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.
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.
Hostilities intensified most notably in Syria after Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) ended four-month unilateral ceasefire, raising spectre of further escalation.
Attacks rose between Türkiye and PKK and its affiliates. PKK 10 June terminated unilateral ceasefire announced in Feb following devastating earthquakes, citing ongoing Turkish operations against group’s members in northern Syria and northern Iraq. Following termination, rate of violence increased, particularly in northern Syria, with risks of further escalation looming (see Syria and Iraq). Notably, PKK-linked People’s Defence Units (YPG) 12 June allegedly launched cross-border rocket attacks into Türkiye’s Kilis province from Syria; in response, Turkish forces next day struck YPG positions. Amid attacks on Turkish bases in Syria, Turkish forces 14 June struck Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and Syrian regime positions in Tel Rifaat and Manbij areas, killing at least eight Syrian soldiers, over dozen SDF/YPG fighters and several civilians. In northern Iraq, PKK blamed Türkiye for killing of PKK member in Sulaymaniyah 9 June; IED explosion 12 June killed two Turkish soldiers in northern Iraq.
Security forces continued crackdown on Islamic State (ISIS). Turkish security forces during June detained at least 90 individuals with alleged links to ISIS. Notably, security forces in Istanbul 10 June detained former Mosul “judge” of group, and 23 June arrested foreign national allegedly plotting attack on Turkish soil.
Ties with Greece remained on even keel. Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis 7 June said he will work to settle outstanding disputes, including Aegean maritime zones, with President Erdoğan; Mitsotakis 13 June clarified discussion on demilitarised status of eastern Aegean islands was out of question. Defence Minister Yaşar Güler 15 June met Greek counterpart on sidelines of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) conference; Erdogan and Mitsotakis will meet on the sidelines of NATO summit in July. After boat carrying migrants 14 June capsized near Greek island Morea, killing at least 79 with hundreds missing, Ankara 16 June called for “fair burden sharing” in refugee problem.
In other important developments. Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan 3 June attended Erdoğan’s inauguration ceremony in capital Ankara. Erdoğan 15 June called for new “civilian constitution”. Sweden and Ankara held talks on former’s NATO membership bid; Sweden 1 June formally promulgated revised terrorism laws.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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