Turks unaware of security black holes getting bigger

Turks unaware of security black holes getting bigger

Barçın Yinanç - barcin.yinanc@hdn.com.tr ISTANBUL
Turks unaware of security black holes getting bigger

‘The biggest threat facing Turkey in the short run is the increasing number of cells that are in touch with terrorist organizations. It is a very similar example akin to that which France experienced,’ says Mete Yarar (R).

The biggest threat facing Turkey in the near future is the increase in the number of cells that are in touch with terrorist organizations a security analyst has warned. Turkey is surrounded with black holes in security that are increasingly growing and not only is the country being adequately warned of this problem, the state is not taking the necessary measures to face the challenges, Mete Yarar, a former member of the Turkish special forces told Hürriyet Daily News.

What does the last bombing in Somalia tell us?

Since the end of the bipolar world order in the 1990’s, there is a chaos that creates black holes; in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. There is no structure to remedy this situation. Instead of interstate wars, there are internal wars. The collapse of states leads to the emergence of terrorist organizations that acquire statehood. This is the problem the world is facing. In the past, a few hundreds joined terrorist organizations, now the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIL] has 60,000 armed men. The black hole that emerged in Iraq has begun to devour everything in its vicinity. It then happened with the Arab Spring with Tunisia, Libya and Syria. All of this led to new black holes that have begun getting bigger by including the belts around it.

The Charlie Hebdo killings in Paris are a breaking point to better understand the situation. Terrorism is no longer limited to Afghanistan or Libya; what’s more, the identities of the terrorists have changed.

Can you elaborate on your last point.

Terrorist organizations in the Middle East recruited from the region. For the first time, people living in democratic countries in the West have started joining these terrorist organizations, which no longer operate on a limited scale.

What you are suggesting is that small black holes are getting bigger to create nearly one big black hole?

We are really facing massive chaos. We need a new definition for the concept of terrorism in the world. A terrorist organization does not have planes or tanks. We have organizations that behave like a state. The world is still trying to define this chaos. Some 6,000 people were said to be dead during the U.S.’s bombing ISIL. But 10,000 join ISIL in one month.

Does that mean thousands cross Syria from Turkey?

It was reported by the press that the head of Turkish intelligence said 100,000 people were prevented from passing to Syria from Turkey. But actually the main corridor is not Turkey; it is Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq.

How is Turkey faring with this chaos?

I do not think the country is being properly informed about the threat. It has been five years since former President Abdullah Gül said a new Afghanistan is being formed at our border. But I still don’t think Turkey understands the black hole getting bigger well.

Turkey did not project the consequences of the Arab spring well. At the beginning, Turkey predicted Bashar al-Assad would collapse in a couple of months. Turkey did not succeed in risk management. Right now, what Turkey is doing is crisis management.

Would you say it is successful crisis management?

Turkey is saving the day in the midst of chaos. It’s like you are in a fire and are trying to save whatever you can from that fire. It is my conviction that Turkey could have avoided coming to this point.

Do you think Turkey contributed to the deterioration of the situation in Syria?

Turkey could have stopped the war by using soft power. Had it used soft power, the war would not have come to this stage. But we cannot say the war was intensified because of Turkey.

What’s the most recent picture on Syria; Turkey seems to diverge seriously on whether there will be a solution with or without al-Assad.

With or without al-Assad, it is no longer possible to see a unified Syria. I think it will have a model based on three or four states. Is Turkey prepared to have these states as its neighbor on its border ruled by radical elements? In addition, we undermine the sociological dimension of the current problems at our borders. Remember how Kobane’s siege cost the lives of people in Turkey.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu confessed the government is concerned by the threat Turkish fighters will create upon their return from Syria.

When you go to a mountain camp, you are still a sort of a mountaineer on your return. There is such a situation for those that get in touch with terrorist organizations. You just don’t learn how to use a gun or a bomb. An organic link is formed; you learn how to provide the weapons, how and from where to get your instructions. This network is critical. The biggest threat facing Turkey in the short run is the increasing number of cells that are in touch with terrorist organizations. It is a very similar example like that of what France experienced. Radicalism does not remain limited in a country; it inflames other countries as well. Being Muslim will not protect Turkey from radicalism. If some are thinking like that, they are making a big mistake.

Çavuşoğlu talked about that threat; but do you imply that the necessary measures are not being taken to deal with that threat?

We are not in the anti-ISIL coalition; we provide humanitarian assistance. When we look at many other issues, I think Turkey needs to decide clearly on where to stand. Governments could have certain Islamic sensitivities; but the security of our people is important, too. We still do not know the perpetrators of the bombing in Sultanahmet [Jan.6 suicide bomb attack by a Russian citizen of Chechen origin]. No one claimed responsibility and this is what the security circles fear the most.

There is an impression that Turkey might be turning a blind eye to ISIL because it is fighting the Kurds. Perhaps it suits Turkey’s interest to have a challenging force against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party [PKK].

I don’t think that’s the case because Turkey will not benefit from the result of that fight.

Do you see the light at the end of the tunnel in Syria?

I do but as they say, I don’t know whether it is the light of an exit or the light of a train coming toward us. 

How do you think this whole security landscape affects the solution process in regards to the Kurdish problem?

I don’t believe the solution process only depends on Turkey. The interlocutor is the Kurdistan Communities Union [KCK], which does not see the problem as being limited to Turkey. For the KCK, the problem encompasses Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey. The KCK sad if Kobane falls, this will affect the solution process. The KCK is a regional entity, so the process will be affected with all of the turmoil in the region.  If Kobane falls, you cannot say ‘I am not responsible for the attack on Kobane why should I pay the consequences.’ So the process is no longer dependent on the Kurds and Turks within Turkey who want to solve the question. What needs to be done in these times is to be patient. These types of times are very open to provocations. We have a Turkish saying: ‘A situation where the trace of the horse becomes mixed with the traces of the dog.’ But in this case, there is so much dust that we don’t even see a trace.



Born in 1967 in the Black Sea province of Samsun, Mete Yarar is a former member of the Turkish Armed Forces. The left the army in 2004 after 20 years of service. His last posting as a member of the special forces was in Iraq.

He established his own risk management company after leaving the army and has since been providing consulting services to several national and international companies that work in the region, mainly Iraq and Central Asia, as well as Syria before the war. Since 2009 he has been focusing on energy issues and recently completed a master’s degree on energy. He is also a frequent commentator on Turkish television and is the producer and presenter of a radio program. His first book in fiction is due out next month.