A survey by Istanbul-based Kadir Has University shows that terrorism and the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) are the most pressing problems for Turkey, with the U.S. also topping the list of perceived threats to the country.
The results of "Research on Social and Political Trends in Turkey-2017" were released recently by the university's Center for Turkish Studies. It is a compilation of one-on-one interviews with 1,000 people from 26 cities.
Terrorism and combating FETÖ - blamed for the 2016 coup attempt - are the most important problems, the survey shows, surpassing economic problems. In a volatile region and neighboring war-torn Syria, Turkey has escalated counterterrorism operations in recent years, amid a spate of attacks by the PKK and Daesh over the past three years. FETÖ emerged as a considerable new threat in 2013 when it tried to seize power twice. However, it was not until after the 2016 coup bid that killed 249 people that the public realized it was a security risk to reckon with.
The survey also looked into the countries that the interviewees thought posed threats to Turkey. The United States took the unenviable first place slot from Israel in the list of countries viewed as a threat, with a 64.3 percent of interviewees seeing it as such. The survey does not delve into the reasons behind the changing sentiment, but Washington faced growing opposition last year after backing groups in Syria affiliated with the PKK. Israel, on the other hand, still draws the ire of the public for its treatment of Palestinians. Both countries faced nationwide protests last year after the U.S.'s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Azerbaijan held onto first place in the list of countries regarded as friends and allies of Turkey by interviewees. The survey also indicated a rise in the number of people who find the government's foreign policy successful, from 35.2 percent in 2016 to 45.9 percent last year.