A deputy from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) asked Parliament earlier this year why the Turkish government has failed to finalize efforts to reinforce over 200 outposts across Turkey against terrorist attacks. The outposts, mostly located in high and rocky mountains in the eastern and southeastern parts of the country, were once built as part of Turkey’s efforts to curb smuggling in the region but have been neglected. Dozens of Turkish soldiers have been killed in attacks waged by members of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) at the outposts.
The government vowed to reinforce outposts in the country’s eastern and southeastern regions after several bloody terrorist attacks in the past few years, but the reinforcements have not yet been completed.
Minister Bayraktar responded to the question recently and said the state faces major challenges when working to reinforce outposts. Primarily, land mines are major obstacle to taking construction vehicles and crew to the areas where the outposts are situated. Tough weather conditions do not allow work in the area for more than four months during the year. Laborers are reluctant to work on reinforcing the outposts for fear they may be targeted by the terrorist PKK in attacks. The PKK often set construction vehicles on fire at sites where efforts are under way to reinforce military outposts and kidnap laborers to discourage them from working there. In addition, some outposts do not have road access, which creates problems for vehicles and workers trying to reach the areas. Last but not least, there are problems related to the ownership status of outposts. The state does not hold ownership of all of the outposts and therefore faces procedural difficulties in carrying out work on the outposts.
Turkey decided to reinforce 206 outposts in 2008 in the wake of a bloody terrorist attack at the Aktütün outpost in Hakkari, which left 17 Turkish soldiers dead. The reinforcement efforts were assigned to the Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKİ), a prime ministerial agency that usually builds mass housing projects, schools and sports facilities. Bayraktar said 60 of those outposts have already been reinforced, and efforts are ongoing to complete the reinforcement of the remaining outposts.