Turkey, EU should jointly address ISIL terrorism

Turkey, EU should jointly address ISIL terrorism

Turkey and the EU agreed on March 18 to try to resolve the growing migration problem through a bold and ambitious plan - despite concerns over its legality. The methodology implemented for crafting the migration deal should now be repeated to address the challenge posed by all kinds of terrorism to the two parties. 

Both the irregular migration of millions of Syrians and the spread of jihadist terrorism to Europe are the by-products of the five-year-long Syrian war that requires a joint endeavor. It’s very obvious that Turkey and EU member countries are among the most vulnerable outside parties to the Syrian war, especially after the birth of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). 

In Europe, France and Belgium have been and still are frequent targets of ISIL - and Turkey joined them in July 2015, when a suicide bomber killed 32 activists in the Suruç district of Şanlıurfa province. 

In October, Paris was the theater of a bloody ISIL attack that killed 130 civilians, prompting the launch of a war against the jihadist organization by French President François Hollande. 

The whole of Europe has been on alert since then, amid warnings that ISIL was in the process of upgrading its capacity to repeat such well-orchestrated attacks in different corners of Europe. A Europol report issued in late January underlined that ISIL had developed a new combat-style capability to carry out “a campaign of large-scale terrorist attacks on the global stage, with a particular focus in Europe.”

The March 22 attack in Brussels came after a nearly two-week manhunt resulting in the capture by police of Salah Abdeslam, the Belgian-born French national who had been on the run since the Paris attacks. Although there was no official confirmation by late afternoon on March 22 when the Hürriyet Daily News went to print, there are strong indications that the attacks were perpetrated by ISIL members seeking revenge for Abdeslam’s arrest. 

On Turkey’s side, the situation is little different. ISIL has a strong network inside Turkey and is recruiting more in order to turn them into suicide bombers. ISIL in Turkey chooses non-Muslim foreign tourists as their main targets - obviously to attract greater attraction in the world and to show its Turkish sympathizers that it is “fighting in the name of Islam.” It killed 12 Germans in January and on March 19 it killed three Israelis and one Iranian national in Istanbul. 

One other common issue that Turkey and the EU have to deal with together is the PKK terrorism that has shown a drastic rise in its terrorist campaign inside Turkey. The PKK is very active in Europe, as it sees the continent as its main source of fundraising as well as the center for its propaganda activities.  

The PKK tent that was set up in the center of Brussels is the most recent example of how the group’s activities in Europe could damage ties and cooperation between Turkey and EU countries. 

Given the chaotic picture drawn by these bloody-handed terrorist groups, which do not hesitate to turn our civilization into bloodshed, it’s time for Turkey and the EU - as the immediate victims experiencing this tragedy first hand - to seek ways to join police and intelligence forces more closely in order to address this problem. Experience shows that no country can deal with such problems alone.