In his foreign policy, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has reconsidered commitments to the United States and NATO allies that limit his political ambitions. Turkey’s military power is actively involved in Syria, Iraq, Libya, the Eastern Mediterranean, and the South Caucasus in an attempt to alter the existing regional orders. Offensive realism, as a branch of neorealism, asserts that states are willing to use force to advance their own interests, and that their survival in the international system requires a maximization of power. Defensive neorealism holds that aggressive expansion clashes with the interests of other states and their desire to ensure their own security. According to the balance of power theory, the expansion and maximization of power reduces the security of an offensive state by countering a coalition of balancing states. At the same time, Turkish foreign policy strongly supports the formation of an Islamist, neo-patrimonialist, populist, and security-obsessed ruling bloc representing the resentment of Turkish society of the historical injustices committed by the West. This article attempts to determine Erdoğan’s strategy, examines it from the standpoint of the offensive/defensive approach of neorealism, and evaluates its effectiveness. Erdoğan has created a multi-polar balancing structure of foreign relations in which Turkish rivals restrain each other. This structure is similar to a pentahedron with Turkey in the center and its main rivals–partners arrayed around it at each point. Ankara, by shifting closer to one or another rival–partner, can effectively bargain with others using threats.

You do not currently have access to this content.