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.
Greece and Turkey have stepped back from the brink of military confrontation over gas exploration in disputed waters in the Mediterranean Sea. But trouble still looms. European leaders should welcome signs of conciliation from Athens and Ankara and nudge them toward talks.
Security operations continued against Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) in south-eastern Turkey and northern Iraq, while Ankara sought regional support against group. In Turkey’s south east, Turkish military continued operations again PKK in rural areas of Mardin, Muş, Bingöl, Hakkari and Van provinces. In northern Iraq, after Turkish military 31 Aug seized control of two strategic locations in the Haftanin region, military conducted 14 reported air raids on PKK positions throughout month. PKK continued to wage attacks against Turkish military: PKK militants 4 Sept assaulted Turkish excavator south of Hantur mountain range and 11 Sept attempted to infiltrate two Turkish military outposts in Haftanin. President Erdoğan and FM Çavuşoğlu 4 Sept received Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Nechirvan Barzani in Ankara to discuss “joint fight against PKK” among other issues. Erdoğan and Iranian President Rouhani 8 Sept vowed cooperation against PKK and its Iranian affiliate the Kurdistan Free Life Party. In northern Syria, low-intensity clashes continued between Turkish forces and People’s Protection Units (YPG); YPG-attributed car bomb attack in Syria’s Ras al-Ayn 24 Sept injured 12 civilians. Russian-Turkish ceasefire held in Idlib despite strains (see Syria). Govt continued moves toward criminalising members of pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP); police detained more than 130 HDP members or sympathisers throughout month; detention of 82 individuals and activists, including HDP co-mayor, over their alleged role in the Oct 2014 Kobani protests drew international criticism. Govt continued with operations against Islamic State (ISIS) in Turkey: security personnel reportedly detained over 150 individuals with suspected ISIS links throughout month. Defence ministry 28 Sept announced capture of alleged al-Qaeda affiliate Islom Saydalimov in the southern Hatay province. Amid ongoing tensions between Turkey and Greece over drilling activities in eastern Mediterranean, both sides expressed willingness to defuse tensions through talks (see Cyprus).
Turkey, like many countries, must figure out how to handle thousands of citizens coming home from jihadist battlefields abroad. None has mounted a domestic attack since 2017, but the danger is not gone. Authorities should consider adding enhanced social programs to their law-and-order approach.
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.
Gulf states are competing for influence in the Horn of Africa to control the Red Sea, transposing internal rivalries onto a fragile region. Horn governments should increase their bargaining power with their powerful neighbours, who should recognise the risks their policies pose to regional security.
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.
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.
Rivalry persists between Russia and Turkey in their shared neighbourhood of the Black Sea and the South Caucasus. But Moscow-Ankara relations have warmed overall. Building on their wider rapprochement, the two powers can work together to tamp down flare-ups of regional conflicts.
Drones have enabled [Turkey] to drive the PKK out of mountainous pockets where they had established a significant presence.
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.
The adversarial positions of the UAE and Turkey across the Middle East and North Africa are spilling into the East Mediterranean dispute.
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.
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.
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.
Online Event to discuss International Crisis Group's report "Calibrating the Response: Turkey’s ISIS Returnees".
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.
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.
Originally published Perspektif
Küresel COVID-19 salgını ile birlikte Türkiye’deki dört milyonu aşkın mülteci ve İdlib’de yerinden edilmiş milyonlarca sivilin belki de her zamankinden daha çok AB’nin desteğine ihtiyacı var. Bu kriz döneminde AB-Türkiye göç işbirliğini ayakta tutmak önemli, ancak iki taraf arasında yıllardır süregelen gerginlikler ve güvensizlik sebebiyle bir o kadar da zor.
Thousands of migrants who tried to enter Europe from Turkey after the latter opened its borders in late February are stranded at the frontier. Ankara triggered this particular problem, but European states should nonetheless shoulder a larger burden in helping alleviate the broader displacement crisis.