Crisis Group has worked in Türkiye for well over a decade, engaging the government and a range of other stakeholders in order to develop analysis of the country's domestic and regional concerns and to advocate for ways of ending, mitigating or preventing conflict. At home, these concerns include the threat of escalated fighting with Kurdistan Workers’ Party militants and the uncertainty presented by jihadists returning from foreign battlefields, as well as the political, economic and social strains of hosting over four million refugees. In its immediate neighbourhood and beyond, Ankara has become a crucial player whose alliances and geopolitical ambitions are shaping various conflicts and prospects for their resolution. As Türkiye finds its place in a changing world order, Crisis Group provides insights into how its policies, and those of its partners, may better contribute to peace and stability.
As war rages in Gaza, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues to escalate, causing grievous harm to civilians and threatening stability across the Middle East. Crisis Group experts offer a 360-degree view of how various capitals in the region view this crisis and their own interests therein.
Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) carried out first attack in capital Ankara since 2016, prompting retaliatory Turkish strikes in Syria and Iraq; govt engaged regional actors amid Hamas-Israel war.
Military increased strikes on PKK-linked militants after Ankara bombing. After PKK militants 1 Oct conducted suicide bombing in front of interior ministry in Ankara and opened fire on guards, injuring two, govt same day began intensification of retaliatory airstrikes against PKK targets in northern Iraq and People’s Protection Units (YPG) targets in northern Syria (see Iraq and Syria). FM Hakan Fidan 4 Oct declared all PKK and YPG infrastructure are now “legitimate targets”, as subsequent Turkish airstrikes targeted facilities and infrastructure belonging to YPG as well as its members, exacerbating poor humanitarian conditions in Syria. Air campaign in northern Syria triggered tensions between Ankara and Washington after U.S. fighter jet 5 Oct shot down Turkish armed drone; President Erdoğan 10 Oct reacted harshly, accusing U.S. of “training and arming all terrorist groups”.
Govt pursued diplomacy amid Hamas-Israel war. Following outbreak of war between Hamas and Israel on 7 Oct (see Israel-Palestine), govt 10 Oct offered to mediate dispute. Fidan 17 Oct confirmed engagement with Hamas’s political wing for hostage release and held diplomatic talks on war with Egypt, Lebanon, Qatar, UAE, and Saudi Arabia. Following 17 Oct Al-Ahli hospital blast in Gaza, Ankara hardened stance: President Erdoğan 25 Oct said they will not tolerate Israel acting like “terrorist organisation”, while Fidan warned of “all-out massacre” amid Israel’s ground offensive. Ankara 30 Oct condemned “in the strongest terms Israel’s attack on the Gaza Turkish-Palestinian Friendship Hospital”.
Bilateral ties with Greece remained on track to improve. Deputy FM Burak Akcapar 16-17 Oct met Greek counterpart Konstantinos Fragogiannis in Greek capital Athens for talks, which included discussions on providing “concrete outcomes” for fifth High-Level Cooperation Council to be headed by Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Erdoğan on 7 Dec. Greece and govt 23 Oct agreed to cooperate against migrant trafficking.
Operations against Islamic State (ISIS) continued. Security forces in Oct detained at least 160 individuals with alleged links to ISIS during Oct.
The success of Ankara's mediation [over Gaza] will depend on how much influence the political wing of Hamas has on the armed wing.
Ankara remains intent on further pushing back against the PKK [Kurdistan Workers' Party] and its affiliates in the region.
If the UN fails to extend its operation [in Syria] via these [Turkish border] crossings, donor states should bypass the UN and do bilateral assistance themselves.
Less escalation in the conflict with the PKK may give authorities [in Türkiye] struggling with how to respond to this unprecedented crisis one less thing to worry about.
Attacks [from the PKK] this year show that they still have the capacity to carry out sensational attacks in Türkiye’s cities.
Moscow also has leverage over Türkiye in other conflict zones such as Syria and the South Caucasus, as well as a vested interest in driving a wedge between Turkey and its...
Relations between Ankara and Brussels have been warming despite democratic backsliding in Türkiye. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2023 – Autumn Update, Crisis Group explains how the EU and its member states can deepen this trend, cooperating with Türkiye in areas of mutual interest.
Since the Syrian uprising began in 2011, Ankara has been drawn ever deeper into the crisis. Its approach will likely hold steady for now. But the choices it makes next matter for the fate of millions of Syrians.
In this online event, Crisis Group’s experts and external speakers discussed the extent to which hydrocarbons have shaped conflict dynamics in the Eastern Mediterranean and the prospects for effective gas diplomacy, in particular.
This week on War & Peace, Olga Oliker speaks with Crisis Group’s Türkiye Director Nigar Göksel about the Turkish elections and how President Erdoğan’s new term might shape the country’s domestic and foreign policy.
Major gas finds in the eastern Mediterranean seabed over the last ten years have fuelled ambitions to link the region’s energy markets and, in turn, bring its countries in conflict to the negotiating table. These great expectations have proven outsized, but smaller-scale objectives are achievable.
This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard speaks with Nigar Göksel, Crisis Group’s Türkiye director, to discuss Ankara’s foreign relations under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and, with elections scheduled for May, whether a change in Ankara would bring a change in policy.
Numerous foreign nationals with ties to ISIS have come to Türkiye since the group’s defeat in Iraq and Syria. This population presents officials with complex questions, one of which is what threat individuals might still pose. The predicament calls for a multi-pronged strategy.
This week on War & Peace, Elissa Jobson is joined by Berkay Mandıracı, Crisis Group’s Senior analyst for Türkiye, to discuss the latest escalation in Türkiye’s PKK conflict, its development in recent years and how it relates to Türkyie’s domestic politics.
Six months of contacts between Türkiye and Armenia have brought an agreement to move toward opening their shared border and launching direct trade. But Ankara and Yerevan are far apart on many issues. The road ahead will be long.
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