In This Review

A Sultan in Autumn: Erdogan Faces Turkey's Uncontainable Forces
A Sultan in Autumn: Erdogan Faces Turkey's Uncontainable Forces
By Soner Cagaptay
I.B. Tauris, 2021, 144 pp

This slim volume provides a brisk and informative review of the Turkish political scene, particularly Ankara’s foreign policy, through an examination of the recent political fortunes of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Arguing that Erdogan is “an autocrat ruling a democracy,” Cagaptay suggests that his successful transformation of Turkish democracy from a parliamentary to a presidential system in 2018 may eventually haunt him. Not only has the resulting centralization of power deprived Erdogan of the relatively diverse circle of political allies and advisers once supplied by a coalition government; it also seems to be providing an incentive for the opposition to band together to defeat him in the scheduled 2023 elections. Cagaptay usefully parses the head-spinning convolutions of recent Turkish foreign policy, tracing various regional and global fault lines into which Turkey has inserted itself, including in Azerbaijan, Libya, Syria, and eastern Mediterranean gas fields. He usefully highlights the contradictions of Erdogan’s reliance on Russian President Vladimir Putin in the context of Turkey’s long-standing distrust of Russia. Erdogan is widely criticized for his promotion of political Islam and for his highhanded dismissal of the civil and political rights of his critics, but Cagaptay suggests his future will be decided by the now flagging Turkish economy.