RELEASE: New CAP Report Examines the State of the Turkish-Kurdish Conflict

Washington, D.C. — A new report from the Center for American Progress examines the dramatic shifts in U.S. and Turkish policy toward Kurdish political and military actors in Turkey and Syria over the past five years.

The report, which updates a 2014 CAP report on the same topic, details the escalating conflict between Turkey and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) since a ceasefire between the two parties fell apart in 2015.

The report examines the reasons behind the breakdown of the earlier peace process; the current contours of the conflict; as well as the domestic and regional dynamics at play. After assessing the still-distant prospects of a shift in Turkish policy, the report lays out the steps necessary to move toward a path of accommodation. The steps include:

  • Begin a confidence-building approach toward Kurdish political actors, including in Syria, to secure a ceasefire
  • Release political prisoners and ease domestic repression to elevate non-PKK interlocutors
  • If a prospective ceasefire holds, lower tensions through stepped social and political gestures before negotiating directly with the PKK

“A confluence of domestic political, military, and regional factors raises the slight hope of a softening in Turkish policy toward the Kurds,” said Max Hoffman, associate director of National Security and International Policy at CAP and author of the report. “Over the decades, this conflict has oscillated between peaceful and violent chapters. It remains to be seen whether we are about to enter an easing phase. But a path of accommodation could yield important political and economic benefits for Turkey and remains the only chance for a lasting peace.”

Read the report: “The State of the Turkish-Kurdish Conflict,” by Max Hoffman.

For more information or to speak to an expert, contact Sam Hananel at or 202. 478.6327.