TURKEY’S OPERATIONS AGAINST TERRORIST ORGANIZATIONS
Q: Why is Turkey carrying out operations against the PKK?
First and foremost it has to be born in mind that the PKK is a terrorist organization, which killed tens of thousands of innocent people. Many countries around the world and the international organizations attest to the terrorist nature of the said organization.
There seems to be a misperception as if operations being carried out against exclusively PKK targets. First of all it has no relation with our Kurdish origin people. It clearly targets camps and bases of the PKK.
Following the suicide bombing by DEASH in Suruç which killed 33 Turkish citizens and the execution of two police officers at their apartment by PKK terrorists, Turkey started operations against DEASH, PKK and DHKP-C terrorist organizations.
PKK attacked gas and oil pipelines, including the one which transports oil from KRG. They have targeted trains and burned down transport vehicles and construction machines.
Since July 20th (as of 10 September), 113 members of the Turkish police, gendarmerie, military and 56 civilians have been killed; 400 security personnel and 209 civilians wounded (total: 609); 6 security personnel and 27 civilians kidnapped (total: 33) by the PKK terrorists.
These PKK terrorist attacks have been, as in the past, conducted under instructions from the PKK safe haven in the Qandil area of Northern Iraq. Thus, the operations targeting the PKK presence in Northern Iraq were conducted to protect our security and stability.
It is obvious that these heinous attacks aime to destabilize Turkey, pose direct and imminent threat to its security and stability.
No country can stay indifferent to such a serious threat to its security and to the lives of its own people. We will continue to fight all terrorist organizations with equal determination.
Q: Did PKK carry out terrorist attacks while the “process” was in place?
Actually, PKK terrorist organization, long before the operations started, abandoned its position regarding not to carry out terrorist attacks. In this vein, PKK made a declaration on 11 July 2015 stating that the ceasefire was over. Only a few days later, PKK issued another declaration announcing that they would target infrastructures such as dams and road constructions as well as companies which construct them. Their violent attacks followed soon after.
No one should be under the illusion that the so called “ceasefire” was broken upon operations started by Turkey. Actually it has been broken by the PKK with a view to impose its own agenda following the elections which took place on the 7th of June. PKK faced with a dilemma after HDP won 80 seats in the Turkish National Assembly. This terrorist organization does not want to lose its influence and control which includes substantial financial means.
On the other hand, PKK had never given up its terrorist attacks despite what it called a ceasefire. There were numerous terrorist attacks despite the process. Only since the beginning of 2015, more than 2.000 acts of violence were perpetrated by PKK.
Q: Which events has driven the “process” to be broken?
(Short chronology of declarations made by PKK members on the reconciliation process, before Turkey commence the aerial operations)
- (PKK terrorist organization, long before the operations started, had already demonstrated its insincerity and abandoned its position regarding not to carry out terrorist attacks. No one should think that the so called “ceasefire” was broken upon operations started by Turkey. It had been broken by the PKK with a view to impose its own agenda following the elections which took place on the 7th of June.)
- July 11, 2015: In a written statement, the KCK announced the end of the cease-fire and threatened Ankara, by saying: "As of now, all the dams and the machines used in the dam constructions will be targeted by our guerilla forces."
- July 15, 2015: Senior KCK figure Bese Hozat stated at her article published by Özgür Gündem that “the new process is the process of revolutionary people's war”.
- July 19, 2015: Senior PKK figure Cemil Bayık called on “the Nation” to arm and defend themselves a day before the Suruç attack.
- July 20, 2015: Senior PKK figure Cemil Bayık renewed his call for the armament.
- July 20, 2015: The suicide bombing by DAESH in Suruç on 20th of July, killed 33 Turkish citizens and wounded more than 100 people.
- July 21, 2015: A day after, PKK claimed the killing of two police officers in their house “as a retaliation of Suruç”. The PKK attacked gas and oil pipelines, including the one which transport oil from KRG (Kurdistan Regional Government). They have targeted infrastructures, trains and burned down transport vehicles and construction machines. The PKK continues its attacks. Further data on the casualties of such attacks is shown in the footnote 1.
- July 23, 2015: Senior KCK figure Bese Hozat declared that “the cease-fire is now out of question and the actual situation is of full scale campaign against Turkey”.
- July 24, 2015: While Turkish National Police initiates comprehensive anti-terrorist operations against PKK, DHKP/C and DEASH affiliated individuals in Turkey, Turkish jets commence operations targeting DEASH elements in Syria and PKK camps in Northern Iraq, based on our right of self-defense in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter. The necessary notification has been communicated to the United Nations Security Council. The Foreign Ministry made a statement informing the public.
- PKK terrorist attacks have been, as in the past, conducted under instructions from the PKK safe haven in the Qandil area of Northern Iraq. Thus, the operations targeted the PKK presence in Northern Iraq. No country can stay indifferent to such a serious threat to its security and to the lives of its own people.
- There seems to be a misperception and shallow evaluation as if operations being carried out against exclusively PKK targets. First of all it has no relation with our Kurdish origin people. It clearly targets PKK elements. In fact, Prime Minister Barzani of the KRG, right after the st of the operations, asked PKK to exit the region.
- As the PKK’s terrorist attacks continue in different parts of our country, killing hundreds of people, we also observe a deliberate and opportunistic misinformation campaign to undermine Turkey's counter-terrorism efforts targeting terrorist organizations DEASH, PKK and DHKP/C.
Q: Is there any relation between counter-terrorist operations and Turkey’s domestic politics?
We observe that in media there are baseless claims to associate Turkey’s fight against terrorist organizations as an attempt by the Turkish Government for using if for domestic political goals. Such baseless claims only play into hands of terrorists. Turkey has long suffered from terrorism and the public opinion in Turkey is highly sensitive on the subject and fed up with those who discriminate between terrorist organizations.
Q: Is the “process” over? How do you intend to proceed from now on?
The process is not over. During the past 4 years Turkish Government has heavily invested in developing a process where unprecedented and very bold steps to end the PKK terrorism have been taken. Reforms that enhanced our democracy and rule of law have been introduced. Cultural and social-economic grievances particularly voiced by our citizens of Kurdish ethnic origin have been adressed. The government is now ready and willing to go further on that process if the PKK fulfills its promise to lay down its arms.
The events of the last few years showed that they have tried to take advantage of the situation in Syria and Iraq, not only shifting their demands to a more maximalist end, but also in trying to disrupt freedoms, safety and wellbeing of our citizens..
They thought by fighting DEASH terrorists they would have a “carte blanche” from the international community to continue their own terrorism towards Turkey. Obviously this is not acceptable to the civilized World.
A terrorist group cannot be legitimized just because it fights against another terrorist group. One should take into account that other terrorist groups such as Al Qaida / Al Nusra are also in confrontation with DEASH.
PKK never gave up its terrorist attacks despite what it called a ceasefire.
It has to be understood that Turkey will continue to fight against terrorist organizations as she has been doing so far. This is about safeguarding our citizens, protecting their rights and freedoms.
Q: Are there preconditions to resume the process?
If the PKK terror organization lays down and withdraws its arms out of the country, resumption of the “process” is possible.
Q: What are your expectations from other countries?
Turkey is determined to fight all terrorist organizations with equal determination. Turkey expects the members of the international community to display the same principled stance against the threat of terrorism and not discriminate among terrorist organizations.
We thus expect Allies, Partners and Friends to continue to display their support and solidarity with Turkey clearly and publicly.
We also expect that the opportunistic and misinformation campaign of the PKK terrorist organization which aims to distort the purpose of the operations carried out against PKK targets not be given credit.
Q: Is Turkey a new member of the international coalition against DEASH?
Turkey had become a member of the Anti-DAESH Coalition right after its establishment and contributed to it in various ways.
In fact, Turkey’s active efforts in stemming the flow of FTFs, led her to co-chair the FTF Working Group of the Coalition together with the Netherlands.
When Turkey begun hitting DEASH targets through aerial operations, the United States officially asked Turkey to stop its independent strikes against DEASH/ISIL targets in Syria as to ensure closer coordination between the Turkish army and coalition members.
Further, Turkey allowed use of İncirlik airbase for US air operations.
On August 28-29, Turkish jets commenced operations targeting DEASH elements in Syria within the framework of the Global Coalition to Counter DEASH.
While the Turkish air force planes were striking the DEASH targets, PKK’s senior figures claimed to state that Turkey is supporting DEASH.
Turkey’s contribution to the Anti-DEASH Coalition is not limited to the operations that it has initiated. Since autumn of 2014, Turkey has supported the fight against DEASH by providing logistical and training support to the forces of KRG.
Turkey also provides training programs and other types of support to KRG security forces.
These contributions constitute a manifestation of our determination to fight the scourge of terrorism and all terrorist organizations.
Q: DEASH’s attacks in Turkey?
We were right in our concerns as revealed by the attack by 3 foreign fighters in Niğde killing our 2 security personnel and a citizen.
Q: Turkey’s efforts against Foreign Terrorist Fighters?
We would like to see foreign terrorist fighters to be stopped at their source and enhanced international cooperation for timely information exchange.
Yet, the most fundamental solution to the FTF threat is undoubtedly addressing the root causes of terrorist threat stemming Syria and Iraq.
Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis we have informed and warned our international partners regarding the growing threat of radical groups in Syria. Back in 2011 we initiated our list of no entry for those who were suspected to travel to join these groups. We asked our partners to share exact and timely information to stop them. In 2011 we had 280 names in the list, in 2013 this number was 2.066, and only after the UNSC resolution 2178 we began to have real cooperation from other countries. Today we have 19.799 names in our list. We were and are still concerned that these people pose a real risk first and foremost to our security on their way to and from the conflict areas.
When we saw that our partners were either not willing or not able to stop potential Foreign Terrorist Fighters from travelling, we took additional measures. The risk assessment units established at our airports and transport hubs deny entry and deport them when detected. Since 2011 we deported 2.134 persons. Only during the first 9 months of 2015, we have deported 1.054. This is a process adding to our burden. We expect all source countries to take measures. Unfortunately we still see that those measures are not fully in place.
Q: Turkish citizens in DEASH?
Despite the geographical proximity of Turkey to the conflict regions, the number of Turkish citizens in DEASH are estimated around 1.000. In proportion to the population and particularly Muslim population, the ratio of this number is much less than many EU members and definitely less than most MENA countries.
Needless to remind that the FTFs who join the terrorist groups in the conflict zones, come from all around the world, from more than 100 countries according to UN reports.
We have counter radicalization programs carried out through relevant organizations such as Diyanet (Presidency of Religious Affairs), the Turkish National Police and Ministry of Education etc. Our authorities show every effort to stop these people committing crimes in Turkey. Yet, as in the case of DHKP/C or the PKK there are unfortunate incidents that we may fail to prevent. However this was also the case in Brussels, Copenhagen, Paris or the USA. This is a universal struggle and we are a part of it.
Since the beginning of 2015, the number of persons arrested or detained for suspect of having ties with terrorist groups in Syria reached to 700. We are also conducting effective operations against those who are facilitating recruitment or terrorism finance. Yet these networks are trans-border reaching up to Europe and overseas. We need more international cooperation in this regard. Everyone should remember that Turkey is the last stop and there are a number of countries that these networkers and FTFs transit before coming to our door.