CrisisWatch N°155


01 July 2016

Suicide bomb and gun attack at Istanbul airport 29 June saw 44 people killed and some 240 injured; authorities believe the three attackers, one Russian (North Caucasus), one Kyrgyz and one Uzbek, were Islamic State (IS) militants. Violence continued in SE provinces with fighting increasingly moving from urban to rural areas; some 36 security forces, thirteen civilians and 33 PKK militants killed in clashes throughout month. Attacks include suicide car bomber 7 June targeting police vehicle in Vezneciler in central Istanbul, six police officers and six civilians killed, PKK offshoot Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK) 12 June claimed responsibility. PM Binali Yıldırım 21 June declared end to military operations in urban areas in SE, said govt would begin reconstruction campaign for damaged districts; operations in rural areas continuing at high rate. Constitutional court 3 June rejected violation appeals by pro-Kurdish Democratic People’s Party (HDP) and some opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) members over 20 May constitutional amendment stripping 152 MPs of their immunities from prosecution; President Erdoğan 7 June signed bill lifting MPs immunity, allowing for prosecution of 799 cases. Authorities 21 June arrested one human rights activist and two journalists on charges of “terror propaganda” amid intensified crackdown against opposition and pro-Kurdish journalists and activists. Clampdown against IS networks continued: Niğde Criminal Court 16 June gave three IS militants aggravated life sentences for March 2014 Ulukışla attack in Niğde province, first known IS attack on Turkish soil. Media 16 June reported govt will install new air defence system at Elbeyli border crossing, Kilis province, to prevent IS rocket attacks at border, in continuing efforts to seal off 70km border with Syria. Turkey and EU 2 June began technical talks on overcoming last obstacles to visa liberalisation for Turkish citizens; PM Yıldırım 14 June said amendments on anti-terrorism law – one of five outstanding criteria for visa-liberalisation deal – were out of question, citing terrorist threat. European Commission next day published second progress report on implementation of EU-Turkey deal emphasising five criteria still need to be fulfilled in order for visa liberalisation to take place. Erdoğan and Russian President Putin spoke for first time 29 June since Nov 2015 downing of Russian warplane by Turkish fighter jet.