Sunday, February 5, 2017

In a major anti-ISIS crackdown, Turkey detains 440 people.

Turkish police breaking down a door during an anti-ISIS mission in Adiyaman. AP.

A major anti-ISIS crackdown in Turkey has resulted in at least 440 arrests throughout the country. AP. Raids occurred in Istanbul, Ankara and Gaziantep. In the capitol 60 were arrested, most of them foreigners. In the northern city of Izmir, police arrested 9 who were suspected of planning a terror attack. Captured in the raid were ISIS propaganda materials and several who were arrested were involved in recruitment. Turkey has had multiple terror attacks since the failed coup last year, including the deadly New Years Eve attack that killed 39 people. 

My Comment:
It sounds like Turkey is finally starting to crackdown on ISIS. In the past they have treated ISIS with kid gloves, largely because they were buying oil from them. But after ISIS launched major terror attacks in Turkey, an insurgency has begun. Though ISIS controls no known territory in Turkey, they have an extensive network of people in the country. That network was allowed to thrive for a time until they set their sights on Turkey itself. 

That network is made up of several different departments. First is the obviously strong and powerful terror arm. ISIS has pulled off some of their most successful and sophisticated attacks in Turkey and have many people in the country willing to kill for them. Second, they have a large recruitment effort going on in Turkey and until very recently they sent most of their recruits through the Turkish pipeline to Syria. That route has been mostly closed now, but I don't doubt that they are still smuggling arms and troops through the border with Syria and perhaps Iraq as well. 

Finally, ISIS has quite a few people involved in propaganda. Turkey has a large population of vulnerable people that could be radicalized. With the Turkish government cracking down hard on national media, it's very possible that these people will go to ISIS to get information from. There are also a lot of supporters and hangers on that would be in this group as well.

This crackdown probably disrupted quite a bit of the 2nd and 3rd groups. I don't think it had much of an impact on the 1st though. I do realize that nine arrests were made in Izmir and it is very possible that these men were planning a major attack. But I don't think many of the rest were the front line terrorist people. 

Why? Because none of them fought back, at least as far as I can tell. You would think that if Turkey was hitting the front line fighters hard there would have been at least a few casualties on one side or the other. I am guessing guns and explosives are pretty easy to get in a country as unstable as Turkey and you would think that the people planning to commit terror attacks would have them and would be willing to use them.The fact that there wasn't makes me suspect that it was the recruitment and propaganda people that got caught, along with people that only have links to ISIS and aren't full members. 

Still, disrupting any ISIS operations in Turkey is critical. Our middle eastern NATO ally is quite unstable enough as it is right now. Not only are the recovering from a majorly disruptive coup, repercussions of which are still being felt today, they are also involved in a de facto civil war with the Kurds. The last thing they need is a horde of 7th century Jihadists blowing themselves up and shooting up nightclubs and airports in their country. 

So far Turkey is handling it's various civil problems fairly well. Though wounded, I don't think that there is a serious short term chance of the countries government falling. And to be fair to them, after a long period of letting ISIS off the leash to hurt Bashar al-Assad, they have clamped down hard, going so far as to invade Syria to cut off the border area. They have survived the Kurdish problem and even came through the coup ok.

But will that last long term? I am not so sure. Though I don't think there is going to be another coup anytime soon, there is always the possibility that the people of Turkey will get sick of all the violence and repression and will rise up. If that happens then everyone is screwed, except ISIS. Nobody gains from the violence in Turkey except for ISIS, who exploit disorder and instability the way bacteria exploit a cut on your skin. Though ISIS is primarily a terror organization in Turkey, it is very possible that they could eventually take territory if the situation in the country gets much worse. If the war with the Kurds spirals out of control or their is widespread civil unrest then things could get ugly. 

Hopefully, none of that will happen. ISIS should have been seriously disrupted due to these raids and the government will be able to proclaim that the threat isn't quite as bad as it used to be. Though I am no fan of the Turkish government I do sincerely hope that the win in their war against ISIS and that these raids have damaged, if not destroyed, ISIS in Turkey. 

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