Daesh exodus threatens Turkey and the region

Buses carrying Syrian rebel fighters and their families arrive in Flita, in this August 14, 2017 photo. (AFP)
Updated 16 September 2017
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Daesh exodus threatens Turkey and the region

ANKARA: The Guardian recently reported that several dozen former Daesh fighters had crossed into southern Turkey in recent weeks, and hundreds more are massed in Syria’s Idlib province waiting to cross.
Although Turkey’s border with Syria is closely monitored, the newspaper reported that they had crossed with the help of smugglers.
As Daesh loses territory in Syria and Iraq, the exodus of its militants and their families is expected to continue, posing serious challenges to Turkey and other countries in the region.
In April, Turkey announced the completion of the first phase of a wall that, when completed, is expected to cover the length of its border with Syria.
Ankara recently adopted an integrated security system for its borders with war-torn countries that includes watchtowers, radars, thermal cameras, unmanned drones and night-vision.
Metin Gurcan, a former military officer and security analyst at the Istanbul Policy Center, said Daesh’s territorial losses in Syria and Iraq have made Turkey an appealing gateway for its fleeing militants.
Last month, Australian police arrested two Daesh suspects who put a homemade bomb in their brother’s luggage, camouflaged as a meat mincer, when he was about to fly from Sydney with Etihad Airways.
Australian authorities said the high-grade explosives used to build the bomb, which was detected by airport security, had been sent to Australia by air cargo from Turkey.
“Ankara and the US-led anti-Daesh coalition can’t find an institutional mechanism to coordinate the fight against extremists because they currently lack a trust-based relationship,” Gurcan told Arab News.
This year, Turkish police have further increased efforts to eradicate suspected Daesh cells throughout the country.
According to official figures, Turkey has detained more than 5,000 suspected Daesh militants so far, and has deported some 3,290 foreign fighters from 95 countries.
“There’s an urgent need for effective intelligence-sharing between Turkey and the West to take precautions against possible terror attacks by these militants,” Gurcan said.
Sertac Canalp Korkmaz, a researcher on security studies at ORSAM, a think tank in Ankara, told Arab News: “When these foreign fighters cross Turkish territories, they’ll pose a serious threat to Turkey and to their countries of destination, because they’ve gained significant combat experience and will have a greater capacity for lethal attacks when they return from conflict zones.”
He said: “The security wall that’s being constructed has limited the availability of transit points that could be exploited by Daesh militants.”
A “proactive security policy” is needed to minimize potential threats, Korkmaz added.


Calm in Hodeidah as observers move in to monitor cease-fire

Sporadic clashes continued until about 3 a.m. on Tuesday, but residents said there was calm after that. (AFP)
Updated 19 December 2018
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Calm in Hodeidah as observers move in to monitor cease-fire

  • “Both parties said publicly they are abiding by the cease-fire,” a UN official said
  • The truce in Hodeidah officially began at midnight on Monday

JEDDAH: Truce monitoring observers will be deployed in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah on Wednesday as the first 24 hours of a UN-brokered cease-fire passed without incident.

The Redeployment Coordination Committee comprises members of the Yemeni government supported by the Saudi-led coalition, and Houthi militias backed by Iran, and is overseen by the UN. 

The head of the committee will report to the UN Security Council every week.

Deployment of the observers is the latest stage in a peace deal reached after talks last week in Sweden. Both sides in the conflict agreed to a cease-fire in Hodeidah and the withdrawal of their forces within 21 days.

“Both parties said publicly they are abiding by the cease-fire,” a UN official said on Tuesday.

Local authorities and police will run the city and its three port facilities under UN supervision, and the two sides are barred from bringing in reinforcements.

UN envoy Martin Griffith said the committee was expected to start its work swiftly “to translate the momentum built up in Sweden into achievements on the ground.”

The truce in Hodeidah officially began at midnight on Monday. Sporadic clashes continued until about 3 a.m. on Tuesday, but residents said there was calm after that. 

“We are hopeful that things will go back to the way they were and that there will be no aggression, no airstrikes and lasting security,” said one, Amani Mohammed.

Another resident, Mohammed Al-Saikel, said he was optimistic the cease-fire would pave the way for a broader truce. “We are hopeful about this cease-fire in Hodeidah and one for Yemen in general,” he said. “We will reach out in peace to whoever does the same.”

The UN Security Council is considering a draft resolution that asks Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to submit proposals by the end of the month on how to monitor the cease-fire.

The resolution, submitted by the UK, “calls on all parties to the conflict to take further steps to facilitate the unhindered flow of commercial and humanitarian supplies including food, fuel, medicine and other essential imports and humanitarian personnel into and across the country.”