Turkish government steps up counterterrorism efforts
:: A series of raids in the southern province of Adana and the eastern province of Elazig on Friday saw 42 people detained by police over their suspected links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Daesh, respectively. The police are reportedly still looking for 10 suspects.
A suspected Daesh militant of Russian origin was also detained on Thursday. Renad Bakiev was allegedly planning a drone attack on US planes at Turkey’s Incirlik air base, used by the US-led coalition in its campaign against Daesh.
The arrests come under Turkey’s heightened security measures, which have been in place since a failed coup attempt on July 15. 2016, Turkey has detained over 5,000 suspected Daesh militants so far, and has deported around 3,290 foreign fighters from 95 different countries, according to officials.
According to Turkish daily Haber Turk, a recently arrested Daesh member testified that since Ankara increased security at the Syrian border, Daesh “has difficulty sneaking its members across Turkish borders from Syria.”
The outlawed PKK is also a target of Turkish security measures.
Speaking to reporters in Ankara on Friday, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that Turkey would not tolerate the emergence of an “artificial state” at its southern border. He added that Turkey would not hesitate to “respond in the future, as we did in the past, if we face an attack on our sovereignty and security.”
Kadir Ertac Celik, advisor to the Ankara Center for Crisis and Policy Studies, said Turkey is putting security at the core of its policies, as indicated by changes in its Supreme Military Council, where “successful officers in the fight against terrorism have been given substantial priority during the appointment process.
“Vicarious attacks by the PKK, Daesh and their offshoots aim to push Turkey into ethnic and sectarian chaos and conflict. Turkey, through its resolute establishment and potent intelligence activities, is endeavoring to minimize these threats.”
Barin Kayaoglu — an assistant professor of world history at the American University of Iraq, — recognized the importance of the steps the Turkish government has taken against militant networks, particularly the increase in border security, but warned that further measures will be necessary to ensure the country’s safety.
“Operations against these groups can curb their ability to harm security forces and the civilian population only for a while,” Kayaoglu told Arab News.
“Unless their ability to recruit is not eradicated and their will to fight is not broken, the risk of attacks will remain,” he added.