Crisis Group has worked in Türkiye 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 Türkiye 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.
Six months of contacts between Türkiye and Armenia have brought an agreement to move toward opening their shared border and launching direct trade. But Ankara and Yerevan are far apart on many issues. The road ahead will be long.
Amid military operations against Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), fighting escalated with Kurdish-led forces in Syria, while tensions persisted with Greece and govt restored ties with Israel. In escalation in northern Syria, military launched strikes on Kurdish-led forces, who claimed attacks on army sites in Turkish border provinces that killed several Turkish soldiers (see Syria). Military also continued operations against PKK in Iraq and Türkiye’s south east. In northern Iraq, Defence ministry 27 Aug said it killed nine PKK militants. In Türkiye’s south east, military 8 Aug launched new anti-PKK operation in rural areas of Bitlis province. Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu 19 Aug said only 124 PKK members remained within country’s borders and “no terrorist will remain in the countryside” in 2023. Authorities detained at least 30 pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) officials. Police detained at least 125 individuals with alleged links to Islamic State (ISIS). Meanwhile, tensions persisted between Ankara and Athens. Media outlets 16 Aug reported Greek authorities mid-month transported group of 38 migrants stranded on islet on Evros/Meriç river along Türkiye-Greece land border since mid-July to mainland Greece; Turkish authorities throughout month accused Athens of pushing back migrants on border, while Greek officials countered that Turkish security officials forced them to cross. Defence ministry 28 Aug accused Greece of locking on to Turkish jets with S-300 air defence systems on 23 Aug, which Greek authorities denied on 29 Aug. On diplomatic front, FM Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu 11 Aug announced brief exchange with Syrian FM Faisal Mekdad, in which former voiced need to reconcile regime and opposition, sparking speculation over potential shift in Syria policy. In similar vein, President Erdoğan 19 Aug mentioned potential “political dialogue or diplomacy” with Syrian regime. Erdoğan met Russia’s President Putin and Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy 5 and 18 Aug, respectively, as part of efforts to ensure safe grain passage from Ukraine. Ankara and Israel 17 Aug announced restoration of full diplomatic relations. Ankara, Sweden and Finland 26 Aug agreed to continue consultations over Nordic nations’ NATO bid.
Ankara has been infuriated, quite frankly, with U.S. support for Kurdish groups in northern Syria in the fight against ISIS.
Turkey can't afford economically or politically to absorb a new wave of refugees [from Syria].
How do you not lose Turkey while you try to curb Erdogan? Erdogan is trying to find a way forward when they are trying to make sure he does not score political points.
The EU has parked sanctions in the drawer for now. But, on the flip side, the bloc might not have much to offer Turkey in the way of carrots.
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.
Ankara has blocked the bids of Finland and Sweden to join NATO, to the dismay of Western capitals who see the enlargement as strengthening the alliance after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. With all sides seeing key principles at stake, the impasse is unlikely to end soon.
This week on War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Hugh Pope talk to expert Eleonora Tafuro, a research fellow at ISPI, to make sense of the complicated relationship between Russia and Turkey that has veered from collaborative to adversarial, often landing somewhere in between.
Turkey is increasingly relying on airpower in its fight against the PKK. New parties have been drawn into the conflict as it spreads to new theatres in Iraq and Syria, which, for now at least, complicates potential efforts to settle things down.
This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood talks to Crisis Group’s Turkey expert, Nigar Göksel, about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s recent trip to Ukrainian capital Kyiv, Turkey’s involvement in conflicts in Syria, Libya and the Caucasus, and its wider foreign relations.
Turkish and Armenian special envoys will meet in Moscow on 14 January to discuss normalising relations between these long-estranged neighbours. Crisis Group experts Olesya Vartanyan, Nigar Göksel and Zaur Shiriyev unpack how the end of the Nagorno-Karabakh war in 2020 opened the way for talks.
Ankara believes it has reaped strategic benefits from military involvement in Syria, Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh. Yet it has paid a price as well, discomfiting both allies and adversaries. Now, Turkey hopes to rebuild ties so as to consolidate its new gains.
Ankara is strengthening ties with Sahelian capitals, building mosques and hospitals and opening up export markets. Its defence pact with Niamey has led rivals to suspect its intentions. Turkey and other outside powers should do what they can to avoid unnecessary additional competition in the region.
This week on War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Hugh Pope talk with Crisis Group’s Nigar Göksel about the nationalist tensions fuelling a maritime standoff between Turkey and Greece, and how coordinated efforts by regional powers can help de-escalate their dispute over the eastern Mediterranean.