Writing for Al-Monitor, Taştekin said Turkish operations against ISIS inside Turkey and neighbouring Syria had failed to end criticism of its overall strategy, “which is still riddled with gaping holes.”
However, an increasing number of domestic raids against ISIS throughout June suggest a change in Ankara’s approach towards the group, which, Taştekin said, “has often been criticised as superficial, negligent and lenient”.
Last month, Turkey detained 307 ISIS suspects across the country. Another 25 were reportedly detained in early July. At the same time, Taştekin said, it was not clear how many were arrested, remain in detention, or have since been released. The majority of those detained are reportedly Iraqis and some Syrians, most of whom were apparently deported.
Before the latest round-up, many believed that Turkish security forces were merely monitoring ISIS members not deemed a threat, regardless of their past. But according to Taştekin, this is now beginning to change since the group’s growing activity in Iraq and Syria has reignited fears it could once again carry out attacks inside Turkey.
Taştekin cites Onur Güler, a lawyer with experience of cases involving ISIS suspects, as saying recent actions demonstrated Turkey’s “determination” to dismantle the group’s cells and could not be reduced to “fictional operations merely aiming to give the appearance of fighting against (ISIS)”.
Güler said Turkey may have deliberately waited to make its move “to reach wider rings through intelligence”. However, he added “there is a state of negligence” in the Turkish security forces.
Taştekin quotes an anonymous Turkish official as saying Turkish intelligence, police, and security forces lack coordination, with the latter hesitant to act against ISIS cells unless they receive tips or complaints. The Turkish government does not view ISIS as a primary threat to the country, the official said.
As yet, ISIS hasn’t retaliated over the crackdown. This could be down to two possible factors, Taştekin said. First, Turkey’s security operations may have been successful. Second, the group calculates that an attack would lead to further suppression and a loss of even more of its network in Turkey.