Consul General Ferhat Alkan's Article on Terrorism at the Austin-American Statesman Newspaper
Turkey is Determined to Fight Terrorism
(Jan 4, 2017, The Austin-American Statesman)
Terror targeted Turks and foreign nationals celebrating New Year’s Eve in a night club in Istanbul. At least 39 people from 15 countries lost their lives and dozens were wounded in a despicable act of terror claimed by DAESH.
Why does Daesh target Turkey? There are mainly three reasons. First, Turkey is the frontline country resolutely fighting Daesh in Syria. Second, Turkey is a key member of the Anti-Daesh International Coalition and Turkey’s Incirlik Base is home to the coalition’s significant aerial assets, including the U.S. Air Force. Third, Turkey being a secular democracy with a predominantly Muslim population — and a NATO ally for 65 years — is an antidote to the malignant narrative of Daesh.
Turkey has designated Daesh as a terrorist organization and has taken concrete measures to fight against it, often alone, since the outbreak of the Syrian crisis. For the last 134 days, the Turkish Army put boots on the ground and waged a cross-border military operation titled “Operation Euphrates Shield” in Syria against Daesh. The operation so far has created a safe zone by clearing over 750 square miles and liberating 225 towns from Daesh. Turkey lost dozens of her heroes on this critical fight. Turkey is treating Iraq and Syria as a single theater in the fight against Daesh and contributing significantly also to the ongoing operation in Iraq.
Turkey is also fighting against the criminal terrorist networks of foreign fighters. Since 2011, Turkey has included 52,000 people from 145 countries on the no-entry list, deported more than 4,000 suspected foreigners from 100 countries, detained over 3,500 Daesh affiliated individuals and took 1,500 into custody.
Preventing the international flow of terrorist fighters to and from conflict zones is also a key to success. In accordance with UN Security Council resolutions, member states should prevent the “recruiting, organizing, transporting or equipping of individuals who travel to a State other than their States of residence or nationality for the purpose of the perpetration, planning of, or participation in terrorist acts.” Therefore, priority should be spotting and stopping foreign fighters traveling to conflict zones — including Syria and Iraq — at their country of departure. If that fails, then our priority is to stop them at the first port of entry. For that, we need timely, concrete, actionable and full information sharing from source countries about suspected persons of terrorism.
On the other hand, Turkey is strengthening 566 miles along its physical border with Syria in order to prevent illegal cross-border activities. Measures at the Turkish-Syrian borders are enhanced by additional personnel, patrols and equipment as well as an ongoing construction of a wall. To this date, 125 miles of the wall has been completed, with 441 miles planned to be completed in the coming five months.
Turkey has sad memories in 2016 due to the July 15 coup attempt by Fetullahist Terrorist Organization and terror attacks by Daesh and the PKK. Turkey is doing utmost in its fight against all forms of terrorism and suffering the most. Unfortunately, Turkey’s allies have largely failed to stand firmly with Turkey against these terrorist threats. It should not be forgotten that Turkey’s security is tied directly to the western security architecture.
It is time to defeat this global menace — be it in Istanbul, Paris, Baghdad or Orlando — by joining forces, standing together and showing a concerted political will.
Alkan is Consul General of the Republic of Turkey in Houston.
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