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Erdogan's Empire: Turkey and the Politics of the Middle East


by Soner Cagaptay


Gradually since 2003, Turkey's autocratic leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan has sought to make Turkey a great power -- in the tradition of past Turkish leaders from the late Ottoman sultans to Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey. Here the leading authority Soner Cagaptay, author of The New Sultan -- the first biography of President Erdogan -- provides a masterful overview of the power politics in the Middle East and Turkey's place in it. Erdogan has picked an unorthodox model in the context of recent Turkish history, attempting to cast his country as a stand-alone Middle Eastern power. In doing so Turkey has broken ranks with its traditional Western allies, including the United States and has embraced an imperial-style foreign policy which has aimed to restore Turkey's Ottoman-era reach into the Arabian Middle East and the Balkans. Today, in addition to a domestic crackdown on dissent and journalistic freedoms, driven by Erdogan's style of governance, Turkey faces a hostile world. Ankara has nearly no friends left in the Middle East, and it faces a threat from resurgent historic adversaries: Russia and Iran. Furthermore, Turkey cannot rely on the unconditional support of its traditional Western allies. Can Erdogan deliver Turkey back to safety? What are the risks that lie ahead for him, and his country? How can Turkey truly become a great power, fulfilling a dream shared by many Turks, the sultans, Ataturk, and Erdogan himself?


“Soner Cagaptay is an astute and honest chronicler of the mercurial Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. His latest book, Erdogan's Empire, is a comprehensive look at the Turkish leader's “neo-Ottoman” foreign policy-and the way he has defiantly tried to reestablish Turkey as a standalone power by playing off Washington and Moscow and sabotaging his Arab rivals. By setting Erdogan against the backdrop of Ottoman-Turkish history, Cagaptay helps readers understand that breadth of his ambitions-and also why his policies have had such disruptive and sometimes toxic consequences for the United States. Americans, Israelis and Europeans may not like the headstrong, ruthless Erdogan, but after reading Cagaptay's book, they'll at least understand him.” ―David Ignatius, Columnist, The Washington Post

“This is a must-read for any serious analyst of Turkey's complex role within NATO, in the Middle East, and around the world. Turkey is a nation of enormous potential, with a rich and complicated history. Soner Cagaptay brings elements of history, geopolitics, and economics together seamlessly to illuminate a nation that will matter deeply in the unfolding course of the 21st century.” ―Admiral James Stavridis, former Supreme Allied Commander at NATO and Dean of The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy

“During my four decade long career at the Turkish Foreign Ministry and since, I have grappled to find a work that explains Turkey's complex foreign policy to diplomats, journalists, and those simply captivated by this fascinating country between the East and the West. Cagaptay's book does exactly that, illuminating Turkish President Erdogan's foreign policy and his Middle Eastern ambitions, despite the determination of many of Turkey's citizens to embrace the 21st century's progress and eagerly take on its challenges. Cagaptay explains for us Erdogan's drive to make Turkey a standalone power in the context of Turkish and Ottoman history and global trends. This has ramifications not only for Turkey and its neighbors, but also Europe, U.S. and countries beyond. I recommend this book for anyone who wants to understand Turkey's foreign policy better. It is a must-read for citizens around the globe.” ―Ozdem Sanberk, Former Undersecretary at the Turkish Foreign Ministry

About the Author
Soner Cagaptay is the Beyer Family fellow and director of the Turkish Research Program at The Washington Institute, USA.

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Erdogan’s Empire | Soner Cagaptay


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