After Al-Baghdadi, Turkey copes with Daesh threat

Daesh will mostly focus on conflict areas including Iraq, Syria, Libya and Afghanistan. (AFP)
Updated 29 October 2019

After Al-Baghdadi, Turkey copes with Daesh threat

  • Daesh would prefer easy, “soft” targets

ANAKARA: After Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi’s death, the terror group still poses a security threat to regional countries, including Turkey.

Turkey’s location on the transit route of foreign fighters on their way to join Daesh poses a serious security risk.

The compound where Al-Baghdadi was killed in a US operation was just a few miles from the Turkish border in a small village called Barisha.

Turkish counterterrorism police detained 20 foreign nationals in Ankara on Monday over suspicions of affiliation with Daesh, as the country fears possible revenge acts by the terror group after US President Donald Trump thanked Turkey for help in killing Al-Baghdadi.

The Daesh-linked suspects, allegedly from Syria, will be referred to the migration office for deportation.

At least 315 people have been killed so far in attacks claimed by Daesh in Turkey, where the terrorist group has targeted civilians, including Arab tourists, in suicide bombings and armed attacks. Some 1,338 others have been wounded in the attacks.

Many metropolitan municipalities, including Ankara — where Daesh carried out a bomb attack, claiming the lives of 107 people — heightened their security measures in public areas ahead of critical dates, such as Oct. 29 for Republic Day celebrations.

Nearly one-third of the 750 Daesh terrorists released by the YPG in Syria have surrendered to Turkey, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar announced on Monday.

For four years, Turkey conducted over 2,000 operations against Daesh and about 1,200 individuals were arrested and convicted over their connections to the terror group.

Michael Horowitz, a Middle East security analyst with the Le Beck consultancy, said Daesh will likely seek to carry out attacks to balance the death of its leader.

“The group did carry out such a wave of ‘revenge attacks’ following the collapse of its ‘caliphate’ in Iraq and Syria,” he told Arab News.

However, Horowitz added that the group will mostly focus on conflict areas including Iraq, Syria, Libya and Afghanistan.

Halid Abdurrahman, a researcher and analyst on the Middle East and North Africa, said that the elimination of Daesh leaders would motivate its fighters for new attacks.

“The fact that Al-Baghdadi was killed in a US operation where Turkey was involved may render Ankara a target and push security forces toward further operations,” he told Arab News.

According to Abdurrahman, Daesh would prefer easy, “soft” targets.

“The fact that Turkey is still present in Syria with its troops would make the country more accessible and a priority for revenge,” he added.

Oubai Shahbandar, a defense analyst, said that intelligence sharing played an important role in providing US special forces a full picture on Al-Baghdadi’s hideout.

“Covert cooperation between the US and regional allies helped make sure that the operation was a success. In particular, the capture of Ismael Al-Ethawi, a key aide and courier for Al-Baghdadi, by Turkish security forces earlier this year played an instrumental role in the operation’s success.

“Daesh terror attacks have afflicted all countries in the region. Continued intelligence sharing and cooperation against this common threat will continue to be crucial,” he added.


Palestinian impatience threatens Gaza cease-fire

Palestinian men prepare an object to be flown toward Israel as part of their protest, near the Israel-Gaza border east of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday. (AFP)
Updated 20 January 2020

Palestinian impatience threatens Gaza cease-fire

  • There is no official announcement from the Palestinian factions about renewed hostilities

GAZA CITY: The launch of incendiary balloons from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory could mark the resumption of hostilities after some Palestinians expressed frustration at the lack of results from the temporary agreement with Israel.

There was no official announcement from the Palestinian factions about renewed hostilities, and Talal Abu Zarifa, a member of the Committee for the Return March, described them as “individual actions.”
Egypt had brokered a short-term agreement between Hamas and Israel in October 2018 to ease Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip and provide concessions in exchange for easing demonstrations on the border.
These included increasing the fishing zone in the Gaza Sea, allowing an increase in exports of products from the Gaza Strip, and the import of some materials that Israel had banned.
Media reports spoke of additional talks recently in Cairo to reach a long-term agreement between Hamas and Israel, which had been unsuccessful.
Bassem Naim, a Hamas leader, said the discussions were about extending the duration of the arrangement for an additional six months, as the previous timetable ended in December.
“The talk about a long-term agreement is only media gossip. The talks were centered on extending the duration of the previous understandings. There is no progress in the Israeli implementation of what has been agreed upon so far,” Naim said.
He added “Israel always make elections as excuse to prolong the period of understandings without improving them.”
The October 2018 agreement talked of two phases. The first was to provide specific facilities for the Gaza Strip, and the second was to begin after the formation of the Israeli government over a long-term truce that would include a prisoner exchange deal.
Political science professor Mokhamar Abu Saada believes that the tension on the Gaza border is over the slow implementation of the agreement.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Egypt had brokered a short-term agreement between Hamas and Israel in October 2018 to ease Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip and provide concessions in exchange for easing demonstrations on the border.

• A Hamas leader said there is a tension in the relationship between Egypt and Hamas as a result of Haniyeh’s visit to Tehran.

“We have noticed in the previous Israeli election period that there was an escalation as Hamas and factions tried to obtain more Israeli facilities. It was a way to pressure the Israeli government as it knew that the Israeli reaction would be limited in this period,” Abu Saada told Arab News.
“Netanyahu cannot at this stage reach a long-term agreement with Hamas because of the Israeli elections, because all he wants is to keep the Gaza Strip calm without tension, but he has no ability to offer much,” he added.
Press reports talk of a tension between Hamas and Egypt that led to the recent escalation in the Gaza Strip. Taher Al-Nounou, media adviser to Ismail Haniyeh, denied this.
He said in a press statement: “The head of Hamas attaches special importance to this firm and growing relationship (with Egypt), as Egypt has from its geographical position a central role in the path of the Palestinian issue.”
Egypt allowed Haniyeh to travel on a foreign tour at the end of last year for the first time since he became head of Hamas in 2017.
A Hamas leader who declined to be identified said that there is a tension in the relationship between Egypt and Hamas as a result of Haniyeh’s visit to Tehran to participate in the funeral of Qassem Soleimani.
“Hamas promised Egypt that Haniyeh would not visit Tehran but after the assassination of Soleimani there was a necessity to do so, which angered Egypt and increased tension,” he said.
Haniyeh’s presence at the funeral sparked a debate in Palestinian circles about Hamas’s position on Iran, and on Soleimani specifically.