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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

Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) intensified attacks in south east while Turkish military targeted PKK within Turkey and in northern Iraq. PKK launched attacks on state-contracted workers in Nusaybin city 3 April, Kulp district 8 April, and Silopi city 14 April. Turkish military continued small-scale ground operations against PKK in rural areas of south east and carried out two air raids on PKK in northern Iraq, including airstrikes 15 April destroyed PKK base south of Qandil and armed drone attack same day targeted the Makhmur camp south west of Erbil. Within Turkey, prosecution on terrorism-related charges continued of eight pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) mayors who govt dismissed in March. In north east Syria, Turkish military targeted Kurdish-led People’s Protection Units (YPG) militants; YPG-attributed car bomb attack in Afrin on 28 April killed at least 42 civilians (see Syria). In Syria’s Idlib province, rebels continued to oppose fragile March Moscow-Ankara ceasefire agreement; Turkish security forces 13 April dispersed sit-in protests, apparently organised by jihadist coalition Hei’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), aimed at halting joint Turkish-Russian patrols. In response, HTS briefly abducted Turkey-backed rebel fighters. Nonetheless, Russia and Turkey 28 April conducted sixth joint patrol in area. As conflict in Libya continued to escalate, Turkey stepped up military support to Tripoli-based Government of National Accord; Turkish F16 fighter jets 18 April carried out first ever military exercise over Misrata (see Libya). Detentions of Islamic State (ISIS) suspects decreased, with only twelve individuals with suspected ISIS links detained during month, including six foreigners. Concerns grew over potential impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable Syrian refugee population in Turkey, as well as strain on economy.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

27 Feb 2020
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. Financial Times

Nigar Göksel

Project Director, Turkey
21 Feb 2020
[Turkey has been using Russia] to push back against policies that it doesn’t like from its Western partners. BloombergQuint

Joost Hiltermann

Program Director, Middle East and North Africa
14 Feb 2020
Escalation is likely going to continue [in Syria] as long as Turkey and Russia cannot agree on a new cease-fire. NBC News

Berkay Mandıracı

Analyst, Turkey
8 Oct 2019
L'EI constitue toujours une menace qui pourrait métastaser si les FDS voient leur attention et leurs ressources détournées [...] au profit d'une bataille défensive contre la Turquie. Le Nouvel Obs

Sam Heller

Adviser, Non-state Armed Groups
7 Oct 2019
[By deciding to withdraw its troops from North East Syria] the United States just threw away the last leverage it had. The New York Times

Dareen Khalifa

Senior Analyst, Syria
28 Sep 2019
Even if efforts to create a 'buffer zone' [in Northern Syria] succeed, the underlying source of tension will remain and with it, the potential for a Turkish military response to Ankara's perceived YPG threat. AFP

Dareen Khalifa

Senior Analyst, Syria

Latest Updates

Turkey's Gamble 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.

Q&A / Europe & Central Asia

Deadly Clashes in Syria’s Idlib Show Limits of Turkey’s Options

A deadly attack on Turkish forces in Syria has brought Idlib’s crisis to a dangerous crossroads. In this Q&A, Crisis Group’s Turkey, Syria and Russia experts explain what happened and what’s at stake.

Intra-Gulf Competition in Africa’s Horn: Lessening the Impact

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.

Also available in العربية

Are There Alternatives to a Military Victory in Idlib?

Last weekend, the presidents of Turkey, Iran and Russia met in Ankara to discuss, among other things, the latest developments in Syria amid Turkish concerns over the consequences of a Syrian government offensive in the last rebel enclave, Idlib. 

Originally published in Valdai

EU Watch List / Global

Watch List 2019 – First Update

Watch List Updates complement International Crisis Group’s annual Watch List, most recently published in January 2019. These early-warning publications identify major conflict situations in which prompt action, driven or supported by the European Union and its member states, would generate stronger prospects for peace. The Watch List Updates include situations identified in the annual Watch List and/or a new focus of concern.

Our People

Alçay Akay

Office Manager, Turkey

Nigar Göksel

Project Director, Turkey

Berkay Mandıracı

Analyst, Turkey