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.
As war rages in Gaza, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues to escalate, causing grievous harm to civilians and threatening stability across the Middle East. Crisis Group experts offer a 360-degree view of how various capitals in the region view this crisis and their own interests therein.
Authorities continued targeting Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) at home and in Iraq and Syria, while govt continued positive engagement with Greece and rebuked Israel for Gaza onslaught.
Military maintained operations against PKK and affiliates. In Türkiye, police 2 Nov reportedly detained eleven PKK suspects in Istanbul city. IED explosion 4 Nov killed soldier during operation in rural area of eastern Van province. Security forces 5 Nov announced capture of PKK militant on Syrian border. In northern Iraq, defence ministry 13 and 17 Nov claimed operations killed total nineteen PKK members and intelligence services 17 and 20 Nov reportedly eliminated senior PKK members in targeted operations; PKK attack 26 Nov killed three soldiers. In northern Syria, intelligence services same day killed alleged senior People’s Protection Units (YPG) official (see Iraq and Syria).
Dialogue with Greece yielded progress. In first such meeting in three years, Greek diplomatic and military officials 13 Nov visited capital Ankara, agreeing to implement and reactivate numerous confidence-building measures over coming year and establish new dialogue mechanism, marking positive sign ahead of 7 Dec meeting between President Erdoğan and Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Greece. Meanwhile, FM Hakan Fidan 2 Nov attended EU enlargement meeting in Berlin. EU 8 Nov released progress report on Türkiye’s candidate status, which noted “democratic backsliding” among list of other concerns; Ankara same day branded report unfair. European Commission and EU High Rep 29 Nov proposed enhanced cooperation in areas such as trade, transport, energy and migration.
Tensions increased with Israel. In protest of Israel’s military campaign in Gaza (see Israel-Palestine), Türkiye 4 Nov recalled ambassador to Israel. Energy Minister Alparslan Bayraktar 8 Nov announced freeze on energy cooperation until Gaza ceasefire declared. Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu 15 Nov labelled President Erdoğan’s criticism over human rights hypocritical, which foreign ministry called “slander”. Erdoğan 20 Nov accused Israel of “genocide” and 29 Nov called Netanyahu “the butcher of Gaza”.
Clampdown on Islamic State (ISIS) continued. Security forces in Nov detained at least 44 individuals with alleged links to ISIS. Notably, authorities 12 Nov detained high-ranking ISIS member in Istanbul.
The success of Ankara's mediation [over Gaza] will depend on how much influence the political wing of Hamas has on the armed wing.
Ankara remains intent on further pushing back against the PKK [Kurdistan Workers' Party] and its affiliates in the region.
If the UN fails to extend its operation [in Syria] via these [Turkish border] crossings, donor states should bypass the UN and do bilateral assistance themselves.
Less escalation in the conflict with the PKK may give authorities [in Türkiye] struggling with how to respond to this unprecedented crisis one less thing to worry about.
Attacks [from the PKK] this year show that they still have the capacity to carry out sensational attacks in Türkiye’s cities.
Moscow also has leverage over Türkiye in other conflict zones such as Syria and the South Caucasus, as well as a vested interest in driving a wedge between Turkey and its...
Relations between Ankara and Brussels have been warming despite democratic backsliding in Türkiye. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2023 – Autumn Update, Crisis Group explains how the EU and its member states can deepen this trend, cooperating with Türkiye in areas of mutual interest.
Since the Syrian uprising began in 2011, Ankara has been drawn ever deeper into the crisis. Its approach will likely hold steady for now. But the choices it makes next matter for the fate of millions of Syrians.
In this online event, Crisis Group’s experts and external speakers discussed the extent to which hydrocarbons have shaped conflict dynamics in the Eastern Mediterranean and the prospects for effective gas diplomacy, in particular.
This week on War & Peace, Olga Oliker speaks with Crisis Group’s Türkiye Director Nigar Göksel about the Turkish elections and how President Erdoğan’s new term might shape the country’s domestic and foreign policy.
Major gas finds in the eastern Mediterranean seabed over the last ten years have fuelled ambitions to link the region’s energy markets and, in turn, bring its countries in conflict to the negotiating table. These great expectations have proven outsized, but smaller-scale objectives are achievable.
This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard speaks with Nigar Göksel, Crisis Group’s Türkiye director, to discuss Ankara’s foreign relations under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and, with elections scheduled for May, whether a change in Ankara would bring a change in policy.
Numerous foreign nationals with ties to ISIS have come to Türkiye since the group’s defeat in Iraq and Syria. This population presents officials with complex questions, one of which is what threat individuals might still pose. The predicament calls for a multi-pronged strategy.
This week on War & Peace, Elissa Jobson is joined by Berkay Mandıracı, Crisis Group’s Senior analyst for Türkiye, to discuss the latest escalation in Türkiye’s PKK conflict, its development in recent years and how it relates to Türkyie’s domestic politics.
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