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IBRU: Centre for Borders Research

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Senior Turkish official calls for “global response” to porous Turkey-Syria border

(27 February 2015)

Cemalettin Hasimi, advisor to Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, has called for a “global response” and increased intelligence sharing to intercept foreigners travelling to Syria allied with Islamic State. Increased intelligence sharing would expand Turkey’s watchlist of suspected foreign fighters, Hasimi explained, noting that, “"The only way to prevent their entrance is to know their name, to have a list, so that we can take necessary measures.”

Hasimi’s comments occur as Turkey has increased security measures along its Syrian border, which has become a major transit point for foreign fighters as well as smuggled oil and military supplies. Turkey has dug a 60-mile long trench in the Kilis region, and installed concrete walls along border areas in other regions. In addition, Turkey has established new risk analysis units to collaborate with European intelligence agencies and track suspected fighters on its watchlist, which has grown from 5,000 to 10,000 names in less than a year.

However, Turkey’s 500-mile border with Syria will be difficult to secure, as it divides populations with family and tribal ties. Complicating matters is Turkey’s previous efforts to relax border enforcement in the same region. Between 2011 and 2014, the border enforcement along the Syrian border was reduced in order to allow passage for fighters opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “That policy has ended now—but it’s very hard to go back to a nonporous border because you have already allowed all these smuggling networks to be established.”


'Global Response' To Secure Turkey-Syria Border, 22 February 2015, by Tom Rayner for Sky News,

Porous Syria-Turkey Border Poses Challenge in Fight Against Islamic State, 19 February 2015, by Yaroslav Trofimov for the Wall Street Journal,