By Hans Mathias Moeller
We recently posted a blog with physical security predictions for the upcoming G20 2015 Summit, which is being held November 15-16 in Turkey. Most of that assessment was based on the outcome of the November 1 Parliamentary election following the June 7 election where the pro-Kurdish political party, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), gained 13.1 percent of the vote from the ruling party at the time, the Justice and Development Party (AKP).
It’s been one week since the election, and the outcome was that the AKP regained a majority in the Turkish Parliament. Though the HDP lost some of the votes they had initially gained, the political party was able to keep more than 10 percent of the vote, meaning they continue to have a small representation in the Turkish Parliament.
G20 2015 Security Update: Political Violence
Cyveillance analysts predicted an outbreak of political violence in Turkey’s post-election environment if the HDP was unable to maintain its political representation in the Turkish Parliament, resulting in a possible loss of support and representation for the HDP. While the HDP was able to maintain representation in Parliament, our prediction was accurate, and there were at least four instances of politically-motivated violence following the election, most of which were in the Eastern Anatolia region. It remains to be seen whether the violence will escalate and spread to other regions of Turkey. If it does, it could impact security in the Turkish province of Antalya, where the G20 2015 Leaders’ Summit is being held.
Our analysts also anticipated that a Kurdish terrorist group (as designated by the U.S. State Department) that supports the HDP would end its unilateral ceasefire shortly after the November election if the outcome was not in the HDP’s favor. The ceasefire was viewed as a tactical move by the group leading up to the election to gain support for the HDP and minimize the crackdowns on the Kurdish community and the HDP during the pre-election period. As predicted, on November 5, the organization announced an end to their ceasefire. The result will likely be a deteriorating security situation in Turkey.
Significant Political Violence Incidents in the Post-Election Environment
- On November 2, violence broke out in the southeastern town of Nusaybin. One person died and 25 more were injured.
- On November 2, clashes between Turkish police and activists occurred in the Diyarbakir, following an announcement of the election results.
- On November 2, violent clashes erupted outside the HDP headquarters in Ankara, with riot police using tear gas and water cannons to break up the crowd.
- On November 4, post-election violence continued when two soldiers and one civilian were killed in the town of Silvan in the Diyarbakir Province, where authorities had ordered a 24-hour curfew. Blasts and gunfire were also heard in the Turkish town of Hakkari’s city center, where clashes occurred between security forces and the PKK’s youth wing – the Patriotic Revolutionist Youth Movement.
- On November 9, one person was killed and nine were injured in clashes between Kurdish militants and authorities in the southeastern provinces of Mardin and Diyarbakir. The unrest reportedly erupted in response to the AKP’s election victory.
G20 2015 Security Update: Social Unrest
Cyveillance analysts predicted that social unrest, specifically protests and demonstrations against the Summit would not necessarily be confined to Antalya where the Summit is being held. If Turkish authorities ban protests in the city of Antalya, which has happened at other Summits, it could increase the chances of activists organizing protests in other Turkish cities and venues. This could include the business districts of Istanbul (Levent and Maslak) and the diplomatic district of Ankara (Gaziosmanpaşa, Çankaya), where activists could target multinational corporations and foreign embassies.
Last week, the Overseas Advisory Council (OSAC) published a Security Message notifying that several hundred protesters were planning a demonstration against the Summit outside the U.S. Embassy in Ankara on November 5. The demonstration did occur, and while it was reportedly directed at President Obama for visiting the Summit, it was not specifically against the event itself. Additional social unrest in Ankara and Istanbul in the coming week cannot be ruled out.
Additionally, on November 8, the Antalya Governorate announced a protest ban from November 9-18 in the city of Antalya. Any form of indoor and outdoor meetings, gatherings, demonstrations, rallies, and sit-ins, as well as press releases, leaflets, and banners is prohibited.
G20 2015 Security Update: Terrorism
Cyveillance analysts assessed that a terrorist network based in Syria could launch retaliatory attacks inside Turkey in the coming weeks and months, particularly if the Turkish government launched unilateral strikes against the Syrian-based terrorist network. In the week after the November election, Turkish authorities arrested at least 20 militants associated with the Syrian- based network in the Antalya province; however, there were no indications that the militants were planning attacks against the Summit. The Turkish government also announced plans to launch a winter campaign against the network.
Based on additional proactive measures being taken against the Syrian terrorist network in the post-election environment, there is potential for an increased risk of retaliatory terrorist attacks inside Turkey. The Syrian-based network has a presence inside Turkey, the capability to launch an attack, and a history of conducting large-scale attacks (evident in its October 10 attack against a pro-Kurdish rally in Ankara).
The probability of an attack against the G20 2015 meeting in Antalya is still considered low due to extensive defensive security measures in place. However, a target shift, either to a different time or location cannot be ruled out. The Syrian based network and its franchise groups have a history of favoring indiscriminate attacks against civilians and softer targets. Therefore, indiscriminate attacks against tourist destinations in southern Turkey and public venues in Ankara and Istanbul are within the scope of the Syrian network.
Contact us for more information on deep-dive assessments performed by our Special Investigation Unit, or if you would like to request a copy of the G20 Leaders’ Summit 2015: Assessment of the Physical Threat Environment white paper.