INDEPENDENT MEDIA | Current Threat Assessment on Turkey by Mohammad Ali Dastmali, IranReview.org

INDEPENDENT MEDIA | Current Threat Assessment on Turkey by Mohammad Ali Dastmali, IranReview.org


By Mohammad Ali Dastmali


INDEPENDENT MEDIA | Current Threat Assessment on Turkey by Mohammad Ali Dastmali


Turkey is located between two so-called Western and Eastern worlds and at a golden and sensitive geographical location. Among the most important weaknesses of Turkey one can point out lack of energy resources and the country’s constant need to buy oil and its products. The world’s most expensive gasoline is sold in Turkey at 5 liras per liter. However, this issue is not the biggest weakness of Turkey. The country is currently building three nuclear power plants and has made hefty investment in the field of wind and solar energy. Ankara is also buying and transferring oil from the Iraqi Kurdistan Region while using Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) to make up for this major shortcoming. In the field of defense, Turkey’s membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), strategic cooperation with the United States, and close relations with the European Union (EU) have, to a large extent, stabilized the position of this country, while Turkey’s tourism revenue is gradually hitting USD 28 billion a year.

So, despite these major advantages, what are the most important threats against Turkey and what obstacles and impediments can slow down Turkey’s march toward economic and political growth and development? In response, it must be noted that in view of the objective conditions, the country is currently facing three threatening problems, which include: 1. Daesh2. PKK, and 3. Serious Political and Social Divides.

Turkey has about 900 kilometers of common border with Syria and a 330-kilometer border with Iraq. At present, Turkey is faced with two similar and common threats along its borders with Syria and Iraq. Firstly, along Turkey’s border with the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, forces belonging to the military wing of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) are present in mountainous regions along this border. Secondly, along Turkey’s long border with Syria, Kurds are living in three unattached Kurdish regions, that is, Jazira, Kobani, and Afrin cantons, and in all three regions, following the start of the Syrian crisis and weakening of the control of the central government in Damascus, PKK has been at the helm of political and military power according to an unwritten agreement. At the same time and along both aforesaid borders, in addition to the threat posed to Turkey by the PKK, Daesh is present in a number of important and strategic regions and can easily send it forces into Turkey.

Daesh has occupied two big cities, namely Ramadi and Mosul, in Iraq and since these two cities are inhabited by Sunni Muslims and leaders of Sunni Iraqi groups are often friendly with Turkey, this development has barred Turkey’s influence on Sunni-dwelling regions of Iraq. In Syria, Daesh has created a strong fortress in the city of Raqa, which allows it to threaten Sanliurfa, Gaziantep, Hatay, Calis and a number of other border provinces of Turkey. During the past three months, three big bomb attacks have taken place in two Kurdish cities of Diyarbakır and Suruc as well as the capital, Ankara, claiming the lives of a total of 132 Turkish citizens. The twin bomb attacks in Ankara, which claimed the lives of 97 Kurdish and leftist supporters of the “Peoples' Democratic Party” (HDP) have been described as the biggest terrorist attack in history of Turkey. Daesh militants have also announced that in their opinion, the Turkish city of Istanbul is the same old Constantinople and they will finally conquer it. During terrorist attacks that Daesh has so far conducted inside Turkey, it has so far targeted Kurds, but it has proven in the meantime that it can also hit Turks and tourism centers in order to bring Turkey’s economy to its knees. Turkey is now a member of the US-led anti-Daesh coalition and has allowed the United States and European countries to use a number of its air bases. Therefore, it is not clear if Turkey took a serious step in the fight against Daesh, what kind of reactions would this terrorist group show.

Starting from late 2012, the longest round of peace talks began between the government of Turkey and PKK, but following Turkish parliamentary elections on June 7, the two sides moved toward conflict once again. According to figures released by Turkish official sources, more than 1,400 members of PKK have been killed in Turkey’s bombardments in the past three months, while about 100 members of police and military forces and 40 civilians have also lost their lives in PKK attacks. Of course, the Turkish government has greatly weakened PKK by using its unmanned aerial vehicles and Göktürk reconnaissance satellite system, but PKK has still the capacity and ability to threaten security of Turkey whenever it wants.

Although the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), as a satellite institution to PKK, won 80 out of 550 parliamentary seats in recent elections, the leaders of PKK in Qandil Mountains will apparently stop at nothing less than gaining self-rule right. As a result, they are not ready to leave the fate of Kurds to legal representatives of people and prefer to keep the initiative in their own hands. On the other hand, the ruling Justice and Development Party has strong relations with the Iraqi Kurds, especially with president of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, Masoud Barzani.

Another serious threat to Turkey is the existence of a serious political and social divide between Islamist and secular groups, in parallel to which, sometimes divisions occur due to differences between Turks and Kurds, and existence of such divisions in the Turkish society can face this country with big problems.

About The Author:

Mohmmad Ali Dastmali is an expert on Turkish affairs and associated with IranReview.org

Key Words: Turkey, Threats, Daesh, PKK, Political and Social Divides, Iraqi Kurdistan Region, Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), NATO, EU, US, Masoud Barzani, Anti-Daesh Coalition, Dastmali
AIDN: 001-10-2015-0340

This article has been originally published at IranReview.org  on October 19, 2015. All rights are reserved by the Original Publisher.


Image Attribute: President Erdogan's pro-Islamic policies threaten dissenting voices. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
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