cover image The New Sultan: Erdogan and the Crisis of Modern Turkey

The New Sultan: Erdogan and the Crisis of Modern Turkey

Soner Cagaptay. I.B. Tauris, $25 (224p) ISBN 978-1-78453-826-2

Cagaptay, a political scientist who directs the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, argues for a liberal path to securing the country’s future in this well-researched treatise. He also shows how Turkey’s powerful president, Recep Tayyip Erdog˘an , is taking the country in the opposite direction. Cagaptay narrates Erdog˘an’s rise to power on the same wave of conservative nationalist politics currently washing over many other countries. The author is fair-minded in crediting Erdog˘an with reviving Turkey’s economy and bringing much of the nation out of poverty and into the middle class. However, Cagaptay also shows that Erdog˘an has gained power by demonizing his opponents and his onetime supporters, the Gulenists, badly dividing the country, with the possible consequence of civil war. The failed military coup in the summer of 2016 allowed Erdog˘an to consolidate and extend his authority in the name of stability. Erdog˘an ’s foreign policy forays have been failures, leaving him with little support from Middle Eastern countries while alienating the E.U., U.S., and Russia. Cagaptay offers appealing fixes such as a liberal constitution, a democratic, open society, and a tech-oriented economy, but little reason to believe that any of this can happen in the face of Erdog˘an ’s formidable opposition. (Aug.)