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Turkey

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

President Erdoğan reached deal with Russian President Putin to cease hostilities in Syria’s Idlib province, and govt continued military operations against Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in south east Turkey and northern Iraq. Erdoğan and Putin 5 March agreed temporary ceasefire deal to end hostilities in Syria’s Idlib province (see Syria). Protesters 15 March blocked joint Turkish-Russian patrol along M4 highway in Idlib province; Turkish and Russian media accused militant group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham of mobilising local population to obstruct patrol. Govt 19 March announced deaths of two Turkish soldiers in rocket attack by “radical groups” on M4 highway. In PKK conflict, military continued small-scale ground operations in south east Turkey and operations against PKK in northern Iraq. PKK 31 March attacked gas pipeline near Turkey’s border with Iran; Iran said attack halted flow of gas from Iran. Govt maintained efforts to criminalise pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP); authorities 9 March sentenced former HDP mayor of Diyarbakır to nine years imprisonment on PKK-related terrorism charges. Authorities 23 March dismissed eight HDP co-mayors. Turkey and EU engaged at highest level to resolve spat following Ankara’s decision to allow migrants to cross its borders to Greece. Govt sustained crackdown on individuals with suspected links to Islamic State (ISIS); police detained at least 28 people in March with alleged ties to ISIS, including Turkish and foreign nationals.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

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
21 Feb 2020
[Turkey has been using Russia] to push back against policies that it doesn’t like from its Western partners. BloombergQuint

Joost Hiltermann

Program Director, Middle East and North Africa
14 Feb 2020
Escalation is likely going to continue [in Syria] as long as Turkey and Russia cannot agree on a new cease-fire. NBC News

Berkay Mandıracı

Analyst, Turkey
8 Oct 2019
L'EI constitue toujours une menace qui pourrait métastaser si les FDS voient leur attention et leurs ressources détournées [...] au profit d'une bataille défensive contre la Turquie. Le Nouvel Obs

Sam Heller

Senior Analyst, Non-state Armed Groups
7 Oct 2019
[By deciding to withdraw its troops from North East Syria] the United States just threw away the last leverage it had. The New York Times

Dareen Khalifa

Senior Analyst, Syria
28 Sep 2019
Even if efforts to create a 'buffer zone' [in Northern Syria] succeed, the underlying source of tension will remain and with it, the potential for a Turkish military response to Ankara's perceived YPG threat. AFP

Dareen Khalifa

Senior Analyst, Syria

Latest Updates

Q&A / Europe & Central Asia

Deadly Clashes in Syria’s Idlib Show Limits of Turkey’s Options

A deadly attack on Turkish forces in Syria has brought Idlib’s crisis to a dangerous crossroads. In this Q&A, Crisis Group’s Turkey, Syria and Russia experts explain what happened and what’s at stake.

EU Watch List / Global

Watch List 2019 – First Update

Watch List Updates complement International Crisis Group’s annual Watch List, most recently published in January 2019. These early-warning publications identify major conflict situations in which prompt action, driven or supported by the European Union and its member states, would generate stronger prospects for peace. The Watch List Updates include situations identified in the annual Watch List and/or a new focus of concern.

Report / Europe & Central Asia

Mitigating Risks for Syrian Refugee Youth in Turkey’s Şanlıurfa

Turkey hosts 3.6 million Syrian refugees, half of whom are under eighteen. Despite European aid, tensions are rising as the country strains to accommodate the influx. The answer is smarter integration policies aimed particularly at meeting the needs of vulnerable youth.

Also available in Türkçe

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.

Our People

Alçay Akay

Office Manager, Turkey

Nigar Göksel

Project Director, Turkey
nigargoksel

Berkay Mandıracı

Analyst, Turkey
BerkayMANDIRACI