top of page

A Sultan in Autumn

Erdogan Faces Turkey's Uncontainable Forces

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has ruled Turkey for nearly two decades. Here, Soner Cagaptay, a leading authority on the country, offers insights on the next phase of Erdogan’s rule. His dwindling support base at home, coupled with rising opposition, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, and Turkey’s weak economy, would appear to threaten his grip on power. How will he react? In this exceptional analysis, Cagaptay casts Erdogan as an inventor of nativist populist politics in the twenty-first century. The Turkish president knows how to polarize the electorate to boost his base, and how to wield oppressive tactics when polarization alone cannot win elections. Cagaptay contends that Erdogan will cling to power—with unfortunate costs for Turkey’s citizens, institutions, and allies. The associated dynamics, which carry implications far beyond Turkey’s borders—and what they portend for the United States—make A Sultan in Autumn a must-read for all those interested in Turkey and the geopolitics of the next decade.

erdogans empire.jpg


Turkey and the Politics of the Middle East

Gradually since 2003, Turkey's autocratic leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan has sought to make Turkey a great power—in the tradition of past Turkish leaders from the late Ottoman sultans to Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey. Erdogan's Empire provides an in-depth overview of the power politics in the Middle East and Turkey's place in it.

Erdogan has picked an unorthodox model in the context of recent Turkish history, attempting to cast his country as a stand-alone Middle Eastern power. In doing so Turkey has broken ranks with its traditional Western allies, including the United States and has embraced an imperial-style foreign policy which has aimed to restore Turkey's Ottoman-era reach into the Arabian Middle East and the Balkans.

Today, in addition to a domestic crackdown on dissent and journalistic freedoms, driven by Erdogan's style of governance, Turkey faces a hostile world. Ankara has nearly no friends left in the Middle East, and it faces a threat from resurgent historic adversaries: Russia and Iran. Furthermore, Turkey cannot rely on the unconditional support of its traditional Western allies. Can Erdogan deliver Turkey back to safety? What are the risks that lie ahead for him, and his country? How can Turkey truly become a great power, fulfilling a dream shared by many Turks, the sultans, Ataturk, and Erdogan himself?



Erdogan and the Crisis of Modern Turkey

In a world of rising tensions between Russia and the United States, the Middle East and Europe, Sunnis and Shiites, Islamism and liberalism, Turkey is at the epicentre. And at the heart of Turkey is its right-wing populist president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Since 2002, Erdogan has consolidated his hold on domestic politics while using military and diplomatic means to solidify Turkey as a regional power. His crackdown has been brutal and consistent—scores of journalists arrested, academics officially banned from leaving the country, university deans fired and many of the highest-ranking military officers arrested. In some senses, the nefarious and failed 2016 coup has given Erdogan the licence to make good on his repeated promise to bring order and stability under a 'strongman'. The New Sultan looks at Erdogan's roots in Turkish history, what he believes in and how he has cemented his rule, as well as what this means for the world. The book will also unpick the 'threats' Erdogan has worked to combat—from the liberal Turks to the Gulen movement, from coup plotters to Kurdish nationalists - all of which have culminated in the crisis of modern Turkey.



The Twenty-First Century's First Muslim Power

Turkey, which has always held an important position in global affairs, has become even more prominent on the international stage as an economic power and a harbinger of political Islam.

During more than ten years in power—an unprecedented tenure—Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) have expanded Turkey’s trade, diplomatic ties, and cultural exports to transform the country from an economically disadvantaged secular state into the first large Muslim nation with a middle-class majority. Erdogan has asserted Turkish influence in high-stakes, high-profile foreign issues from Gaza to Egypt to Syria, often breaking ranks with his NATO allies. Today, from the cafés of the Arab world to the boardrooms of the G-20, Turkey suddenly matters.

The Rise of Turkey is a guide to the country’s changes, both in its inspiring national potential and in the grave challenges it poses to regional affairs. Structured as a travelogue, each chapter opens on a different Turkish city and captures a new theme of Turkey’s transformation. From the Kurdish issue to foreign policy, Soner Cagaptay argues that Turkey needs to successfully balance its Muslim identity with its Western orientation in order to solidify its position as a regional and global power.



Who is a Turk?

It is commonly believed that during the interwar period, Kemalist secularism successfully eliminated religion from the public sphere in Turkey, leaving Turkish national identity devoid of religious content. However, through its examination of the impact of the Ottoman millet system on Turkish and Balkan nationalisms, this book presents a different view point. Cagaptay demonstrates that the legacy of the Ottomon millet system which divided the Ottoman population into religious compartments called millets, shaped Turkey’s understanding of nationalism in the interwar period. Providing a compelling examination of why and how religion shapes national identity in Turkey and the Balkans the book covers topics including: Turkish nationalism; the Ottoman legacy; Kemalist citizenship policies and immigration; Kurds, Muslims and Jews and the ethno-religious limits of Turkishness.

Incorporating documents from untapped Turkish archives, this book is essential reading for scholars and students with research interests in Turkey, Turkish nationalism and Middle East history.

cagaptay greekbook.jpg

My books in other languages

bottom of page