Iran and Turkey agree to increase military cooperation

Turkish military Chief of Staff Hulusi Akar and his Iranian counterpart Gen. Mohammed Baqeri review the guard of honor during a welcoming ceremony in Ankara. (Reuters)
Updated 18 August 2017

Iran and Turkey agree to increase military cooperation

ANKARA: Following a series of talks in Ankara this week between Iranian military officers and Turkish civilian and military leaders, Turkey and Iran have agreed to strengthen their military cooperation.
This will include sharing counter-terrorism intelligence, conducting operational cooperation and the exchange of cadets between the two armies.
In the first ever visit to Turkey by the head of Iran’s army since 1979, Iranian Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Mohammed Baqeri met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, military Chief of Staff Hulusi Akar and Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli.
The visit will be followed soon by the visit of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Turkish officials announced.
Iran and Turkey, having a significant Kurdish population within their borders, currently cooperate on regional concerns and sensitivities, especially regarding the Kurdish independence referendum of Northern Iraq scheduled for Sept. 25. Both countries have fought Kurdish separatist groups for many years — Iran fighting the PJAK and Turkey the PKK.
Both countries want a power broker role in war-torn Syria — both worried about the possible repercussions of the continued conflict and how it could affect regional stability.
Although on the opposite sides of the Syrian conflict, Ankara and Tehran cooperate on peace talks and have helped the evacuation of civilians from Aleppo, while also sharing concerns over the rise of radical fighters in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib.
Along with Russia, they have tried to gather the Syrian regime and opposition forces in Astana, the Kazakhstan capital, to negotiate a political transition in the country.
Turkey is currently building a 90-mile wall along its border with Iran to prevent Kurdish militants from entering.
The timing of the visit is telling with the region going through dramatic changes in terms of security, requiring coordination between regional actors.
Prof. Mehmet Seyfettin Erol, head of the Ankara Center for Crisis and Policy Studies (ANKASAM), said the decision taken by Turkey and Iran to share intelligence demonstrated the magnitude of the common threat that both states face.
“Intelligence sharing also comprehends an important message concerning the depth and dimension of conciliatory relations in the future,” Erol told Arab News.
“The intelligence sharing activity carried out with numerous countries and now initiated with Iran showcase the ... shift in Ankara’s foreign policy.”
Erol noted that both states are bidding to eliminate the threat by consuming the struggles between them and pursuing Syria and Iraq-focused policies.
“In this regard, it is important to preserve the status quo in the region and to obstruct non-regional actors from their quest of establishing a ‘Greater Kurdistan’. Hence Syria functions as the beginning of an experiment,” he added.
According to Erol, this experience may later be expanded and institutionalized between the two countries as it has been done before through Saadabat and Baghdad Pacts in the past.


Let militants return home, French anti-terror magistrate urges

In this file photo taken on July 22, 2019 French antiterrorist judge David De Pas poses during a photo session in Paris. (AFP)
Updated 21 October 2019

Let militants return home, French anti-terror magistrate urges

  • Turkey’s offensive against Kurdish militia in northeast Syria has sparked fears that some of the 12,000 militants, including thousands of foreigners, being held in Syrian Kurdish prisons could escape

PARIS: The refusal of the French government to take back Daesh militants from Syria could fuel a new militant recruitment drive in France, threatening public safety, a leading anti-terrorism investigator has told AFP.
David De Pas, coordinator of France’s 12 anti-terrorism examining magistrates, said it would be “better to know that these people are in the care of the judiciary” in France “than let them roam free.”
Turkey’s offensive against Kurdish militia in northeast Syria has sparked fears that some of the 12,000 militants, including thousands of foreigners, being held in Syrian Kurdish prisons could escape.
Officials in Paris say 60 to 70 French fighters are among those held, with around 200 adults, including militants’ wives, being held in total, along with some 300 children.

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France has refused to allow the adults return home, saying they must face local justice. So far Paris has only taken back a handful of children, mostly orphans.

France has refused to allow the adults return home, saying they must face local justice. So far Paris has only taken back a handful of children, mostly orphans.
This week, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian traveled to Iraq to try convince Baghdad to take in and try French militants being held in northern Syria. On Friday, in a rare interview, De Pas argued that instability in the region and the “porous nature” of the Syrian Kurdish prison camps risked triggering “uncontrolled migration of jihadists to Europe, with the risk of attacks by very ideological people.”
The Turkish offensive, which has detracted the Kurds’ attention from fighting Daesh, could also facilitate the “re-emergence of battle-hardened, determined terrorist groups.”