Tag Archives: Turkey

Are we ready for the new waves of Terrorism?

New regional waves of terrorism are targeting different countries in the region, mostly Turkey. After the call of the leader of ISIS ‘Al Baghdadi’ to attack Turkey, it is obvious that Turkey is becoming the chief target of the terrorist organization. The night club operation in Turkey represents new challenges in encountering terrorism; the ability of the terrorist to eliminate the security personnel even the police;  carry-out the operation, and escape the scene in a new style shows that this operation can be viewed as an “intelligence operation”. This recent methodology annotates an escalation in the level of sophistication of ISIS’s “traditional operations” but it also shows that the organization is penetrating the security system and social textile of Turkey; as it would be impossible for any terrorist to execute such an operation, escape the scene and hide within the same country without back-up and support from local protagonists.

Nonetheless, it is important to notice that the regression of ISIS’s organization in Syria and Iraq, along with the recent shifts following the battle of Aleppo causes not just Turkey, but also Jordan to face series of challenges and dangers.

First, the relocation of fighters from one front to other fronts intensifies the possibilities of individual operations and increases the organization’s desire to create new hot spots.

Second, Jordan’s most critical challenge is the rout of the battles in Syria after Aleppo, in which its compass might point towards the Syrian Southern border, placing increasing pressure on the Jordanian border and raising the danger ratio of repeated attacks. In this case, repeated attempts that aim at striking the national security and creating an atmosphere of internal disputes will take place; the organization’s subjects seek to exploit and employ it to the best of their interests.

Third, one of the prominent dangers of the next phase is characterized by the continuous regeneration of fighter cells and the activation of dormant cells that have been operating mutely during the past years, and have been able to build networks of allies in the areas in which they are located.

Fourth, the arrival of these cells to the “individual working” phase; they will be isolated due to the fall of the central order of the organization. These cells might be seeking to apply individual actions that depend on the surprise element, and usually aim at causing the most damage with minimal costs. This means uncomplicated operations such as; shooting at a security officer, or striking a crowded area of civilians using primitive techniques.

The increasing pressure on the fighters in Syria, and the Turkish borders being closed after Erdogan’s political shift might push the fighters into targeting new areas and finding exit routes from which they can use in order to escape this state of pressure.

Thus, the challenges Jordan is facing are enormous. The alteration from having to deal with direct threats means that Jordan has moved into the open and direct confrontation stage with these organizations. That is why Jordan has to change the framework and the system in which it deals with these organizations. The graphic organizer of recent assaults that targeted Jordan indicates obvious increase in the configuration of the operations, their method and objectives but still the target, so far, is the security system not the civilians. This means that they should be dealt with in a strictly firm manner and in a method that foresees the coming confrontations in order to avoid any further dangerous and aggressive future threats. 

Dr. Amer Al Sabaileh

amersabaileh@yahoo.com

Turkey the game changer

More than six years on the crisis in Syria, both the political and military solutions appear to be unattainable. However, the military situation on the ground is apparently not going completely against the Syrian Army and its Russian ally. Strategicall…

Suddenly, Palestine back at the top of Arab’s agenda

After many years of distractions and other priorities, Palestinian issues are back on the agenda of some Arab countries. There have been recent confirmations from official source that some Arab countries have been meeting with the Palestinian President in order to press the importance of a united Fatah movement.  These reports raise curious questions as to the source and reasons behind the sudden interest from these Arab countries to ensure the unity of Fatah.

During the so-called Arab Spring years, there have been two allied groups competing for influence in order to implement their version of a resolution in Palestine. On one side were Qatar, Hamas and Turkey, while the other saw a coalition of Jordan, Egypt, UAE and Saudi Arabia. The settlement of the Palestinian conflict and its impact on the nature of the Arab peace initiative was the key point of conflict between these two groupings, and it seems that conflict is once again flaring up.

Recently, many observers have reported activity between Jordan, Egypt and Saudi with declared and undeclared visits to coordinate positions between the block and the Palestinian authority. This recent diplomatic activism suggests the issue is reaching a decisive point, with two current matters to address. 

The first is the unity of the Fatah movement by ending conflict amongst its members, and the second is to postpone the municipality elections that President Abbas has called for against the wishes of most of his supporters, including those in the Fatah movement.

The delay in these elections is important to the Jordan-Egypt-Saudi block as it is expected that Hamas would have massive wins in the West Bank, which would add to its current power base in Gaza. Meanwhile, a potential Turkey-Israel agreement, which is reportedly being negotiated, could include development and rebuilding of Gaza.

The new Palestinian reality includes Hamas’ strong presence in the West Bank, and after the university elections where Hamas won overwhelmingly, the municipality elections would be the second stage toward the domination of West Bank by Hamas. This also foreshadows the expected positioning from Turkey as an integral player in Palestine pushing out other power brokers in the region, and potentially leading to negative impacts for them from any coming settlement.

The activation of the Quartet on the Middle East and the pressure put on the Palestinian President Abbas can be interpreted as Arab attempts to contain the current Palestinian situation, with increased Turkish influence in Palestine. This is not limited to cooperation with Hamas nor just to Gaza. The West Bank and the custody of holy places is a live issue, especially with the increasingly limited power and influence of Arab countries in Palestine.

As the situation develops, the likelihood of a deeper conflict over the Palestinian issue. Common ground between the two blocks is almost impossible so the conflict can only increase from here and could shift and change along the way.

Dr Amer Al Sabaileh

amersabaileh@yahoo.com

Divisions from psychology to geography

Over the last century, turbulence has been the status quo in the Middle East. This continuous crisis has seen various trends come and go, and the last five years have further highlighted sectarian divisions, both ethnic and religious, within and across borders.

Many believe that sectarian differences also represent psychological divisions amongst people. Given the arbitrary origins of the current borders, perhaps a regional stabilization strategy could involve aligning these psychological divisions with geographical ones.

Some of the sectarian divisions can be traced back to the Iranian revolution in 1979, which was closely followed by the eruption of Persian-Arab conflict with the almost decade long Iran-Iraq war. This period also saw a rise in Wahhabism as Khomeini doctrine fostered division between Shias and Sunnis, Arabs and Persians.

Since then, sectarianism has taken on more complex dimensions, while the Shia-Sunni and Persian-Arab tensions still exist, in some situations those differences have been put aside to further other agendas.

After the fall of Iraq in 2003, a new wave of sectarianism swept through the region. There is a school of thought that Iraq will struggle to maintain its national identity due to the divisions and sectarianism amongst its population. Syria faces many of the same challenges, as does Yemen and likely any other country in the region where internal conflict boils over.

The trend is towards a weakening of national identity while regional groups, ethnicities and sects are the modern component parts of identity in the Middle East. Ethnicity and religious identity being the strongest identifier, weakening social structures and fragmenting countries and nations in the region as we know them.

Much like with the establishment of the current borders, secularism was the only remedy for these trends, however we have seen a systematic anti-secular approach following the II World War. We have seen a marriage of Theocracy and Autocracy spreading, and having a distinctly negative impact on the cultural identity on countries across the region.

In addition, historically, international intervention has been focused on secular countries such as Egypt, Iraq and Syria. The recent coup in Turkey appears to be the leverage President Erdogan needed to shift the last secular system in the region towards a more “theocratic regime” as he eliminates his opposition and weakens the secular military power base, which acted as the counter balance to his Islamic preferences.

These developments are likely to encourage some of Turkey’s minority communities to push for independence. Groups such as the Kurds and the Alawites, who also live in Syria and Iraq already want their own country, and their further marginalization in all of the countries they currently live in has only spurred them on.

The failure to build secular national identities is one of the major reasons that we are seeing such fragmentation, in combination with the growing power and authority the region cedes to religion.

Mark Sykes, the British Foreign Secretary and architect of the modern borders of the region, 100 years ago, noted that the people of the region have a very strong ethnic pride, and building national identifies would be a challenge.

The destination of path we are currently on, with rising ethnic and sectarian division, is likely to be a shift from psychological and cultural division to geographical ones.

Dr. Amer Al Sabaileh