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CrisisWatch Database

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Turkey

  |  1 Jun 2016

Deteriorated
Month saw increased political polarisation as well as intensified violence and civilian casualties in SE, and rise in attacks attributed to Islamic State (IS). PM Davutoğlu resigned 5 May amid heightened tensions with President Erdoğan and following ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) 29 April decision to remove PM’s authority to appoint provincial party officials. AKP leadership 19 May announced Binali Yıldırım, minister of transport, maritime and communication and close ally of president, new PM. Parliament 20 May approved bill stripping immunity from 148 MPs currently facing criminal investigation, including 53 members of pro-Kurdish HDP (and party co-chairs). Violence intensified in SE with 27 civilians killed during month, up from previous months, also some 70 security forces and 53 PKK-linked militants. PKK continued high profile attacks and reportedly used more advanced weapons systems. Attacks include bomb-laden truck 12 May detonating in Diyarbakır’s Dürümlü, three PKK militants and thirteen civilians reportedly killed. Turkish military continued air operations against PKK targets in SE Turkey and N Iraq. Clampdown against IS networks continued following 1 May IS-linked bomb attack on police station in Gaziantep that killed three officers and injured 22. IS-attributed strikes from Syria increased including 2 May strike in Kilis; security forces responded with cross-border strikes on IS positions throughout month. European Commission 4 May recommended lifting of travel visas for Turkish biometric passport holders inside Schengen zone, following Turkey’s fulfilment of all but five of 72 criteria laid out in visa liberalisation roadmap as part of March migrant deal. European Parliament (EP) President Martin Schulz 11 May said EP would not take up commission’s proposal until remaining five criteria are fulfilled including amendments to anti-terror law, which Turkish govt officials reject citing country’s heightened terror threats.

Turkey

  |  2 May 2016

Unchanged
Violence continued in south-east provinces with 50 members of security forces, at least 80 verifiable PKK/PKK-linked militants and some 23 civilians killed in April. Turkish media 4 April reported senior PKK figure Duran Kalkan elected leader of People’s Revolutionary Movement (HBDH), PKK-led umbrella organisation established 12 March comprising nine illegal leftist and pro-Kurdish extremist groups; security officials warned organisation will engage in acts of terror, including targeting foreign nationals. President Erdoğan 4 April said PKK has no option other than laying down arms or surrendering to security forces, dismissed any prospects for negotiation; 5 April vowed to strip PKK supporters of their citizenship. Suicide bomb attack 27 April hit western province of Bursa, thirteen injured; PKK offshoot Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK) 1 May claimed responsibility, security officials 28 April detained fifteen suspects. Clampdown against Islamic State (IS) and Jabhat al-Nusra networks intensified: authorities 1 April detained fifteen suspects in İzmir province; long-sought IS-linked suspect Hüseyin Tunç detained 6 April on charges of involvement in 10 Oct Ankara bombings; security forces 14 April detained eleven suspected al-Nusra militants after operations in Adana province. IS-attributed strikes from Syria intensified hitting Kilis province eleven times in April, thirteen reported killed and 59 injured. Defence Minister İsmet Yılmaz 13 April reported 146 IS targets shelled by Turkish artillery, 362 IS militants killed in Turkish military operations in retaliation to rockets landing in Kilis. Erdoğan 7 April warned EU that Ankara would not implement March migrant deal if Brussels failed to fulfil its side of bargain, including visa-free travel to Europe for Turkish citizens by summer and rejuvenated EU accession process.

Turkey

  |  1 Apr 2016

Deteriorated

Car bomb 13 March in Ankara killed 36, two attackers also killed; Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK) – ultra-radical Kurdish nationalist offshoot of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – claimed responsibility for attack, said it was act of revenge for ongoing security operations against PKK in southeastern urban centres. Ankara 14 March conducted heavy airstrikes on PKK camps in northern Iraq, as military operations continued in SE Şırnak, Diyarbakır, Mardin and Hakkâri provinces, with 52 Turkish security forces, at least 40 civilians and at least 25 PKK militants killed 1-29 March; seven police killed in explosion in Diyarbakır 31 March. Justice Ministry 4 March submitted request that parliament lift immunities of pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) co-chairs and three other MPs, following visit of condolence by one HDP MP to family of TAK suicide bomber allegedly responsible for 17 Feb Ankara attack; request likely to stoke further tension in ongoing row between ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and HDP. President Erdoğan 14 March vowed to expand definition of terror to apply to lawmakers, journalists and activists as space for open debate continued to narrow. Istanbul court 16 March arrested three Turkish academics and deported UK academic on charges of terrorist propaganda, following their public declaration entitled “We won’t be part of this crime” during 10 March gathering. Islamic State (IS)-linked suicide bomber 17 March attack on Istanbul’s Istiklal Street killed three Israeli and one Iranian national and injured 39. IS 8 and 12 March launched strikes from across Syrian border, two killed including one toddler in border province Kilis. EU and Turkey 18 March reached landmark agreement on Syrian refugees, part of deal that includes visa liberalisation and acceleration of accession negotiations for Turkey. EU agreed to grant additional €3bn to Turkey for refugee-related costs until end of 2018.

Turkey

  |  1 Mar 2016

Deteriorated Risk Alert

Car bomb attack 17 Feb in Ankara killed some 29 high ranking military officials and civil servants; govt 18 Feb blamed attack on armed wing of Syrian affiliate of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Kurdish People’s Protection Unit (YPG), however radical Kurdish nationalist group Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), a PKK offshoot, 18 Feb claimed responsibility for attack. Incident further weakened prospects for talks to resume between Ankara and PKK. Violence continued in SE despite Ankara’s declaration of successful conclusion of operations in Silopi and Cizre towns 28 Jan and 11 Feb; observers fear fighting will worsen in March. Some 84 security forces and at least 27 PKK militants killed in clashes during month including Ankara bombing. PM Davutoğlu 5 Feb unveiled anti-terror plan calling for aid to those displaced by fighting, reconstruction of devastated communities and economic assistance to SE, but rejecting engagement with pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party (HDP) or PKK; plan instead calls for consultations with local Islamist Kurdish parties and NGOs, small Kurdish nationalist parties unaligned with HDP or PKK, and constitutional reform to deliver Kurdish rights demands. Erdoğan 17 Feb signalled he could push for referendum on strengthening his office’s powers following 16 Feb decision of main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) to leave committee tasked with drafting new constitution. Turkey started shelling YPG targets in N Syria after group began gaining ground against Turkey-backed rebels late-Jan. Responding to new wave of Syrian refugees fleeing Aleppo fighting, Turkish authorities began building makeshift camps on Syrian side of border. EU 3 Feb finalised €3bn fund to assist Turkey with some 2.7mn Syrian refugees it is hosting in exchange for strengthened Turkish efforts to prevent them travelling on to Europe.

Turkey

  |  1 Feb 2016

Unchanged
Govt declared progress in crackdown against PKK’s youth arm YDG-H in SE; PM Davutoğlu 19 Jan said Kurdish town Silopi in Şirnak province officially “free of PKK fighters”. Some 35 civilians, 33 security forces and twelve PKK militants killed in clashes between security forces and PKK, including PKK car bomb attack 14 Jan targeting police compound in Cinar, Diyarbakır province, six killed including five civilians. Officials 27 Jan widened curfew in Diyarbakır’s Sur district from six to eleven neighbourhoods. Two Kurdish lawyers 6 Jan petitioned European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) demanding temporary injunction to end curfews, claiming they violate basic human rights; court rejected petition. Petition followed late-Dec request to ECHR by pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Meral Danış Beştaş to rule that govt crackdowns are causing mass rights abuses in SE. Kurdish rights situation worsened with Ankara Public Prosecutor’s Office launching series of investigations late-Dec into HDP leader Selahattin Demirtas, and into several politicians of Kurdish umbrella Democratic People’s Congress (DTK) following their declaration supporting Kurdish self-rule. Country-wide debate intensified early-Jan over ruling Justice and Development Party’s proposal for new constitution which would dramatically increase powers of presidency. Islamic State (IS) suicide attack 12 Jan killed eleven foreigners in Istanbul’s tourist district Sultanahmet; some 31 IS suspects subsequently arrested and 112 detained, govt reportedly carried out several operations against IS positions in Syria and Iraq. Border tensions grew following 18 Jan rocket attack reportedly from IS-held territory in Syria on border town Kilis, one Turkish civilian killed. Govt accused Russia of violating its airspace again 29 Jan; Russia denied. Late-Nov refugee deal with EU remains stalled amid member states’ resistance over $3bn in aid; officials 15 Jan announced govt would begin issuing work permits for Syrian refugees without requiring residence permits, meeting longstanding demand of refugees and EU.

Turkey

  |  4 Jan 2016

Unchanged

Violence between security forces and PKK continued at high intensity in south east with some 44 civilians, 25 security forces killed in clashes throughout month; PKK’s armed wing People’s Defence Force (HPG) reported at least eleven insurgents killed. Security forces 2 Dec declared curfew in Diyarbakır’s Sur district following late-Nov killing of prominent pro-Kurdish lawyer and rights activist Tahir Elçi. Insecurity remains high in urban areas: security forces 11 Dec declared curfew in seven cities throughout SE, as govt promised to continue operations; police intelligence reported over 100,000 displaced and 1.3 million affected by curfews since Aug. Govt 12 Dec launched airstrikes on PKK positions in SE, at least two civilians killed. PKK leader Murat Karayilan 15 Dec said PKK not planning unilateral ceasefire unless govt ends military operations. Media crackdown continued following 1 Nov elections: prominent opposition journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül arrested late-Nov on charges of being members of a terror organisation, espionage and revealing confidential documents. Tensions with Russia persisted: Russia intensified airstrikes against Turkish-backed Syrian rebel groups and imposed sweeping embargoes on Turkish imports. Crackdown on Islamic State (IS) militants continued: 67 IS-linked suspects charged 18 Dec in investigation into IS activities; govt 10 Dec reportedly pledged to build 82km wall along IS-held border with Syria. EU 14 Dec opened negotiations with Ankara on Chapter 17, aimed at bringing Turkey in line with EU’s economic and monetary policy. Turkey and Israel 17 Dec reached preliminary deal to normalise relations.

Turkey

  |  1 Dec 2015

Deteriorated

Violence between PKK and Turkish security forces increased following 1 Nov snap elections as PKK 5 Nov declared end to 10 Oct unilateral ceasefire and PM Davutoglu 6 Nov promised to continue military operations against PKK. Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) regained parliamentary majority with 49.5% of vote in 1 Nov poll; pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) 13 Nov called on High Election Council to annul results, citing pre-election crackdown on media, detention of pro-Kurdish parties’ local operatives and attacks on HDP offices. Some 24 civilians, seventeen security forces members and nineteen PKK insurgents reported killed in clashes during month. Security forces 3 Nov began ten-day operation in Kurdish town Silvan, Diyarbakır district, engaged in fierce fighting with pro-PKK urban militia; some seven civilians and three security officials killed, thousands reportedly fled. President Erdogan 4 Nov renamed peace process “national brotherhood and unity process”, underscoring govt’s decision to shun negotiations with jailed PKK leader Öcalan and opt for continued military operations against PKK. Prominent pro-Kurdish lawyer and rights activist Tahir Elçi killed 28 Nov in gunfight between police and unidentified gunmen during press conference calling for end to violence with PKK; shooting sparked protests in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and Diyarbakır. Police continued intensified operations against Islamic State (IS); FM 18 Nov pledged intensified Turkish and U.S. airstrikes against IS along Turkish border. Russian warplane shot down 24 Nov by Turkish fighter jet after alleged violation of Turkish airspace; Moscow 29 Nov announced series of sanctions against Turkey amid ongoing standoff with Ankara. PM Davutoglu 10 Nov repeated calls for “safe haven” along border with Syria. EU leaders and PM Davutoglu reached agreement during 29 Nov migration summit: Turkey promised to help stem flow of migrants to Europe in exchange for $3.2bn aid to help deal with 2.2mn registered Syrian refugees, visas and renewed talks on joining EU.

Turkey

  |  2 Nov 2015

Deteriorated Risk Alert

Bomb attack at Ankara peace rally led by leftist groups and pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) 10 Oct left some 102 killed and 240 injured in deadliest attack in republic’s history. PM Davutoğlu 14 Oct said Islamic State (IS) orchestrated attack. Interior ministry 14 Oct laid off several security officials amid growing anger and political division over bombing. Ankara prosecutor’s office 28 Oct announced IS cell in Gaziantep responsible for attack. Pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) 10 Oct accused ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of covertly aiding Ankara attackers and two other IS-linked bombers who struck pro-Kurdish targets in previous attacks. Over 320 IS suspects detained since 10 Oct. Two police and seven IS militants killed, twelve militants captured 26 Oct in police operation in Diyarbakır. Kurdish insurgency Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Murat Karayılan 10 Oct declared unilateral ceasefire until 1 Nov repeat elections; PM Davutoğlu same day pledged to continue military operations against PKK positions in SE and in Iraq. Deadly violence between security forces and PKK continued, with thirteen security officials reported killed since 10 Oct ceasefire. Governor of Diyarbakir province 9 Oct began four-day curfew in majority-Kurdish city’s historic district following death of police officer in clashes with pro-PKK youth militia; 18 Oct declared curfew in Silvan district. Political and social tensions increased in lead-up to 1 Nov elections. U.S. 1 Oct pledged to deploy additional aircraft and personnel to Incirlik Air Base in SE, expanding scope of U.S.-led coalition anti-IS operations in Turkey. Russian-made drone shot down in Turkish airspace 16 Oct. Govt and EU 16 Oct discussed joint action plan to tackle Syrian refugee crisis. Govt 26 Oct announced army hit Syrian PKK-affiliate, Kurdish Democratic Union Part (PYD) in N Syria twice: in July and again 16 Oct when PYD members attempted to cross Euphrates river.

Turkey

  |  1 Oct 2015

Deteriorated
Clashes between security forces and Kurdish insurgency PKK worsened in east and south east, while govt also launched seven airstrikes against PKK positions in Turkey and Northern Iraq. Seventeen soldiers killed in PKK attack in Daglica, Hakkari 6 Sept; fourteen soldiers killed in Igdir 8 Sept; 23 civilians reported killed in Cizre district of Sirnak province during nine-day curfew that ended 12 Sept. Interior ministry 11 Sept suspended mayor of Cizre district for allegedly inciting armed uprising and terror propaganda. Since Suruç attack on 20 July, Ankara has reported 135 security officials killed and 278 injured, and 75 civilians killed in PKK attacks as of 28 Sept; PKK’s armed wing People’s Defense Force (HPG) reported 112 insurgents killed in same period, while govt has declared some 131 “temporary military secure zones” in over fifteen eastern provinces, and imposed curfews in Muş, Van, Şırnak and Diyarbakır provinces. Umbrella group Unions of the Communities of Kurdistan (KCK) 15 Sept said willing to participate in negotiations with govt under supervision of mediators as part of strengthened ceasefire and democratic resolution of crisis. Nationwide demonstrations against terrorism 6-9 Sept; over 300 violent incidents against pro-Kurdish HDP party buildings reported. Ahead of snap polls scheduled for 1 Nov HDP co-chair Demirtas 2 Sept said security conditions in east and south east unsuitable for election campaign. Parliament 3 Sept renewed mandate allowing military to conduct cross-border operations in Syria and Iraq, and allowing govt to authorise foreign troops based on Turkish soil. Two soldiers killed, two injured 1 and 9 Sept following cross-border fire from Islamic State in provinces of Kilis and Hatay along Syrian border. Amid escalating European refugee crisis PM Davutoğlu called for more action by international community to address problem.

Turkey

  |  1 Sep 2015

Unchanged

Clashes between security forces and PKK intensified in southeast: Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) reported 67 members killed in clashes with PKK 20 July- 30 Aug; PKK reported 53 of its members killed in same period; 28 civilians reported killed. Govt reported over 800 alleged PKK members detained. Govt 17-18 Aug designated over 100 “special security zones” in east and southeast, imposed curfews in parts of Mus and Diyarbakır. Govt continued air bombardments of PKK positions in Turkey and N Iraq, launching thirteen waves of airstrikes 24 July - 28 Aug. Senior PKK members blamed govt for breaking three-year ceasefire; said PKK would stop fighting if Turkey ends military operations, called for monitoring committee to oversee conditions of reinforced ceasefire, demanded direct contact with jailed leader Öcalan and new format for peace process. Govt late July initiated criminal investigations against Demirtas and fellow co-chair Yüksekdağ on criminal charges and engaging in terrorism propaganda respectively. Unable to agree on terms of coalition with opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) or Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), PM Davutoglu 18 Aug returned mandate to form govt to president; Erdogan 21 Aug announced snap elections for 1 Nov. U.S. 12 Aug conducted first airstrikes on Islamic State in Syria from Turkey’s İncirlik airbase. Army 14 Aug began constructing wall in Hatay to stem illegal border crossings following govt’s July pledge to tighten security at Syrian and Iraqi borders.

Turkey

  |  3 Aug 2015

Deteriorated Risk Alert

Month saw collapse of state-PKK ceasefire in place since 2013 following marked increase in violent incidents particularly in SE Turkey, Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL) blamed for 20 July suicide bomb attack in Suruc killing 32. Two police killed by PKK-affiliated group 22 July. Border guard killed by IS militant 23 July, one police officer killed by PKK same day. Amid increasing tensions Turkey announced agreement for opening bases to allied forces fighting IS on 23 July and launched airstrikes on IS positions in Syria (killing at least 35 IS members according to Turkish military) on 24 July; and struck PKK positions in N Iraq starting on 25 July, continuing through end of July with seven waves of bombardment. Govt also arrested hundreds of suspected IS and PKK members inside Turkey 24 July onwards. PKK said 2013 truce has lost meaning; President Erdogan 28 July said peace process “with those who threaten our national unity and brotherhood” is impossible. Turkey and U.S. 28 July reportedly agreed in general terms on plan to drive out IS from part of Syrian territory along Turkish border. NATO ambassadors same day expressed solidarity with Turkey at meeting in Brussels to discuss Syria and Iraq, in session requested by Turkey. Kurdish forces claimed Turkish tanks shelled Kurdish-held villages in N Syria 26 July; Ankara denied targeting Syrian Kurds, stating it only targeted IS in Syria and PKK in N Iraq. PKK 24-31 July killed eleven Turkish security officers, bringing total during July to eighteen.

Turkey

  |  1 Jul 2015

Unchanged

Parliamentary elections 7 June saw ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lose parliamentary majority for first time in over twelve years, gaining 41% of vote and 258 of 550 seats in parliament. Negotiations to form coalition govt ongoing. Pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) exceeded 10% minimum electoral threshold with 13% of vote (80 seats); result strengthens its legitimacy and political space for peace deal. Surge in violence in days prior to and following elections amid increased tensions in run-up to polls: bus driver working for HDP shot dead 3 June in Bingol; bomb attack at HDP rally in Diyarbakır 5 June killed four and injured over 100. HDP blamed Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL) affiliates, accused govt of poor intelligence. Govt mid-June accused Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) of ethnic cleansing of Arabs and Turkmens in north of Syria during attempt to unite Kurdish cantons/territories there, including with PYD’s 16 June capture of Syrian town Tal Abyad along border. National Security Council (NSC) convened 29 June to discuss security threat from Syria as military deployed tanks to border near Kobani. Senior PKK figure threatened retaliation if military enters Syria; NSC said tanks are a security measure. Head of Islamic aid organisation close to pro-Islamist Huda Par (Kurdish Islamic party affiliated with Hizbollah) gunned down 9 June in Diyarbakır; subsequent riots left four dead, at least six injured. Clashes between govt and PKK occurred throughout month at military base in Dağlıca on Iraqi border, one villager killed.

Turkey

  |  1 Jun 2015

Unchanged

Govt-PKK peace process remains stalled in run-up to 7 June parliamentary elections. Amid increasing antagonism between parties, ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) adopted increasingly hardline rhetoric in attempt to regain votes from Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). Polling shows Pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) at 9.5%-10.5%; if it fails to pass 10% threshold to enter parliament, consequences for peace process could be significant. PKK 3 May cancelled General Congress of the KCK (Union of the Communities of Kurdistan), called for in March by jailed leader Öcalan to discuss possible disarmament, citing govt failure to advance peace process. Two bombs exploded 18 May in HDP offices in Adana and Mersin provinces. Govt condemned violence; HDP leader suggested AKP behind attack. Govt jet 16 May shot down Syrian helicopter it alleged violated Turkish airspace. U.S. and Turkey launched long-anticipated joint train-and-equip program for Syrian rebels.

Turkey

  |  30 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Military and PKK clashed in Agri province 11 April, leaving five militants dead, four soldiers wounded. Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) stated pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) continuing to stoke violence and intimidate citizens in east to vote for HDP in 7 June elections; HDP said clash part govt attempt to discredit party, prevent it from passing 10% electoral threshold. Govt responded angrily to statements by Pope Francis, European Parliament and Germany recognising 1915-18 Ottoman mass killings of Armenians as genocide: Ankara 15 April said statements “distortion of history”, part of international campaign against AKP. Security forces apprehended nineteen Syria-bound foreign nationals in Hatay and Gaziantep early month. Istanbul court 29 April acquitted 26, including five leaders of Taksim Solidarity, umbrella group of civil society, union and political groups, charged with involvement in 2013 protest against AKP.

Turkey

  |  1 Apr 2015

Unchanged

Jailed PKK leader Öcalan’s message read out on 21 March Nowrouz celebrations; called on PKK to hold congress to discuss ending armed struggle. Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy Yalçin Akdoğan 18 March said govt agreed to setting up third-party monitoring committee for Turkey-PKK peace process. President Erdoğan 20 March opposed monitoring committee, 22 March said he did not accept agreement between govt and HDP on Öcalan’s ten-point framework for talks announced 28 Feb. AKP spokesman 21 March said govt will go ahead with monitoring committee. Military involved in clashes with PKK in SE: 24 March launched operation against PKK hideouts in Mazı Dağı, 25 March deployed artillery fire following mortar shell attack on military position in Dağlıca district near Iraqi border. Govt 27 March passed security law increasing police powers to fire on protesters, search and detain suspects. Prosecutor investigating March 2014 death of anti-govt protester Berkin Elvan taken hostage 31 March by leftist armed group Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front, demanding that police officer who shot Elvan be arrested, publicly confess guilt; prosecutor and hostage-takers killed in shoot-out with police. Turkish soldiers 17 March opened fire on vehicle travelling in forbidden zone in Kilis province on border with Syria, killing driver. Ankara and EU officials 18 March agreed to update Turkey’s Customs Union with EU.

Turkey

  |  2 Mar 2015

Unchanged

Turkey-PKK peace process entered important phase 28 Feb: govt said it was ready to start negotiations; pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party (HDP) MP Önder said PKK leader Öcalan called for spring PKK congress with aim to announce laying down weapons if his ten articles accepted as basis for talks. 20 Feb fight between PKK sympathisers and Turkish nationalists at Ege University in western Izmir province left one student dead. AKP-backed domestic security bill triggered fist fights in parliament 17, 19 Feb; thousands protested 21 Feb against draft law that would significantly increase police powers to detain, search suspects. MIT and army 21 Feb conducted operation around 30km inside northern Syria in area besieged by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL), to evacuate 40 soldiers and historic artefacts from tomb of Süleyman Şah. Damascus described incursion as “flagrant aggression”. Explosion 13 Feb at police checkpoint in SE Sanliurfa province on Syria border injured at least three. Govt 19 Feb signed agreement with U.S. to jointly train moderate Syrian opposition in Kırşehir province; expected to begin late-March. Govt 25 Feb detained dozens in illegal wiretapping raid.

Turkey

  |  2 Feb 2015

Unchanged

Volatile security situation in south east continues. Security forces clashed with pro-PKK groups in Sirnak province bringing death toll to seven since late Dec. One civilian died 26 Jan in clash between soldiers and villagers in SE Hakkari province. Govt 29 Jan demanded PKK disarm, relaunch peace talks 21 March. Turkey in international spotlight for jihadi transits to Syria: police report early Jan said 3,000 people linked to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL) in country; FM Mevlut Cavusoglu 18 Jan said passage of foreign fighters constitutes “greatest threat” to Turkey. Suicide bombing 6 Jan at Istanbul police station killed police officer, Russian female perpetrator from North Caucasus linked to IS. Parliamentary votes on 5, 20 Jan decided against sending four former ministers from ruling AKP to Supreme Court on corruption charges. 26 police detained 27 Jan, suspected of illegally wiretapping politicians, civil servants, businessmen. European Parliament 15 Jan adopted resolution criticising Turkey for “backsliding in democratic reforms”, showing “diminishing tolerance” to public protest, critical media; condemned Dec police raids, journalist arrests.

Turkey

  |  5 Jan 2015

Unchanged

Deputy PM Akdoğan 19 Dec said peace process with PKK could finalise before summer 2015 elections, underlined strong will for solution. PKK’s jailed head Öcalan late Nov presented plan for negotiations, underlined need for negotiated ceasefire and monitoring board. Three people killed, three injured in 27 Dec clashes between PKK and Islamist Kurds from Hüda-Par in south-eastern Turkish Şırnak province, new spillover from Kurdish-Islamic State clashes in Syria. FM Çavuşoğlu 19 Dec said Turkey could begin training, equipping moderate Syrian opposition fighters in collaboration with U.S. before March. Second group of 150 peshmerga fighters from Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government crossed into Kobani, Syria from Turkey 2 Dec. EU foreign policy chief Mogherini 8 Dec pledged €70m aid to Syrian refugees in Turkey. Turkey 14 Dec arrested around 30 journalists linked with U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, leading to EU criticism; chilling EU accession process yet further, President Erdoğan told EU to “keep their views to themselves … we don’t care whether the EU allows [us into the union] or not”.

Turkey

  |  1 Dec 2014

Unchanged

Month saw some positive momentum from both sides in Turkey-PKK peace process, welcome shift from Oct upsurge in violence and clashes between army and Kurdish PKK fighters. Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) 13 Nov said roadmap was being discussed and new mechanisms could be established for process; gave no details. Pro-Kurdish national movement Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP’s) deputy co-chair 15 Nov said jailed PKK leader Öcalan could call on PKK to abandon their weapons in May or April 2015 if the sides can take “simultaneous mutual steps in the peace process”. Early Nov survey found 58% of Turkey’s population said dialogue between govt and PKK should continue. In volatile mainly Kurdish SE, off-duty soldier shot dead by two PKK members in Diyarbakır 29 Oct; alleged “spy” within PKK’s youth arm, YDG-H, executed in Şırnak’s Cizre province 7 Nov. Security Forces 12 Nov said PKK elements had fired on military outpost in Uludere, Şırnak. Masked group from YDG-H 16 Nov attacked two public buses in Diyarbakır; another group clashed with police in Cizre province, Şırnak. Govt continues to push for no-fly zone and security zone inside Syria; President Erdoğan 19 Nov reiterated that Turkey would not join an international anti-jihadi coalition unless it also targets Assad regime alongside jihadis and establishes safe zone; U.S. still reluctant on committing to these goals.

Turkey

  |  1 Nov 2014

Unchanged

Month saw govt-PKK peace process threatened by most violent street protests in decades, worst army-PKK clashes since March 2013 ceasefire: tensions followed advances by Islamic State (IS; formerly ISIL) militants toward Syrian Kurdish border town of Kobani (see Syria)(see ; Turkish troops prohibited PKK fighters from crossing border to aid fellow Kurds, fuelling violent clashes between protesters, police and Islamic groups in south-eastern Kurdish majority areas and major cities; at least 35 killed, military intervened to quell violence. PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan 2 October warned govt-PKK peace process would be derailed if IS took Kobani; parliament same day voted to expand authority to intervene militarily in Syria and Iraq, allow foreign troops to operate on Turkish soil; later ruled out any unilateral military involvement. Turkey 29 Oct allowed ten Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters to cross Turkish border into Syria; further contingent of 150 peshmerga troops to reinforce Kurds in Kobani; Syrian regime denounced move as violation of sovereignty.  Several deadly clashes between PKK, army including: two police killed 9 Oct in Kurdish town of Bingöl; army airstrikes 13 Oct hit PKK positions near Hakkari following three days of PKK rocket fire; three PKK militants killed in clash with army near Kars after setting fire to power plant; three soldiers killed 25 Oct in Yüksekova by masked gunmen; body of executed pro-govt Kurdish militiaman found in Bitlis next day. President Erdogan 31 Oct said Kurdish peace talks to continue despite unrest. Turkey 16 Oct failed to win non-permanent UNSC seat, seen by observers as sign of growing international isolation.

Turkey

  |  1 Oct 2014

Unchanged

Amid criticism of Turkey’s “laissez-faire” attitude toward militant group Islamic State (IS), President Erdogan 22 Sept said IS “terrorist organisation”, but also symptom of bigger governance problems in Baghdad and Damascus; also pushed for no-fly zone in northern Syria. Turkey still not part of U.S.-led anti-IS coalition, though parliament early Oct to consider cross-border operations, use of Turkish soil by foreign militaries; authorities tightened border control to stop jihadi crossings, 29 Sept deployed tanks to border with Syria’s Kobani region. IS 20 Sept released 49 Turkish diplomatic staff abducted from Mosul consulate in June, including 3 Iraqi nationals, possibly in prisoner exchange with Syrian pro-Turkish group Liwa al-Tawhid. Hundreds of PKK fighters continued crossing into Syria and Iraq; PKK military leader Murat Karayılan 22 Sept accused Turkey of collaborating with IS, said govt-PKK settlement process “meaningless”. PKK militants early Sept set fire to over 17 schools in protest at govt closing down illegal all-Kurdish schools in south. 130,000 Syrian Kurdish refugees 19-22 Sept crossed into Turkey; total 1.5mn refugees to date; 3,000 protested in Istanbul 21 Sept in solidarity with Syrian Kurds; clashes reported between security forces, Turkish Kurds sympathetic to refugees on border same day. Scores of police investigators detained 1 Sept over alleged attempt to overthrow govt through corruption charges against Erdogan.

Turkey

  |  1 Sep 2014

Unchanged

Former PM Erdoğan sworn in as 1st popularly elected president 28 Aug after winning 10 Aug 1st round of presidential elections with 52% of vote; opposition MHP-CHP coalition candidate Ekmeleddin Ihsanoğlu claimed 38%; pro-Kurdish HDP candidate Selahattin Demirtaş secured impressive 10%, reflecting sympathizers beyond Kurdish constituency. Former FM Ahmet Davutoğlu declared new PM 22 Aug; 29 Aug announced govt. Erdoğan likely to maintain tight control over Turkey and push for executive presidency model. Govt-PKK peace process moved forward: HDP delegations visited jailed PKK chief Abdullah Ocalan and northern Iraq PKK HQ; Deputy PM Beşir Atalay 19 Aug said govt ready to send delegations to northern Iraq, finish roadmap by end of Sept. Hard-line exiled PKK leader Duran Kalkan called for radical youth to support peace process. Despite progress, 1 Turkish lieutenant killed 19 Aug in army-PKK clash near Van; 1 civilian killed during protests near Diyarbakir same day. As hundreds of PKK fighters joined Syrian PYD affiliate and Iraqi Peshmergas in battle against IS, PKK commander 22 Aug called for EU military support. Govt reportedly toughened border control to prevent European jihadi infiltrations into Syria. Syrian refugees 11 Aug killed Turkish landlord in Gaziantep, prompting unrest and attacks on Syrian businesses and refugees, including in Istanbul.

Turkey

  |  1 Aug 2014

Unchanged

Govt-PKK peace process inched forward: new bill approved by parliament 10 July and President Gül 15 July gives state negotiators immunity, allows use of third-parties in talks, mentions work underway for militants’ rehabilitation. Jailed PKK leader Öcalan 10 July said legal framework “positive start to establishing a great peace”. Hundreds of PKK fighters reported crossing into Syria mid-July to join armed wing Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in battle against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL) jihadists around Kobane. 3 Turkish soldiers, 2 YPG killed near Ceylanpinar on Syria border 21 July; Turkish army said militants tried to enter illegally, PKK said they were ambushed. Turkish soldiers 19 July shot dead Syrian Kurdish man crossing intoŞırnak province from Syria. Tensions in southeast from Syrian spillover worsened with anti-refugee protests and attacks on Syrian businesses in Kahramanmaraş and Adana provinces 13-14 July. PM Erdoğan 17 July accused Israel of attempting “systematic genocide” in Gaza, called for ICC trial; FM Davutoğlu 18 July met with Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Abbas, 25 July with Hamas leader Meshaal, 26 July attended Paris multilateral talks. Israel 18 July reduced diplomatic delegation in Turkey amid growing protests. Govt media ban on June kidnapping of 49 Turkish diplomatic staff and family in Mosul by IS continued. Dozens of police officers and chiefs detained late July over alleged spying on PM Erdoğan and entourage, arrests seen as political move ahead of 10 Aug presidential elections.

Turkey

  |  1 Jul 2014

Unchanged

Govt-PKK peace process inched forward: govt 26 June submitted new bill to parliament proposing legal immunity for key negotiating actors and govt-led rehabilitation program for militants; Deputy PM Beşir Atalay said solution near; jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan said bill “historic development”. Pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) 15 June visited PKK leadership in northern Iraq; Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) same day urged movement to avoid roadblocks, attacks, kidnappings. 2 killed in violent protests in Lice 7 June, 23 teachers abducted by PKK 9 June, later released. 1 killed 1 June in clash between pro-Kurdish group and Turkish ultra nationalists in Istanbul; PKK supporters 4-7 June attacked city buses with Molotov coktails, no casualties reported. Syrian Kurdish boy shot 3 June by Turkish soldiers. Sunni militant group ISIL 11 June kidnapped 49 consulate staff in Mosul, Iraq; govt banned media reporting on crisis. Govt 30 June opposed independent Kurdish state, called for Iraq unity. 26 activists charged 12 June for May-June 2013 Taksim Square protests. Ahead of August presidential elections, opposition national MHP and secularist CHP 16 June announced joint candidate, conservative diplomat Ekmeleddin Ihsanoğlu; HDP 26 June announced Selahattin Demirtas; ruling AKP 1 July announced PM Erdoğan’s candidacy.

Turkey

  |  1 Jun 2014

Unchanged

Over 300 killed, hundreds wounded, in coal mine explosion in town of Soma, Aegean Manisa province 13 May; police used water cannon, tear gas in subsequent protests in several major cities, including Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir. Police fired live bullets during clashes in Istanbul 22-23 May, 1 civilian shot, 1 died in grenade blast, at least 9 injured including 7 police. Woman, in coma since inhaling tear gas during Dec protests, died 30 May. No visible progress toward govt-PKK settlement, ceasefire continued to hold despite several breaches. Soldiers 19 May reportedly shot dead Syrian Kurdish woman crossing border in Şırnak province. FM Davutoğlu 8 May said compensation talks with Israel over 2010 Mavi Marmara incident progressing; passenger injured in incident died 23 May after 4 years in coma, court 26 May issued arrest warrants for 4 former Israeli military chiefs. European Court of Human Rights 12 May issued ruling against Turkey on 1974 Cyprus invasion (see Cyprus).

Turkey

  |  1 May 2014

Unchanged

No tangible progress towards govt-PKK settlement; jailed PKK leader Öcalan met pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) delegation 26 April, warned against new clashes, urged govt to enact new laws including for militants’ return. BDP-organised protests against military outpost constructions in SE turned violent: 3 protesters wounded in Tunceli province 27 April; PKK same day kidnapped 2 soldiers in Diyarbakır. Parliament 17 April approved controversial law increasing powers and immunity of National Intelligence Agency (MIT); criticised by opposition for turning Turkey into “intelligence state”, law also potentially provides legal grounds for ongoing Öcalan-MIT negotiations. EU Enlargement Commissioner Štefan Füle 10 April expressed concern about independence of judiciary and freedom of expression. Turkey 23 April sent army relief and resupply convoy to Turkish exclave Süleyman Şah tomb 30km inside Syria, area controlled by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Turkey

  |  1 Apr 2014

Unchanged

Ruling AKP won more than 44% of vote in 30 March local elections. 8 killed in clashes between supporters of rival candidates on polling day in Sanliurfa and Hatay province; mayoral candidate for Islamist Felicity Party shot dead in Siirt province 31 March. 15-year-old in coma since June 2013 clashes between protesters and police, described by PM Erdoğan as “terrorist”, died 11 March prompting more protest; 1 shot dead 12 March in Istanbul in clash between rival political groups, 1 policeman died of heart attack due to tear gas in Tunceli same day. Continued social media leaks of corruption allegations and phone conversations involving Erdoğan govt led to ban on Twitter 20 March, blocking of YouTube. No new progress in govt-PKK peace process; first combat death since March 2013 ceasefire as Turkish soldier killed in 6 March explosion in Uludere, Şırnak province. Amid fighting between Syrian regime and rebels in border area, Turkey 23 March shot down Syrian warplane outside Hatay province, saying it crossed into Turkish airspace. 3 alleged members of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) from Syria started firefight in central Niğde province 20 March; 2 soldiers, 1 police, 1 civilian killed. 2 suspected ISIL members and 3 police injured in raid in Istanbul 25 March.

Turkey

  |  1 Mar 2014

Unchanged

Month saw several demonstrations in Istanbul and other provinces against new laws criticised for increasing authoritarian turn of PM Erdoğan’s govt; police used tear gas, water cannon. Controversial laws included bills on internet regulation and Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors, both approved by President Gül, and a proposal to broaden powers of National Intelligence Organisation. EU officials sent messages critical of legal changes. 24 Feb tapes of phone conversations allegedly between Erdoğan and son about hiding large sums of cash leaked; PM claimed recordings fake, more recordings emerged in following days. Court 28 Feb released last 5 suspects detained in Dec corruption probe targeting PM’s inner circle, including 2 sons of ministers. Month saw deterioration in peace process between govt and Kurdish insurgency PKK. Ceasefire violations continued, particularly in SE Şırnak province; PKK militants 17 Feb fired on road construction machines near border, Turkish military responded, skirmish continued for several days. At Geneva II conference on Syria conflict (see Syria) Syrian FM Muallem accused Erdoğan of backing “terrorists”. Turkish officials continued to intensify high-level contacts with EU; PM Erdoğan 3 Feb visited Germany, FM Davutoğlu 10-11 Feb visited Brussels.

Turkey

  |  1 Feb 2014

Unchanged

Tensions over 17 Dec corruption raid targeting PM Erdoğan’s inner circle deepened. Govt reacted by reshuffling thousands of prosecutors and policemen allegedly behind corruption investigation. Govt 7 Jan sent draft legislation to parliament aiming to enhance executive authority over judges, prosecutors, prompting criticism from U.S., EU. Anti-govt protests formed in major cities: thousands 11 Jan protested in Ankara. Investigation widely seen as instigated by U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, reflecting internal battle between formerly allied governing AKP and Gülen’s Islamic movement fighting over control of state institutions; Erdoğan called investigation foreign-backed “coup attempt” by “parallel state”. Peace process between govt and Kurdish insurgency PKK remains fragile, with occasional flare-ups of violence continuing in SE, but ceasefire officially continues. Military court 6 Jan dropped investigation into deaths of 34 Kurdish civilians in military air strike in 2011. Protests erupted 15 Jan over building of new military outpost in Sirnak in SE, several protesters injured. All 5 pro-Kurdish BDP deputies on trial for alleged involvement with Kurdish Communities Union released 3-4 Jan. FM Davutoğlu 19 Jan denied allegations that Turkey supported al-Qaeda in Syria; army 28 Jan opened fire on al-Qaeda-linked militants in N Syria destroying several vehicles, reportedly in retaliation for cross-border fire from Syria; police 14 Jan detained 28 suspects in raid against al-Qaeda. Amid EU concerns over judicial independence in Turkey, Erdoğan 21 Jan visited Brussels for first time in 5 years, renewed commitment to Turkey’s EU path.

Turkey

  |  2 Jan 2014

Unchanged

In perceived proxy battle within AKP, more than 50 people detained 17 Dec for alleged involvement in corruption ring, including sons of 3 cabinet ministers, 1 municipal leader, prominent businessmen, more than 24 formally arrested; 4 ministers implicated replaced in 25 Dec 10-minister cabinet reshuffle. Separate probe delayed after govt reassigned hundreds of police, prosecutor says unable to order detentions for questioning. Peace process between govt and Kurdish insurgency PKK remains fragile, with occasional flare-ups of violence in SE: protests 6 Dec against alleged vandalism of PKK militants’ graves in Yüksekova, Hakkari; 2 protesters killed in clashes during police crackdown, 3rd died later. Further clashes at funeral for killed protesters 7 Dec in Şırnak and Yüksekova, several wounded, including police. PKK 8 Dec kidnapped 4 soldiers in retaliation, released 9 Dec. PKK leader Cemil Bayık 2 Dec said peace process heading off course due to governing AKP delaying tactics, signalled PKK would take up arms again if process not accelerated by spring 2014. Continued tensions along Syrian border: 1 Syrian child killed 3 Dec by Turkish soldiers firing warning shots to stop group illegally crossing back to Syria. Committee to Protect Journalists 18 Dec announced Turkey “world’s leading jailer of journalists”, some 40 journalists imprisoned, mainly Kurdish. Turkey and EU 16 Dec signed readmission agreement obliging Turkey to take back illegal immigrants who enter EU via Turkey, in exchange for start of visa exemption talks. 

Turkey

  |  1 Dec 2013

Unchanged

Flagging peace process between govt and Kurdish PKK insurgency reinvigorated as PM Erdoğan and Iraqi Kurdistan leader Masoud Barzani 16 Nov gave joint public address in Diyarbakır; Erdoğan used word “Kurdistan”, visited Diyarbakır municipality run by pro-Kurdish BDP. On first visit to Turkey since 1992, Barzani spoke of Turkish-Kurdish “brotherhood”, urged Turkish Kurds to support PKK peace process. Sporadic army-PKK clashes continue: PKK 15 Nov attacked army convoy in Nusaybin; 19 Nov set construction vehicles on fire on Şırnak-Van highway. Continued reports of smuggling along Syrian border: Turkish border control 2 Nov intercepted convoy carrying 1,000kg of chemicals; 7 Nov seized cargo truck loaded with 1,200 weapons. Govt figures show over 600,000 Syrian refugees in Turkey, over 200,000 of these in camps, rest in cities. Thousands 7 Nov participated in BDP-organised protests against construction of wall along Syrian border in Nusaybin. FM Davutoğlu denied Western accusations that Turkey allows jihadi fighters to transit through its territory to Syria. Interior ministry 27 Nov reported around 500 Turkish citizens fighting in Syria alongside al-Qaeda linked rebels. In attempt to mend ties with Shiite regional powers, Davutoğlu 1 Nov hosted Iranian FM Zarif; during 11 Nov trip to Iraq, visited Shiite shrine, met Shiite spiritual leader al-Sistani. Egypt 23 Nov announced expulsion of Turkish ambassador, citing govt’s “provocative” criticism of Cairo. Thousands of Turkish Alevis 3 Nov staged anti-govt demonstration in Istanbul demanding “equal citizenship”. Ending 3-year hiatus in accession negotiations, EU, Turkey 5 Nov opened chapter 22 on regional policy.

Turkey

  |  1 Nov 2013

Unchanged

Peace process between govt and Kurdish PKK insurgency looking increasingly fragile, though PKK did not end ceasefire after 15 Oct as threatened. PKK 1 Oct said not satisfied with govt’s 30 Sept “democratisation package”; leader Cemil Bayık 19 Oct said “process has come to an end”, requires “deep and meaningful negotiations” with Kurdish movement “or there will be a civil war in Turkey”, demanded direct access for Öcalan to outside world. Parliament 3 Oct voted to extend mandate authorising deployment of troops to Syria citing threat of chemical weapons. Incidents continue on border with Syria: 1 Turkish civilian killed in Ceylanpınar 28 Oct by stray shell from fighting in Ras al-Ayn between Kurdish and Islamist fighters, Turkish army returned fire. Protests against Turkey’s 7 Oct decision to build wall along Syrian border turned violent 20 Oct as police dispersed protesters in Mardin province. Turkey’s Disaster and Emergency Directorate said 22 Oct over 600,000 Syrian refugees in Turkey. After EU 16 Oct published relatively positive Progress Report on Turkey’s accession process, new negotiating chapter on regional policy to be opened 5 Nov, first in 3 years.

Turkey

  |  1 Oct 2013

Unchanged

Peace talks between govt and Kurdish PKK insurgency continue but hang in balance as both sides have blamed each other for stalling. High-level PKK leader Cemil Bayık 5 Sept announced halting militants’ withdrawals to outside Turkey; jailed PKK head Öcalan 15 Sept voiced need for “new format” in peace talks. Ceasefire remains in place but tensions continue: PKK 11 Sept attacked construction site, abducted 4 in Siirt; 15 Sept set construction vehicles on fire in Elazığ. PM Erdoğan 30 Sept announced “democratisation package” including plans for education in mother languages in private schools, possible lowering of electoral threshold, removing headscarf ban in public sector. Announcement sparked protests of tens of thousands of Kurds in SE; co-chair of pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) Gültan Kışanak 30 Sept said package failed to meet expectations. Amid continued tensions along Syrian border, govt expressed dissatisfaction with U.S.-Russia agreement in addressing Syrian crisis. 2 Turkish jets 16 Sept shot down Syrian helicopter after it strayed into Turkish airspace. Frequent clashes continue between military and Syrian smugglers: live ammunition smuggled into Turkey exploded 3 Sept, killed 5 Syrians, 1 Turk. 1 Turkish civilian killed 29 Sept in clashes between Turkish army and Syrian smugglers in Hatay. 1 protester died in anti-govt demonstrations in Hatay 10 Sept, sparking more protests in Istanbul, Ankara and Hatay.

Turkey

  |  1 Sep 2013

Unchanged

Govt peace process with Kurdish insurgency PKK looks precarious as both sides engage in aggressive rhetoric. PM Erdoğan 16 Aug reiterated no plans to reduce 10% party election threshold to enter parliament or introduce education in mother languages, also said PKK did not fulfil promises and withdrew only 20% of militants to outside Turkey. PKK leader Cemil Bayık 14 and 27 Aug said govt had until 1 Sept to announce plans to take steps, or PKK could stop withdrawals, walk away from talks. Deputy PM Bülent Arınç 26 Aug said PM to announce a “democratisation package” in 2 weeks. Spillover from clashes in Ras al-Ain on Syria’s Turkish border killed 1 Turk 3 Aug, bringing number of Turks killed in Syria-related violence near border to 74 based on unofficial Crisis Group count. Changing its rejection to engage Syria’s PKK-linked Kurds’ Democratic Union Party (PYD), Turkish govt invited PYD leader Saleh Muslim 25 July and 14 Aug to meet national intelligence and foreign ministry officials. Exchange of fire between gendarmerie and 2,500-3,000 alleged oil smugglers at Syrian border wounded 18 soldiers 6 Aug near Hatay. Relations with Israel deteriorated after PM Erdoğan 20 Aug alleged Israel behind July military coup in Egypt. Turkey and Egypt recalled respective ambassadors, cancelled joint naval drill.

Turkey

  |  1 Aug 2013

Unchanged

Govt peace process with Kurdish insurgency PKK under threat as PKK and security forces resumed exchange of fire in SE (no fatalities to date). Turkish soldiers 4 July fired on crowd protesting construction of gendarmerie outpost, killing one; clashes between demonstrators and security forces in other SE provinces continued in following days. PM Erdoğan 26 June indicated no plans to start education in mother languages or lower 10% election threshold to enter parliament, 2 major Kurdish grievances. Interior minister 10 July said that withdrawal of militants to outside Turkish borders not complete; leader of PKK’s armed forces Murat Karayılan said govt’s turn to take steps. Senior PKK member Sabri Ok 25 Jul gave govt until 15 Oct to enact reforms, PKK leader Cemil Bayik 31 Jul said govt had until 1 Sept; no major moves expected until early Oct. Clashes on Syria border continued to spill into Turkey; 3 killed in Ceylanpınar from 17 July fighting across border in Ras al-Ayn between People’s Defense Forces (YPG), military wing of Syria’s Kurds’ Democratic Union Party (PYD), and Jabhat al-Nusra front; Turkey returned fire, sent F-16s and drones to border. Amid reports of PYD’s imminent declaration of autonomy in northern Syria, Turkish nationalist opposition parties calling for military intervention. Anti-govt protests that began late May mostly calmed, despite underlying frustrations remaining unaddressed. Number of protest-related casualties rose to 5 as 19-year-old demonstrator, beaten by unknown assailants 2 June, died 10 July. Conditional opening of first EU accession chapter in 3 years followed by anti-EU statements by Erdoğan’s new chief adviser Yiğıt Bulut. Govt condemned ousting of Egypt’s president Morsi; Erdoğan reportedly refused phone call with acting VP ElBaradei.

Turkey

  |  1 Jul 2013

Unchanged

Environmental demonstration that began 27 May against govt’s plans to develop Istanbul’s Gezi Park escalated into large-scale anti-govt protests 31 May, spread to over 60 provinces. Police crackdown and clashes left 4 people dead, over 7,000 injured, dozens detained. PM Erdoğan met protesters 12-14 June, announced Gezi Park construction project on hold awaiting court decision, but scattered demonstrations and police interventions continue. Clashes between security forces and locals at Lice district in SE Diyarbakır province left 1 dead, 10 injured 28 June. Erdoğan organised pro-AKP rallies throughout Turkey starting 15 June in Istanbul. Withdrawal of armed PKK militants to outside Turkish borders continued. Process remains fragile; first PKK-army clash since mid-March left 1 Turkish soldier wounded 3 June in Șırnak province. PKK military leader Karayılan 19 June accused govt of sabotaging process by increasing military presence in Kurdish regions including N Iraq. As of 17 June, some 200,000 Syrians taking shelter in Turkish refugee camps, estimated 250,000 in cities. Turkey-EU relations deteriorated over harsh govt crackdown on peaceful protests; EU 25 June agreed to open Chapter 22 on regional policy, first chapter after 3-year hiatus, but postponed inter-governmental conference until after Oct, following Germany’s request.

Turkey

  |  1 Jun 2013

Unchanged

Turkey Syrian crisis continues to spill over: 2 May clashes between Syrians trying to enter Turkey and Turkish security forces at Akçakale crossing in Șanlıurfa province left police officer dead, 11 wounded including 4 civilians. 2 car bombs in Reyhanlı town in border Hatay province 11 May killed 52; Ankara said attack linked to Syrian regime using local Turkish leftist group, investigation continues. After 16 May meeting between PM Erdoğan and President Obama, Turkey shifted position to support Syria political negotiations in Geneva II conference. PM Erdoğan 16 May said Turkey has spent $1.5 billion on Syria. Showing Turkey-PKK peace process is gaining momentum, armed PKK militants started withdrawal from Turkey to northern Iraq 8 May; PKK military leader Murat Karayılan said withdrawal of 2,100 militants will be completed by Nov. No fresh violence between PKK-army thanks to current process, but 2 soldiers died 2 May after stepping on an old mine in Iğdır province. Violent clashes between police and thousands of protestors against govt construction in central Istanbul late month left several injured.

Turkey

  |  1 May 2013

Unchanged

Parliament 9 April approved ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s proposal to establish commission to monitor peace process between govt and Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK); opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) refused to vote. 3 pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputies visited PKK’s jailed leader Abdullah Öcalan 3 and 14 April, said Öcalan believed process entered “promising stage”.  PKK military leader in northern Iraq Karayılan 25 April announced PKK will start withdrawal from Turkey 8 May; no casualties recorded in April. Govt 3 April announced list of “wise people” tasked with explaining peace efforts to public. MHP 20 April staged first big demonstration against govt’s PKK deal in western province Izmir. Much-anticipated 4th judicial reform package approved 11 April, changing definition of terrorism to exclude printing statements and attending unauthorised demonstrations, but thousands of non-violent defendants in Kurdistan Communities Union case fall outside package’s scope. Amid gradual thaw in relations with Tel Aviv, Israeli delegation visited to discuss compensation for relatives of 9 Turks killed on Mavi Marmara in 2010. European Parliament 18 April approved resolution on Turkey’s 2012 EU progress report calling on the Council to open negotiations on chapter 22 (regional policy), lift blocks on chapters 23 (judiciary and fundamental rights), 24 (justice, freedom and security). Govt disaster agency reported number of Syrian refugees in Turkish camps surpassed 191,000, officials estimate around 250,000 more in Turkish cities.

Turkey

  |  1 Apr 2013

Improved

Jailed leader of outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Öcalan’s 21 March call to militants for eventual ceasefire and withdrawal to outside Turkish borders boosted peace prospects between govt and Kurdish insurgency. PM Erdoğan  said Öcalan’s call “positive” but will wait for implementation. PKK 13 March released 8 kidnapped public officials. PKK military leader in northern Iraq Karayılan declared ceasefire starting 23 March, suggested withdrawal could be completed by fall 2013. Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) claimed responsibility for 2 simultaneous attacks on govt buildings in Ankara 19 March. Israel PM Netanyahu 22 March issued formal apology to Turkey and agreed to pay compensation for killing 9 Turks aboard Mavi Marmara vessel in 2010, PM Erdoğan accepted apology but said ties will not normalize until Israel implements conditions.

Turkey

  |  1 Mar 2013

Unchanged

Car bomb near Cilvegözü Turkish border crossing to Syria 11 Feb killed 14 civilians including 4 Turks: Syrian National Council (SNC) 12 Feb claimed target was SNC delegation. Govt-PKK peace talks continued: second delegation from pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) 24 Feb visited jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan following govt approval, issued statement suggesting future release of PKK-held captives. Civilian died under riot control vehicle 11 Feb in pro-Öcalan demonstrations in Diyarbakır province. 26 Feb Turkish army airstrike near PKK HQ in N Iraq killed 4 militants. Parliament 25 Feb began discussing AKP govt’s “fourth judicial reform package”, to remedy structural problems with judicial system, could lead to release of some Kurdish politicians and activists detained in Kurdistan Communities’ Union case. Suicide bombing by member of Revolutionary People’s Liberation Part-Front (DHKP-C) at U.S. embassy in Ankara 1 Feb killed 1 guard; police 18 Feb detained 167 people connected to group. France 12 Feb announced readiness to lift its veto on one of 5 EU negotiation chapters it has blocked since 2007. German Chancellor Merkel 23 Feb announced support for opening new chapter, called on Turkey to show progress in opening ports to Greek Cypriot vessels.

Turkey

  |  1 Feb 2013

Resolution Opportunity Unchanged

Optimism over prospect of govt-PKK peace negotiations followed PM Erdoğan’s 19 Dec revelation that National Intelligence Organisation has been holding new round of talks with jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan. Govt permitted pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and pro-Kurdish civil society organisation DTK to visit Öcalan 3 Jan; during meeting he reportedly said “era of armed struggle is over”. PM adviser on Kurdish affairs 4 Jan said goal with Kurds was “final settlement”, 11 Jan said military operations against PKK would continue until it disarmed. Govt 25 Jan passed law allowing defendants to speak Kurdish in court at will. Diyarbakır court 31 Jan acquitted 98 Kurdish mayors on one count of terrorism-related charges in trial with 106 suspects, suspended sentence for 3 years on another count. Crisis Group informally counted at least 22 people, mostly PKK, killed in clashes between govt and militants during month. Little progress on new constitution; AKP official 2 Jan said deadline may be extended from March to June 2013. 3 PKK women assassinated in Paris 10 Jan, including co-founder Sakine Cansız; thousands peacefully attended funerals in Diyarbakır province 17 Jan. French police arrested another PKK member as suspect in killings 21 Jan. Turkish police continued detentions of non-violent Kurdish activists in 1, 9, 11 Jan operations. Following Ankara’s Dec request to NATO to boost defence capabilities against Syria, 6 Patriot anti-missile batteries from U.S., Germany, Netherlands became operational 25 Jan amid protests, some violent. Over 150,000 Syrian refugees now in 13 Turkish camps; estimated 60,000-150,000 outside camps.

Turkey

  |  30 Dec 2012

Unchanged

NATO 3 Dec approved Turkey’s request for defensive Patriot missiles along its border with Syria; deployment expected early 2013. PKK-army fighting killed 4 militants 1 Dec in Elazig province; Turkish authorities said 26 PKK killed, 11 captured in one-month military operation in Osmaniye province in Dec. Stray Syrian shells continue to fall on Turkish border towns, no casualties in Dec; Turkish military more restrained in retaliating to incidents. 11 Dec EU General Affairs council’s enlargement report mentioned “accession” with reference to Turkey first time in 5 years, stressed need for new constitution.

Turkey

  |  1 Dec 2012

Unchanged

Turkey continued to retaliate against stray Syrian shells with cross-border shelling. Stray shells wounded several in Turkey’s Ceylanpınar district during Syrian air assault on border town Ras al-Ain which began 8 Nov. Turkey sent fighter jets to border; thousands of Syrians fled into Turkey. Turkey 21 Nov formally requested NATO to deploy Patriot missiles along its border with Syria for defence purposes; 15 Nov announced recognition of new National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces as legitimate representative of Syrian people. PM Erdoğan condemned Israel’s 14-21 Nov strikes against Gaza (see Israel/OPT); visited Cairo 17 Nov for dialogue, talks on Israel-Hamas war. FM Davutoğlu visited Gaza 20 Nov. Turkey 26 Nov confirmed it had engaged in talks with Israel through diplomatic channels to revive bilateral ties prior to Israel-Hamas war. Hundreds of pro-PKK prisoners 17 Nov ended 2-month hunger strike following message from jailed PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan. Govt met some of strikers’ demands: 5 Nov said Öcalan could restart meetings with lawyers, and parliament 13 Nov started debating amendment to legalise use of Kurdish in courts. Justice Minister 19 Nov said talks with PKK, cut off mid-2011, could restart. Clashes between army and PKK in south east claimed at least 43 lives during month, down from 52 in October, according to Crisis Group’s informal count. Continued Turkish airstrikes and raids in N Iraq targeted alleged PKK camps.

Turkey

  |  1 Nov 2012

Unchanged

PKK attacks on civilian targets in south east intensified; arson strikes on more than 20 schools, several incidents of kidnappings of teachers and students. Oct death toll from violence between PKK and army at least 52 according to Crisis Group’s informal minimum count, down from Sept. Protesters in support of hunger-striking Kurdish prisoners clashed with police in Diyarbakır, Istanbul 30 Oct. Turkish-Syrian relations further deteriorated as Syrian shelling across border escalated to highest level yet. Mortar shell fired by Syrian govt forces killed 5 civilians in border town Akcakale 3 Oct; Turkey responded with at least 12 hours of artillery fire. Exchange of fire continued sporadically throughout Oct as additional shells landed in Turkey. Parliament 4 Oct authorised cross-border raids; PM Erdoğan insisted move was deterrent not mandate for war, but harsh war rhetoric coming from other senior govt figures. Tensions increased as Turkey 10 Oct forced Syrian passenger plane en route from Moscow to Damascus to land in Ankara, on suspicion it was transporting weapons equipment for Syrian govt, claimed it found illegal military equipment. Syria 13 Oct closed airspace to Turkish planes, reciprocated by Ankara 14 Oct. Refugee situation worsened as govt mid-month reported over 100,000 Syrians in 13 camps along border; around 14,000 reportedly waiting on Syrian side of border. Military 27 Oct denied presence of U.S. troops after top U.S. commanders said military personnel sent to help deal with spillover of Syrian crisis, fight against PKK. EC Progress Report 10 Oct criticised Turkey’s relations with Republic of Cyprus, Kurdish issue, press freedom, lack of consultation in legislative process.

Turkey

  |  1 Oct 2012

Unchanged

Security situation further deteriorated in southeast as PKK attacks continued to escalate, causing heavy military casualties. Major death tolls from clashes on 2 Sept in Şirnak, with 10 soldiers and 20 PKK dead; 9 Sept in Şemdinli, with at least 2 soldiers, 7 PKK dead; 11 Sept in Şemdinli, 8-10 PKK dead; 4 soldiers killed in Hakkari by roadside bomb 15 Sept; 8 police killed by mine in Bingöl 16 Sept; 2 PKK rockets fired at buses carrying off-duty soldiers near Bingöl 18 Sept killed 10; 26 Sept military operation in Çukurca left 2 soldiers, 13 PKK dead. Total death toll informally counted by Crisis Group in Turkey’s PKK conflict in Sept was 96, including 53 from security forces, 39 from PKK, 4 civilians; sharp increase from Aug total of 74. 771 people have died in conflict since June 2011. PM Erdoğan 26 Sept signalled restarting talks with PKK possible. Turkey joined Egypt-Iran-Saudi-Turkey contact group in Cairo 17 Sept to discuss regionally coordinated approach to Syrian crisis (see Syria). As number of Syrian refugees in Turkey reached over 80,000, Turkey’s call for buffer zone did not get response from UN, U.S. EU. U.S. increasingly critical of Turkey’s refusal to allow multilateral agencies greater role in refugee camps. Schools in border areas closed late month due to shelling on Syrian side of border. Drafts of EU’s Oct annual progress report critical of lack of progress on political criteria, respect for fundamental rights.

Turkey

  |  1 Sep 2012

Deteriorated

Month saw increased violence between govt, PKK: in Hakkari Province 6 soldiers, 2 guards, 11 rebels killed 5 Aug at border post near Gecimili; attack on military convoy, ensuing clashes 23 Aug killed 6 soldiers, 26 militants; Hakkari governor 11 Aug announced end of 3-week operation against militants involving 2,000 soldiers in region, reported “large number” of rebels killed. 9 killed, 69 wounded 20 Aug in car bombing in Gaziantep; govt 22 Aug blamed PKK, suggested possible international involvement in attack; PKK denied responsibility. PKK 12 Aug abducted for 2 days Kurdish opposition MP in Tunceli, 13 Aug kidnapped 11 construction workers in Hakkari Province. Parliamentary Speaker Çiçek 27 Aug called for unity, democracy to address terrorism; AKP leaders 29 Aug rejected statement. Pro-Kurdish BDP co-Chair Demirtaş late-month said PKK had established control over territory in SE, PM Erdoğan 31 Aug rebuffed claims. Govt 24 Aug said defecting Syrian soldiers, refugees in country, reached 78,000. U.S. Sec of State Clinton visited 11 Aug, announced creation of “formal structure” between 2 countries to tackle worst-case scenarios in Syria; Turkey, U.S. officials 23 Aug held “operational planning meeting” on Syria, reportedly discussed cooperation against al-Qaeda, creation of buffer zone. Foreign Ministry 7 Aug condemned comments by Iranian army chief warning Turkey against cooperation with U.S. over Syria; Deputy PM Arınç 9 Aug accused Iran of backing PKK; Iranian parliament's foreign policy commission spokesman Nakavi 21 Aug said Turkey risked becoming target of more attacks similar to 21 Aug bombing by intervening in Syria; Iranian Foreign Ministry 22 Aug condemned bombing, expressed condolences. 2 Turkish nationals kidnapped 15, 18 Aug in Lebanon. Supreme Military Council (YAS) 4 Aug announced forcible retirement of 40 generals, admirals suspected of plotting coup.

Turkey

  |  1 Aug 2012

Unchanged

Pro-Kurdish BDP-led demonstrations in Diyarbakır 14 July demanding end to PKK leader Öcalan’s solitary confinement deteriorated into clashes with police; 87 detained, several wounded including BDP deputy. Clashes between PKK and govt forces left at least 36 dead: 15 police officers wounded 14 July in ambush on convoy near Van; 15 PKK militants killed 25 July by security forces in S-E; 2 soldiers killed 29 July in clash with PKK in Hakkari province. PM Erdoğan 14 July ruled out negotiations with PKK prior to disarming. Iraqi PM al-Maliki 17 July warned Turkey against further violations of airspace following Turkish cross-border sorties against PKK in N Iraq. Syrian Kurds including group affiliated with PKK 22 July took control of several villages on border with Turkey; PM Erdoğan 25 July said Turkey has natural right to intervene in case of “terrorist formations”. 8 Turkish police officers, 14 Syrian refugees injured in 17, 21 July riots at Kilis and Islahiye refugee camps over food, water shortages. Wreckage of fighter jet shot down by Syrian forces found 4 July along with bodies of 2 pilots.

Turkey

  |  1 Jul 2012

Unchanged

Turkish govt 22 June said fighter jet shot down by Syria in international airspace, 2 pilots missing; following 26 June article IV NATO consultations PM Erdoğan instructed Turkish army to treat Syrian military units approaching border as threat. 8 Turkish soldiers killed 19 June in PKK assault on govt post in Hakkari province, 31 PKK insurgents killed in retaliatory clashes, including 22-24 June airstrikes on PKK bases in N Iraq. 3 soldiers killed 24-26 June in clashes in Mardin, Hakkari provinces. 2 teachers released 25 June following 21 June PKK raid on convoy in Bitlis, 1 soldier still held. Over 140 detained during Turkish police operations against Kurdish Communities Union, including politicians, local pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) officials. BDP 19 June urged both PKK and state to cease hostilities. Kurdish Deputy Aysel Tuğluk 12 June found guilty of engaging in crimes, propaganda on behalf of PKK.

Turkey

  |  1 Jun 2012

Unchanged

Clashes between security forces and PKK continued across SE killing 25 PKK militants, 9 govt forces. PKK began new wave of kidnappings, assassinations: AKP district official taken 15 May in Diyarbakır; AKP city deputy head killed 17 May in Șırnak; village official, 5 guards kidnapped 18 May in Bitlis; Imam 20 May killed in Ağrı; 10 villagers kidnapped 23 May in Diyarbakır, 10 civilians kidnapped 29 May in Iğdır. PKK 18 May attack on bus in Hakkari killed 1 worker, 21 May bus attack in Istanbul; 25 May suicide car bombing outside police station in Kayseri attributed to PKK, 1 police, 3 assailants killed. Police 8-9 May detained 100 people with alleged connections to Kurdish Communities Union, including 3 with high level links to pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). Turkish Interior Minister Şahin 23 May blamed Turkish air force for accidental Dec 2011 killing of 34 Kurdish smugglers flagged by drone intelligence, accused Syria of allowing PKK to establish bases in its territory. 18 soldiers, including 6 generals detained 18 May in investigation into 1997 military coup, 7 later released; jailed Rear Adm. Çakmak 28 May allegedly threatened revenge for trials. Parliamentary commission 1 May began drafting new civilian constitution. EU Enlargement Commissioner Füle’s visit 14 May revived talks over blocked accession chapters despite Cyprus deadlock. Court 28 May indicted Israeli generals for flotilla attacks (see Israel/ Occupied Palestinian Territories).

Turkey

  |  1 May 2012

Unchanged

PM Erdoğan 20 April declared Turkish military would “completely halt” operations against PKK if group laid down arms; declaration made at meeting with Iraqi Kurdistan President Barzani, who also called on PKK to disarm, rejected group’s presence in N Iraq. 3 soldiers killed, 3 wounded 4,12 April in clashes with PKK near Iraqi border; 2 Turkish soldiers, 1 guard, 4 PKK militants killed in clashes 24 April in SE. Security forces 18 April detained 22 villagers in Hakkâri province on suspicion of aiding PKK, further 7 detained 23 April for alleged PKK youth branch membership; 15 Kurds suspected of Kurdish Communities Union involvement released 10 April pending trial. Trial of 1980 military coup leaders Kenan Evren, Tahsin Şahinkaya started 4 April; 35 more officers detained 12, 19 April in separate probe into 1997 unarmed coup. Syrian regime forces 9 April fired across border at refugee camp, prompting Turkish outrage (see Syria).

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