Elite Change and the Inception, Duration, and Demise of the Turkish-Israeli Alliance

Aydinli E., Erpul O.

FOREIGN POLICY ANALYSIS, vol.17, no.2, 2021 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 17 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1093/fpa/oraa021
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, International Bibliography of Social Sciences, Business Source Elite, Business Source Premier, Index Islamicus, PAIS International, Political Science Complete, Public Affairs Index, Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: No


This article investigates the emergence and puzzling termination of the Turkish-Israeli alliance (1996-2011). While a litany of studies has offered changing material circumstances, the conservative agenda of Turkey's AKP government, and other exogenous factors as possible explanations, these fail to capture the complexity of the situation. Instead, this article applies a modified neoclassical realist framework of analysis that longitudinally recontextualizes the alliance. Specifically, in both its inception and collapse, Turkey's elite decision-makers faced no apparent external threats and were free to pursue their favored foreign policy. Domestically, however, Turkey's elite structure was decisive. In the 1990s, the old elite used their institutional power to restrain emerging elites and used their alliance with Israel as a pretext to do so. A decade later, a new elite seized institutional power. No longer restrained domestically, and absent external enemies, the new elites targeted Israel as a menace to win further domestic support, but this eventuated in a series of events that led to the termination of the alliance. Overall, the article concludes that alliance policy can become erratic at the intersection of permissive international environments and elite-induced domestic conflicts.