Turkish tourist areas at risk
The Turkish government has begun a massive coordinated anti ISIS campaign that included bombing ISIS targets inside Syria, arresting hundreds across Turkey, especially in Istanbul, and blocking pro-ISIS websites on the internet.
The Turkish political and military leadership struck back against ISIS in retaliation for the suicide bomb attack in the southern Turkish city of Suruc earlier this week which killed 31 Turkish citizens from the Kurdish ethnic minority.
In a move designed to send a clear message to ISIS, the Turkish government have also allowed the US led coalition to use the Incirlik air base to target ISIS inside Syria and Iraq.
The killing of a Turkish soldier on the Turkey/Syria border by ISIS fighters yesterday seems to have been the final straw. The swiftness of the Turkish authorities move to raid multiple ISIS related locations and businesses in Istanbul as well as across Turkey thereby arresting hundreds of ISIS suspects, exposes the Turkish authorities extensive knowledge of ISIS network and operation on its soil.
Previously it was believed that there was a Turkish reluctance to move against ISIS as Turkey was concerned about the possible consequences to its tourism sector and any potential impact on its economy if ISIS carried out attacks in a similar way to the ISIS inspired attacks in Tunisia.
With ISIS staging attacks against Turkish civilians and military personnel, the Turkish state was left with no other option. An AKP Party official told Aimen Dean from 5 Dimension Consultants, “the Turkish president Erdogan received assurances from President Obama in his recent visit to the US that the Americans would provide sufficient assistance to Turkey to cope with ISIS retaliatory attacks against Turkey.”
Many are questioning ISIS logic in attacking a country that has proven to be exceptionally useful to ISIS projects in Syria and Iraq, given that ISIS smuggling and trade routes as well as its business network are primarily based in/going through Turkey.
Dean went on to say this was explained in a report we produced in June, it said, “However as it is the case with Jihadist organisations in general and the ISIS in particular many analysts and observers fall into the trap of trying to understand such organisations based on secular, rational, conventional and logical decision making process. They ignore the religious, cultural and conflict factors influencing the mindset and thought process of such groups.”
He continued saying, “it is our assessment that the clash between ISIS and Turkey can only be understood through the prism of ISIS’s purely aggressive streak towards “non-believers” and which includes the Turks. This aggressive ISIS streak is based on an uncompromising religious dogma which cares nothing for consequences or even the most basic principles of pragmatism.”
When asked what the next steps for ISIS are likely to be Dean said, “I believe it is inevitable that the ISIS will begin a revenge campaign against the Turkish state, and this will become even more inevitable once Turkey extends aid to less radical Jihadist groups, such as Ahrar al-Sham to fight against ISIS. ISIS will most likely target the tourism sector and the security forces within Turkey in the near future, especially now with the tourism season reaching its peak.”
Speaking with Vasco Amador from Global Risk Awareness he said “We have seen many of the ISIS social media accounts go unusually quiet. This is something that usually happens either just before or just after a major incident. However we are still assessing the impact of the Turkish action against known ISIS web sites.”
The UK FCO says there is a high threat from terrorism in Turkey and there are active terrorist groups throughout the country. These include domestic religious extremist and ideological groups, and international groups involved in the conflict in Syria. Attacks could be indiscriminate and could affect places visited by foreigners.
According to The Telegraph holiday guide, “Turkey attracts some 35 million visitors a year. With over 1,700 miles of Aegean and almost 1,000 miles of Mediterranean coastline, Turkey is a major draw for visitors looking for a beach-based holiday.” Any threats to this industry would likely have a serious impact on the Turkish economy.
5 Dimension Consultants a leading Geopolitical risk assessment company based in Dubai have provided the detail in this report.