at some point suspended military sales to Turkey—Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, and South Africa—and Turkey declared that it won’t import arms from four other nations because of their critical comments about the war in the Southeast—Austria, Finland, Sweden, and Switzerland.” James Ron, Weapons Transfers and Violations of the Laws of War in Turkey (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1995), 5–6.
  85. See Kelly Couturier, “Turkey Cancels Helicopter Purchase,” Washington Post, November 28, 1996,­helicopter-purchase/6fe4d014-9cc1-4414-883b-769dce25cd66/?utm_term=.a633d8dced69; and Tamar Gabelnick, William D. Hartung, and Jennifer Washburn, Arming Repression: US Arms Sales to Turkey During The Clinton Administration (New York: World Policy Institute, 1999),
  86. See Testimony before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related Programs Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related Programs, 108th Cong. 1 (April 3, 2003) (statement of Gene Rossides, General Counsel of the American Hellenic Institute); and Testimony before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related Programs Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related Programs, 108th Cong. 1 (April 2, 2003) (statement of Kenneth Hachikian, Chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America).
  87. Neill Lochery, “Israel and Turkey: Deepening Ties and Strategic Implications, 1995–98,” Israel Affairs 5, no. 1 (1998): 45–62; Efraim Inbar, “Regional Implications of the Israeli-Turkish Strategic Partnership,” Middle East Review of International Affairs 5, no. 2 (2001): 48–65; and Efraim Inbar, “Israel’s Strategic Environment in the 1990s,” Journal of Strategic Studies 25, no. 1 (2002): 21–23.
  88. Mustafa Kibaroğlu, “Turkey and Israel Strategize,” Middle East Quarterly 9, no. 1 (2002): 64.
  89. See Efraim Inbar, “The Resilience of Israeli–Turkish Relations,” Israel Affairs 11, no. 4 (2005): 592; and Julian Borger, “Turkey Confirms It Barred Israel from Military Exercise because of Gaza War,” Guardian, October 12, 2009,
  90. Inbar, “Regional Implications of the Israeli-Turkish Strategic Partnership,” 48–65.
  91. Jonathan Marcus, “Israel’s Defense Policy at a Strategic Crossroads,” Washington Quarterly 22, no. 1 (1999): 47.
  92. Ahmet Sözen, “A Paradigm Shift in Turkish Foreign Policy: Transition and Challenges,” Turkish Studies 11, no. 1 (2010): 103–23.
  93. Malik Mufti, Daring and Caution in Turkish Strategic Culture (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), 97–99.
  94. Kemal Kirisci, “Turkey and the Kurdish Safe-Haven in Northern Iraq,” Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies 19, no. 3 (1996): 21–39.
  95. Dexter Filkins, “Threats and Responses: Turkish Deputies Refuse to Accept American Troops,” New York Times, March 2, 2003, For a scholarly appraisal, see Baris Kesgin and Juliet Kaarbo, “When and How Parliaments Influence Foreign Policy: The Case of Turkey’s Iraq Decision,” International Studies Perspectives 11, no. 1 (2010): 19–36.
  96. Joshua E. Keating, “The World’s Kissingers,” Foreign Policy 178 (March 2010): 27; “The Davutoglu Effect,” Economist, October 21, 2010,; Blake Hounshell, “Mr. Zero Problems,” Foreign Policy 183 (December 2010): 45-46; James Traub, “Turkey’s Rules,” New York Times, January 20, 2011,; Ömer Taspinar, “The Rise of Turkish Gaullism: Getting Turkish-American Relations Right,” Insight Turkey 13, no. 1 (2011): 11–17; Önis, “Multiple Faces of the ‘New’ Turkish Foreign Policy,” 47; and Svante E. Cornell, “What Drives Turkish Foreign Policy?” Middle East Quarterly 19, no. 1 (2012): 13–24.
  97. Tarik Oğuzlu, “Middle Easternization of Turkey’s Foreign Policy: Does Turkey Dissociate from the West?” Turkish Studies 9, no. 1 (2008): 3–20.
  98. Ziya Öniş and Şuhnaz Yilmaz. “Between Europeanization and Euro-Asianism: Foreign Policy Activism in Turkey during the AKP Era,” Turkish Studies 10, no. 1 (2009): 7–24.
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  100. Pope, “Pax Ottomana,” 162.
  101. Mustafa Kibarolu and Selim Can Sazak. “Business as Usual: The US-Turkey Security Partnership,” Middle East Policy 22, no. 4 (2015): 98–112.
  102. Clemens Hoffmann and Can Cemgil, “The (Un) Making of the Pax Turca in the Middle East: Understanding the Social-Historical Roots of Foreign Policy,” Cambridge Review of International Affairs (2016): 1–24.
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  104. Sultan Tepe, Beyond Sacred and Secular: Politics of Religion in Israel and Turkey (Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2008), 87.
  105. Ahmet Yıldız, “Politico-Religious Discourse of Political Islam in Turkey: The Parties of National Outlook,” The Muslim World 93, no. 2 (2003): 187–209; and Aylin Ş. Görener and Meltem Ş. Ucal, “The Personality and Leadership Style of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: Implications for Turkish Foreign Policy,” Turkish Studies 12, no. 3 (2011): 357–81.
  106. Nora Fisher Onar, “Echoes of a Universalism Lost: Rival Representations of the Ottomans in Today’s Turkey,” Middle Eastern Studies 45, no. 2 (2009): 229–41; Nora Fisher Onar, “Constructing Turkey Inc.: The Discursive Anatomy of a Domestic and Foreign Policy Agenda,” Journal of Contemporary European Studies 19, no. 4 (2011): 463–73; Nicholas Danforth, “Multi-Purpose Empire: Ottoman History in Republican Turkey,” Middle Eastern Studies 50, no. 4 (2014): 655–78; and Hakan Ovunc Ongur, “Identifying Ottomanisms: The Discursive Evolution of Ottoman Pasts in the Turkish Presents,” Middle Eastern Studies 51, no. 3 (2015): 416–32.
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  108. “Recep Tayyip Erdogan,” Economist, September 20, 2001,
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  110. Ihsan D. Dagi, “Transformation of Islamic Political Identity in Turkey: Rethinking the West and Westernization,” Turkish Studies 6, no. 1 (2005): 30–31.
  111. Ihsan D. Dagi, “Rethinking Human Rights, Democracy, and the West: Post-Islamist Intellectuals in Turkey,” Critique: Critical Middle Eastern Studies 13, no. 2 (2004): 135–51; and Ergun Özbudun, “From Political Islam to Conservative Democracy: The Case of the Justice And Development Party in Turkey,” South European Society and Politics 11, no. 3–4 (2006): 543–57.
  112. Behlül Ozkan, “Turkey, Davutoglu and the Idea of Pan-Islamism,” Survival 56, no. 4 (2014): 119–40.
  113. Ahmet Davutoğlu, Alternative Paradigms: The Impact of Islamic and Western Weltanschauungs on Political Theory (Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1994). For an overview, see Matthew S. Cohen, “Ahmet Davutoğlu’s Academic and Professional Articles: Understanding the Worldview of Turkey’s Former Prime Minister,” Turkish Studies 17, no. 4 (2016): 527–43.
  114. Pinar Bilgin,”Turkey’s Changing Security Discourses: The Challenge of Globalisation,” European Journal of Political Research 44, no. 1 (2005): 175–201.
  115. Ümit Cizre, “Demythologyzing the National Security Concept: The Case of Turkey,” The Middle East Journal (2003): 213–29.
  116. Bülent Aras and Rabia Karakaya Polat, “From Conflict to Cooperation: Desecuritization of Turkey’s Relations with Syria and Iran,” Security Dialogue 39, no. 5 (2008): 495–515.
  117. M. Hakan Yavuz, “Turkish Identity and Foreign Policy in Flux: The Rise of Neo-Ottomanism,” Critique: Journal for Critical Studies of the Middle East 7, no. 12 (1998): 19–41; and Yilmaz Çolak,” Ottomanism vs. Kemalism: Collective Memory and Cultural Pluralism in 1990s Turkey,” Middle Eastern Studies 42, no. 4 (2006): 587–602.
  118. Yilmaz Akyüz and Korkut Boratav, “The Making of the Turkish Financial Crisis,” World Development 31, no. 9 (2003): 1549–66.
  119. Meliha Benli Altunisik and Özlem Tür, Turkey: Challenges of Continuity and Change (London: Routledge, 2004), 85–86.
  120. Ufuk Demiroglu, “The Effects of the Investment Decline on Potential GDP in Turkey’s 2001 and 2009 Crises,” Central Bank Review 13, no. 3 (2013): 25.
  121. Ziya Öniş, “Beyond the 2001 Financial Crisis: The Political Economy of the New Phase of Neo-Liberal Restructuring in Turkey,” Review of International Political Economy 16, no. 3 (2009): 419.
  122. Daron Acemoglu and Murat Ucar, “The Ups and Downs of Turkish Growth, 2002–2015: Political Dynamics, The European Union and the Institutional Slide,” NBER Working Paper no. 21608, 2015, 1.
  123. Ziya Öniş and Caner Bakır, “Turkey’s Political Economy in the Age of Financial Globalization: The Significance of the EU Anchor,” South European Society and Politics 12, no. 2 (2007): 147–64.
  124. Işık Özel, State–Business Alliances and Economic Development: Turkey, Mexico and North Africa (London: Routledge, 2015), 126.
  125. In comparison, Turkey’s average annual inflation rate was 40 percent in the previous four decades, and 75 percent in the decade preceding AKP’s rise to power in 2002. See Pierre van der Hagen, “Macroeconomic Challenges for EU Accession: The Case of Turkey,” in Macroeconomic Policies for EU Accession, eds. Erdem Basci, Sübidey Togan, and Jürgen von Hagen (Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2005), 318; and Subidey Togan and Hasan Ersel, “Macroeconomic Policies for Turkey’s Accession to the EU,” in Turkey: Economic Reform and Accession to the European Union, ed. Bernard M. Hoekman and Subidey Togan (Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 2005), 3. See also Ziya Öniş, “Beyond the 2001 Financial Crisis: The Political Economy of the New Phase of Neo-liberal Restructuring in Turkey,” Review of International Political Economy 16, no. 3 (2009): 420–21.
  126. See Turan Subaşat, “The Political Economy of Turkey’s Economic Miracle,” Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies 16, no. 2 (2014): 137–60; and Refet S. Gurkaynak and Selin Sayek-Boke, “AKP Döneminde Türkiye Ekonomisi,” Birikim 296 (December 2013): 64–69.
  127. “Turkey’s Foreign Trade Deficit Drops by 15.4 Pct upon Fall in Oil Imports, Rise in Exports to EU,” Hurriyet Daily News, January 30, 2015,–77666.
  128. Özlem Tür, “Economic Relations with the Middle East under the AKP—Trade, Business Community and Reintegration with Neighboring Zones,” Turkish Studies 12, no. 4 (2011): 595.
  129. Mehmet Babacan, “Whither an Axis Shift: A Perspective from Turkey’s Foreign Trade,” Insight Turkey 13, no. 1 (2011): 153.
  130. Gökhan Bacik, “Turkish-Israeli Relations after Davos: A View from Turkey,” Insight Turkey 11, no. 2 (2009): 32–33.
  131. Anoushiravan Ehteshami and Süleyman Elik, “Turkey’s Growing Relations with Iran and Arab Middle East,” Turkish Studies 12, no. 4 (2011): 654; and Aylin Gürzel, “Turkey’s Role in Defusing the Iranian Nuclear Issue,” Washington Quarterly 35, no. 3 (2012): 144, 149.
  132. Kemal Kirişçi, “The Transformation of Turkish Foreign Policy: The Rise of the Trading State,” New Perspectives on Turkey 40 (2009): 29–56; and Altay Atli, “Businessmen as Diplomats: The Role of Business Associations in Turkey’s Foreign Economic Policy,” Insight Turkey 13, no. 1 (2011): 109–28.
  133. See Tozun Bahcheli, “Turkey’s Quest for EU Membership and the Cyprus Problem,” in Turkey And The European Union: Internal Dynamics and External Challenges, ed. Joseph S. Joseph (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), 169–70; and Mehmet Ugur and Dilek Yankaya. “Policy Entrepreneurship, Policy Opportunism, and EU Conditionality: The AKP and TÜSİAD Experience in Turkey,” Governance 21, no. 4 (2008): 581–601.
  134. Isik Ozel, “Is It None of Their Business? Business and Democratization, the Case of Turkey,” Democratization 20, no. 6 (2013): 1081–116.
  135. Ceren Yildiz, “The Influence of the Economic Interest Groups in Turkish Foreign Policy During the JDP Government Period (2002–2011): The Case of TUSIAD and MUSIAD” (MA thesis, Bilkent University, 2011), 53–66.
  136. Kemal Kirisci, “Turkey’s ‘Demonstrative Effect’ and the Transformation of the Middle East,” Insight Turkey 13, no. 2 (2011): 42.
  137. Mehmet Özkan and Birol Akgün, “Turkey’s Opening to Africa,” The Journal of Modern African Studies 48, no. 4 (2010): 539–40.
  138. Merve Özdemirkıran, “Soft Power and the Challenges of Private Actors: Turkey-­Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) Relations and the Rising Role of Businessmen in Turkish Foreign Policy,” European Journal of Turkish Studies: Social Sciences on Contemporary Turkey 21 (2015): 1–20.
  139. Tunç Tayanç, I·nşaatçıların Coğrafyası. Türk I·nşaat Sektörünün Yurtdışı Müteahhitlik Hizmetleri Serüveni (Istanbul: Tarih Vakfı Yurt Yayinlari, 2011).
  140. See Şuhnaz Yilmaz, “Impact of Lobbies in Turkish-American Relations,” in Turkish-American Relations: Past, Present and Future, ed. Mustafa Aydın and Çağrı Erhan (London: Routledge, 2004), 199; Tolga Tanış, “Top American-Turkish Council Officials Resign over Corruption Probe Row,” Hurriyet Daily News, June 6, 2014,; and Asli Aydintasbas, “AKP on Warpath against American-Turkish Council,” Al-Monitor, June 6, 2014,
  141. Tigran Mkrtchyan, “The Role of NGOs in Turkey-Armenia Rapprochement,” in Non-Traditional Security Threats and Regional Cooperation in the Southern Caucasus, ed. Mustafa Aydın (Amsterdam: IOS Press, 2009), 154–63.
  142. Ozlem Tur, “The Political Economy of Turkish-Syrian Relations in the 2000s: The Rise and Fall of Trade, Investment and Integration,” in Turkey-Syria Relations: Between Enmity and Amity, ed. Raymond Hinnebusch and Ozlem Tur (London: Routledge, 2013), 164–165.
  143. Ibid., 168.
  144. “2011’de Turkiye’yi 31.5 Milyon Yabanci Turist Ziyaret Etti” [in Turkish], Milliyet, January 24, 2012,
  145. Henri J. Barkey, Turkey’s New Engagement in Iraq: Embracing Iraqi Kurdistan (Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace, 2010), 12.
  146. Barcin Yinanc, “Syrian, Iraqi Woes Taking Sheen off Gaziantep’s Success Story,” Hurriyet Daily News, June 2, 2012,
  147. Mehmet Ezer, “Hatay Feels the Brunt of Crisis in Syria,” Hurriyet Daily News, July 30, 2012,
  148. Fehim Genc, “Syrian Crisis Stifles Trade in Turkey’s Border Bazaar,” Al-Monitor, October 31, 2012,
  149. Feyza Susal, “AK Party Clinches Victory in Turkey’s General Election,” Anadolu Ajansi, November 1, 2015,
  150. Murat Bilgincan, “Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know about Fethullah Gulen, Turkey’s Most Controversial Cleric,” Al-Monitor, April 19, 2016,
  151. Stephanie Saul, “Foe of President Erdogan Slapped with Lawsuit,” Reuters, December 9, 2015,
  152. Joshua Keating, “Turkish Cleric Gulen Tops Intellectuals List,” Foreign Policy, June 23, 2008,
  153. See Humeyra Pamuk, “Foe of Turkish President Erdogan Slapped with U.S. Lawsuit,” Reuters, December 9, 2015,; Suzy Hansen, “Whose Turkey Is It?,” New York Times Magazine, February 5, 2014,; and Claire Berlinski, “Who Is Fethullah Gulen?,” City Journal, October 24, 2012,ülen-13504.html.
  154. “Istanbul Court Accepts Indictment against FETÖ-Linked Tycoons,” Daily Sabah, June 16, 2017,
  155. Dexter Filkins, “Turkey’s Thirty-Year Coup,” The New Yorker, October 17, 2016,
  156. David Kenner, “The Public Trial of Fethullah Gulen,” Al-Monitor, July 18, 2016,
  157. Kazunobu Hayakawa, Fukunari Kimura, and Hyun-Hoon Lee, “How Does Country Risk Matter for Foreign Direct Investment?” The Developing Economies 51, no. 1 (2013): 60–78; and Marina Azzimonti, “The Politics of FDI Expropriation,” NBER Working Paper no. 22705, 2016.
  158. Bill Park, “Turkey, The US and the KRG: Moving Parts and the Geopolitical Realities,” Insight Turkey 14, no. 3 (2012): 109–25; and Massimo Morelli and Costantino Pischedda, “The Turkey-KRG Energy Partnership: Assessing Its Implications,” Middle East Policy 21, no. 1 (2014): 107–21.
  159. Burak Kadercan, “Making Sense of Turkey’s Syria Strategy: A ‘Turkish Tragedy’ in the Making,” War On the Rocks, August 4, 2017,­sense-of-turkeys-syria-strategy-a-turkish-tragedy-in-the-making/. See also Jasmin Melvin, “Time Ticking for Assad in Syria: Turkey’s Erdogan,” Reuters, September 24, 2011,; and Jon Hemming, “Turkey Recalibrates Its Approach to Syria,” Reuters, March 21, 2012,
  160. See Jean-Loup Samaan, “The Rise and Fall of the ‘Turkish Model’ in the Arab World,” Turkish Policy Quarterly 12, no. 3 (2013): 62–65; and Marwan M. Kraidy and Omar Al-Ghazzi, “Neo-Ottoman Cool: Turkish Popular Culture in the Arab Public Sphere,” Popular Communication 11, no. 1 (2013): 17–29.
  161. Mustafa Coşar Ünal, “Is It Ripe Yet? Resolving Turkey’s 30 Years of Conflict with the PKK,” Turkish Studies 17, no. 1 (2016): 97.
  162. See Yilmaz Ensaroglu, “Turkey’s Kurdish Question and the Peace Process,” Insight Turkey 15, no. 2 (2013): 6–17; and Constanze Letsch, “Kurdish Ceasefire Boosts Peace Process in Turkey,” Guardian, March 21, 2013,
  163. Hasan Kosebalaban, “The Crisis in Turkish-Israeli Relations: What is its Strategic Significance?” Middle East Policy 17, no. 3 (2010): 36–50; İlker Aytürk, “The Coming of an Ice Age? Turkish–Israeli Relations Since 2002,” Turkish Studies 12, no. 4 (2011): 675–87; and Banu Eligür, “Crisis in Turkish–Israeli Relations (December 2008–June 2011): From Partnership to Enmity,” Middle Eastern Studies 48, no. 3 (2012): 429–59.
  164. Ali Balci and Tuncay Kardas, “The Changing Dynamics of Turkey’s Relations with Israel: An Analysis of ‘Securitization,’” Insight Turkey 14, no. 2 (2012): 99.
  165. On the purge of secular generals, see Ersel Aydinli, “Ergenekon, New Pacts, and the Decline of the Turkish ‘Inner State,’” Turkish Studies 12, no. 2 (2011): 227–39. For a critical take, see Dexter Filkins, “Show Trials on the Bosphorus,” The New Yorker, August 13, 2013, On the elimination of the most powerful constituency for Turkish-Israeli security cooperation, see Aluf Benn, “Israel and Arab Democracy,” The National Interest 80 (2005): 45. And on Turkey’s pivot to religious populism, see Pelin Telseren Kadercan and Burak Kadercan, “The Turkish Military as a Political Actor: Its Rise and Fall,” Middle East Policy 23, no. 3 (2016): 84–99.
  166. See Ziya Öniş, “Conservative Globalists Versus Defensive Nationalists: Political Parties And Paradoxes Of Europeanization in Turkey,” Journal of Southern Europe and the Balkans 9, no. 3 (2007): 247–61; Ömer Taspinar, “The Old Turks’ Revolt: When Radical Secularism Endangers Democracy,” Foreign Affairs 86, no. 6 (2007): 114–30; and Joerg Baudner, “The Politics of ‘Norm Diffusion’ in Turkish European Union Accession Negotiations: Why It Was Rational for an Islamist Party to Be ‘Pro-European’ and a Secularist Party to Be ‘Anti-European,’” JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies 50, no. 6 (2012): 922–38. See also Dietrich Jung, “The Sevres Syndrome: Turkish Foreign Policy and Its Historical Legacies,” American Diplomacy 8, no. 2 (2003): 7–9; and Michelangelo Guida, “The Sèvres Syndrome and ‘Komplo’ Theories in the Islamist and Secular Press,” Turkish Studies 9, no. 1 (2008): 37–52.
  167. On the Erdogan-Peres polemic, see Katrin Bennhold, “Leaders of Turkey and Israel Clash at Davos Panel,” New York Times, January 29, 2009, On the engagement with Hamas leaders, see Amberin Zaman, “Turkey Allows Hamas Visit,” Los Angeles Times, February 17, 2006,; Sami Kohen, “AKP Convention Spells Out Turkey’s Foreign Policy Platform,” Al-Monitor, October 5, 2012,; Tulin Daloglu, “Hamas Leader Meshaal Pays ‘Secretive’ Visit to Turkey,” Al-Monitor, February 21, 2013,; Jonathan Schanzer and Grant Rumley, “Hamas’s Main Man from Turkey to Tehran,” Foreign Policy, December 8, 2014,; “Turkey’s Erdogan Meets Hamas Leader Meshaal in Istanbul,” Reuters, December 19, 2015,; and “Turkish President Erdogan Meets Hamas Leader Mashal in Istanbul,” Hurriyet Daily News, June 25, 2016, On the Gaza flotilla, see Sebnem Arsu and Alan Cowell, “Turkey Expels Israeli Envoy in Dispute over Raid,” New York Times, September 2, 2011,
  168. Tarik Oğuzlu, “The Changing Dynamics of Turkey–Israel Relations: A Structural Realist Account,” Mediterranean Politics 15, no. 2 (2010): 273–88.
  169. Oded Eran, “Israel: Quo Vadis, Turkey?,” Insight Turkey 13, no. 4 (2011): 33.
  170. Robert W. Olson, “Turkey’s Policies Toward Kurdistan-Iraq and Iraq: Nationalism, Capitalism, and State Formation,” Mediterranean Quarterly 17, no. 1 (2006): 48–72.
  171. Ben Hubbard, “Success of Kurdish Forces Is a Rare Bright Spot for U.S. Policy in Iraq,” New York Times, June 12, 2015,
  172. Steve Coll, “Oil and Irbil,” The New Yorker, August 10, 2014,
  173. Max Boot, “Expert Brief: Can the United States Broker Peace Between Iraq and the Kurds?” Council on Foreign Relations, October 17, 2017,
  174. Mustafa Kibaroglu, “Clash of Interest over Northern Iraq Drives Turkish-Israeli Alliance to a Crossroads,” Middle East Journal 59, no. 2 (2005): 262.
  175. See Ömer Taspinar, “The Rise of Turkish Gaullism: Getting Turkish-American Relations Right,” Insight Turkey 13, no. 1 (2011): 14–15; and Michael M. Gunter, “A De Facto Kurdish State in Northern Iraq,” Third World Quarterly 14, no. 2 (1993): 295–319.
  176. Semih Idiz, “Some Turks Blame U.S. for Kurdish Independence Vote,” Al-Monitor, September 26, 2016,­kurdistan-independence-referendum-second-israel.html.
  177. Ziya Öniş, “Turkey and the Arab Revolutions: Boundaries of Regional Power Influence in a Turbulent Middle East,” Mediterranean Politics 19, no. 2 (2014): 203–19; and Bilgin Ayata, “Turkish Foreign Policy in a Changing Arab World: Rise and Fall of a Regional Actor?” Journal of European Integration 37, no. 1 (2015): 95–112.
  178. Imran Demir, Overconfidence and Risk Taking in Foreign Policy Decision Making: The Case of Turkey’s Syria Policy (Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), 41–79.
  179. “Premier Vows to Pray in Damascus Mosque ‘Soon,’” Hurriyet Daily News, September 6, 2012,
  180. See H.A. Hellyer, “Why Sisi, Erdogan Won’t Be Making Up Anytime Soon,” Al-Monitor, July 13, 2016,; and and Onur Ant and Ghaith Shennib, “Saudis Are after the Muslim Brotherhood, and Turkey’s in the Way,” Bloomberg, July 3, 2017,­turkey-s-in-the-way.
  181. See Dalal Mawad and Rick Gladstone, “Syria Shoots Down Turkish Warplane, Fraying Ties Further,” New York Times, June 22, 2012,; and Tulay Karadeniz and Maria Kiselyova, “Turkey Downs Russian Warplane Near Syria Border, Putin Warns of ‘Serious Consequences,’” Reuters, November 24, 2015,
  182. See “Turkey Spent $25B on 3.5 Million Refugees, Says Interior Minister,” Daily Sabah, February 15, 2017,; Barin Kayaoglu, “Mob Justice Reveals Anti-Syrian Sentiment in Turkey,” Al-Monitor, July 5, 2017,; and Semih Idiz, “Erdogan’s Citizenhip Offer Fans Flames of Anti-Syrian Sentiment in Turkey,” Al-Monitor, July 12, 2015,­sentiments-on-rise.html.
  183. See Matt Bradley and Joe Parkinson, “America’s Marxist Allies against ISIS,” Wall Street Journal, July 24, 2015,; and Constanze Letsch and Ian Traynor, “Kobani: Anger Grows as Turkey Stops Kurds from Aiding Militias in Syria,” Guardian, Wednesday 8, 2014,
  184. See “We Will Not Make You the President, HDP Co-Chair Tells Erdogan,” Hurriyet Daily News, March 17, 2015,; and Tim Arango and Ceylan Yeginsu, “Erdogan’s Governing Party in Turkey Loses Parliamentary Majority,” New York Times, June 7, 2015,
  185. See Ceren Kenar, “Erdogan’s Kurdish Chickens Are Coming Home to Roost,” Foreign Policy, June 4, 2015,; Tulay Karadeniz, “Turkey’s Erdogan: Peace Process with Kurdish Militants Impossible,” Reuters, July 28, 2015,; Daren Butler, “Kurdish PKK Militants End Unilateral Ceasefire in Turkey: Agency,” Reuters, November 5, 2015,; Ayla Albayrak, “Urban Warfare Escalated in Turkey’s Kurdish-Majority Southeast,” Wall Street Journal, August 19, 2015,; Tim Arango, “Kurdish Militants Claim Responsibility for Istanbul Attack that Killed 38,” Reuters, December 11, 2016,; and Constanze Letsch, “Ankara Bombing: Kurdish Militants Claim Responsibility,” Guardian, March 17, 2016,­attacks.
  186. Tim Arango, “ISIS Claims Responsibility for Istanbul Nightclub Attack,” New York Times, January 2, 2017,; Faith Karimi, Steve Almasy, and Gul Tuysuz, “ISIS Leadership Involved in Istanbul Attack Planning, Turkish Source Says,” CNN, June 30, 2016,; Arango, Sabrina Tavernise, and Ceylan Yeginsu, “Explosions During Peace Rally in Ankara, Turkey’s Capital, Kills Scores,” New York Times, October 10, 2015,; and Karam Shoumali and Ceylan Yeginsu, “Turkey Says Suicide Bombing Kills at Least 30 in Suruc, Near Syria,” New York Times, July 20, 2015,
  187. See Kareem Shaheen, “Turkey Sends Tanks into Syria in Operation Aimed at ISIS and Kurds,” Guardian, August 24, 2016,; and Ishaan Tharoor, “Turkey’s Syria Offensive Is as Much about the Kurds as ISIS,” Washington Post, August 24, 2016,
  188. See Mustafa Akyol, “Stop Victim-Blaming Turkey for ISIS,” Foreign Policy, January 10, 2017,; Rukmini Callimachi, “Turkey, A Conduit for Fighters Joining ISIS, Begins to Feel Its Wrath,” New York Times, June 29, 2016,; Simon Tisdall, “Turkey Paying a Price for Erdogan’s Willful Blindness to ISIS Threat,” Guardian, June 29, 2016,; and Zvi Bar’el, “The Real Target of Turkey’s Syrian Operation Is the Kurds, not ISIS,” Haaretz, August 24, 2016,
  189. See “Turkey Can No Longer Insist on Syria Settlement without Assad: Turkish Deputy PM,” Reuters, January 20, 2017,; Amberin Zaman, “Iran Army Chief’s Turkey Tour Ends in Promises of Military Cooperation,” Al-Monitor, August 17, 2017,; “Turkey, Iran Express Common Stance on Syria, Iraq Developments as Erdogan, Rouhani Meet,” Daily Sabah, October 4, 2017,; Murat Yetkin, “Kurdish Independence Bid Made Turkey and Iraq Friends Again,” Hurriyet Daily News, October 26, 2017,­cooperation-with-russia-idUSKBN16H0SP; Denis Dyomkin and Tuvan Gumrukcu, “Turkey Seeks to Build Syrian Military Cooperation With Russia,” Reuters, March 10, 2017,; and Hamidreza Azizi, “New Chapter in Iran-Turkey Ties Could Have Major Impact on Syria,” Al-Monitor, August 29, 2017,
  190. Dorian Jones, “Iraq Seeks Arbitration in Dispute with Turkey over Kurdish Oil Sale,” Voice of America, May 26, 2017,­dispute-with-turkey-over-kurdish-oil-sale/1923074.html.
  191. Henri J. Barkey, “Erdogan’s Foreign Policy Is in Ruins,” Foreign Policy, February 4, 2016,
  192. David Gardner, “Turkey’s Foreign Policy of ‘Precious Loneliness,’” Financial Times, November 15, 2015,
  193. On the exception of Qatar, see Bilgin Ayata, “Turkish Foreign Policy in a Changing Arab World: Rise and Fall of a Regional Actor?” Journal of European Integration 37, no. 1 (2015): 106. On the political embargo, see Anne Barnard and David D. Kirkpatrick, “5 Arab Nations Move to Isolate Qatar, Putting the U.S. in a Bind,” New York Times, June 5, 2017,
  194. Turkey was lauded by U.S. president George W. Bush as proof that democracy and Islam could coexist. See George W. Bush, “Remarks Following a Meeting with President Abdullah Gul of Turkey (January 8, 2008)” in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: George W. Bush (2008-2009): Book I—January 1 to June 30, 2008 (Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office, 2012), 42. On the slide to authoritarianism, see Steven A. Cook, “How Erdogan Made Turkey Authoritarian Again,” The Atlantic, July 21, 2016,­again/492374/.
  195. Metin Gurcan, “The Rise of the Eurasianist Vision in Turkey,” Al-Monitor, May 17, 2017,
  196. Elaine Moore, Mehul Srivastava, and Roger Blitz, “Turkey Left in Not-So-Splendid Isolation,” Financial Times, January 9, 2017,
  197. Tarık Oğuzlu, “Turkish Foreign Policy at the Nexus of Changing International and Regional Dynamics,” Turkish Studies 17, no. 1 (2016): 58–67.
  198. Burak Bilgehan Özpek and Yelda Demirağ, “Turkish Foreign Policy after the ‘Arab Spring’: From Agenda-Setter State to Agenda-Entrepreneur State,” Israel Affairs 20, no. 3 (2014): 328–46.
  199. Demir, Overconfidence and Risk Taking, 114; and Burak Kadercan, “Making Sense of Turkey’s Syria Strategy: A ‘Turkish Tragedy’ in The Making,” War on the Rocks, August 4, 2017,
  200. Anshel Pfeffer, “Israel Is Right to Support Kurdish Independence. It Is Also Unwise,” Haaretz, September 28, 2017,
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  202. Tom Perry, Ellen Francis, and Laila Bassam, “Assad Sets Sights on Kurdish Areas, Risking New Syria Conflict,” Reuters, October 31, 2017,
  203. Ariane Tabatabai, “How Much Longer Will the Iran Deal Last under Trump?” The Atlantic, September 19, 2017,
  204. Max Fisher, “How the Iranian-Saudi Proxy Struggle Tore Apart the Middle East,” New York Times, November 19, 2016,
  205. Neil MacFarquhar and Tim Arango, “Putin and Erdogan, Both Isolated, Reach Out to Each Other,” New York Times, August 8, 2016,; and Pavel K. Baev and Kemal Kirisci, An Ambiguous Partnership: The Serpentine Trajectory of Turkish-Russian Relations in the Era of Erdogan and Putin (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 2017).
  206. See Joshua Keating, “The U.S.-Turkey Spat Is Becoming a Full-Blown Diplomatic Crisis,” Slate, October 11, 2017,; and “Diplomatic Row between Europe and Turkey Escalates Further,” Deutsche Welle, March 2017,
  207. Semih Idiz, “Turkey Quietly Concerned with Russia’s Kurdish Policy,” Al-Monitor, October 24, 2017,­kurdish-policy-causes-concern-in-ankara.html.
  208. See Jeff Daniels, “Warming Turkish-Russian Ties, Growing Rift with West Creates Troubling Scenario for NATO,” CNBC, November 3, 2017,; and Jeff Daniels, “Turkey’s Plan to Acquire Russia’s S-400 Air-Defense System May Never Happen, Analysts Say,” CNBC, November 3, 2017,
  209. “Russia Says to Speed Up Partial Resumption of Turkish Tomato Imports,” Reuters, October 21, 2017,
  210. Ziya Öniş and Şuhnaz Yılmaz, “Turkey and Russia in a Shifting Global Order: Cooperation, Conflict and Asymmetric Interdependence in a Turbulent Region,” Third World Quarterly 37, no. 1 (2016): 71–95. See also Fiona Hill and Omer Taspinar, “Turkey and Russia: Axis of the Excluded?” Survival 48, no. 1 (2006): 81–92.
  211. Max Fisher, “Turkey’s Twin Terrorist Threats, Explained,” New York Times, June 29, 2016,
  212. Colin Kahl, “The United States and Turkey Are on a Collision Course in Syria,” Foreign Policy, May 12, 2017,
  213. See Mustafa Akyol, “Erdoganism [noun],” Foreign Policy, June 21, 2016,; and Emre Kizilkaya, “Five Surprising Results of Turkey’s Election,” Hurriyet Daily News, June 8. 2015,
  214. Ahmet Yukleyen, “Sufism and Islamic Groups in Contemporary Turkey,” in The Cambridge History of Turkey, ed. Resat Kasaba (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 381–87.
  215. See “Main Orders of Sufism,” in Encyclopedia of Sufism, Volume I, ed. Masood Ali Khan and S. Ram (New Delhi: Anmol Publications, 2003), 81–84, 87–90.
  216. J. Spencer Tirmingham, The Sufi Orders in Islam (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971), 26.
  217. See Nile Green, “Why ISIS Hates the Sufis and Blows Up Their Shrines,” Aeon, February 17, 2016,; Dana Ford and Mohammed Tawfeeq, “Extremists Destroy Jonah’s Tomb, Officials Say,” CNN, July 25, 2014,; and “Heritage Sites Ravaged By Syria’s War,” Al Jazeera, December 23, 2014,
  218. “Turkish Cleric Issues Islamic License to Kill ISIL Militants,” Hurriyet Daily News, July 23, 2015,
  219. Guy S. Goodwin-Gill and Selim Can Sazak, “Footing the Bill: Refugee-Creating States’ Responsibility to Pay,” Foreign Affairs, July 29, 2015,
  220. Matthew Weaver, “Syrian Refugees: More Than 5 Million In Neighboring Countries Now, Says UN,” The Guardian, March 30, 2017,
  221. See Aristotle Tziampiris, The Emergence of Israeli-Greek Cooperation (New York: Springer, 2017); and Zenonas Tziarras. “Israel-Cyprus-Greece: A ‘Comfortable’ Quasi-­Alliance,” Mediterranean Politics 21, no. 3 (2016): 407–27.
  222. Karolina Tagaris, “Greece, Israel, Cyprus to Speed Up Mediterranean Pipeline Efforts,” Reuters, June 15, 2017,
  223. Mort Abramowitz and Eric Edelman, “Turkey’s Erdogan Must Reform or Resign,” Washington Post, March 10, 2016,­must-reform-or-resign/2016/03/10/80cc9be2-dffe-11e5-9c36-e1902f6b6571_story.html?utm_term=.cd1d9d56649b.
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  225. Burak Kadercan, “The Unbearable Lightness of Blaming Erdogan: What Turkey Experts Are Not Telling You,” War on the Rocks, September 8, 2015,
  226. Lisa Blaydes and Drew A. Linzer, “Elite Competition, Religiosity, and Anti-­Americanism in the Islamic World,” American Political Science Review 106, no. 2 (2012): 228; Burak Kadercan, “Turkey’s Anti-Americanism Isn’t New,” The National Interest, August 23, 2016,; and Çağrı Erhan and Efe Sıvış. “Determinants of Turkish-American Relations and Prospects for the Future.” Insight Turkey 19, no. 1 (2017): 89115.
  227. Burak Kadercan, “Make Turkish-American Relations Great Again: Advice for the Trump Administration,” War on the Rocks, January 18, 2017,
  228. James Stavridis, “Here’s How to Pull Turkey Back from the Brink,” Bloomberg View, October 20, 2017,