Counter-Terrorism: Turkey Tries Kinder And Gentler


November 15,2008: Turkey is increasing its counter-terrorism efforts by giving the Interior Ministry more authority. The Minister of the Interior will be promoted to a Vice Prime Minister, making him senior to all the other ministers. The head of the National Police will now control the Coast Guard as well. Within the Interior Ministry, two new agencies will be created (the High Council on Interior Security and the General Secretary of Interior Security) to create new strategies, collect and analyze data and develop new counter-terror techniques.

It's all something like the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, created after September 11, 2001. But the Turkish situation is somewhat different, as they have two sources of terrorism; Kurdish separatists and Islamic radicals. Another difference is that the battle is largely taking place in Turkey itself, with terrorists taking refuge in neighboring countries (especially Iraq.) Thus the Turks have the police and military working closely together. By giving the Interior Minister a promotion, it is hoped that it will be easier to get the military and intelligence services on board with whatever strategies the Interior Ministry comes up with.

One of the first new strategies is to open offices in Iraq, Iran, Syria and Europe to work with local counter-terrorism organizations, to identify and halt terrorist operations aimed at Turkey. This is mainly aimed at expatriate Kurds, especially those in Iraq and Europe, who use these foreign countries as safe havens for fund raising and recruiting.

The Interior Ministry also wants to insure that the military does not undertake any strategies or tactics that will anger the civilian population. Sometimes the army, and even the police, can be rough with Kurdish civilians, and civilians in general in eastern Turkey. This just antagonizes the civilians, and makes them less likely to provide information about the Kurdish rebels, or Islamic terrorists.

While the Islamic terrorism is relatively recent, the Kurdish rebels have been out there for several decades (or centuries, if you count the long term Kurdish resistance efforts), and more Turks are willing to try new solutions.



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