Explaining Turkey’s partnership with Russia and Iran in the post-Arab Spring era

This thesis seeks to explain why Turkey in the post-Arab Spring era pursued a strategic partnership with Russia and Iran. Through utilizing the theory of neoclassical realism, the results of this analysis indicate that Turkey’s behavior can be attributed to fundamental changes in the regional structure that occurred around 2016, which precipitated a hostile environment that threatened Turkey’s national security. During this time, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government faced a series of domestic problems that jeopardized the survivability of the ruling regime. The severity of this internal crisis significantly limited the foreign policy choices available to respond to external pressures, and effectively precluded Turkey’s ability to rely on the United States for assistance. Forging a pragmatic and transactional partnership with Russia and Iran mitigated these complex threats. While the decision benefitted Turkey in the shortterm, this study maintains that the three-country partnership is fragile and lacks longevity. In addition, while prospects of U.S.-Turkey rapprochement are slim, reconciliation in the medium-term is still possible.