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Photo: “Turkish flag, near the entrance into Gulhane Part, Istanbul, Turkey” by Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin, licensing under CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED. Hue modified from original.

Soyaltin-Collela, Digdem, and Tolga Demiryol. 2023. “Unusual Middle Power Activism and Regime Survival: Turkey’s Drone Warfare and Its Regime-Boosting Effects.” Third World Quarterly, January, 1–20. 


The emerging middle powers in the Global South increasingly seek to produce domestic defence technologies. Drones in particular have become an important feature of middle power activism. The existing literature heavily focuses on the outcomes of the diffusion of drone technologies for regional and global politics. Yet not much has been written on the domestic impact of home-grown military technologies in middle powers. Therefore, we ask how the manufacture, export and use of drones promote regime survival, focusing on the case of Turkey. Turkey is a critical case because of its demonstrated middle power status and heavy investment in the development of armed drone platforms. Turkey’s drone programme and warfare have considerably raised the international profile of the country’s burgeoning defence sector. Yet we argue that the use of military tech also has boosting effects on domestic regime survival. This happens in three ways: promoting techno-nationalism and pride, strengthening border security and shaping regional order, and contesting global dynamics on the basis of national interests, security and self-sufficiency.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.