Thursday, June 24, 2021
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Istanbul under terror shadow

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]n attacker believed to have been dressed in a Santa Claus costume opened fire at a crowded nightclub in Istanbul during New Year’s celebrations, killing at least 39 people and wounding close to 70 others. At least, 16 foreigners including two Indians were among 39 people killed. The attacker was armed with a long-barrelled weapon but no one knows who has carried out the attack. Unfortunately, the innocent people who were celebrating New Year were gunned down in most merciless manner.

Istanbul has been facing problems. Firstly, one needs to question, does history have an influence of the potential future problems of a city or a country?

In 2016, there were many terror attacks, which started from Ataturk Airport attack, on an average bombing and killings have occurred every month. Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport was targeted by a group of suspected Islamic State suicide bombers killing at least 38 people and wounding many others. The attack was linked to Turkey’s success against Kurdish rebels as well as steps Ankara took on towards mending strained ties with Israel and Russia. Turkey has suffered several bombings in recent months linked to Kurdish or Islamic State group militants.

Turkey occupies a unique spot in global geopolitics and straddles between the West and Asia. In the past, the nation has been widely criticised as being an ally of terrorism and terrorist activities because of its deliberate non-engagement/non-reaction towards fighters crossing into Syria from its borders. Turkey and Europe also have a disturbing relationship.

Though, Turkish authorities have made consistent efforts to crack down on Islamic State cells in the country, Stein argues that the Islamic State has well-established networks in Turkey.

While such homegrown terrorism networks are not a problem unique to Turkey, according to Stein, the nation woke up to the danger too late — the crackdown against Islamic State networks and propaganda started very late.

“Radicalisation will remain a threat to Turkey,” and drafting policies or signing air-base agreements with the West will not resolve it. This terror can be attributed to Turkey’s lackadaisical approach towards securing its borders and ignoring the large number of foreign fighters using Turkish territory to go in and out of Syria. According to Stein, the “well-established” networks in “funnel men and material to the Syrian civil war” and cities such as Gaziantep in Turkey’s western Anatolia region is where suicide vests and explosives used in the Islamic State attacks carried out in Turkey.

Turkey, since 2014 has been clear about wanting to fight the Islamic State, despite the turmoil that persists within the country’s fragile cultural and economic state. With great proximity to the Islamic State, from a geographical perspective, Turkey has greater chances of striking fatal blows to the Islamic State. It’s alignment with the West and it’s strong resolve to end Islamic State (owing to the three years of attacks it has had to endure because of the Islamic State) has primed Turkey as an obvious target.

This had multiple consequences in the coming years, after a series of attacks in 2015, the Ankara bombings cost the lives of 102 people.

The Islamic State had threatened Turkey in 2013 with dire consequences — a series of suicide attacks — if Turkey wouldn’t reopen its Syrian border crossings. Since then, attacks grew manifold and in 2014, 49 Turks were abducted by Islamic State — the Turkish government first paid the Islamic State for their return and later exchanged close to 180 militants. 2014 was seminal because Turkey officially joined forces with the US to fight against the IS — this was perhaps the first such vocal move by Turkey and a clear stand against the Islamic State. In the same year, according to Atwan, Turkey joined France and Britain to develop methods to identify returning fighters who might pose a risk at home. It is also after this that the Turkish authorities decided to arm the Kurdish population in combating the IS, despite its legacy of conflict and distrust with the Kurds.

The economic transformation of Istanbul has stimulated a growth of population in Turkey, and a huge increase of urbanization, as in any country during a development. If this kind of transformation develops too fast, the risk of failure increases from diverse aspects. Since Turkey isn’t experiencing an equally fast development as Mexico, and the standard of living is comparably higher in Istanbul than it was in Mexico City in the mid 20th century, the possibilities for Istanbul to solve the housing problems are substantially big.

Infrastructure, is of great importance for Istanbul but it is well functioning. If the substructure isn’t developed enough, Turkey will not be able to achieve further economic progress. The heavy traffic in Istanbul will make matters further worse. With rising population of a city, the demand of expanded subway system, roads and other ways for commuters to travel grows.
There is an urgent need of addressing many issues before everything goes drastic.

(Inputs from various sources)

Dr. Vaidehi Taman
Dr. Vaidehi is an Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and an Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. Since 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond the news (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which she caters for her sister-concern Kaizen-India Infosec Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

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