Daesh ex­o­dus threat­ens Turkey and the re­gion

Arab News - - INTERNATIONAL - MENEKSE TOKYAY

ANKARA: The Guardian re­cently re­ported that sev­eral dozen for­mer Daesh fight­ers had crossed into south­ern Turkey in re­cent weeks, and hun­dreds more are massed in Syria’s Idlib prov­ince wait­ing to cross.

Although Turkey’s bor­der with Syria is closely mon­i­tored, the news­pa­per re­ported that they had crossed with the help of smug­glers.

As Daesh loses ter­ri­tory in Syria and Iraq, the ex­o­dus of its mil­i­tants and their fam­i­lies is ex­pected to con­tinue, pos­ing se­ri­ous chal­lenges to Turkey and other coun­tries in the re­gion.

In April, Turkey an­nounced the com­ple­tion of the first phase of a wall that, when com­pleted, is ex­pected to cover the length of its bor­der with Syria.

Ankara re­cently adopted an in­te­grated se­cu­rity sys­tem for its bor­ders with war-torn coun­tries that in­cludes watch­tow­ers, radars, ther­mal cam­eras, un­manned drones and night-vi­sion.

Metin Gur­can, a for­mer mil­i­tary of­fi­cer and se­cu­rity an­a­lyst at the Is­tan­bul Pol­icy Cen­ter, said Daesh’s ter­ri­to­rial losses in Syria and Iraq have made Turkey an ap­peal­ing gate­way for its flee­ing mil­i­tants.

Last month, Aus­tralian po­lice ar­rested two Daesh sus­pects who put a home­made bomb in their brother’s lug­gage, cam­ou­flaged as a meat min­cer, when he was about to fly from Syd­ney with Eti­had Air­ways.

Aus­tralian author­i­ties said the high-grade ex­plo­sives used to build the bomb, which was de­tected by air­port se­cu­rity, had been sent to Aus­tralia by air cargo from Turkey.

“Ankara and the US-led an­tiDaesh coali­tion can’t find an in­sti­tu­tional mech­a­nism to co­or­di­nate the fight against ex­trem­ists be­cause they cur­rently lack a trust-based re­la­tion­ship,” Gur­can told Arab News.

This year, Turk­ish po­lice have fur­ther in­creased ef­forts to erad­i­cate sus­pected Daesh cells through­out the coun­try.

Ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial fig­ures, Turkey has de­tained more than 5,000 sus­pected Daesh mil­i­tants so far, and has de­ported some 3,290 for­eign fight­ers from 95 coun­tries.

“There’s an ur­gent need for ef­fec­tive in­tel­li­gence-shar­ing be­tween Turkey and the West to take pre­cau­tions against pos­si­ble ter­ror at­tacks by these mil­i­tants,” Gur­can said.

Ser­tac Canalp Kork­maz, a re­searcher on se­cu­rity stud­ies at ORSAM, a think tank in Ankara, told Arab News: “When these for­eign fight­ers cross Turk­ish ter­ri­to­ries, they’ll pose a se­ri­ous threat to Turkey and to their coun­tries of des­ti­na­tion, be­cause they’ve gained sig­nif­i­cant com­bat ex­pe­ri­ence and will have a greater ca­pac­ity for lethal at­tacks when they re­turn from con­flict zones.”

He said: “The se­cu­rity wall that’s be­ing con­structed has lim­ited the avail­abil­ity of tran­sit points that could be ex­ploited by Daesh mil­i­tants.”

A “proac­tive se­cu­rity pol­icy” is needed to min­i­mize po­ten­tial threats, Kork­maz added.

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