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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

Security forces continued operations against the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) in south east Turkey and northern Iraq, while contested results for Istanbul in 31 March local elections led to increased domestic tensions, and relations with U.S. remained strained over purchase of Russian air defence systems. In south east, operations against PKK continued: four Turkish soldiers were killed in PKK attack on military base in Hakkâri 19 April. Turkish military responded with ground operations in south east and air raids into northern Iraq targeting PKK. Tensions followed 31 March local elections as ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) contested opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP)’s narrow victory in Istanbul, alleging election irregularities. High Election Board (YSK) partial recount resulted in narrowed margin of victory for CHP; AKP and MHP also demanded re-run of Istanbul vote. In majority-Kurdish south east, AKP increased its overall vote share especially in rural areas, while pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) largely maintained or increased its votes in urban areas. YSK 10 April refused to grant mandates to HDP mayors-elect in six district municipalities in Erzurum, Van and Diyarbakır, and two town municipalities in Kars and Siirt, allowing AKP runners-up to assume mandates. In Ankara, mob 21 April attacked CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu during the funeral of a Turkish soldier; police briefly detained nine people, including an AKP member who was seen punching Kılıçdaroğlu. Meeting with Russian President Putin in Moscow 8 April, President Erdoğan announced imminent delivery of Russian S-400 air defence systems, also discussing situation in northern Syria’s Idlib province and Russia-Turkey Investment Fund. This followed U.S.’s 2 April pledge to suspend transfer of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey, amid U.S. warnings that S-400s are not compatible NATO systems.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

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
21 Feb 2018
The most worrisome development that we saw was that among Turkish citizens there is a negative stance towards the long-term integration of Syrians across the political spectrum. InfoMigrants

Nigar Göksel

Project Director, Turkey

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