Turkey’s Power Play: The Creation of an Indigenous Military Industry and its Neo-Ottoman Offensive

Turkey’s Power Play: The Creation of an Indigenous Military Industry and its Neo-Ottoman Offensive

By Matthew. T.Gullo[*]


This paper examines Turkey’s nascent indigenous military industry and its future implications towards Turkish foreign policy. Through a construction of a two-level (domestic and international) analysis of current and previous Turkish politics that is juxtaposed by global trends and theories of international relations, this paper will present how Turkey’s new hard-power component has the potential to become a significant lever in its foreign affairs (neo-Ottoman) engagement. Through this analysis, this paper hypothesise that the utilisation of an indigenous military industry serves as a catalyst for achieving two imperative foreign policy objectives for the Turkish State. First, it will help Turkey proliferate its influence in the Middle East through military transfers. Second, it will simultaneously create autonomy for itself in the international political system by ridding itself of foreign dependencies pertaining to its armed forces. These objectives are part of Turkey’s purposeful plan to pursue an independent foreign policy that is less constrained and less beholden towards any specific geopolitical orientation; especially one that is centred on NATO, Europe, and the United States of America, as it aspires to be recognized as an independent and influential global player on the international stage. 



In recent years, the Republic of Turkey has been on a “soft power” offensive to win regional influence vis-à-vis a purposeful cultural and civic resurgence aimed at the Middle East, which is sometimes referred to as neo-Ottomanism.[1] However, a less covered and arguably more powerful offensive to cultivate regional influence has been concurrently developing in Turkey, and that has been its unencumbered drive to establish itself as an important global military exporter with the creation of its own indigenous national military industry. If this ambition is fully realised, Turkey will be less constrained by its hard power requirements, while simultaneously being able to project power more broadly; thereby, creating an opportunity to establish a more autonomous foreign policy with the eventual ability to further influence the politics of the Middle East and those of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

The importance of self-sufficient military equipping has been well documented in statecraft throughout history. From Niccolo Machiavelli’s commentary regarding the demise of Sforza dynasty due in part to their reliance on mercenaries, to Charles de Gaulle’s Force de Frappe, to Kenneth Waltz’s “self-help” framework; an underlying theme of nations and the deployment of the instruments of war has been widely consistent: an independent, reliable, and home-grown defence is the only certain insurance for the ability to resist against unsolicited violent or nonviolent subjection.[2] In fact, in an age where great powers are constantly vying to influence minor or middle powers, the traditional formula used to leverage weaker states (inter alia coercive diplomacy) has been either through economic incentives or sanctions, or by controlling the flow of weaponry into a state.[3] An example of the latter has been the United States’ military assistance to Egypt since the 1978 Camp David Accords.[4] States that are band wagoning, a junior partner in an alliance, or not fully responsible or capable for providing for their national defence are more often than not required to kowtow to the demands of the greater power when interests diverge or when the geopolitical landscape changes.[5] Although, hard power is not the sole variable that governs a state’s ability to project power or to conduct statecraft, a military dependency, like all dependencies, places a constraint on a state’s capacity to independently conduct statecraft.

States simply do not only use their hard power capabilities to survive in our anarchical world that is buttressed by the inherent competition and selfishness of the human condition. It is an additional mechanism to influence and project power on its competitors.  As discussed in Thomas Schelling’s seminal work Arms and Influence, one aim of states in regards to their militaries is to achieve an advantageous bargaining position that comes from the capacity to hurt other states.[6] In this regard, the well-equipping of the military or paramilitary forces is pivotal for conducting statecraft, especially if there is a direct underlining threat domestically or transnationally. Therefore, states that are unable to meet their military demand (need) through domestic reliance, can potentially become less autonomous in the international political system and unable to utilize or project power multidimensionality. At the same time, states that can establish a dependency over others can reap potential benefits or achieve gains through strategic coercive diplomacy.[7]

Turkey as the third-largest conventional weapons importer in the world still relies significantly on the West, in particular the United States, for supplying its armed forces.[8] However, unlike during the Cold War and early post-Cold War period where over 80% of its military need was fulfilled internationally, Turkey has started to counter-balance its dependency on its military need. Currently, it now meets over half its defence requirements domestically while striving to meet all of its military domestically by 2023.[9] Additionally, Turkey has made sizeable investments in its own domestic weapon production, and also contributes in producing parts for NATO sponsored war materiel, such as, the F-22 and F-35 programs.[10] In 2011, the Turkish Navy commissioned its first domestically produced Ada class ASW Corvette with the launching of the TCG Heybeliada, and its military industry’s centrepiece, the Altay battle tank, is expected to go into full service by 2018, marking Turkey’s first domestically produced tank.[11]

Similar to Turkey’s former soft power offensive to generate influence in the Middle East, the creation of an indigenous military industry is also a calculated strategic manoeuvre aimed at bolstering Turkey’s position in world affairs. This initiative stems from a wider “neo-Ottoman” foreign policy doctrine that seeks to rid Turkey of its dependencies, which at times has left it vulnerable and constrained by the influence of foreign powers, and runs in parallel with its ambition to garner greater influence over current states that were geographically apart of the Ottoman Empire.[12] By looking at how this new hard power corresponds to Turkish foreign policy ambition, this paper will: review how Turkey’s military industry can reignite Turkish foreign policy and lay the foundation for hypotheses of the potential gains of an indigenous new military industry, and present possible geopolitical ramifications for the Middle East and NATO.[13]

The primary focus of this paper will be to examine Turkey’s indigenous military industry to create a hypothesis on its implications towards the future state of Turkish international relations. To acutely posit how Turkey’s indigenous military industry can reshape its foreign affairs, this paper will: (i) analyse Turkey’s nascent military industry and its current investment, exporting record, and future growth projections; (ii) review the historical record at two-levels (domestic and international) of how the Turkish State has been constrained by its dependency on its foreign military needs and by being a junior member of the Eurasian alliance structure. This analysis will flow into, (iii) how two overlapping factors: (a) neo-Ottomanism, and (b) non-polarity are having a tremendous impact on the foundation of the Turkey’s neo-Ottomanism foreign affairs doctrine, Lastly, (iv); an amalgamation of previous sections will be constructed to hypothesize what a future state of Turkish foreign affairs should look like given its new hard-power means that is being driven by a neo-Ottoman doctrine.

Turkey’s Military Industry

Throughout the last decade, Turkey has moved towards indigenous military manufacturing and development, and through key technology transfers and co-production contracts (when equipment is built outside of Turkey), it has been able to build up a formidable defence industry.[14] Turkish military exports are on the rise, while the proportion of foreign equipment in its armed forces has been falling annually.[15] Ankara has also spent over $1 billion on its defence research and development in 2014, making it the largest research and development investment sector in the country.[16] Turkey’s investment in defence technology and manufacturing has slowly ebbed away at its dependency on importing foreign military equipment, as well as, created business for its growing defence sector. Several major defence companies have been established (both ASELSAN and TUSAS have already broken into the top 100 global defence firms) as Turkey seeks to create global brands in the defence sector.[17]

Boosting defence sales in addition to producing more military items locally has been an intricate part of Turkey’s current five-year strategic plan and also a tremendous source of national pride.[18] According to the Savunma Sanayii Müsteşarlığı (SSM), Turkey’s Undersecretariat for Defence Industries, the reduction of its external dependency is critical for Turkey’s ongoing defence policy. The report states:

In the next phase [2012-2016 Strategic Plan] SSM aims to reduce external dependence in critical subsystems/ components/technologies determined in line with the requirements of the Turkish Armed Forces. In order to optimize the resources allocated to improve the technological infrastructure needed for the systems projects that involve procurement by means of indigenous local production, and hence increase local content ratio, worthwhile R&D projects have been determined and prioritized in the Defence R&D Road Map. The Road Map consists of R&D Projects that are compatible with the needs and objectives of main system projects, and that strengthen collaboration among the industry, small and medium enterprises, universities and research organizations.[19]

At the crux of Turkey’s drive to grow its military industry is the ruling AKP government’s belief that Turkey cannot be the regional power they wish to become without having an independent deterrent military force.[20] This belief is further illustrated by former Turkish Defence Minister İsmet Yilmaz’s 2013 announcement of a $6 billion investment in a new Research and Development site based in Kazan, which aims to boost innovation and self-sufficiency.[21] Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu recalled Turkey’s “painful experience” during World War I when it was forced to buy arms from abroad, and stated that: “a nation without its own defence industry cannot fight the cause of liberation,” and “by 2023 locally manufactured combat planes will fly the Turkish skies.”[22]

In 2014, Turkey’s defence industry generated $11 billion in orders with overall industry revenue reaching $5.1 billion, a $300 million increase from the previous year.[23] Additionally, Turkey’s defence sector has achieved a 21% annual growth rate over the last five years, with the SSM elucidating the lofty goal of boosting the value of defence exports to $25 billion by 2023.[24] Although, the majority of the growth in the defence sector growth stems from projects within Turkey, domestic consumption is not expected to continue being the growth engine as exports and international cooperation projects will determine the sector’s future growth.[25] The SSM is also targeting future revenue of $8 billion in the defence and aeronautics sectors as the development of several major indigenous military projects, including a Joint Strike Fighter program (TAI TFX Program) and the ATAK helicopter, have already commenced.[26]

As a result of direct government investment in the defence sector, military exports have doubled from $800 million in 2008 to approximately $1.6 billion in 2014; with a projection of almost $2.0 billion by the end of 2015.[27]  In the last few years, Turkey’s military exports have steadily rose, creating a positive trend in its ability to capture marketspace in an ever-competitive defence exporting market. In 2014, the United States was the largest purchaser of Turkish defence hardware totalling $508 million in orders, while Malaysia spent $109 million, and the United Arab Emirates spent $87 million.[28] In March 2013, Turkey’s leading armoured vehicle manufacturer, Otokar, won a major $24.6 million contract to supply vehicles to the United Nations (UN), signalling Turkey’s growing importance in the defence sector.[29] Additionally, Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan, and Oman have expressed interested in the Turkish-produced Altay battle tank, with Oman submitting a bid for 77 tanks in late 2014.[30]

The AKP’s investment into Turkey’s defence sector is married to its overarching foreign policy outlook –neo-Ottomanism– that seeks to position Turkey to become more autonomous and influential on the international stage. To accomplish this goal, Turkish leaders sought to rid its dependency on foreign arms.[31] For example, in 2003, domestic production of armaments was only 25%. Turkey doubled production by 2010, and by 2014, reached 60%. Turkey aims to meet all domestic military need by 2023.[32] Currently, Turkey’s biggest defence importing partner is the United States, which accounts for 15% of all total imports, and Spain is second at 9%. Figure 1 illustrates the primary states Turkey imports its military equipment from:


Figure 1. 2014 Equipment Supply by Country of Final Assembly[33]

With Turkey meeting almost two-thirds of its military requirements domestically, it has made a significant step towards decoupling itself from the influence of the foreign powers that supply its military equipment and a major milestone for the AKP’s policy of military independence.

As the AKP’s neo-Ottomanism doctrine continues to drive Turkey’s foreign relations, the continuation of deep investment and growth in Turkey’s defence sector is expected. Figure II outlines several key payoffs that AKP is waging it will receive through an indigenous military industry. Turkey expects that an indigenous military industry will: generate ‘greater international autonomy’ through ridding itself of a dependency on foreign armaments, and thus be able to freely pursue foreign policy objectives. Additionally, an indigenous military industry will create ‘greater international influence’ as Turkey can achieve absolute gains by selling weapons to future clients; especially regional and neighbouring states and non-state actors in the Middle East:


Figure 2. How Turkey’s Military Industry can render strategic gains

The AKP’s sharp vicissitude towards Turkey’s military dependency is well-documented in the literature regarding its commentary towards its defence sector.[34] This attitude has been shaped partially by the constraints that have been placed on the Turkish State to pursue different foreign policy objectives when it conflicted with NATO, and has also left it vulnerable or punished when it did take different course of action. Turkey’s historical dependency on its military AKP’s view on the importance of military independence. The historical record provides a foundation of explanatory power on why Turkey, and in particular, the AKP, are keen on building up its military industry while rebuking its traditional alliance structure.

Turkey’s Historical Military Dependency

Creating a home-grown military industry has been a source of national pride for Turkey’s governing elite. In 2008, then Prime Minister Erdoğan stated that: “we [Turkey] have set as our primary target meeting the requirements of the Turkish Armed Forces from national industry and thus minimizing their dependence on other countries.”[35] Several years later in 2014, during his inaugural address as the newly-elected President of the Turkish Republic, President Erdoğan again spoke about the vast transformation of the Turkish defence industry. He stated that: “Turkey can now manufacture its own tanks, combat ships, attack helicopters, UAVs, communication satellites, its national infantry rifle, rocket launchers, and much other defensive equipment.”[36]  The government’s direct policy towards greater military self-reliance is a two-fold initiative that is exogenous of ridding itself of the dependency that has severely constrained Turkey for over a century, while also fulfilling its desire to become more independent and a significant player in the international political system. To provide a contextualization of the importance of the AKP’s outward worldview (neo-Ottomanism) and examination of the century between the present and First World War, will underscore how the Turkish Republic has been arrested by the dynamics of the Eurasian geopolitics, and a state that has been unable to delink itself from the influence of other powers due to its military dependency.

Turkey’s historical dependency on foreign military assistance started in the latter days of the nineteenth century, when the German Empire started investing in the Ottoman Empire (especially railroad and road development) to balance against the United Kingdom.[37] By 1914, and the onset of the First World War, the Ottoman government was under the control of a group of young military officers called the ‘Young Turks,’ and primarily under the direction of Enver Pasha, who later decided to ally with the Central Powers during the war. Although German Officers were instructing Ottoman forces prior to the First World War, soon after the ‘Guns of August’ rang out across Europe, the German Asienkorps along with their Ottoman counterparts, moved towards the British North Africa.[38]  To illustrate the level of strategic integration of the Germans in this theatre of war, German Admiral Wilhelm Souchon, who was made a Vice Admiral in the Ottoman navy, and General Liman von Sanders, took command of the newly-created Ottoman Fifth Army and led that army during the British failed Gallipoli Campaign.[39] German officers were heavily integrated within the Ottoman armed forces and had significant influence over war plans and strategy for the first few years of the war. However, by the time of the Russian Revolution in 1917, the cords of discontent were playing between the Germans and their Ottomans counterparts.

By early 1918, Enver Pasha concluded that German and Ottoman goals were no longer compatible after the Russian Empire had collapsed. With the signing of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk that ended the war in the East, the Ottoman recouped territory it lost during the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878), specifically the territories of Ardahan, Kars, and Batumi.[40] Nevertheless, during the negotiations, the Germans did not permit the Ottoman to make any further demands as it conflicted with Germany’s raison d’état, as Martin Sicker describes:

At the peace negotiations with Russia and Brest-Litovsk in 1918, Turkey was prevented from demanding a Russian withdrawal from Erzurum, Trebizond, in eastern Anatolia because the Russians would have   demanded reciprocity. This would have entailed a German withdrawal from Russian lands in Europe, something that Germany clearly was unwilling to do.[41]

Similar to the Ottomans being the junior partner with their German allies, a similar situation occurred when the Italians received less than originally promised during the Treaty of Versailles, as they did not obtain their main territorial claims of Fiume (present day Rijeka, Croatia) and Dalmatia.[42] As the Italians and Ottoman’s learned during the First World War, states that are the junior partners in a coalition cannot expect other states to do their bidding for them at the negotiation table; moreover if interests between the two states are not comparable it is highly unlikely that the junior state will get what it wants.

Turkey managed to stay out of the Second World War through the shrewd diplomacy of President İsmet İnönü; however, the calamity that took place throughout Europe, wreaked havoc on the continent’s economy. In response to the growing concerns of the spread of communism, the United States provided economic assistance to the so-called “Frontline States” of Greece and Turkey by January 1947, and to almost every other Western European state soon thereafter.[43] The European Recovery Program (ERP) –or as it is better known, the “Marshall Plan”– was one component in pre-empting any further Soviet encroachment in Europe by moving these states into an alliance against the Soviet Union. However, it was not until August 29, 1949, when the Soviet’s detonated their first atomic bomb that a major push to form deeper ties among Western bloc nations occurred.[44] By 1952, Greece and Turkey joined the original twelve NATO members and were then subsequently folded into its command structure. Given the unique overarching threat of the Cold War, Turkey’s membership in NATO was firmly in their national interests and that of its allies; however, when there was a divergence of micro interests during the détente era, Turkey was once again effected by the leading coalition partner, the United States.

On October 17, 1974, the United States Congress introduced a bill that imposed an arms embargo on the Turkish Republic as it deemed that it had: “substantially violated the 1947 agreement with the United States governing the use of U.S. supplied military equipment” during its military operations in Cyprus the year prior.[45] This event was a watershed moment that altered Turkish thinking on the need to create diversity in its military supply chain, as it was hit hard by the embargo.[46] The embargo had serious consequences for Turkey as it was almost completely dependent on the United States for all of its armed forces supplies. To circumvent the embargo, Turkey petitioned other NATO members, such as the United Kingdom, Italy, France, and especially West Germany, to fill in the supply and financial assistance gap.[47] As tension continued through 1975, Turkey increased its military expenditure and by 1977-1978, almost 30 percent of Turkey’s budget was used on its defence budget.[48] The invasion of Cyprus led to a serious economic crisis in Turkey throughout the middle and late 1970s and remains a pressure point in Western-Turkish relations even today.[49]  As this event demonstrates, even an important frontline NATO member during the Cold War can still be at the mercy of the another states if there is a divergence of interests. Although, it was still undoubtedly in Turkey’s raison d’état to remain under the NATO security umbrella until the end of the Cold War, this event sowed the seams of distrust between Turkey and the United States.

With the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989 and the end of the Cold War two years later, Turkey’s significance to the United States and NATO was put into question. With the Executive Branch of the United States government no longer actively lobbying to prevent the Legislative Branch to consider legislation that would reference Turkey’s (Ottoman) ostensible involvement in the Armenian genocide; couple with increasing pressure over Cyprus, and human rights violations pertaining to the Kurds, led to growing concerns among the Turkish elite that Turkey’s place of importance with the United States was fading.[50] This led Turkish officials to seriously discuss a new foreign policy route to establish greater Turkish autonomy in the international political system (neo-Ottomanism of the 1990s).[51] Nonetheless, the years between the fall of the Berlin Wall and the start of the Gulf War also weighed heavily on some Turkish strategists to prove that Turkey was still: “a reliable ally of the west… [and] an indispensable partner for protecting Western interests by overcoming the complicated polices of the Middle East.”[52]

On August 2, 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait and subsequently propelled Turkey back in the ‘frontline’ of international politics. When the Gulf War started in 1991, Turkish President Turgut Özal, in contrast to many others in his own party and in the military establishment (Foreign Minister Bozer, Defence Minister Giray, and General Staff Chief Torumtay all resigned in protest of Özal approach to Iraq), supported the United States’ efforts wholeheartedly, in part to his personnel relationship with President George H.W. Bush. Turkey allowed the use of its airspace to attack targets in Iraq and Kuwait.[53] In return for his support, Özal expected high levels of economic aid from the United States and Gulf states, and although a $4.2 billion defence  fund was set-up for Turkey, the embargo imposed on Iraq after the war, and the effects of the war itself, ravaged the Turkish economy in its Southeast as: “the loss of income from the Iraq-Turkey pipeline, large scale disruption of bilateral trade as well as border trade and the unemployment that this caused in south-eastern region, Iraq’s non-payment of its debts to Turkey.”[54]

Although at times Turkey received benefits from its strategic alliances, it also discovered the limitations and constraints imposed by being a junior partner of an alliance; as a result, domestic issues flamed up and in the eyes of many Turks, both in government and regular citizens. Throughout the 1990s, Turkey had a period of economic booms and busts as well as several weak coalition governments that created political and economic instability. In November 2000, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) provided Turkey with an emergency $11.4 billion in loans and Turkey was forced to sell many of its state-owned industries in an effort to balance the budget. Simultaneously, there was large-scale unemployment, a lack of credit, hyperinflation, and tax increases. Efforts to arrest the stress in Turkey’s financial system did not produce any meaningful results and by early 2001, the country was quickly falling into turmoil.[55] By November 2002, an election was held with the moderate Islamic AKP under now President Erdoğan winning by a landslide becoming the Turkey’s first single party government since 1987.[56]

The historical dependencies, as aforementioned, has constrained Turkey’s ability to achieve its national objectives and caused domestic issues. This was discussed when President Erdoğan outlined his government’s strategic vison to mark the 100th anniversary of the Republic, whereby he stated that eliminating military dependencies has been an important component of the government’s plan.  One such example occurred on March 16, 2015, when President Erdoğan in a speech at the inauguration ceremony of the newly established Radar and Electronic Warfare Technology Centre –launched by Turkey’s leading state-owned defence system producer, ASELSAN– stated that: “We [Turkey] plan to eliminate external dependency on defence equipment supply with ongoing projects and investments by 2023. We will not allow the use of any ready defence equipment without our being involved from design to production.”[57]

Turkey’s historical dependency is an important component when explaining the government’s current drive to create an indigenous military industry, or its original decision with the now scraped 2011 deal with China’s Precision Machinery Import and Export Cooperation (to co-develop a missile defence system that is incompatible with NATO’s). The historical dependency construct plays a vital role in the framework of the APK’s foreign policy doctrine neo-Ottomanism, as one key goal of that doctrine is to eliminate any foreign dependency on its military. Although, in the international relations literature, this behaviour is often cited as expected state behaviour within the framework of realpolitik; it will still have to be contextualized within a neo-Ottoman foreign policy doctrine that has recalibrated Turkey’s geopolitical orientation and aspirations. This is because creating a self-help component is structurally within the framework of realpolitik. Turkey’s international engagement –its denotation of vital interests and its policies towards other states– under neo-Ottomanism is not always calculated through a pure cost benefit analysis of its raison d’état.[58] Additionally, the rapid change in the polarity (non-polarity) of the international political system, provides further insights into how Turkey has been able to achieve greater international autonomy and influence.

Neo-Ottomanism and Changing Global Polarity

Changing global polarity and neo-Ottomanism are not mutually exclusive in causing Turkey’s drive towards the creation of its indigenous military industry, as these two factors overlap in effecting Turkish geopolitics. As such, these components represent a direct correlation in terms of outputs towards the rationale for creating an indigenous military industry and achieving the AKP’s aspirations of greater global autonomy and influence for Turkey. Therefore, to determine a future state that accounts for this new hard power component being utilised as a political instrument, both the international system and Turkey’s new foreign affairs doctrine will need to be further scrutinised and contextualisation.[59]

Figure 3, outlines at a high level how neo-Ottomanism and non-polarity work in-tandem to drive Turkey towards a final output of great global autonomy and influence through establishing an indigenous military industry:


Figure 3. How both neo-Ottomanism and a non-Polar system facilitates Turkey’s indigenous military industry to achieve greater global autonomy and influence

Creating an indigenous military industry enables Turkey to have a greater role on the international stage influencing other states through military transfers, as well as mitigating the influence of other states by reducing external dependencies of its armed forces. These consequences of having an indigenous military industry are influenced by neo-Ottomanism partial alignment to “structural” realpolitik (yet not to be confounded as pure realism). Non-polarity also influences Turkey’s drive toward greater global influence and autonomy, as the inherent nature of this political system facilitates a diffusion of power, enabling states to independently vie to influence other states. Having a robust exporting military industry in a non-polar world gives states “chips on the table” to play power politics; yet it can also create difficulty in cultivating influence as alliances are less predictable and states can be more susceptible to reserve leverage, as previously discussed.[60]

  1. Neo-Ottomanism:

Although similar states, such as, Italy, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom –which all have robust military industries– remain firmly entrenched in the so-called “western” alliance structure, Turkey has been rebuking NATO and the west on some issues over the last decade. At the crux of this shift is that unlike those aforesaid states, Turkey has desired a more proactive and augmented position in world affairs.[61] For example, former Turkish President Abdullah Gül stated that: “if you look at all the issues that are of importance to the world today, they [the west] have put Turkey in a rather advantageous position.”[62] This outlook is due in part to its reversal of the historical dependency that has hindered Turkey’s position in the world, but it also stems from a foreign affairs doctrine –neo-Ottomanism– that strives to reorient its geopolitics and views Turkey as a central power with an important regional role that has only recently started to crystalize in practice.

The change from Turkey’s traditional foreign policy doctrine –Kemalism– to neo-Ottomanism has been at the centre of Turkey’s foreign policy shift. Although, Kemalism has been Turkey’s foreign affairs doctrine since the founding of the Turkish Republic by the Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in 1923 (who had an affinity for French culture from his time spent in in France as a young Ottoman military observer in 1910), the origins of neo-Ottomanism have been sown into Turkey’s social fabric for generations; despite Atatürk’s attempts to universally westernize Turkey during his reforms of the 1920-1930s.[63]  In the Kemalist view, Turkey is a “European” state and it should revolve around a “European” axis in foreign affairs. Similar to Peter the Great’s westernization of Russia, Atatürk’s reorientation of Turkey towards Europe has been a pillar of Turkey’s foreign policy orientation most commonly known to Western foreign policy practitioners during the Cold War and the decade after.

When the AKP came to power in 2002, they reaffirmed the Kemalist desire to join Europe –by envisaging to join the European Union, and strenuously strove to accelerate Turkey’s membership bid. However, throughout the early 2000s, negotiations did not progress positively, and the AKP shifted away from a Euro-centric approach with some in the upper echelons of power believing Turkey did not need Europe or that it would never join the E.U. For example, Yiğit Bulut, a senior advisor to President Erdoğan, stated that Turkey has been: “used by Europe and its extensions” and for years, have been “humiliated and scorned” in the process. He continued to say that:  “today we don’t need this [E.U.] and the most important thing is that there is no Europe and it is impossible for it to be in the new balance of the world order.”[64] While former the Minister for European Union Affairs, Egemen Bağış, stated that: “In the long run I think Turkey will end up like Norway. We will be at European standards, very closely aligned but not as a member.”[65] As such, Turkey now seeks to become the so-called bridge between the West and the Middle East as well as aims to propagate greater ties and influence in Middle East, North Africa, and in the Somali Peninsula –all former Ottoman Empire states.

At the crux of this policy shift is the fundamental break from the Kemalist ideology and movement towards a neo-Ottomanism policy that has been promulgated by the AKP. This shift has become even more pronounced with the changing power dynamics and polarity of the international political system –increased non-polarity. Although the AKP’s leadership (especially its architect, now Prime Minster Davutoğlu) refer to their foreign policy doctrine as so-called “Strategic Depth,” a continuation of an approach that was started under Turgut Özal during his tenure as President in the early 1990s. In its current context, neo-Ottomanism aggrandizes Turkey’s Ottoman past by promoting the urbane roots and the legacy of the Ottoman Empire to achieve national prestige to rekindle its culture footprint globally.[66] This approach to international affairs does not neatly correlate to any general theory of international relations, but stems from a construct of how Turkey can positon itself geopolitically through its heritage.[67]

Due to a lack of an hard-power component, neo-Ottomanism has been traditionally deployed in a solely soft power capacity, as exemplified by the Somali case, which has often been cited as an engagement to highlight Turkey coming to the aid of a fellow predominantly-Muslim state that was once linked to the Ottoman Empire; yet it seemingly is not does not hold any vital strategic importance for Turkey.[68] A further outlook of what constitutes neo-Ottomanism’s outlook from a soft power and public diplomacy perspective is further explained by Ibrahim Kalın, a chief policy advisor to President Erdoğan, Kalın writes:

Reconnecting with its history and geography, Turkey ascribes strategic value to time and place in a globalized world, and is leaving behind the one-dimensional and reductionist perspectives of the Cold War era. From foreign policy, economy and public policy to education, media, arts and sciences, Turkey’s newly emerging actors position themselves as active players demanding the global transformation of centre-periphery relations in order to create a more democratic and fair world system. Political legitimacy has become an integral part of international relations in the 21st century. It is impossible to implement a policy that does not stand on legitimate grounds in a globalized system. In cases where there is lack of legitimacy, crises are inevitable and the cost is often too high. International public opinion has become a key point of reference for countries to define and implement their foreign policy.[69]

Since a neo-Ottoman doctrine is grounded in the construct of utilizing Turkey’s Ottoman past for its partial international engagement, it is important to underscore that this doctrine does not fall firmly within the framework of realpolitik in terms of its outputs; insofar as, the assumption that Turkey will act solely in its raison d’état with its international diplomacy, it in conflict with broader geopolitical realities or optimal payoffs –usually due to domestic political factors as Kalın pointed out.[70] This aspect of neo-Ottomanism creates a dichotomy with the self-help aspect, which is firmly a principle of realpolitik, within the neo-Ottoman doctrine.[71]

The self-help aspect of neo-Ottomanism is further outlined in now Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s amply named book: Stratejik Derinlik, Türkiye’nin Uluslararası Konumu (Strategic Depth, Turkey’s International Position). In Stratejik Derinlik, Davutoğlu grounds his approach with the framework of realpolitik and places a strong emphasis on Turkish autonomy and self-sufficiency.[72] The foundation of Davutoğlu’s theory stipulates that in order to maintain optimal independence, Turkey should not be dependent on any one state and pursue policies that actively find a way to balance its relationships and alliances.[73]  Prime Minister Davutoğlu reiterated this claim at a ceremony to mark the 100th anniversary of the Turkish (Ottoman) victory over the Dardanelles, when he emphasized the importance of a national military industry and self-reliance, stating that: “We [Turkey] lost World War I because the Ottoman state did not have its own combat technique… a nation that doesn’t have its own defence industry cannot have a claim to independence.”[74]

Adding to this self-help component of neo-Ottomanism, while also giving attention to Turkey’s pivot away from a solely Western approach of Kemalism, Josh Walker in his review of Prime Minister Davutoğlu’s Stratejik Derinlik, provides further insights into why Turkey is moving away from a Western-centric foreign policy orientation, Walker writes: “Strategic depth as applied to Davutoğlu’s emerging foreign policy agenda seeks to counterbalance Turkey’s dependencies on the West by courting multiple alliances to maintain the balance of power in its region. The premise of this agenda is that Turkey should not be dependent upon any one actor and should actively seek ways to balance its relationships and alliances so that it can maintain optimal independence and leverage on the global and regional stage. This new reading of Turkey’s history differs markedly from the traditional republican narrative that sought to sever all ties with the pre-Republican past and reject all things Ottoman.”[75]

As Walker points out, there is a certain national pride regarding Turkey’s Ottoman past that cuts through different social-cleavages of Turkish society. It is here that realism meets with an important domestic constructivist factor of being predisposed to Muslim countries and former Ottoman states that drives foreign policy within Turkey.[76] Ibrahim Kalın, in a report for the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Centre for Strategic Research (SAM), summaries the break from the full prescriptions of state behaviour under realpolitik, he states: “Turkey [foreign policy] is emerging as a result of a new geopolitical imagination on the one hand, and Turkey’s economic and security-based priorities on the other. The tectonic changes in Turkish foreign policy can be reduced neither to ideological considerations, nor to realpolitik anxieties.”[77]

Therefore, it is essential to underscore that Turkey’s investment in its indigenous military industry initiative fits neatly into part of the narrative of a neo-Ottoman foreign policy doctrine that seeks to rid Turkey of its foreign dependencies, creates further international autonomy, and grows its global influence. It does not, however, drive Turkey’s actual engagement strategy; rather, it enables it to be able to pursue the constructivist elements of neo-Ottomanism –styling itself as the heir to the Ottoman Empire and a protector of Turkic-speaking people across the arc of Central Asia.[78] Alternatively, it is imperative to separate the external goals of neo-Ottomanism and not simply juxtapose it with realpolitik, unless structurally classified in the self-help framework.[79] While similar to soft power, an indigenous military industry is another foreign policy lever, albeit more powerful, that can pull to increase its global influence and autonomy, while concurrently targeting its neighbouring states to predominantly influence.

As a neo-Ottoman foreign policy expands Turkish hard power projection, it will be in an advantageous position to use its military industry to shape the politics of the Middle East by supplying weapons to states without incurring direct costs to its military. Already, reports have alleged that Turkey’s state intelligence agency (Millî İstihbarat Teşkilat) helped deliver arms to parts of Syria under Islamist rebel control from early 2014 into 2015.[80] With this contextualization of neo-Ottomanism in Turkish foreign policy, coupled with its break from Kemalism, Turkey is on a new foreign policy course and has a new hard-power component enabling it to continue to pursue the constructs of its foreign policy doctrine. Currently, with the emergence of new regional powers and the relative decline of West, Turkey also has additional space to operate within a less rigid political system as the age of non-polarity starts to grip in the international political system.

  1. Changing Global Polarity

As the ground shifted in Turkey, it was also shifting globally. Over the last 30 years, the polarity of the international political system has transitioned three times: From the Soviet-American bipolar system of the Cold War, to the American “unipolar moment” during the disintegration of the Soviet Union, to the contemporary emergence of the age of non-polarity. The age of non-polarity has fostered a new allocation of power throughout the international political system with ever increasing competition for influence.[81] From tension in Southeast Asia over Spratly Islands, to Ukraine’s tug of war between Moscow and Brussels, to Saudi Arabia and Iran’s proxy war over Yemen, the international system has become more crowded with major players at the regional level. This has facilitated more competition amongst states geopolitically and has steadily changed how the international system operates and even puts into question how alliances are formed, maintained, and if they can remain predictable.

Unlike a multi-polar system, an important feature of non-polar world is there are many more power centres (regional powers versus classic great power balancing), and quite a few of these centres are also non-state actors. In other words, the primacy of the nation-state is not paramount in a non-polar world, and the system itself is more ad hoc and transaction with more of a regional diffusion of power. This does not mean that nation-state no-longer matters, but Richard Haass outlines the framework of a non-polar world in The Age of Nonpolarity, explains that the traditional alliance structures governing state relations since the end of the Second World War are no longer a relevant understanding of the current international system. He further explains that the relationships between states are becoming more selective and transactional:

Non-polarity complicates diplomacy. A nonpolar world not only involves more actors but also lacks the more predictable fixed structures and relationships that tend to define worlds of uni-polarity, bipolarity, or multi-polarity. Alliances, in particular, will lose much of their importance, if only because alliances require predictable threats, outlooks, and obligations, all of which are likely to be in short supply in a nonpolar world. Relationships will instead become more selective and situational. It will become harder to classify other countries as either allies or adversaries; they will cooperate on some issues and resist on others.[82]

Besides greater unpredictability of alliances, a non-polar system is also less rigid when compared to a system of uni-polarity, bi-polarity, or multi-polarity. This is because non-polarity has numerous centres of meaningful power, yet no dominating centre.[83] For Haass, there is a diffusion of power that goes beyond a state or a superpower, and power is also allocated to multi-national organizations and non-state actors, for example.[84] A non-polar world, in summary, is a complex and messy international system and one where: “leading powers lead, albeit in consultation and cooperation with (and their interests taken into account) second tier actors, however fluid and issue-specific the coalitions may be.”[85]

Turkey’s efforts to adapt to the emerging geopolitical configuration of a non-polar world is also a factor in driving Turkey towards an indigenous military industry, as it needs a self-help mechanism to protect itself from growing global uncertainly as well as a mechanism to influence other states beyond its traditional utilization of Soft Power. As a result, the age of non-polarity is driving Turkey towards an indigenous military industry in two distinct ways. First, since the international system is a less rigid system, there is more flexibility for Turkey to take a divergent foreign policy path from its NATO alliance structure. This does not equate carte blanche when dealing with its ‘partners,’ but given that a neo-Ottoman foreign policy doctrine seeks to alter Turkey’s geopolitical augmentation, it overlaps with a system that is inherently more conducive to power shifts and creates a window to actively alter the conditions it interfaces with the west.[86]  As a result, Turkey understood that a “chip on the table” is required to play the game of great power politics beyond Soft Power to achieve greater global influence and autonomy.[87] Second, an indigenous military industry provides Turkey with a self-help framework that bolsters its own security in a world that alliances are less predictable and more uncertain.

Turkey has already shown its willingness to pursue an independent foreign policy objective against the position of a superpower. One example is through its 2008 invasion into northern Iraq, which went against the United States position.[88] Turkey was able to perform this military action due in part to a system that has a strategic calculus which goes behind a binary “do or don’t” expectation that sometimes gripped the bi-polar Cold War system. In the age of non-polarity, if a state achieved enough influence or removed foreign leverage (having chips on the table), it can successfully navigate between great powers and superpowers to achieve its desired outcomes, or it can pursue policies that go against an “allied state” more easily, as recurrent cooperation of an alliance system is no-longer expected.[89] For example, Turkey’s decision to assist different rebel groups in Syria than the United States, while Russia bolstered the Bashar al-Assad regime, highlights how a regional power can operate more overtly and unilaterally in a system so long as it has the desire and power to make a credible challenge, and the need for other transactions further down the line.[90]

Alternatively, the creation of a military industry, ensures state security through a self-help framework, as it is also an expected state behaviour under the perceptions of realpolitik and is structurally occurring due to the influence of non-polarity. This is a structural occurrence given that Turkey is feeling less secured in a non-polar world due to increased volatility and instability of the international political system. As such, alliances are becoming less predictable and relations are conducted on more of an ad hoc basis. As Özgür Ünlühisarcikli of the German Marshall Fund, states: “during the last three years and I think it is a result of the destabilization along Turkey’s borders… [It] is feeling less secure.”[91] As discussed, the external goals of neo-Ottomanism should not be confounded of Turkey acting strictly under perceptions of realpolitik. This structural occurrence under non-polarity provides further rationale of Turkey’s drive towards an indigenous military industry under a self-help framework that is system driven, but also correlates with a neo-Ottoman outlook.

Kenneth Waltz’s describes his self-help framework in his book: Theory of International Relations. He writes: States do not willingly place themselves in situations of increased dependence. In a self-help system, considerations of security subordinate economic gain to political interest.”[92] Watlz’s assessment provides two important insights into how the system is also moving Turkey towards its military industry. First, security is the leading concern of a state in an anarchical world and the payoff received for being independent in this matter are the highest, as survival is at stake. Second, states can receive payoffs from increasing their hard-power to influence other states, this is simply the receiving outputs of the payoffs of reversing Waltz’s self-help framework by creating a dependency or a need on another state.  Given that a non-polar world is more ad hoc, Turkey is adjusting to this world through developing further hard-power capabilities.[93]

Both neo-Ottomanism and non-polarity are contributing to Turkey’s drive towards an indigenous military industry –an industry that has the potential to become an important mechanism in statecraft, mitigating the influence of foreign powers and projecting over other states. By being less constrained, states are theoretically able to pursue policies that will achieve relative gains and have the latitude to directly pursue objectives that might diverge from a traditional alliance structure.  As such, the “future” of Turkish foreign policy and its ability to utilize a military industry as a political instrument is predicated upon: the longevity of the non-polar system, neo-Ottomanism, and sustained economic and political continuity, as Turkey is guided by a new grand strategy in international affairs that seeks greater international autonomy and influence. With this collective narrative on the prime factors driving the Turkish state from both a domestic and systematic view, this paper will now hypothesize what is the “future state” of Turkish foreign policy with an indigenous military industry.

Turkish Foreign Policy with an Indigenous Military Industry

The contextualization of neo-Ottomanism, the shift in the polarity of the international political system, and the effects of Turkey’s historical dependency on foreign arms, are all vital factors in establishing a hypothesis of the “future state” of Turkish foreign policy that accounts for an indigenous military industry. This collective narrative of the following two observations, then provides an overarching theorem of how Turkey is expected to behave in the international arena that calculates for how this military industry will be utilized as a political instrument:

  • Hypothesis #1: Turkey will continue to invest in its military industry as it makes for good domestic politics; boosting support for a neo-Ottoman foreign doctrine that will guide Turkey’s international engagement.
  • Hypothesis #2: Continued investment in a military industry makes Turkey more self-sufficient; resulting in its ability to pursue an autonomous foreign policy that defects from NATO’s policy positions when interests diverge.

These observations are not mutually exclusive of one another, as both have to occur in order to establish a singular hypothesis that predicts: how the establishment of an indigenous military industry is part of Turkey’s purposeful plan to pursue an independent foreign policy that is less constrained and beholden toward any specific geopolitical orientation; especially one centred around NATO, Europe, and the United States, as Turkey aspires to be recognized as an independent and influential global player on the international stage. These observations converge into one hypothesis that describes an understanding of what future effects of a future indigenous military industry will have on Turkish foreign policy that accounts military industry.

  1. Hypothesis #1

The inputs of public opinion on foreign policy should not be discounted as a secondary factor in the political calculus of a state.[94] In most forms of government, and especially in democratic societies, domestic politics can be a significant contributing factor in a state’s ability to conduct foreign affairs –even during instances that seem to be counterproductive to their own national interest.[95] This is because national leaders are accountable to public opinion and at times are placed in difficult positions by the behaviour of their citizens. This was illustrated by Turkey’s recent clash with China over the situation pertaining to its Muslim Uighur populace, as well as the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident (Gaza flotilla raid).[96] As the 2014 Kobane crisis has shown, elections, public opinion, and other domestic factors can drive foreign affairs.[97]

There is a robust body of literature pertaining to the actual impact of domestic politics on foreign affairs and vice-versa. The crux to understanding the future implications of Turkey’s military industry is through a determination of domestic support for policy continuation, insofar as sustained domestic support for the AKP government equates a continued neo-Ottoman foreign doctrine, which in-turn dictates Turkey’s international engagement. The assumption that domestic politics effects international relations is important to examine both through the perspective of public opinion outputs: the view of the public pertaining to a specific country or organization that effects foreign relations, and the perspective of public opinion inputs: the view of the public pertaining to a set of politics that are domestically focused but influenced by foreign affairs.

Public opinion inputs regarding Turkey’s defence sector first took the place of primacy as an important policy position by the APK government during the 2011 parliamentary elections. In the weeks leading up to that election, the Turkish pressed covered how the APK focused on the defence industry at campaign rallies:

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, is putting an unprecedented emphasis on the defence industry in its campaign for the June 12 elections. The party’s promises focus on establishing and developing a domestic industry that comes near to being self-sufficient. PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan says the capital city of Ankara will become the headquarters of the sector…Visions for the defence industry have not played a key role in election campaigns by either a ruling or opposition party ahead of previous Turkish polls. But this year, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been holding up Turkey’s developing national defence industry as one of the pillars of a modern economy in the 2020s. In the weeks leading up to the nationwide parliamentary election that will be held June 12, Erdoğan had made three major speeches on the national defence industry.[98]

The AKP won the 2011 elections with 49.83% of the vote, a 3.25% increase from the 2007 general election, thus affirming domestic support for AKP policies.[99] This support was cemented when the AKP won the next election cycle in November 2015, as it was once again given a full mandate to govern for another four-years.[100] During his election campaign Prime Minister Davutoğlu “often pledged that his government would give a full go-ahead to Turkey’s indigenous weapons systems programs, including drones, a dual-use regional jet, submarines, frigates, a new generation tank and even a fighter jet.”[101]

Further adding to the domestic support for a stronger Turkey is public opinion surrounding Turkey’s position in world affairs. An October 2015 Research Centre poll found that: “people in Turkey think that their country should garner more respect around the world than it currently does. In all, 54% of Turks say they deserve more respect compared with the 36% who think Turkey is as respected as it should be.”[102] As the military industry can serve as a catalyst for greater international prestige, investment in the defence sector makes for good domestic politics, especially when coupled with neo-Ottomanism. Given that Turkey’s growing defence sector is an established policy preference of the AKP, there is an inordinate unlikelihood that the ruling government will defect from this policy position, as it is both domestically popular and something they are spearheading. Other political parties are at risk of punishment if they choose to defect on this issue, as the AKP can paint the opposition as appearing weak on defence or on the economy that is supplemented by a robust defence sector, or bandwagoning with the west and NATO in the realm of foreign policy.[103]

Domestic opinion and its influence on a leader’s international engagement, as well as being a coalition partner with a highly unpopular country and its policies, can be domestically punishing for a democratic leader. For example, the 2003 Spanish, 2006 Italian, and 2010 Dutch elections, all saw incumbent governments collapse and lose the subsequent election due in part to supporting the United States wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, respectively.[104] Public opinion can shape a leader’s policy, as costs are incurred for following a domestically unpopular policy, such as, falling back to a solely Western foreign policy orientation, providing that he or she makes any substantial change in Turkey’s military sector investment to become more dependent on the west.[105]

While there is low public confidence for NATO in Turkey, another Pew poll found that: “Turks are hesitant to live up to their Article 5 obligation to come to the aid of another NATO country if it is attacked. Nearly half (47%) say Turkey should not use military force to defend a NATO ally if Russia got into a serious military conflict with that country.”[106] With over half the Turkish public believing Turkey should have more global influence; coupled with an increasingly deteriorating perception of NATO, Turkish leaders will be harder pressed to cooperate or appear taking a back seat in foreign affairs. As a result, its growing military sector has become an important source of national pride, while military independence has become a central policy position of the APK and “another side of Turkey’s rise” in the Middle East.[107]

The staying power of sustained investment in an indigenous military industry is vital for an understanding of the future state of Turkish foreign affairs. Through the establishment of a self-help framework that is supported by neo-Ottomanism polices and reinforced by historical experiences, the effects of a more unpredictable international system are being driven by non-polarity and public opinion concerns. As such, there are structural, international, and domestic drivers that provide compelling evidence that Turkish investment in its military industry will not wane. Therefore, it is expected that Turkish investment in its military industry will be stay constant until the APK achieve its goal of total military independence from foreign arms by 2023.

  1. Hypothesis #2

As discussed in the introduction, “hard power is not the sole variable that governs a state’s ability to project power or to conduct statecraft;” yet “a military dependency, like all dependencies, places a constraint on a state’s capacity to independently conduct statecraft.” As such, Turkey’s defence sector has a utility function for achieving its aspirations of being a global power, and also further emboldens its pursuit of neo-Ottoman objectives.  Through both military aid or weapon transfers and the curtailment of domestic military need, Turkey’s defence sector gives it the ability to play the game of power politics and pursue a more autonomous foreign policy from that of NATO. While domestic support for counterbalancing outside influence underpins this trends continuity.

As Turkey closes in on its 2023 goal of becoming entirely self-sufficient on its defence sector to meet its military needs, it will have eliminated a powerful mechanism by which it can be influenced by other states, especially western powers. As a result, Turkey has the ability to distance itself from NATO to pursue a more autonomous foreign policy when its interests diverge from those powers. Additionally, due to non-polarity, Turkey can also seek more transactional cooperation with non-NATO powers in order to achieve absolute gains against those powers when opportunities arise.[108]  However, it is important to not confound increased autonomy with the belief that Turkey will leave NATO, but rather that the strategic calculus and conditions under which it seeks to cooperate with NATO has and will continue to evolve.

Turkey’s policies related to the arming of non-moderate Islamic rebels in Syria (such as Jabhat al-Nusra), the tentative deal with China pertaining to Turkey’s missile shield, and even its small quarrel over the appointment of former Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen to Secretary General of NATO in 2009, have shown its willingness to rebuke preferred NATO positions.[109] On several occasions, Turkey has also signalled its willingness to cooperate and work with states other than its traditional western partners (See Table 1)


Table 1. Turkey’s Political Conflict with the West

While Turkey’s defence sector affords it the ability to pursue an autonomous foreign policy, western policy practitioners will need to be more in-tune to the micro and macro changes of its relationship, determine areas of common interests, and be selective with those areas to cooperate with Turkey. For example, James Clapper, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, told the U.S. Congress he was not optimistic that Turkey would do more against ISIS because it had “other priorities and other interests.”[116] As the policies of neo-Ottomanism are further expounded and obtainable through military independence, it creates a higher probability of Turkey diverging from NATO; yet that does not mean Turkey is leaving NATO.[117]

Until a critical mass of leverage is established upon other states or influential non-state actors, Turkey is limited in its ability to achieve its neo-Ottoman objectives, and can in conflict with the United States and NATO’s when common interests diverge. As shown, Turkey’s foreign policy movements since the Arab Awakening proved its engagement preference of trying to cultivate greater global autonomy and influence.[118] Therefore, through the utilization of its military industry as a political instrument, Turkey can generate leverage to influence other states through military aid or weapons transfers.

  1. An Indigenous Military Industry utilized as a Political Instrument

To understand how hard power will be utilized, first it is necessary to understand why it is needed over soft power. As mentioned, Turkey has relied on its soft power to achieve greater global influence and power. Turkey’s first attempt to generate greater influence was at an apropos moment for soft power during the Arab Awakening, when the Middle East saw many dictatorial governments collapse or be overthrown.  In the power vacuum that followed, Turkey went on a Soft Power offensive to cultivate influence in those states; especially Prime Minster Erdoğan, who travelled to Tunisia and Egypt and throughout the Middle East to drum up support from the less secular and more religious segment of the countries that were suppressed.[119] This led to an increase of influence and prestige for the Turkish state, thrusting them into the frontline of international politics, as Turkey was hailed as the model of democracy in the Middle East.[120]

By mid-2011, the Arab Awakening subsided and caught many Turkish policymakers by surprise.[121] Turkey thought that the regime of Bashar al-Assad would quickly collapse; yet he has since managed to hang onto power, causing a quagmire. In other cases, the old regimes have returned in to power in the Middle East. As a result, Turkey did not adjust its geopolitical position and lost much of its influence with those states, and has become increasingly isolated in the current geopolitics of the Middle East.[122] Turkey’s overt subversion in the domestic affairs of some states and outward hostility to the new regimes, have made rapprochement difficult, and has significantly diminished its own influence and soft power in the process.[123]  A clear example of this is the case in Egypt, where Turkish-Egyptian relations went from robust cooperation to opposing political tit-for-tat moves.

Upon the ousting of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, Turkey heavily supported the democratically-elected Muslim Brotherhood government led by Mohamed Morsi, resulting in a “honeymoon” period of cooperation and trade in Turkish-Egyptian relations. Relations between the two states were growing until Morsi was usurped in a military coup d’état by Egypt’s current President, General Abdel el-Sisi in 2011. Instead of trying to make new bedfellows with the new regime in Cairo, President Erdoğan went on the offensive and publicly attacked President el-Sisi domestically and at the United Nations citing Morsi’s ouster as unlawful.[124] As a result, President el-Sisi’s administration decided to cancel the important “Ro-Ro” agreement with Turkey (signed during President Morsi’s reign), effectivity blocking it from transporting containers to the Gulf via Egyptian ports, and also spearheaded a successful campaign against Turkey’s bid for a rotating Security Council seat on the United Nation’s Security Council.[125]

A similar case occurred in Tunisia, when Turkey heavily supported the Ennahda Movement, but influence was again diminished when the Ennahda government stepped aside so a national unity government could be formed to redesign the Tunisian constitution.[126] As a result of failing to maintain its influence during the aftermath of Arab Awakening, Turkey has since become isolated in the Middle East. This has occurred due to increased regime change as shown by Egypt and Tunisia, or in anarchy-gripped states, such as Libya and Syria, Turkey is having trouble inserting influence over different competing factions as other global powers are engaged in a micro proxy wars.[127] Regardless, if Turkey’s isolation is either temporary or systemic, Turkey learned two important lessons. First, the staying power of soft power is limited and its reach occurs if they can work with likeminded governments. Second, the outcome of those proxy or over-turning the status quo requires hard power leverage.[128]

Given the driving force of neo-Ottomanism and its ambition both domestically and at the governmental level, it is unlikely that it will detour from pursing its goal of greater global and autonomy. As such, barring any regime change, Turkey’s only chess piece to move to cultivate regional influence is through coercive diplomacy, and therefore, a future state of foreign policy is predicated upon its ability to target states or non-state actors that have no other place to turn to or are looking for a new partner. This creates the risk of Turkey being leveraged by other states or actors that can temporary bandwagon for short-term gains, because it has not yet created a critical mass of weapon exports to any particular state, and would not be able to receive transfers from another state. In other words, Turkey does not have a “paternalism” over another state, but as Turkish ambition grows in parallel with its military industry, this dynamic may also change.

Turkey has the latitude to enter into a new age of statecraft –also aided by the change in the international political systems due to the era of non-polarity– where it can leverage its hard power means to derive payoffs to garner great international autonomy and influence.  Since military or interior affairs does not only govern a state’s ability to protect its citizens (or control), it is also a mechanism by which one state can influence another state vis-à-vis coercive diplomacy. Therefore, to understand how Turkey can use its military industry to gain influence, it is important to first qualify how military transfers equate geopolitical payoffs and influence.

Coercive influence could be utilized in a multitude of ways, but it is most often deployed through deterrence, compellence, or direct violence. However, only corpulence and deterrence will be assumed as the underlying mechanism to understand how a military industry, specifically Turkey’s, can be utilized to forge successful, coercive diplomacy. Often cited by Carl Von Clausewitz puts it: “war [is] a continuation of politics by other [violent] means,” and therefore no longer coercive in an ad bellem situation where a state can exercise influence through military transfers.[129] Unlike deterrence, compellence shifts the initiative of the first action to the coercer and will subsequently affect an opposing leader’s decision tree. For example, in a hostage situation, compellence involves the police threatening a suspect with death if he or she does not surrender; while deterrence is what should have prevented an offender from taking any hostages in the first place.  Both compellence and deterrence are underpinned by the credibility of the coercer.[130] Therefore, if a state is dependent on another state for military supplies, then that state is susceptible to coercion by the state that supplies its weapons. Adversely, a state that has a dependency cannot issue a threat without any credibility behind it, because another state is aware of this dependency. As a result, a state will then have to evaluate whether or not the ramifications for defecting would be too costly before acting.

Another important component of effective coercive diplomacy is decrypting the actual gains of the influence that military aid generates. This analysis requires an understanding of what are the potential pitfalls or benefits of giving and receiving military aid. There is clear empirical evidence regarding the importance of military aid and its impact upon recipient states, yet there is also a false assumption that the state giving aid also benefits. For example, the United States deployment of military aid directly after the September 11th attacks, was both beneficial and detrimental. Providing military aid to the former Soviet Republic of Georgia had clear benefits, in that, the United States had an ally in former President Mikheil Saakashvili: he committed 2,000 soldiers to support the U.S. war effort in Iraq.[131] However, in the case of Pakistan, the United States gave billions of dollars in military aid, which in turn, was funnelled to extremist groups, including the very same Haqqani network and Taliban militants who are killing U.S. soldiers fighting in Afghanistan.[132]

Although both aforesaid states received generous military aid, the United States expected to gain influence in both states; however, failed to recognize the differences between the two state’s own internal objectives and international position. In the case of Georgia, they viewed Russia as a major outside threat and needed a powerful ally to ensure their own security and state survival.  Additionally, most of the Georgian military makeup prior to American security cooperation were outdated Soviet equipment, which made them especially vulnerable to Russian influence.[133] In the case of Pakistan, although they are in direct competition with India and feel internally threaten by the Indian state, they are also a nuclear power and not threatened directly by the Taliban in a traditional war situation.[134] This military aid was mostly not deployed by Pakistan against America’s foe –the Taliban– but used to counterbalance against India’s growing military power.[135] Second, Pakistan’s long-standing policy of destabilizing Afghanistan and having close ties to the Taliban, did not correlate with American interests.[136] The situation of U.S. aid to Pakistan is a textbook case of the Reverse Leverage model, where rather than inducing compliance, generous U.S. military funding created a strong client state who was able to ignore U.S. interests and play the U.S. off against other powers.[137] In effect, Pakistan understood that the United States wanted to influence them and allowed that perception to continue.[138]

In the Turkish case, the same concepts and lessons also apply as it has started to carve out an autonomous foreign policy. Given that neo-Ottomanism is a socially constructed policy, Turkey is also more susceptible to potentially falling into a reserve leverage situation, as it will seek to build coalitions that are not always associated with its raison d’état; insofar supporting a group or state that is closer to its own non-secular ideology over other regimes (as demonstrated through its action during and after the so-called “Arab Awakening”). A second example is the arming of Syrian rebels considered to be too extreme for the United States and other NATO allies.[139] This situation gave Turkey the opportunity to reap payoffs if rebels were successful in overthrowing the Syrian government; but instead has created a situation of being drawn into a reverse leverage situation, where it has lost influence to Russia and the United States. Through supporting some rebels over others and working outside the scope of other major powers, Turkey has painted itself into a corner, as Russia increases involvement in bolstering the Bashar al-Assad regime and the United States ends their aid to rebels. Turkey is left isolated and only influential over a marginalized group and has no other choice but to support the rebels, as it has no other prospect of influencing other stakeholders at this point in time.[140]

The potential payoffs stemming from Turkey’s military industry is dependent upon how far a dependency can grow. In this regard, there are several payoff or punishment scenarios that are predicated upon if an opposing actor either believes they need Turkey (as they do not have any other partners to turn to), or believe they can play Turkey off another state to reap further rewards. The payoff matrix below highlights what Turkey can expect in terms of payoff or punishment on arms transfers as a part of its foreign policy initiatives. The matrix is denoted through a logical game structure. For example, if Turkey supplies arms to a state, it receives the payoffs of both influence and return on investment, while if the recipient state does not become dependent, it still receives what it wants. If the state becomes dependent to a supplier state, then that state receives a greater payoff, as it can exercise greater influence, while the client state can be swayed more easily by the supplier state. If the client state realizes its dependency and seeks to counterbalance by finding a new supplier state, the supplier state loses its influence and leverage.


Table 2. Payoff Matrix on Arm Transfers

As shown by this illustrative payoff matrix, Turkey, similar to other states, has to determine the context and conditions for utilizing its indigenous military industry as a political instrument. As such, the balance of how Turkey can garner regional influence is asymmetrical rather than a linear progression.


Given the principles and popularity of neo-Ottomanism, Turkey could possibility be a supplier to a future Palestinian state or non-state actors fighting against Middle Eastern regimes, such as in Syria, Yemen, and Iraq, for example. Yet, it will have to choose wisely so it is not trapped into one side, as a zero-sum game will dictate the policy and any leverage or influence generated will be nullified. As covered, neo-Ottomanism is a doctrine that is not always based in realpolitik and thus is susceptible constructs of creating a sphere of influence with former states of the Ottoman Empire.  With Turkey currently marginalized in the international system, coupled with its failure to utilize soft power gains, there is evidence that Turkey will use its military industry to garner influence; however, more research is needed to fully calculate the scope of this political phenomenon.

Over the last five years, Turkey’s defence sector has doubled in revenue, a plethora of new projects are being launched, while other projects are being deployed. This coincides with Turkey meeting almost a two-third of military needs domestically and on track to meet all of its military needs by 2023. As a result, Turkey has rid itself of an import influencing lever of the West, and has become self-reliant in regards to its military need. Additionally, its defence sector is penetrating international markets and has gained modest headway in some sectors. However, Turkey has yet been able to create enough influence or leverage over other states through military assistance or military weapon transfers, and it remains to be unseen if it can establish such a dependency. What is known is that staying power of this charted course in international relations is underpinned by the domestic attitudes which further pushes Turkey in this direction. As a result, the popularity of neo-Ottomanism will produce continued and sustained investment in a defence sector, as it makes for good domestic politics and a mechanism to tap into Turkish nationalism. Therefore, the staying power of an indigenous military is most likely going to occur, and will have lingering ramifications for the Middle East and for NATO.

Turkey’s ability to rid itself of its external military dependency has already had a wide ranging effect on its international and domestic politics. As this paper explored, the causal mechanism for the creation of Turkey’s indigenous military industry, and the future state of its foreign policy with this new hard component are vast. First, Turkey’s historical dependency on foreign arms has caused “painful experiences” and distrust among both the domestic populace and government’s attitude towards alliances –especially the United States– and moved Turkey towards a self-help framework. Second, and most importantly, is the AKP’s neo-Ottoman doctrine that seeks to establish Turkey at vanguard of the Muslim world, and to have influence the states that once were a part of the Ottoman Empire. Third, an international political system governed by non-polarity is shaping Turkish foreign policy, as the relationships between states are becoming more selective and transactional, which in-turn makes alliances less predictable and causes a need for a self-sufficient national defence.

These casual mechanisms deposited an understanding of the creation of an indigenous military industry and provided insight into how Turkey will utilize its nascent, albeit growing, defence sector as a political instrument. Through this understanding, this paper can hypothesize that the future state of Turkish foreign policy will be one that is less constrained and less beholden toward any specific geopolitical orientation, especially one centred on NATO, Europe, and the United States of America; may utilise its military industry to cultivate influence in the Middle East and around the globe as it aspires to be recognized as an independent and influential global player on the international stage. Additionally, it can also lead Turkey astray into circumstances beyond what is purely in its raison d’état.

Overall, this paper posited an inchoate form of what Turkey’s foreign policy future looks like, accounting for its military industry being used as a political instrument and juxtaposed within the confines of a contextualized neo-Ottoman foreign policy and against the backdrop of non-polarity.  As such, more research and models are needed to fully encompass this political phenomena, especially on how neo-Ottomanism can also hinder Turkey’s ability to grow its military industry in terms of sales, given the government’s overarching foreign policy and relationship with military vendors. However, what can be understood so far is that through the establishment of its military industry, Turkey has enabled itself to pursue a more independent foreign policy that corresponds to greater global autonomy. This, in turn, will enable Turkey to garner greater global influence in the future, especially in the Middle East.

Matthew Gullo, Deputy Editor, Centre for Policy and Research on Turkey (Research Turkey)

Please cite this publication as follows:

Gullo M. (June, 2016), “Turkey’s Power Play: The Creation of an Indigenous Military Industry and its Neo-Ottoman Offensive”, Vol. V, Issue 6, pp.14 – 73, Centre for Policy and Research on Turkey (ResearchTurkey), London, Research Turkey. (http://researchturkey.org/?p=11995)

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VIII. Endnotes

[*]Matthew T. Gullo is a Deputy Editor with the Centre for Policy and Research on Turkey (Research Turkey).  He received his Master’s Degree in Political Science with a focus on Turkish Politics and International Relations from Duke University. The thoughts reflected in this paper are solely that of the author and are non-attributed to any other entities.

[1] Neo-Ottomanism has replaced traditional Kemalism as the new Turkish foreign policy doctrine. Neo-Ottomanism calls for Turkey to win regional support through perpetuating the Ottoman Empire’s legacy to achieve influence, Furthermore, it calls for ridding itself of any foreign dependency and not be solely oriented towards Europe. More about neo-Ottomanism will be defined in later sections of this paper. For more on Turkey’s contemporary foreign affairs – neo-Ottomanism – doctrine, see Gullo (2012) and Walker (2010).  Example of Turkey’s soft power is Prime Minister (now President) Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s unprecedented 2012 journey to Mogadishu with the Red Crescent to deliver humanitarian aid, and to raise awareness of Somalia’s two-decade civil war, see Gullo (2012a).

[2] Niccolo Machiavelli writes in Chapter 12 that: “Mercenaries and auxiliaries are useless and dangerous; and if one holds his state based on these arms, he will stand neither firm nor safe; for they are disunited, ambitious and without discipline, unfaithful, valiant before friends, cowardly before enemies; they have neither the fear of God nor fidelity to men, and destruction is deferred only so long as the attack is; for in peace one is robbed by them, and in war by the enemy” See Machiavelli (2009) The Prince, Chapter 12. For full context of de Gulle’s national independence in regards to using nuclear weapons (Force de Frappe) to remove the dependency of NATO for its nation defense and to pursue an independent foreign policy (politics of grandeur) see Furniss (1961). For Kenneth Waltz’s self-help framework and its relation to state survival, see Waltz (1979) pages 88-93.  Overall, the Sforza examples highlight an instance when a state (Milan) was unable to defend itself due to the reliance of non-Milanese soldiers making up their ranks. This is similar to how a state cannot fight if it does not have a reliable supply of weapons in its armed forces. While in the de Gulle example, France showed how France able to leave NATO’s command structure and act at will by using nuclear weapons as a reliable deterrence.

[3] In Palmer (2002), the authors state that: “Foreign aid, at the most general level, is a tool of influence –states give it because they believe it encourages recipients to take desired actions.” While de Mesquita (2007) proposes a model that foreign aid is used to purchase policy support from recipients. States are most likely to give aid to ‘‘countries whose leaders do not inherently support the policies of the donor state, but are willing to back those policies in exchange for aid that improve their political and economic welfare.

[4] “The United States has provided significant military and economic assistance to Egypt since the late 1970s. Successive U.S. Administrations have routinely justified aid to Egypt as an investment in regional stability, built primarily on long-running cooperation with the Egyptian military and on sustaining the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty” Sharp (2015). For more on Egypt-U.S. relations and military aid, see Sharp (2015).

[5] Realism prescribes that states bandwagon when there is no possibility to balance against a rival state or coalition due to either geography or a lack of military or future latent power. States that bandwagon tacitly allow a rival state or coalition to achieve relative gains power. In realism, bandwagoning is used by weaker states because the stronger state can take what it wants by force anyway, so it is better to join the stronger state. For more on Bandwagoning and realisms position on power in the international politic system, see Mearsheimer (2001); especially pages 55-57 and pages 162-165, and Waltz (1979).

[6] Schelling (1966) writes: “The only purpose, unless sport or revenge, must be to influence somebody’s behaviour, to coerce his decision or choice. To be coercive, violence has to be anticipated. And it has to be avoidable by accommodation. The power to hurt is bargaining power. To exploit it is diplomacy–vicious diplomacy, but diplomacy,” page 2.

[7] Although theoretically cohesion can seem rather straightforward, as Jentleson (2006) points out it can be very also multidimensional, he writes: “In broad terms the prospects for successful coercive diplomacy depend on the costs of noncompliance that can be imposed on the target state and the benefits of compliance that can be offered being greater than that state’s countervailing benefits of noncompliance and costs of compliance. A coercer state’s ability to tip this balance in its favour rests on its meeting three key criteria: proportionality, reciprocity, and coercive credibility,” page 3. As such, successful coercion hinges about several factors for success including a domestic component. In terms, of withholding arms transfers to a state that is dependent for the arms that the coercer states supply, the same principles of proportionality, reciprocity, and coercive credibility apply. This is because if the coercer state is not strategic or careful it can fall into the trap of Reverse Leverage, which suggests that states that receive military have qualities that make them particularly important to perceived security needs of the state supplying the weapons; therefore, the state can defect, so theoretically a recipient state can be less likely to increase its cooperation in exchange for higher levels of aid. More on Reverse Leverage will be discusses in the following sections, but for a discussion on military aid and recipient state cooperation see Sullivan (2011).

[8] In 2014, Turkey was listed as the third world’s largest arms importer, only behind Saudi Arabia and India and ahead of China in fourth place. In 2014, Turkey imported roughly $1.6 billion of arms, of which 90% of the imports came from either the United States or member states of the European Union. For information on Turkish arm import figures see Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (2014). For information on the percentage of Turkish military imports from foreign sources see Forrester (2015).

[9] Weitz (2011), writes that: “United States is still Turkey’s most important arms supplier. Turkey continues to rely heavily on U.S. military equipment and technologies. In addition, more Turkish defence exports go to the United States than to Europe, the Middle East, or anywhere else. As of 2010, U.S. entities are still involved in approximately 80 percent of Turkey’s defence-industrial activities.” Given that Turkey started investing in its military industry circa 1996 (see Hen-Tov) the number of its foreign dependency should be above the 80% stated in Weitz.  Hogg (2015), reports that Erdogan’s sights are set on the centenary of the modern Turkish republic’s foundation, and that Turkey’s goal is to completely rid their defence industry of foreign dependency by 2023. For further information regarding the historical military industry modernization and investment, see Hen-Tov (2004).

[10] “Turkey has been one of the nine partners of the Joint-Strike Fighter program to develop three models of the plane since 1999, and has taken part in different stages of the project.” See Hurriyet (2014). For more information, Turkey’s national weapons program also Kardas (2011) and Kardas (2012).

[11] “During the past decade, Turkey has embarked on ambitious programs to reduce its dependence on external sources for the procurement needs of the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF), the second largest army in NATO. On the one hand, through stringent rules on procurement tenders, Ankara wanted to ensure that domestic firms will take part in the production of imported weapons systems, as well as enabling technology transfers. On the other hand, building on the accumulation of knowledge gained from these joint projects and the assistance and subsidies provided to the domestic arms industry and R&D activities, Turkey has been working to develop several “national” weapons systems. So far, Ankara’s ambitious national arms projects included the development of a national warship, main battle tank, attack helicopter, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and an infantry rifle.” Kardas (2012).  Regarding Turkey’s MİLGEM project (National Ship) that includes the TCG Heybeliada, Tringham (2014), reports that: “Turkey’s long-term strategy to develop its indigenous industrial maritime base is high on ambition, but as the first cycle of programmes mature and follow-on projects gather pace, the calculated risks involved are paying off.” For more on the Altay battle tank see Foss (2015).

[12] Taspinar (2008) on page 3, states that “Neo-Ottomanism embraces a grand, geostrategic vision of Turkey as an effective and engaged regional actor, trying to solve regional and global problems. Since the concept of neo-Ottomanism may evoke an imperial agenda, one important point needs clarification: Turkey, in this neo-Ottoman paradigm, does not pursue a neo-imperialist policy aimed at resurrecting the Ottoman Empire. Instead of imperial nostalgia, neo-Ottomanism is essentially about projecting Turkey’s “soft power” –a bridge between East and West, a Muslim nation, a secular state, a democratic political system, and a capitalistic economic force. Like French Gaullism, it seeks Turkish “grandeur” and influence in foreign policy.” However, this paper will argue that with a hard power component, the soft power lever will subside to a hard power component that Turkey will utilize to be more involved in Middle Eastern affairs.

[13] In a later section of this paper will review the possible pitfalls of reserve leverage or the gains stemming from arms for influence. This paper will draw upon several of Thomas Schelling’s Arms and Influence themes of: Coercion – using latent violence to exploit enemy’s wants and fears; structure motives; –Deterrence – Influencing enemy intentions; hardest part is communicating own intentions, and Compellence – more active and typically involves administering punishment until the adversary acts, rather than if he acts to frame the possible impacts on Turkish power and influence with a new indigenous military industry. Additionally, in regards how Turkey has been using the so-called “Salami tactics” (exploit ambiguity to inch towards a goal without others realizing) of neo-Ottomanism and the effects of non-policy to shift its foreign policy axis, this paper will review those themes in-depth as well. For a complete reading of the above see Schelling (1966).

[14] Trumbull (2014).

[15]  Ibid.

[16] Tomkins (2015).

[17] Ibid.

[18] Kadas (2007), states that: the “independent and national helicopter project, implying Turkey’s full rights over such high-tech military equipment including export rights, caused joy and boosted national pride in the country.” While Göksel (2014) states that: “The AKP government is attaching importance to adding muscle to its “New Turkey” slogan also for domestic political gain. Strengthening the defence industry is seen as an integral part of the country’s aspiration to become a regional and global leader in addition to expanding the country’s economy. The Turkish public loves to hear about defence industry success stories; these become an element of national pride.” For more information on the SSM’s strategic plan see Undersecretariat for Defence Industries (2012).

[19] Undersecretariat for Defence Industries (2012).

[20] Hogg (2015).

[21] Bekdil (2013).

[22] Hogg (2015).

[23] Tomkins (2015).

[24] Forrester (2015) states that; “Turkey is also keen to promote exports of its defence equipment, with the Undersecretariat for Defence Industries (SSM) claiming to have exported USD1.6 billion worth of goods in 2014. The country’s main export items ranged from armoured vehicles, to rockets and electronic systems, with the country looking to boost the value of defence exports to USD25 billion by 2023.”

[25] Tomkins (2015).

[26] For the SSM targeting future revenue of $8 billion see Tomkins (2015). Regarding the TFX program, Sariibrahimoglu (2015) states that: “Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu announced that the TFX program will be an entirely indigenous platform with no international support shelving any cooperation with Korea, Sweden, Brazil or Indonesia. With the SSM Tender issued a Request for Information from Turkish companies which had the capacity “to perform the indigenous design, development and production activities of the first Turkish Fighter Aircraft to meet Turkish Armed Forces’ next generation fighter requirements” signaling the official start of the program that is wholly domestically built.” While Nail Kurt, the chairman of the Turkish Defense Industries Exporters’ Association, said that “Export and international cooperation projects will therefore determine the sector’s future growth.” See Tomkins (2015).

[27] Hurriyet Daily News (2015).

[28] “Turkey’s defence exports for the first 11 months of 2014 increased by 20 percent compared to the same period last year, hitting $1.5 billion, according to figures from the Turkish Exporters. The U.S. was the largest purchaser of Turkish defence hardware at a total of $508 million. Other major markets were Malaysia at $109 million and the United Arab Emirates at around $87 million,” see Hurriyet (2014a) for more information.

[29] Tomkins (2015).

[30]  Defense & Security Industry News – Otokar (2014).

[31] Göksel (2014) states that: “Turkey’s defence industry has become a major topic of political debate in Turkey. Throughout history, countries have used the pretext of the threat of attack by external enemies, danger to national security and combating imperialism to expand their defence industries. The aspirations and narratives of the AKP government for the revival of neo-Ottomanism, to be a leader of the Sunni Islam world and to be a political power with influence in the Middle East, the Balkans and the Caucasus have certainly oriented the country toward a major military-industry complex.” More on Turkey’s historical dependency will be flushed out in the following sections of this paper.

[32] Kardas (2011).

[33] Forrester (2015).

[34] Bekdil (2015), writes: “The Turkish military does not boast the world’s most advanced gear for precision strikes but a number of local programs are progressing, signalling reduced future dependence on foreign systems. Turkish officials recently reported “critical progress” in three systems they have been developing over the past years.” While Peker (2015) provides insights into the AKP’s views on its dependency.

[35] Weitz (2010).

[36] Göksel (2014).

[37] For more on Germany’s political engagement with the Ottoman Empire see Kinross (1979) pages 602-607.  In terms of German military integration with the Ottoman’s, Janz (2014) states that: “In 1835 the Prussian captain Helmuth von Moltke travelled to Turkey and became a military instructor of the Ottoman army. Over the next decades, other officers and military personnel, charged with promoting the Europeanization of the Ottoman forces, followed. During the First World War, a German expeditionary force (Asienkorps) of more than 20,000 soldiers, sent to support their Turkish allies in the Middle East, joined the small numbers of German officers in Turkish service.”

[38] German soldiers were heavily integrated within the Ottoman Empire and at times were made up of mix units. Janz (2014) writes, “German soldiers who took part in the military mission to the Ottoman Empire went from being members of the German army to becoming Turkish soldiers. They were thus faced with a new set of loyalties and new schemas of friend and foe. The boundaries between ‘self’ and ‘other’ would be similarly blurred and complicated during World War I, as members of the German Asienkorps found themselves involved in a Holy Islamic War fighting side by side with Turks and Arabs against Europeans. In most of the cross-cultural contact situations, the objective of the Asienkorps was to establish an effective collaboration with their Turkish partners. In practice, this posed particular challenges given the various differences in language and culture as well as in models of perception, communication and action.”

[39] Erickson (2000) on page 29 writes: “On September 24 1914, Souchon was commissioned as a vice admiral in the Ottoman Navy.  Souchon fell under the aegis of Ambassador Wagenheim, and unlike von Sanders, Souchon retained direct command of an instrument of war which Germany could wield independently.” While “on March 26, 1915, Enver [Pasha] appointed Liman von Sanders to command the Turkish Fifth Army with the mission of defend the Gallipoli Peninsula against an imminent Allied invasion,” states Zabecki (2014), page 770.

[40] Paragraph 3 of Article IV of the treaty states that: “The territories of Ardakhan, Kars and Batum will also be cleared without delay of Russian troops. Russia will not interfere in the new organization of internal juridical and international juridical relations of such territories, but will allow the populations of these territories to establish new governments in agreement with neighbouring states, especially with Turkey.” For the complete the text see, Peace Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (1918).

[41] Sicker (2000) page 213.

[42] Henig (1995), writes: “Italy had come into the war after securing promises from Britain and France that victory would give her the Trentino, south Tyrol, Istria and part of Dalmatia. Wilson was not a party to the secret Treaty of London and was initially horrified by its terms, since they so clearly breached his ninth point, that Italy’s frontiers should be adjusted along clearly recognizable lines of nationality.”  For more on Italy’s negotiations and claims during the Treaty of Versailles see Sharp (2008); especially pages 146-151.

[43] President Truman’s address before Congress on March 12, 1947, states: “The future of Turkey as an independent and economically sound state is clearly no less important to the freedom-loving peoples of the world than the future of Greece. The circumstances in which Turkey finds itself today are considerably different from those of Greece. Turkey has been spared the disasters that have beset Greece. And during the war, the United States and Great Britain furnished Turkey with material aid… Nevertheless, Turkey now needs our support. Since the war Turkey has sought financial assistance from Great Britain and the United States for the purpose of effecting that modernization necessary for the maintenance of its national integrity. That integrity is essential to the preservation of order in the Middle East. The British government has informed us that, owing to its own difficulties can no longer extend financial or economic aid to Turkey. As in the case of Greece, if Turkey is to have the assistance it needs, the United States must supply it. We are the only country able to provide that help. I am fully aware of the broad implications involved if the United States extends assistance to Greece and Turkey, and I shall discuss these implications with you at this time. One of the primary objectives of the foreign policy of the United States is the creation of conditions in which we and other nations will be able to work out a way of life free from coercion. This was a fundamental issue in the war with Germany and Japan. Our victory was won over countries which sought to impose their will, and their way of life, upon other nations.” see Truman Doctrine (1947).

[44] National Security Council Report 68 (NSC-68) delivered to President Truman in April of 1950 is one of the most significant policy papers written during the Cold War. Page 26 of NSC-68, states: “as the atomic capability of the USSR increases, it will have an increased ability to hit at our atomic bases and installations and thus seriously hamper the ability of the United States to carry out an attack such as that outlined above. It is quite possible that in the near future the USSR will have a sufficient number of atomic bombs and a sufficient deliverability to raise a question whether Britain with its present inadequate air defence could be relied upon as an advance base from which a major portion of the U.S. attack could be launched.”  On page 21 of the report, it states: The United States foreign economic policy has been designed to assist in the building of such a system and such conditions in the free world. The principal features of this policy can be summarized as follows: (1) Assistance to Western Europe in recovery and the creation of a viable economy (the European Recovery Program). (2) Assistance to other countries because of their special needs arising out of the war or the cold war and our special interests in or responsibility for meeting them (grant assistance to Japan, the Philippines, and Korea, loans and credits by the Export-Import Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the International Bank to Indonesia, Yugoslavia, Iran, etc.). (3) Assistance in the development of underdeveloped areas (the Point IV program and loans and credits to various countries, overlapping to some extent with those mentioned under 2). (4) Military assistance to the North Atlantic Treaty countries, Greece, Turkey, etc. (5) Restriction of East-West trade in items of military importance to the East. (6). Purchase and stockpiling of strategic materials; and 7. Efforts to re-establish an international economy based on multilateral trade, declining trade barriers, and convertible currencies (the GATT-ITO program, the Reciprocal Trade Agreements program, the IMFIBRD program, and the program now being developed to solve the problem of the United States balance of payments). As shown by NSC-68, American policy makers were greatly worried of increasing Soviet nuclear capabilities, as well as identifying Turkey as an important frontline state that needed military assistance to counterbalance against the threat of a rival nuclear power of the U.S.S.R. For the complete report see National Security Council Report 68.

[45] Grimmett (2005).

[46] Hogg (2015) writes, “A U.S. arms embargo imposed after Turkish forces invaded Northern Cyprus in 1974 left Ankara under-equipped and served as a wake-up call, according to Atilla Sandikli, a retired naval officer and head of the Bilgesam security think-tank.” For more information, also see Ayres (1984). Pages 121-122.

[47] Ayres (1984). Pages 121-122.

[48] Ibid.

[49] Jenkins (2009), explains the financial burdens of war in Cyprus (Operation Atilla), he states: “As a result, despite its great cost –including a U.S. arms embargo from 1974-78, the financial burden of bankrolling the Turkish Cypriot administration, and the difficulties it has created for Turkey’s foreign relations –the 1974 Cyprus campaign remains a source of great pride for the Turkish military.” Jenkins also discusses how Cyprus is an issue for Turkish EU membership and an issue with the West. Jenkins (2009) writes: “After years of defending the status quo, Turkey –by now governed by the moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP)– had enthusiastically backed the Annan Plan. But the change was not as dramatic as it appeared. The AKP lacked Turkish ultranationalists’ sentimental attachment to Cyprus and was anxious to ingratiate itself with the EU in the hope of boosting Turkey’s own chances of eventual membership.”

[50] Uslu (2011) pages 3-4.

[51] Ibid.

[52] Uslu (2011) page 7.

[53] Aliriza (2012) on page 5 writes: “The strategic alliance between the United States and Turkey found a new point of focus when Bush looked to Ozal for Turkish cooperation after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. Bush noted in September 1990, soon after the invasion, that “Turkey [had] stood firm and steadfast despite the heavy burden the Iraqi invasion [had] placed on its own economy.” As then –National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft confirmed, the personal relationship between Bush and Ozal facilitated cooperation in the “political, economic, and cultural” sphere. He described Bush and Ozal’s dialogue as having produced an “intimate, personal” bond “where the relationship really became…very close and in a sense less military and more political than it had ever been before,” while “demonstrating the indisputable strategic importance of Turkey to the United States.” For more on Ozal’s domestic position during the Iraq war see Uslu (2011) page 7.-8

[54] Oran (2011) page 681.  Also, Lipmann (1994), writes: “A 611-mile pipeline from Kirkuk in Iraq’s northern oil fields to Turkey’s Mediterranean coast was one of the two main export routes for Iraqi crude oil before Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990. When the United Nations imposed economic sanctions that cut off sales of Iraqi oil, about 12 million barrels of crude oil were trapped in the line, including 8.2 million owned by Iraq. Transportation fees on the pipeline were an important source of income for Turkey.”

[55] Chen, (2015) on page 8 writes: “Overall, not only was Turkey experiencing a worsening trade-deficit, it was also facing an increasing risk premium on interest rates for its foreign debt… the risk premium on interest rates was a result of the political instability Turkey experienced during the 1990s. During the last decade of the 20th century, Turkey had two presidential elections and four local elections that caused government expenditures to rise. Furthermore, Turkey had ten different governments in power between 1989 and 2000. Each shift in government interrupted previously adopted economic development and stabilization programs that inhibited steady improvements in the Turkish economy. As a result of political instability and uncontrolled public expenditure, both domestic and foreign debt increased.”

[56] Hurriyet Daily News (2003).

[57] Daily Sabah (2015).

[58] Waltz (1979) pages 104-106.

[59] A state with a credible military already has a hard power component. What has been describe throughout this paper has been neo-Ottomanism with a hard-power component as soft power has been the only lever Turkey has been able to use given its military need was tied to an alliance structure that has – at times – diverging interests

[60] Reverse leverage as described by Hastedt (2014) on page 279, states that: “leverages tends to be a transitory phenomenon in world politics, and an arms transfer relationship can promote friction just as much as it can cement ties. It can also produce a situation of reverse leverage, in which the recipient state, rather than the seller exercises the most influence.” More on reverse leverage will be covered in the following sections.  While given the dynamics of the international political system with lessen structured alliances, it could be easier for a state receiving assistance to obtain military aid from a different state then their normal seller, or to find an equally valuable strategic partner.

[61] Sassounian (2014) writes: “Prime Minister Davutoglu was equally optimistic that Turkey would score a ‘historic victory.’ Just two days before the UN vote, he proudly announced: ‘If we are elected, and we believe it’s a great possibility, we will be the first country in the world to be elected for a second time, after a five-year break. This shows Turkey’s importance.” Although in the end the United Nations did not elect Turkey to the United Nations Security Council (in part due to its inaction during the Kobane Crisis), Turkish leaders are expressing their desire for an important Turkey on the world’s stage.

[62] Ulgen (2010), page 8.

[63] Turkey, for example adopted the civil and penal codes of Italy and Switzerland respectively, and also adopting the Latin alphabet in 1929; marking a rapid departure from Turkey’s Ottoman past. For more of Ataturk’s reforms see, Unsal (1979)

[64] Hurriyet Daily News (2014b)

[65] Spillius (2013)

[66] “Ever since Ataturk dragged the country into the modern world by driving out the sultan, adopting the Latin alphabet and abolishing the Muslim caliphate, the country has leant westwards. Since the second world war that has meant joining NATO (in 1952), backing the West against the Soviet Union and aspiring to join the European project. Like America, Turkey was also consistently pro-Israel. It largely [Turkey] ignored the rest of its region, which includes most of the countries that were once part of the Ottoman Empire”, see Economist (2010).  However, the prelude to current neo-Ottomanism came during the tenure of Prime Minister Özal (1983-89).  Laçiner (2009) on page 164, writes: “In foreign policy matters it created neo-Ottomanism or Özalist Foreign Policy understanding. This manifested itself in a wider identity abroad, Ottoman rather than Turkish covering all neighbouring Muslim peoples (like the Kurds in the northern Iraq) and all minorities in Turkey. For example, after the Gulf War Özal claimed that Turkey was the protector of the Iraqi Kurds and Turkmens in its capacity as the ‘big brother’ of these peoples, arguing that a federation between these peoples was possible under Turkish sponsorship. In sum, the Kurdish problem not only increased the political liberalism of Özalism but also nourished its Ottomanist elements.” Commenting on Davutoglu’ approach to international relations and the AKP’s version of neo-Ottomanism, or what Gullo (2012) calls neo-Ottomanism 2.0, Josh Walker (2011) states that: “Accounting for these developments on the domestic, historical, and international level is critical in order to understand Turkey’s foreign policy orientation, marked by the concepts of ‘zero problems’ and ‘Strategic Depth,’ elaborated by the current Minister of Foreign Affairs… Having emerged from the shadows of isolationism pre-World War Two and dependency during the Cold War, Turkey is now asserting itself to play a greater role in its region, particularly the Middle East, with the prestige associated with playing an active regional role driving the resurgence in foreign policy activism. Turkey recalls the Ottoman Empire, which straddled the frontier between the civilisations that best defined East and West for a millennium. Since the end of the Cold War, memories of that empire are most closely associated with efforts to reposition Turkey in a renewed struggle between the ‘modern’ Western world and a resurgent Muslim world centred in the Middle East. Turkey today is courting new alliances in order to maintain optimal regional and global independence and influence, by specifically taking on a larger role in its former Ottoman territories, and by prioritising ‘dialogue and cooperation’ over ‘coercion and confrontation.’ This approach has rallied favour with business and civil society, which are eager to develop closer ties with the neighbours in the economic and social domains. In other words, the doctrine of Strategic Depth provides a normative chapeau to the plethora of state and non-state interests that concomitantly push Turkey to develop deeper and stronger ties to its neighbours. It also conceptualises a foreign policy trend which has been in the making since the days of former Turkish Prime Minister and President Türgüt Özal in the late.”

[67] Wendt (1994) in his important work Anarchy is what States Make of it: The Social Construction of Power Politics on page 395 states that: “Classical realists such as Thomas Hobbes, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Hans Morgenthau attributed egoism and power politics primarily to human nature, whereas structural realists or neo-realists emphasize anarchy. The difference stems in part from different interpretations of anarchy’s causal powers.” Here Wendt posits that: “anarchy apart from the practices that create and instantiate one structure of identities and interests rather than another; structure has no existence or causal powers apart from process. Self-help and power politics are institutions, not essential features of anarchy. Anarchy is what states make of it.” As such, this constructivist factors is also applicable to international engagement given that states can also view what their position in world affairs should how they should engage and this does not have to be through a cost-benefit analysis.  Therefore, in regards to neo-Ottomanism this paper utilizes Katzenstein (1996) approach of that: “State interests do not exist to be ‘discovered’ by self-interested, rational actors. Interests are constructed through a process of social interaction.” page 15. In the same way Ataturk “westernized Turkey during his reforms and later led to: “Turkey’s decision to fully integrate its foreign policy into the West was tied to Turkey’s new Western identity constructed in the years following the Independence War,” see Bullen (2009) page 24. Similar to Ataturk, they APK has changed its perception now seeks to engage with states that were once a part of the Ottoman Empire.

[68] Gullo (2012a).

[69] Kalin (2011).

[70] Ibid.

[71] Both classical and neo-realism theorizes that states are expected to act in a way that is characterized by their unrelenting pursuit of their self-interest, and to build up its military to survive in an anarchical world.  Apart of this theory in Waltz’s version is that states in order to survive have to be in charge of their own national defense under what he calls a “Self Help” framework. See Waltz (1979)

[72] Walker (2011).

[73] Ibid.

[74] Peker (2015).

[75] Walker (2011).

[76] Muzalevsky (2012), writes: “Like in the 16th century, which saw the rise of the Ottoman Balkans as the center of world politics, we will make the Balkans, the Caucasus and the Middle East, together with Turkey, the center of world politics in the future. This is the objective of Turkish foreign policy, and we will achieve this. We will reintegrate the Balkan region, the Middle East and the Caucasus, based on the principle of regional and global peace, for the future, not only for all of us but for all of humanity.”

[77] Kalin (2011).

[78] Wong (2015).

[79] The self-help framework is embedded within the doctrine of neo-Ottomanism as ones of its prescriptions is to remove Turkey’s military dependency and to create a self-reliant national defence. This is consistent with the theory of realism; yet it is only one part of a wider doctrine. Overall, since neo-Ottomanism also goes outside the parameters of realism, regarding its engagement towards the states that were once a part of the Ottoman Empire. Therefore, the removal of foreign dependencies is in accordance with realism.

[80] Pamuk (2015).

[81] Haass (2008).

[82] Ibid.

[83] Ibid.

[84] Haass (2008) writes on page 44, “cardinal features of the contemporary international system are that nation-states have lost their monopoly on power and in some domains their pre-eminence as well. States are being challenged from above, by regional and global organizations; from below, by militias; and from the side, by a variety of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and corporations. Power is now found in many hands and in many places.”

[85] Manning (2009)

[86] Gullo (2012) writes that: “Turkish-Western relations are contingent upon each other understanding of the associated audience costs that each state would have to endure for engaging in cooperation. This paradigm still holds true even if the APK loses its hold on power, because of the deepness of Turkish political history and the augmentation of different social cleaves that moved its “social reality.” The current learnt behavior between Turkey and the West now has a new foundation that has middle to long term duration for an understanding of the conditions for cooperation.”

[87] Nye (2015)

[88] “The invasion marks a bitter defeat for American diplomacy. Officials in Washington claim they were informed of Turkey’s plans prior to the invasion and that they pleaded with Ankara to limit the time and scope of their operation and to cooperate directly with the Iraqis. Still, the invasion has deeply upset the Americans in Baghdad.” For more see Der Spiegel (2008).

[89] Haass (2008) on where alliances can remain predictable, but also drawing on drawing from Oye (1986) regarding how the payoff structure is the determining factor for cooperation, and cooperation is defined through conscious policy coordination, necessary to the realization of mutual benefits. For a mutual benefit to occur, states must prefer mutual cooperation (CC) to mutual defection (DD). For coordination to be necessary to the realization of the mutual benefit, actors must prefer unilateral defection (DC) to unrequited cooperation (CD). In case of Turkey and non-polarity it has sought defection that was not mutual on several occasions (see Table 1 below) and has caused less predictable cooperation.

[90] There is a robust literature on what accounts for credibility and how to scale it. For the purposes of this paper we will utilize Pape’s (1986) work on pages 14-16, where he discusses “the logic of coercion can be described by a simple equation.” The equation is R=Bp(B) – Cp(C) which stands for” R (value of resistance) = B potential benefits of resistance p(B) the potential benefits of resistance and the probability of attaining benefits by continued resistance minus C p(C) which is the potential costs of resistance and the probability of suffering costs.

[91] Jones (2015).

[92] Waltz (1979) page 106.

[93] Often considered secondary in realism, as pointed out by Watlz, Mearsheimer adds another component of “latent power,” which refers to the socio-economic ingredients that go into building military power. Latent power is based on a state’s wealth and the size of its population Mearsheimer (2013). Given that economic growth is tied to latent power, the economy of Turkey is another important factor, as a healthy and strong economy is essential to pay for more military spending and development.  Since economic growth is a fundamental component of a state’s ability to project power, and coincides with Turkey’s ability to invest in its military, a strong and growing economy is an intrinsic aspect for achieving autonomy and influence over other states.  Turkey, along with other developing economies, has an opportunity to engage geopolitically that was not as fluid as in previous international systems. Mearsheimer (2013) writes: “Power is based on the material capabilities that a state controls. The balance of power is mainly a function of the tangible military assets that states possess, such as armoured divisions and nuclear weapons. However, states have a second kind of power, latent power, which refers to the socio-economic ingredients that go into building military power. Latent power is based on a state’s wealth and the size of its overall population, powers need money, technology, and personnel to build military forces and to fight wars, and a state’s latent power refers to the raw potential it can draw on when competing with rival states. It should be clear from this discussion that war is not the only way that states can gain power. They can also do so by increasing the size of their population and their share of global wealth, as China has done over the past few decades.

[94] There is a debate on the actual impacts on domestic politics on foreign policy, but as Foyle (1997) on page 164 argues: “beliefs can act as a mediating variable for the influence of public opinion on foreign policy decision making.”  While other such as Holsti (1992) on page 455 suggest the in a post-Cold War environment: “we may be moving into a period in which the relationship between public opinion and foreign policy takes on added rather than diminished significance.” Thomas Putnam in his influential work Diplomacy and domestic politics: the logic of two-level games further frames the effect of domestic politics in foreign, he states: “Domestic politics and international relations are often somehow entangled… it is fruitless to debate whether domestic politics really determines international relations or the reverse. The answer to that question is both sometimes.” For more see Putnam (1988). Also see Aldrich (2006).

[95] Operating under the perceptions of Liberal theory in international relations, Moravcsik (2010) writes: “Specifically, states (or other political actors) exist in an anarchic environment and they generally act in a broadly rational way in making decisions. The anarchy assumption means that political actors exist in the distinctive environment of international politics, without a world government or any other authority with a monopoly on the legitimate use of force. They must engage in self-help. The rationality assumption means that state leaders and their domestic supporters engage in foreign policy for the instrumental purpose of securing benefits provided by (or avoiding costs imposed by) actors outside of their borders, and in making such calculations, states seek to deploy the most cost-effective means to achieve whatever their ends (preferences) may be. Liberal theory shares the first (anarchy) assumption with almost all international relations theories, and it shares the second (rationality) assumption with realism and institutionalism, but not non-rationalist process theories.”

[96] The influence of public behaviour on Turkey’s foreign policy was exemplified by its recent clash with China over the situation pertaining to its Muslim Uighur populace. Turkish-Chinese relations were dampened in late September 2015 when Turkish protesters in Istanbul burned the Five-star Red Flag in front of the Chinese consulate, and attack and threaten Chinese and Asian tourists. These events led to a travel warning by Chinese officials which resulted in Turkey losing significant revenue from tourism, and the future possible curtailment of trade between the two states.  For more see Wong (2015).  The 2010 Mavi Marmara incident (Gaza flotilla raid), saw many Turkish citizens attempting to break the Israeli blockage of the Gaza Strip, which prompted an Israeli response. As a result of the raid their which resulted ten civilian casualties in a low-point for Israel–Turkey relations. Turkey recalled its ambassador, cancelled joint military exercises, and called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council. For more on the Mavi Marmara incident, see Migdalovitz (2010).

[97] Turkey’s hesitation to engage during the 2014 Kobane crisis was not direct result of any “strategic military importance” or an international policy that was widely divergent from the NATO, but was widely driven by domestic factors of aiding the PKK as “both sides fighting in Kobane are officially considered by Ankara to be terrorists.” Ozcan (2014). Ozcan (2014), also writes: “Turkey’s position is that the country is approaching general elections, which will begin next summer. Despite its ongoing negotiations with Ocalan, the Turkish government did not want to openly supporting the PKK because of this, not least because many Turks are highly sensitive to this very issue.”

[98] Hurriyet Daily News (2011).

[99] Meier (2011), writes: “For the third time in a row, the conservative Islamic Justice and Development Party (AKP) –chaired by the Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan– won the general election with 49.8% (2007 results: 46.5%) of the votes. The runner-up was the Republican People’s Party (CHP) with 25.9% (2007:20.8%), followed by the Nationalist Action Party (MHP), which received 13% (2007:14.3%) of the votes, thus making the election threshold and securing its representation in Turkey’s 550-seat parliament.”

[100] The June 2015 elections in Turkey ended with no party able to either govern or form a collation to government. Therefore, a second election was held on November 2, 2015 where the “Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has won a critical parliamentary election, regaining the majority it lost in June.” See BBC News (2015) for direct quote. Also see Nissenbaun (2015) for further analysis.

[101] Bekdil (2015a).

[102] Poushter (2015).

[103] Gullo (2012), applies James Fearon’s 1994 work pertaining to audience costs to the domestic factor of politics regarding international. Gullo (2012), writes: “James Fearon in his 1994 landmark article Domestic Political Audiences and the Escalation of International Disputes. This article theorizes that at the international level of politics, leaders who back down during an international crisis will incur audience costs. The longer the crisis lasts, the more the costs increase. However, other factors, such as the behaviour and decisions of the leader during the crisis, also determine how much they actually “pay.” Fearon argues that the “cost” for backing down results in a loss of reputation, which results in said leader receiving the most serious of incurred audience costs: not being re-elected, as the public dissatisfied by a blunder on the international stage jeopardizes the security of their state… In this view, audience costs are incurred at the domestic level from an action taken place in the international level, but it is the event at the international level that is the cause for domestic repression, however, what is contingent is the point of origin of the cost in the second image. This upward (domestic level to international level) and downward (international level to domestic level) constraint supposedly gives audience costs “blocking power.” However, as suggested, predetermined domestic concerns can effect international cooperation. For example, there are three logical and documented illustrations that are solely domestic and impede cooperation. First, leaders may not be able to reach an international agreement as they are blocked by domestic coalitions (their supporters) from making an agreement. Second, leaders can self-impose audience costs to establish a better negotiating position. Third, a leader might make a public pledge to do one thing and then do the opposite.” For more on audience costs on leaders in international outputs, see Gullo (2012) pages 14-26.

[104] During the lead up and the aftermath of 2003 United States invasion of Iraq, domestic politics played a role in countries foreign affairs direction. In the case of France and Germany over 60 percent did not believe the war was justified, see Springford (2003). As such, French and German leaders were pressured not to support U.S action. Fraser (2014) on page 115 writes: “On closer inspection, the anti-Iraq War stances of France and Germany can both be linked back directly to domestic politics at the time. French President Jacques Chirac had been elected in 2002 with a surprise majority over the National Front and had allied with France’s strong anti-American and anti-War rhetoric to secure his tentative popularity. Similarly, Germany’s Gerhard Schroder looked to be in danger of losing power and had allied with Germany’s strong anti-Bush and anti-war campaign to secure his re-election.” The Spanish 2004 elections were theorized to be influence by the 11 March 2004 Madrid train bombings. As a support the Spanish government supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the attacks were seen as a way to sway Spanish domestic politics against the government so they would withdraw their troops. To this end, Richburg (2004) states: “Experts also said they believed it was irrelevant whether the Madrid attacks were intended to sway the elections; they did, and that has apparently been noted by Osama bin Laden, the al Qaeda leader. In an audiotape released on April 15, a voice believed to be that of bin Laden praised the Madrid bombings and proposed a reconciliation with any country that commits itself to not attacking Muslims or interfering in their affairs, including the U.S. conspiracy on the greater Muslim world.” Otherwise, he warned, “the situation will expand and increase.” During the 2006 Italian elections, Fisher (2006), writes: “Polls indicate that most Italians oppose the presence of their troops in Iraq, because of general opposition to the war and the fear that it makes Italy more vulnerable to a terrorist attack. The centre-left opposition, led by former Prime Minister Romano Prodi, strongly opposes Italy’s involvement in Iraq, though its leaders have said they would not endanger stability in the region by pulling troops out immediately.” The cause of the 2010 Dutch elections was the pull out of  PvdA backed out of the ruling coalition government because it did not want to send Dutch troops back to Afghanistan, Kulish (2010) writes: “A last-ditch effort to keep Dutch troops in Afghanistan brought down the government in the Netherlands early Saturday, immediately raising fears that the Western military coalition fighting the war was increasingly at risk….The war in Afghanistan has been increasingly unpopular among voters in the Netherlands, as in many other parts of Europe, creating strains between governments trying to please the United States and their own people.” What occurs here is the linkage between domestic politics and its impact on a countries international affairs.

[105] Given the popularity and domestic support for neo-Ottomanism and on self-reliant national defence, taking an opposite approach to the current policy can theoretically produce domestic costs to a Turkish Leader. As Smith (1998) on page 633 explains: “Political leaders have two audiences, their domestic constituents and their foreign rivals. When forming foreign policies, leaders simultaneously balance these internal and external constraints. Hence, international events and domestic political survival are intrinsically linked, not through a simple unidirectional causal pathway, but via a series of strategic interactions at both international at both the international domestic level.” For more pathway of domestic politics impacts on international relations, see Gelpi (2014).

[106] Poushter (2015)

[107] Seibert (2012) quotes Kemal Kaya, a former Turkish defence ministry official who is an adviser to the International Middle East Peace Research Center (IMPR), a think tank in Ankara, said the arms sales in the Middle East were “another side of Turkey’s rise and its soft power” in the region. He added national pride and economic interests were also involved.

[108] Greico (1988) contend that the structure of the international system and the relative nature of power compels political leaders to view the world in relative terms. According to realists, states worry that today’s friend may be tomorrow’s foe, and fear that achievements of joint gains that advantage a friend in the present might produce a more dangerous potential foe in the future. As a result, states must give serious attention to the gains of partners.

[109] Neuger (2009) writes: “Turkey triggered a spat over the next leader of NATO by opposing the candidacy of Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, saying he is unacceptable to the Muslim world.”

[110] Barrionuevo (2010).

[111] Lindenstrass (2014).

[112] Bender (2015).

[113] New York Times (2015).

[114] Nissenbaun (2015a).

[115] New York Times (2015).

[116] Ibid.

[117] Complete international independence from NATO is unlikely because the current geopolitical situation is not conducive for full Turkish disengagement from NATO, as its strategic importance to the Turkish state is still ever-apparent. Furthermore, its search for new partners to balance against Russia and Iran for geo-political influence have yet to yield any tangible results. As such, Turkey’s internal self-reliance on its military need has only thus far cultivated the actual benefit being able to be more autonomous in its engagement; however, until Turkey can export weapons or the geo-political dynamics of the Middle East change, Turkey is still not able to translate its defence sector into actionable influence for the rebalancing of the Middle East.

[118] Kirişci (2013), writes: “Turkey’s popularity was also strengthened by the “zero problems with neighbours” policy of Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmet Davutoğlu. In the Middle East, the cornerstone of this policy was Turkey’s ability to improve its relations with neighbouring countries and to talk to all parties involved in the region’s disputes. In Lebanon, Turkey was able to engage with Hezbollah as well as with the Christian and Sunni leaderships. The same was true of Iraq, where Turkey maintained close contacts with Sunni, Shi’a, Kurdish and Turkmen parties during much of the 2000s. Longstanding tensions with Syria over territorial disputes, water rights and the Kurdish issue were replaced by much closer and warmer relations. Additionally, Erdoğan’s critical stance toward Israel and his support for the Palestinian cause galvanized the Arab street even if it did raise some eyebrows in diplomatic circles.”

[119] Stein (2015) on page 43, writes: “Erdoğan also visited Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt.  In Cairo, Erdoğan was greeted by thousands of supports (many of whom were bussed in for the event by the Muslim Brotherhood.” He outlined a new Turkish foreign policy during his speech, centred primarily on the promotion of democracy. His speech was an implicit rebuke of the West and its decades-old policy of allying with Arab dictators. Turkey by contrasts, he claimed, was opting to stand on the right side of history and support the transition to democracy, regardless of which political party gained power in the election.”

[120] Kirişci (2013).

[121] Ibid.

[122] Trofimov (2014) writes, “not so long ago, a confident Turkey behaved as a natural leader of the Middle East, with friendly Islamist regimes mushrooming amid the rubble of the Arab Spring and its leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, mobbed by adulating crowds whenever he stepped on Arab soil. Now, just when the U.S. needs Turkey’s help most against the surge of Islamic State in Iraq, Syria and beyond, Ankara’s regional influence has sunk to a low point. Ambitious policies that overestimated the pull of political Islam –and misjudged the resilience of the Middle East’s old political order– have alienated Turkey from much of the region. With the exception of Iraqi Kurds, hardly any government in the Middle East is on good terms with Ankara nowadays.”

[123] Kirişci (2013) and Nye (2015).

[124] Moore (2015).

[125] For current Turkish-Egyptian see Moore 2015 and Hurriyet Daily News (2014c).  Regarding Turkey’s failed UN Security Council seat bid, Avni (2014), writes: “In a tremendous upset, Turkey lost a contest in the United Nations General Assembly, exposing increasingly contentious frictions with some of its neighbours and world powers…. In the past few days, according to several diplomatic sources, there was an intense campaign, led by Egypt and Saudi Arabia, against Turkey’s membership in the council. The two countries are angered by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood, which both are fighting at home.”

[126] Mejdi (2015).

[127] For example, Turkish influence in Libya has been on the decline as it once again backed the “wrong horse.” Doğan (2015), writes: “Turkey, however, is betting on the Muslim Brotherhood as it did in Egypt, playing a losing hand. There has finally been some realization that Turkey was on the wrong course, and we were trying to have relations with both parties, but it is too late. Turkey is losing Libya. It is Egypt that counts in Libya now, with no more mention of Turkey. The machinery, work sites and assets of hundreds of Turkish firms were set afire and looted.” While in Syria its well-document of Turkey arming one set of rebels, while Russia is supporting the al-Assad regime.

[128] In the Turkish example its soft power was only able to render results under certain conditions. These conditions tend to be when its civic mind platform aligned with new regimes in the Middle East. However, due in part to the Gazi Park Protests and Turkey’s own recent democratic shortcomings it has wane in its ability to project Soft Power. For more see Haqqani (2011) and Nye (2015).

[129] Von Clausewitz (1989) Chapter 1, Section 24.

[130] Pape (1986) and refer to endnote 103 of this paper.

[131] Sullivan (2011)

[132] Ibid

[133] “The Georgia Train and Equip Program (GTEP) was an American-sponsored enhanced cooperation that began in 2002 “to enhance Georgian counter-terrorism capacity to address the threat posed by Chechen rebels, who had taken refuge in Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge. Prior to GTEP, the Russian military had reportedly pressured Georgia to allow Russian troops to pursue these rebels into Georgia. GTEP foreclosed this possibility, allowing Georgia to subdue the rebels with its own military capacity. This program consisted of an 18- month, $64 million investment to train around 2,000 light infantry soldiers and a small number of police and border guards and equip them with small arms and communications gear.” For more see on the GTEP see Committee on Foreign Relations (2008).

[134] Haqqani (2011), writes that: “The government’s fears about its viability and security have led Islamabad to seek an alliance with the United States while it simultaneously pursues a nuclear deterrent and sub conventional military capability –that is, Islamist terrorism– against India. The U.S. response to September 11 left Pakistan with little choice but to make a harder turn toward the United States. Confronted with an ultimatum to choose between being with the United States or against it, Pakistan’s generals chose to revive their alliance with the United States. At every stage since, Pakistan has proved to be a U.S. ally of convenience, not of conviction, as it has sought specific rewards for specific actions.” For more on Pakistan’s relationships between the United States and India, see Haqqani’s (2005) book.

[135] Bruno (2008).

[136] Howenstein (2009).

[137] Sullivan (2011).

[138] Birdsall (2011), writes “U.S. policymakers should note well this series of events and remember a simple lesson. Billions of dollars of U.S. assistance-and a sustained diplomatic focus on the reform agenda-have not given the United States the ability to dictate the outcomes of Pakistan’s political process. This is inconvenient for the United States, but not surprising. For the United States and for other major donors in Pakistan, money has never brought leverage…it is unrealistic and impolitic to expect officials in Pakistan to take often politically toxic actions in return for U.S. aid payments. That is a hard reality increasingly understood by many in the administration and in Congress.”

[139] Pamuk (2015).

[140] Özkan (2015), writes: “Due to the failure of Turkey’s over-ambitious foreign policy, it has had no choice but to join a broader Sunni alliance under Saudi Arabia’s leadership –especially given Turkey’s need for Saudi and other Gulf state capital in order to prop up its own faltering economy. Four years ago, Turkey sought to make the rules in the Middle East; it is now forced to take a backseat to Saudi Arabia. There are currently two million Syrian refugees in Turkey. A large amount of territory across the border in Syria is under the control of ISIS, and jihadi groups are gathering recruits from all over the world (including Turkey) for the ongoing war in Syria. In June 2014, the Turkish consulate in Mosul, Iraq was raided by ISIS, which abducted 49 Turkish citizens (consisting of diplomats and other staff), only releasing them after a secret deal with the Turkish government. For four years, all of Erdoğan’s predictions about the Middle East have turned out wrong. In his mind, ousting al-Assad is the only way to redeem himself and his country. But given the dire state of Iraq after Saddam’s overthrow, and of Libya after Qaddafi’s, no one has the slightest idea what a post-Assad Syria would look like.”



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