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Crisis Group has worked in Turkey 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 Turkey 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.


CrisisWatch Turkey

Unchanged Situation

Ankara continued with military operations against Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq and south-eastern Turkey while tensions resurfaced with U.S. Military continued operations against PKK in Turkey’s south east and intensified operations against PKK in northern Iraq. In first ground offensive targeting PKK inside northern Iraq since Sept 2020, security forces 10 Feb commenced operation to end PKK’s presence in northern Iraq’s Gara Mountains area in Duhok province, ostensibly also aimed at rescuing 13 Turkish hostages held by PKK since 2015-2016; clashes with PKK 11 Feb killed three special forces personnel. Authorities 13 Feb announced deaths of all hostages as Ankara and PKK blamed each other. Operation ignited fiery domestic debate in immediate aftermath; opposition called on govt to take responsibility. Meanwhile, govt efforts to criminalise pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party persisted; police detained more than 900 members or affiliates of Kurdish political movement throughout Feb. Security forces continued operations against Islamic State (ISIS) operatives; police detained over 70 individuals for alleged ISIS links. Meanwhile, protests held throughout Feb at Boğazici University in Istanbul city against appointment of Melih Bulu as rector, with demonstrations spreading to universities in Izmir city and capital Ankara; over 300 detained by end of Feb, including individuals accused of belonging to terrorist groups; U.S. State Dept 4 Feb expressed concern about detentions of demonstrators and condemned Turkish officials’ anti-LGBTI rhetoric surrounding protests. Relations with U.S. further strained after 54 U.S. senators 10 Feb signed letter urging President Biden to impose severe sanctions upon Ankara for its assertive foreign policy, targeting of U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in Syria, acquisition of Russian S-400 missile defence system, and worsening human rights and democracy record. Turkish Foreign Ministry 15 Feb summoned U.S. ambassador to protest State Dept’s statement previous day that apparently questioned PKK’s role in death of 13 Turkish hostages in operation in northern Iraq; U.S. Sec of State Antony Blinken same day backtracked, confirming view that “PKK terrorists bear responsibility”.
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Reports & Briefings

In The News

7 Oct 2020
Drones have enabled [Turkey] to drive the PKK out of mountainous pockets where they had established a significant presence. Financial Times

Nigar Göksel

Project Director, Turkey
4 Sep 2020
It seems that what is left of ISIS networks now is that they are getting organized in smaller groups of five or six people who may not be connected to each other even. New Delhi Times

Berkay Mandıracı

Analyst, Turkey
28 Aug 2020
The adversarial positions of the UAE and Turkey across the Middle East and North Africa are spilling into the East Mediterranean dispute. Time

Nigar Göksel

Project Director, Turkey
22 Aug 2020
Turkey is also one of the candidates to rebuild Beirut harbour. There is also a section within Lebanese society – amongst Sunni Muslims – who have some sympathy for Turkey’s neo-Ottoman project. Cyprus Mail

Heiko Wimmen

Project Director, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon
22 Jul 2020
The use of drone technology appears to have significantly shifted the balance of power on the ground, allowing Turkish forces to go after militants in areas previously difficult to penetrate. WTVB

Berkay Mandıracı

Analyst, Turkey
27 Feb 2020
Getting out [of Idlib] altogether, allowing the refugees to come into Turkey and letting Assad take that space is not an idea that’s going to resonate with Turkish society. Financial Times

Nigar Göksel

Project Director, Turkey

Latest Updates

Turkey Flexes Its Foreign Policy Muscles

In this week’s episode of Hold Your Fire!, Nigar Göksel, Crisis Group’s Turkey director, dissects Turkey’s assertive moves in places ranging from Syria and Iraq to Libya, the eastern Mediterranean, and now Nagorno-Karabakh.

How is Turkey dealing with its ISIS returnees? (Online Event, 2nd July 2020)

Online Event to discuss International Crisis Group's report "Calibrating the Response: Turkey’s ISIS Returnees".

The Regionalisation of Libya's Civil War (Online Event, 5th May 2020)

Crisis Group's Libya Senior Analyst Claudia Gazzini and Turkey Project Director Nigar Göksel held a panel moderated by our Communications & Outreach Director Hugh Pope to discuss Crisis Group's 29 April report on outside intervention in Libya.

Turkey's Gamble in Libya


In this interview, Crisis Group's Libya Expert Claudia Gazzini try to provide some insight into Turkey's relation with Libya and the Mediterranean neighbourhood.

Turkey Wades into Libya’s Troubled Waters

Turkish intervention in Libya’s war stopped the besieged Tripoli government from collapsing. But fighting with Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar’s forces has since escalated, threatening a protracted conflict. Both Ankara and Haftar’s regional backers should urge their allies toward a return to negotiations and a ceasefire.

Also available in العربية, Türkçe

Our People

Alçay Akay

Office Manager, Turkey

Nigar Göksel

Project Director, Turkey

Berkay Mandıracı

Analyst, Turkey