A terrorist group cannot be legitimized because it is fighting against another terrorist group, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Tuesday, adding that there is no distinction between Daesh and PKK.
Davutoglu’s remarks came during a summit on terrorism and violent extremism on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meetings in New York. The summit was hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama.
“My country has been the victim of terrorism since early 1970s and knows only too well that terrorism is an ugly instrument of illegitimate politics,” he said.
“In the course of this year only, we have been targeted by three terrorist organizations, groups with different extremist ideologies,” he added, referring to religious extremist Daesh, ethnic separatist PKK and revolutionary leftist DHKP-C.
A recent rise in terrorist attacks on Turkey followed the July 20 Suruc massacre in Sanliurfa province. Turkey responded by launching airstrikes and other counter-terrorism operations against the groups.
Attacks by PKK, which is affiliated with Syria-based PYD, have martyred 130 Turkish security forces since July 7. The Syrian Kurdish group has provided support to the U.S.-led fight against Daesh.
“Terrorism has no religion, ethnicity or geography. Terrorist ideology exploiting religion is no different from terrorist exploiting race and ethnicity,” Davutoglu said. “There is no difference between Daesh and PKK and other terrorist organizations. … One terrorist fighting the other will not legitimize it.”
On the issue of foreign terrorist fighters, the Turkish premier called for national policies that avoid new dividing lines in societies.
“Some of these young men and women who have joined Daesh from the very heart of Europe or from countries with predominantly Muslim populations are neither poor nor uneducated nor had problems of integration,” he said.
“Yet, they end up in the ranks of this vicious group together with the fringe clusters of petty criminals or sociopaths.”
He said Turkey has recorded nearly 20,000 names from more than 100 countries in its “no entry list” since 2011.
“Thanks to the efforts of our risk analysis groups, more than 1,000 suspicious travelers were denied entry to Turkey at airports. As such, we prevented a considerable number of foreign fighters from reaching conflict zones. Only in 2015, we have deported more than 1,000 foreign nationals with suspicious presence in conflict zones in Syria and Iraq,” he said.
Calling for united action on the issue, Davutoglu warned that the international community could fail in eliminating the threat posed by foreign fighters without proper and timely sharing of intelligence and in the absence of measures to address the grievances of young people in host countries.
“On the other hand, let us not deceive ourselves. While the foreign fighters phenomena has made the threat more visible, it is just a part of the problem. There is no terrorist group, including Daesh, al Nusra [Front] or others that is solely formed by foreign fighters,” he said. “We cannot ignore the impact of unresolved conflicts, mismanaged crises, mass displacements and gaps of human security, intolerance, discrimination, racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia as factors that prepare the grounds for violent extremism.”
He singled out the Syrian conflict, now in its fifth year, as an example in which failure to address the root cause emanating from the regime of President Bashar al-Assad created a security vacuum which has been filled by Daesh and turned into a pool factor of foreign terrorists across the world.
The civil war in Syria has claimed more than 250,000 lives and made the country the world’s single-largest source of refugees and displaced people.
The UN refugee agency says 95 percent of the latest million Syrian refugees have gone to Turkey, which has become the world’s largest refugee-hosting country. It is home to nearly 2 million registered Syrian refugees.