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Turkey faces myriad internal and external challenges, including an escalating conflict with Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants, a crisis over three million Syrian refugees, threats posed by the Islamic State (ISIS), and growing social and political polarisation exacerbated by a July 2016 coup attempt. Crisis Group maintains a unique tracker of the death toll in the PKK conflict and conducts field research to prevent, mitigate or end deadly violence and its consequences. Our ten-year-old presence in Turkey puts us in a unique position to engage the government and all parties not just on domestic crises but also to help Turkey stabilise its exceptionally turbulent neighbourhood.


CrisisWatch Turkey

Unchanged Situation

Govt kept up military operations against Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and intensified crackdown on people affiliated with Kurdish movement. In south east, govt launched operations against PKK in Şırnak, Hakkari and Van provinces 19 Aug and in Mardin, Şırnak and Batman provinces 28 Aug. Turkish media 8 Aug reported that security forces had “neutralised” two PKK militants allegedly responsible for 17 July killing of Turkish diplomat in Iraqi Kurdistan’s capital Erbil. Govt increased pressure on members of pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP): authorities 15 Aug arrested 21 HDP members in cities of Mardin, Şırnak and Izmir; 19 Aug dismissed newly-elected metropolitan mayors of majority Kurdish provinces Diyarbakır,Mardin and Van on grounds that they were affiliated with terrorist organisations and replaced them with state-appointed trustees; same day detained 418 people affiliated with Kurdish movement in 29 provinces. Authorities 22 Aug detained seventeen in Ankara and 27 in Izmir during protests over removal of Kurdish mayors. Batman province governor’s office removed four elected neighbourhood heads from their posts “due to investigations into them and trials they face on terrorism charges”. In north-western Syria, as regime forces threatened to take Turkish observation post in northern Hama province, Turkey 19 Aug sent military convoy to support rebels; Syrian regime carried out airstrikes targeting convoy, killing three Syrian civilians (see Syria). U.S. and Turkey 7 Aug said they had reached agreement on general framework for way forward in north-eastern Syria, despite continued disagreement over depth of proposed safe zone along Turkey-Syria border and composition of troops that would man it. Turkey and U.S. defence officials 12 Aug started to establish joint operation centre in Şanlıurfa to coordinate safe zone preparations. In Istanbul, authorities 1 Aug said they had transferred to refugee camps 12,474 irregular migrants for deportation and 2,630 unregistered Syrians 12-31 July; interior minister 20 Aug extended to 30 Oct deadline for refugees to leave Istanbul and return to places where they registered. Authorities 8 Aug detained suspected Syrian suicide bomber in Şanlıurfa’s central square; 6-15 Aug arrested 48 suspected Islamic State (ISIS)-linked individuals in Hatay, Konya, Izmir and Adana’s Yüreğir district.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

23 Jul 2019
Today's news that Turkey's suspended the readmission agreement with the EU will not make much practical difference for either Brussels or Ankara nor for refugees/migrants. Twitter

Nigar Göksel

Project Director, Turkey
8 Jan 2019
Turkey has only one interest, which is to defeat the YPG. So that is what it is going to do. AFP

Joost Hiltermann

Program Director, Middle East and North Africa
4 Sep 2018
The sense of public spaces [in Turkey] becoming more unsafe is fed by the tendency of criminal networks to use Syrian men and women for theft, prostitution drug sales and the like, and Syrians are blamed for disruption of public order and safety. Al-Monitor

Nigar Göksel

Project Director, Turkey
27 Aug 2018
[The rapprochement between Russia and Turkey] demonstrates a striking level of pragmatism in this relationship. Associated Press

Anna Arutunyan

Senior Analyst, Russia
30 Jun 2018
The success of the AKP-MHP partnership shows that the Islamist-nationalist fusion is alive and kicking in Turkish society. Financial Times

Nigar Göksel

Project Director, Turkey
16 Mar 2018
Russia needs both the Syrian regime and Turkey. So it has to give a little bit to both and it has to ... make them equally angry, if that's what it wants. Rudaw

Joost Hiltermann

Program Director, Middle East and North Africa

Latest Updates

Prospects for a Deal to Stabilise Syria’s North East

Much of north-eastern Syria has been safe during the civil war. But in the event of U.S. military withdrawal, a mad scramble for control could be unleashed. Washington and Moscow should help their respective allies in Syria reach a decentralisation deal for the area.

Also available in العربية, Türkçe

How Turkey’s Ties to the West May Survive the Syrian War

Crisis Group's Middle East & North Africa Program Director Joost Hiltermann participated in the 2018 Körber Policy Game, designed to explore possible outcomes in the event of a crisis between Turkey and the West in Syria. While the exercise underscored many of the Syrian conflict's complexities, it also revealed that a strong desire by stakeholders to find common ground can help overcome them.

Video: Russia and Turkey in the Black Sea and the South Caucasus

Crisis Group's Europe & Central Asia Program Director Magdalena Grono talks about the relations between Russia and Turkey as they reflect on the Black Sea and the South Caucasus.

Report / Africa

Somalia and the Gulf Crisis

The quarrel between Gulf monarchies has spilled into Somalia, with the fragile state now caught between the rival interests of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The competition has already aggravated intra-Somali disputes. All sides should take a step back before these tensions mount further.

Also available in العربية

Our People

Alçay Akay

Office Manager, Turkey

Nigar Göksel

Project Director, Turkey

Berkay Mandıracı

Analyst, Turkey