Australia, Turkey share same vision in counter-terrorism

ALI ÜNAL @ali_unal
Published 25.06.2015 00:00
Updated 25.06.2015 20:06

In the beginning of this week Australian officials confirmed the death of two Australian citizens, who were Islamic State or Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants and traveled to Iraq by way of Syria in 2013. This incident revealed once again that the ISIS terrorist organization has become a global threat. According to the latest estimate from the United States National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), more than 20,000 individuals from over 90 countries, including at least 3,400 people from Western states have joined ISIS. Australia is not immune to this problem. "We believe that there are about 160 Australians fighting in Syria and Iraq on the side of [ISIS]. We believed that 30 have been killed and we canceled 120 passports," Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop told Daily Sabah on the sidelines of the MIKTA (Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, Turkey and Australia) outreach event in Canberra, Australia on Wednesday.In total, Turkey borders Syria and Iraq for than 1,400 kilometers, and due to this the country is facing problems of being a transit country for prospective foreign terrorist fighters wanting to join radical groups. Turkish officials constantly say that it is difficult to intercept potential foreign fighters if they are not flagged by their source countries. They also claim that Turkey has deported 1,200 militants and put more than 12,000 on a no-entry list. Turkey's efforts to prevent foreign fighters for joining ISIS was praised by the U.S. State Department's annual report on terrorism published last week. In 2014, the report said that Turkey increased cooperation with source countries to develop an extensive no-entry list of known or suspected terrorists and introduced tougher traveler screening procedures, making it more difficult for foreign terrorist fighters to cross its borders. However, the report also drew attention to the international transport hubs in Turkey, and its long border with Syria and Iraq remained the "main transit route" for foreign terrorist fighters. Therefore, strong determination and international cooperation in this fight is essential and Australia believes the same. "Australia is determined to prevent inflow of foreign fighters and finance to this terrorist organization. We are working in very close cooperation with the countries and Turkey is definitely one of them," Bishop said.

She also said that they are concerned about domestic and regional terrorist threats and therefore are working domestically to stop Australians from being radicalized and going to take part in the conflict.

In order to eradicate terrorism in the region, Turkey is calling for a broader strategy to reach beyond the struggle with ISIS and to include efforts to bring stability to Iraq and resolve the Syrian civil war. Bishop said that Australia's understanding of the problem is quite close to Turkey's. "Our interest in the Middle East is to support the Iraqi government to build the capacity of their security forces so they can get back the territory that's been claimed and protect their citizens," she said.

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