The New Year’s Eve shooting in Istanbul is additional grim testimony to the upsurge of terrorist attacks in Turkey over the past two years. Behind most of these attacks have been the PKK, a Kurdish separatist group, and Islamic State (IS), which has claimed responsibility for the most recent. Nimrod Goren explains Turkey’s vulnerability, and how its response might affect its relations with Israel:
The growing motivation of both [the PKK and IS] to carry out attacks against Turkey, alongside their easy access to the country in light of its long borders with Syria and Iraq, are the main reasons for the dramatic rise in terrorism in Turkey. Additionally, Turkey’s growing involvement in Syria, including in military operations that Turkey had avoided in the early years of the conflict, . . . increases the desire and the sense of urgency among its enemies to carry out attacks against it, on its territory.
The Turkish defense establishment has had difficulty responding to this phenomenon so far. The consequences of the attempted coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last July, including the arrests of military and police officers, are not making it any easier to deal with the problem. . . .
Turkey is dealing with these challenges at a time of ongoing tension with its traditional Western allies. While Turkey enjoys security cooperation with these countries by virtue of its NATO membership, it seems this is not enough.
Given Turkey’s reality, some expect that the reconciliation with Israel will help with the war on terrorism. Although the Israeli government is highlighting natural gas as the central factor in its decision to normalize relations with Turkey, Turkish interests [in reconciliation] were focused on renewed security cooperation with Israel.