MERVE BÜŞRA ÖZTÜRK

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MERVE BÜŞRA ÖZTÜRK
August 08, 2012, Wednesday

Performance of military regarding Şemdinli attack

Hakkari’s Şemdinli district has kept its place on the national political agenda in recent days as it is an area in which the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) aimed to establish dominance. To this end, the PKK carried out attacks on several military outposts, killing six soldiers at the Geçimli outpost.

Acting very carefully, the security forces dealt a severe blow to the PKK. Although the PKK was successfully prevented from fulfilling its aim, columnists mainly believe that the poor condition of military outposts indicates that despite how crucial these days and this region are there are still a number of failures on the part of the military.

Erhan Başyurt of the Bugün daily wrote that the unsound condition of the Geçimli outpost and it having been built in an area open to attack bring questions as to why a project launched in 2008 to replace 206 military outposts in the Southeast with safer and stronger ones called “castle outposts” has yet to be completed. Başyurt says the Environment and Urban Planning Ministry has given five reasons why the project has not been completed: weather conditions in the region, problems acquiring land, problems with land titles, difficulty finding land suitable on which to build and acts of terrorism in the region. These all affect construction, as do the many mine fields encountered while working and the possibility that laborers could be abducted by terrorists, the ministry further stated. That said, Başyurt argues it is not possible to safely say that if the construction of the castle outposts had been completed then the killing of soldiers would have stopped. As a matter of fact, the Yeşiltaş outpost -- at which in a separate, earlier attack the PKK killed eight soldiers -- was not on the list of outposts scheduled for upgrade and reinforcement. So, unsound outposts are not the only point at which we fail in the fight against terrorism.

Also criticizing the weak state of outposts in the Southeast, saying they were all built a long time ago with the specific intention of combating smuggling rather than terrorism, another Bugün columnist, Adem Yavuz Arslan, added that it seems there has also been a great failure in intelligence gathering as the terrorists, equipped with heavy weapons and ammunition, entered Şemdinli undetected. If intelligence had been received but preventive operations had not been carried out, then that would be another failure, he wrote.

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