The impacts of non-statist threats on alliance cohesion : Turkish-American case
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There is a complex web of alliances formed against a range of actors from states to NSAs and diversified agenda of threats from statist to non-statist. This thesis aims to explore the changing nature of alliances in light of the increased role of VNSAs by challenging Walt’s balance of threat theory. The Turkish-American alliance is selected to demonstrate non-statist threats’ impacts on alliance cohesion. This thesis argues that concurrence/divergence of threat perception and threat management between two allies affects the degree of cohesion as high or low. In this regard, I aim to find an answer to this research question: How have the evolving Turkish and American perceptions of the PKK/PYD affected the alliance cohesion between Turkey and the US? I will analyze the historical period from 1952 to 2017, dividedby the Kobane siege, using a single-longitudinal case study method. I observe that certain Kurdish entities have become the “Achilles heel” of this partnership and constitute the major challenge for the cohesiveness of the alliance. The rise of Kurdish capabilities in the region against ISIS has led the US to ally with the PYD/YPG as the ground force of choice. This choice has forced apart the two allies by decreasing the cohesiveness of the alliance and given way to a kind of “veiled trilateral relationship” among the US, Turkey and the PYD/YPG. This outcome demonstrates how “diverse-actored” alliances can be formed simultaneously to balance against different external threats contrary to the “state to state” origin of BoT theory.