By Mehmet Nesip Ogun………
Professor of Security studies at Columbia University, New York…….
Contrary to some false claims and vicious accusations made by some media channels and individuals, Turkey is very effectively countering the Daesh terrorist organization. Along with Daesh, Turkey is currently heavily under attack by other terrorist organizations as well such as FETO, PKK/PYD and DHKP-C. In this article, Turkey’s anti-Daesh strategy will be analyzed. In this respect, Turkey’s strategy on countering Daesh based on combating foreign terrorist fighters, is combating Daesh’s fund raising, supporting international anti-Daesh coalition, border security and security operations in Turkey and abroad including ‘Operation Euphrates Shield’.
Following terrorist leader Bagdadi’s claim of so-called Islamic State and Caliphate and invitation to join Daesh in Iraq and Syria, so many radicals were influenced and affected by this invitation. According to some statistics, more than 37.000 people joined to Daesh as foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs). Turkey has co-chaired the presidency of Global Counter Terrorism Forum which is a multilateral counter-terrorism body comprising dozens of countries. Through this forum, Turkey has highlighted the threat of FTFs to the international community. As a result of these efforts, United Nations Security Council has defined FTFs as “individuals who travel to countries other than that of their residence or nationality in order to prepare, plan, or participate in terrorism, such as obtaining terrorist training in conflict zones”. As there is no internationally accepted terrorism definition, it is a big success to define FTFs in UN. Accordingly, No-entry lists of potential FTFs were established bilaterally with other countries as well as other lists through Interpol to stop flow of FTFs reaching to first point of entry to Turkey and entering to Syria and Iraq. In this regard, at least 4.000 foreigners were deported in the context of combating FTFs. Moreover, Turkey established risk analysis units at several borders, harbors and ports. Risk analysis units have checked almost 8.000 and interviewed more than 5.000 foreign nationals. Turkey did not allow almost 2.000 foreign nationals that were checked by the risk analysis units.
Turkey’s internal and external operations against Daesh, had a very big negative effect on the financial resources of the terrorist organization. According to the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization (ICSR) report published in early 2017, Daesh’s important sources of revenue are taxes and fees, oil, looting, confiscations, and fines. Following Operation Euphrates Shield and recapturing Jarablus from Daesh, Daesh’s revenue worth 400 million dollars was cut in half. According to ICRS’s report; since 2014, Daesh’s annual revenue has been cut from more than up to 1.9 billion dollars in 2014 to a maximum of 870 million dollars in 2016.
As it is detailed in the Turkish Foreign Ministry’s web page, Turkey has been actively participating activities which specified to degrade the capabilities of, and ultimately defeat, Daesh since the formation of anti-Daesh coalition. Within this respect, Turkey has participated in the Coalition Campaign military planning, has allowed its airspace to be used by Coalition aircraft and has opened its facilities to Coalition partners and has actively been hosting the Train-Equip Program in Turkey.
In accordance with Turkey’s new security concept, Turkey has been carrying out its security operations in the context of preventive security measures. In this regard, most importantly, Turkey started “Operation Euphrates Shield” on August 24, 2016 and completed on March 29, 2017 with the participation of Free Syrian Army. The main goal of Turkey to carry out this operation was to ensure security of Turkey. Along with objectives of removing Daesh from Turkish borders and liberating Daesh controlled cities, it also aimed to block the corridor to be established by PKK/PYD terrorist organization through the line between Jarablus and Azaz. With this operation, more than 2.500 Daesh terrorists and more than 500 PKK/YPG terrorists were neutralized and Jarablus, al-Bap, al-Rai and Dabiq were cleaned from the terrorists. After the operation, thousands of Syrians went back to their homes and life went back to normal in the cleaned areas. In addition, Turkey has launched more than 7000 missiles on Daesh targets in North Mosul and destroyed 600 buildings and weapon pits and neutralized 750 Daesh terrorists.
Turkey has 911 kilometers land border with Syria and 331 kilometers with Iraq. Countering any illegal cross-border activities, Turkey carries out very effective measures. In this regard, Turkey enhanced security at the Turkey-Syria and Turkey-Iraq borders with additional personnel, patrols, and equipment. The number of Turkish border security forces was increased from 12,000 in 2014 to 20,000 in 2016 along the Syrian border. New air defense and reconnaissance units have been added to the battalions, including the active use of unmanned air vehicles which detect illegal crossing and smuggling activities. Furthermore, Turkey is establishing a “Syrian border physical security system” that includes construction of 192 kilometers of wall and 93 kilometers part of wall has already been completed. This project is expected to cost 81 million dollars.
In conclusion, Turkey is very active and effective against Daesh. Turkey is a very important and strong country in the region and the global world. Moreover, Turkey will continue to be a key player and continue to counter terror attacks and fight against all forms of terrorism with its strong economy, hard power, influential soft power, and growing defense industry.