As Turkey moves toward municipal, presidential, and parliamentary elections over the next three years, all signs point to the ruling Justice and Development Party retaining power for another decade and continuing its effort to mold the country in its Islamist image. Even so, the new Turkey seems destined to retain the diversity that sets it apart from other regional states: a bit Islamist, a bit secularist, a bit conservative, and a bit Western. This presents Washington with a unique set of opportunities, but taking advantage of them will require a fuller understanding of the nuances underlying Turkish society and politics.
In this Strategic Report, Soner Cagaptay offers a comprehensive survey of the issues shaping the country's domestic and foreign policies at a time of booming economic prospects at home and continued Arab turbulence abroad. From dealing with Iran and Syria to forging consensus with increasingly formidable opposition blocs at home, the AKP faces challenges that will likely steer it in a different direction from other Muslim-majority countries even as it seeks to become a regional power.
Soner Cagaptay is the Beyer Family fellow and director of the Turkish Research Program at The Washington Institute. A historian by training, he has written extensively on U.S.-Turkish relations and other issues. In addition to frequent appearances in print and on Fox News, NPR, Voice of America, al-Jazeera, BBC, al-Hurra and other networks, he is a regular columnist for Hurriyet Daily News and a contributor to CNN's Global Public Square blog. Dr. Cagaptay has also received numerous honors and grants, among them the Smith-Richardson, Mellon, Rice, and Leylan fellowships and the Ertegun chair at Princeton.