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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

Main opposition party’s candidate won re-run of Istanbul mayoral elections, military continued operations against Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) insurgency, and tensions increased with U.S. over Ankara’s purchase of Russian missile systems. Opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu won 23 June re-run of Istanbul’s mayoral election with 54%; following appeal by ruling party Justice and Development Party (AKP), High Election Board had cancelled results of first vote in March, which opposition won with 48.8%. AKP’s candidate Binali Yildirim and President Erdoğan conceded defeat. Military continued to carry out operations against PKK in south east, along Black Sea in north, and near Iran border in east: insurgents killed fifteen security force members in June and two civilians 10 June. Crackdown continued against members of pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and activists supporting Kurdish movement. In northern Iraq, Turkish warplanes hit PKK targets in several regions. In north west Syria, Turkey and Russia 12 June announced they had brokered ceasefire between Syrian govt and opposition forces in Idlib, but fighting continued. Next day Syrian pro-govt forces attacked Turkish observation post, injuring three soldiers; followed by 27 June attack, killing one Turkish soldier (see Syria). President Erdoğan reiterated 4 June that govt would go ahead with purchase of S-400 missile defence systems from Moscow. In response, U.S. 7 June said it would “suspend indefinitely” training of Turkish pilots on F-35 fighter jets and discontinue F-35 material deliveries unless Ankara cancelled deal. Erdoğan met U.S. and Russian presidents during G20 summit in Japan 28-29 June and discussed Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400s. Court in Istanbul 25 June released from house arrest U.S. Consulate employee being tried on terrorism charges. Authorities 21 May-27 June detained 119, and arrested at least 35 suspected Islamic State (ISIS) members in more than ten different cities, including Mersin, Adana, Kilis, Urfa. Tensions rose between Turkey and Republic of Cyprus over gas exploration off island (see Cyprus).

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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