Turkey Is a Victim, Not a Vector, of Terrorism
My country has suffered from the most violent forms of terrorism for decades. We have been a leader of efforts to fight this scourge, both at home and abroad.Photo: Bulent Kilic/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
Your Aug. 11 editorial “An Aussie Terror Warning” paints a distorted picture of Turkey’s fight against terrorism by suggesting that Turkey acts as a gateway for terrorists trying to attack the West.
My country has suffered from the most violent forms of terrorism for decades. Contrary to your suggestion, we have been a leader of efforts to fight this scourge, both at home and abroad. Turkey was the first country in the world to launch a successful ground offensive against Daesh in Syria, helping to clear an area that has since become a haven of peace for 70,000 Syrians fleeing violence. We have opened our facilities and airspace to the U.S. and other partners in the fight against terrorism.
We have shut down 12 Daesh-linked organizations in Turkey. We have moved aggressively to disrupt the flow of foreign fighters into Syria, banning more than 50,000 foreigners from entering Turkey and deporting or arresting another 5,000 linked to terrorist activity. We launched a comprehensive social-media surveillance effort and closed over 2,500 social-media accounts linked to terrorist activities, knowing that terror networks recruit members online. And we have begun construction of a 911-kilometer wall designed to protect the Syrian border, cutting off Daesh finance and member-acquisition routes.
Turkey has also been a leader in welcoming refugees who escaped the cruelty of Daesh and the broader war in Syria. We shelter the largest number of refugees in the world, with over three million Syrians finding refuge in our country. We provide free health care to all registered Syrians in the country, and we grant them access to education. Our humanitarian budget exceeds $25 billion—the second largest in the world.
So it is not appropriate to single Turkey out as a gateway for terrorist attacks. We live on the front lines of terrorism, and we fight it every day. On the specific incident cited in your editorial, we reached out immediately to our Australian counterparts and have been collaborating closely with them ever since.
Turkey and the U.S. are NATO allies. Turkey stood by the U.S. following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and we have worked together ever since to stop terrorists and take down the networks that support them. As President Trump noted earlier this year standing alongside President Recep Tayyip Erdogan : “Today we face a new enemy in the fight against terrorism, and again we seek to face this threat together.”
The common threat we face today calls for increased cooperation, not baseless allegations thrown at trusted and long-standing allies.
Ambassador of Turkey to the U.S.