Analysis: Türkiye does lion's share of work in weakening terror group Daesh/ISIS - M5 Dergi
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Analysis: Türkiye does lion’s share of work in weakening terror group Daesh/ISIS

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Türkiye has been pivotal in combating Daesh/ISIS through military operations, counterterrorism measures, and global cooperation

In the battle against the terrorist organization Daesh/ISIS, Türkiye has played a crucial role through military operations, counterterrorism measures, and international collaboration. While Türkiye’s efforts have significantly weakened the terror group, ongoing challenges persist in preventing its resurgence. Understanding Türkiye’s contributions underscores the complexities of counterterrorism and the necessity of continued global cooperation.

Daesh/ISIS has carried out numerous terrorist attacks in Türkiye and around the world since its emergence in 2013.

Arising as a consequence of the civil wars in Iraq and Syria, the terror group was primarily active within these two countries in 2013 and 2014.

However, from 2015 onwards, the organization began to carry out terrorist attacks in Türkiye, Europe, and the US.

Within a short period, Daesh/ISIS spread its bloody attacks from Asia to Europe, and from the Middle East to Africa. While thousands of militants from various countries joined the organization, many attacks were thwarted in numerous countries.

Türkiye’s fight against Daesh/ISIS

While Daesh/ISIS began to decline globally and in Iraq since 2018, other terrorist structures declaring their allegiance to it and organizing in various countries started to gain strength. These elements, strengthening in Afghanistan and Africa, have become more noticeable in recent months. However, a very important point has been overlooked throughout this process: Türkiye’s fight against Daesh/ISIS.

Daesh/ISIS terrorist organization carried out a series of terrorist attacks in Türkiye between 2015 and 2017.

Daesh/ISIS bomb attacks in Sultanahmet and Taksim in Istanbul, the attacks at Ataturk Airport and the Reina nightclub, a bomb attack outside Ankara’s main train station, and attacks in Sanliurfa and Gaziantep are among most notorious of these.

As a result of the group’s terrorist attacks in Türkiye, the country launched an intense struggle against Daesh/ISIS both domestically and internationally.

Türkiye’s fight against Daesh/ISIS progressed primarily through three main fronts. The first occurred as a part of operations carried out by the Turkish Armed Forces in Iraq and Syria.

Operation Euphrates Shield, which began in August 24, 2016 in northern Syria, wiped out Daesh/ISIS from significant places like the cities of Jarabulus and al-Bab in northern Syria, marking one of the crucial steps leading to the group’s collapse.

Simultaneously, Türkiye contributed significantly to the fight against this terror group by establishing a military base in the city of Mosul, northern Iraq during the period when Daesh/ISIS was in control. The completion of Euphrates Shield in 2017 dealt such a significant blow to Daesh/ISIS that the group completely vanished from Syria within 18 months, having lost hundreds of militants.

The second front of Türkiye’s fight against Daesh/ISIS was the struggle against members of the group within Türkiye. Between 2014 and 2024, more than 20,000 individuals were detained for being affiliated with Daesh/ISIS.

More than half of these individuals were foreigners, and hundreds were arrested. While more than 40 terrorist attacks were prevented, hundreds of foreign nationals were deported to their countries due to their association with this terror group.

During this process, Türkiye captured more militants than all of Europe combined. The fourth so-called leader of the organization was neutralized by Türkiye in Syria. Additionally, dozens of key figures within the group, such as self-proclaimed governors, military commanders, and finance officials, were apprehended in Türkiye and got severe sentences following legal proceedings.

Information obtained from operations carried out during this process contributed to a better understanding of the threat posed by Daesh/ISIS. As a result, the group’s ability to carry out bloody attacks in Türkiye between 2015 and 2017 was thwarted.

The third front of Türkiye’s fight against Daesh/ISIS was international cooperation. Meetings between Türkiye and the UN and bilateral cooperation talks with other states have been held increasingly since 2015, contributing to the fight against the group.

Türkiye, particularly active in combating the financing of the Daesh/ISIS terrorist group, has taken significant steps to both dry up the group’s financial resources and prevent international fund transfers.

Current situation of Daesh/ISIS

Like other radical groups that exploit religion before it, Daesh/ISIS thrives on sources such as wars, conflicts, poverty, oppression, and discrimination, primarily in the Middle East.

Similar to these groups, Daesh/ISIS finds opportunities to strengthen itself in conditions like civil wars and occupations. Thus, the continuation of conflicts in countries such as Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, and Syria strengthens Daesh/ISIS and similar groups, while progress such as achieving stability, ending conflicts, and eliminating discrimination weakens it and its ability to recruit militants.

Following the conflict environment that emerged after the Arab Spring, the group strengthened but steadily weakened from 2018 onwards. However, starting last October, the massacres carried out by Israel in Palestine triggered a new dynamic in the Middle East. From a psycho-social perspective, the massacres of Palestinians and the failure to prevent them increased radicalization at the individual and group levels.

Daesh/ISIS and similar entities sought to exploit these radicalization processes in their favor, aiming for a new resurgence. Although these groups haven’t launched concrete attacks against Israel, they seek to recruit individuals who have become radicalized amid the growing dissatisfaction, both in the Mideast specifically and in many countries worldwide. As a result, the Daesh/ISIS terrorist group and its Khorasan branch (ISIS-K), began to step up their attempts at terrorist acts.

Another noteworthy aspect of Daesh/ISIS is its growing presence in Africa. Just a few years ago, Daesh/ISIS was only associated with the Boko Haram group in Nigeria, but today, the terror group has spread to many areas across the continent, from the west to the east.

Benefiting from the economic and political instability that has persisted for centuries as a result of colonialism, the group has been able to strengthen its foothold in African countries plagued by such challenges. The expansion of Daesh/ISIS in this region could potentially pave the way for its resurgence in the Middle East in the long term.

Although Daesh/ISIS has lost control over the territories it previously held in Iraq and Syria, there has been a significant increase in the group’s attacks, particularly in Syria.

The group has notably strengthened in the desert areas of eastern Syria, leading to a noteworthy rise in its attacks against the Syrian regime army and Iranian-backed militias.

Additionally, the release of prisoners from camps and prisons controlled by the PKK/PYD terrorist group in Syria has indicated Daesh/ISIS’s attempt to revive itself in northern Syria.

Nevertheless, the group has considerably weakened compared to previous years, with much credit owed to Türkiye for directly combating it.

Türkiye plays the most crucial role in fighting Daesh/ISIS, thanks to its growing knowledge in combating the group in areas such as organization, financing, and recruiting militants.

However, as long as civil wars, instability, and deep societal and political tensions persist in the Middle East, preventing the resurgence of Daesh/ISIS and similar groups will remain challenging. In this process, the key to combating Daesh/ISIS lies in establishing genuine and well-intentioned international cooperation. However, attempting to control one terrorist group with another, such as advancing the YPG terror group against Daesh/ISIS in Syria, will prove futile and lead to more significant problems in the long run.

Source: AA

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