Experts Respond: Unraveling the Daesh Assault on Santa Maria Church

On Jan. 28, an armed attack occurred at the Santa Maria Church in Istanbul’s Sarıyer district, resulting in the loss of one life. The Counterterrorism and Intelligence Branch of the Istanbul Police Department arrested two foreign suspected members of the Daesh terrorist organization. Some 34 individuals, also detained in connection with the attack, were brought before a magistrate for potential arrest. The Interior Ministry reported 1,046 operations against Daesh from June 1, 2023, to present. Why did Daesh – dormant since 2017 – once again target Türkiye? Is the assault on Santa Maria Church an isolated incident, or does it signify the manifestation of the organization's broader regional plans? How can we decipher the attack given the timing, method, target, and profile of the assailants? What is the status of counterterrorism operations against Daesh? Prominent experts have provided their assessments for our readers.

Experts Respond Unraveling the Daesh Assault on Santa Maria Church
Artificial Intelligence in Counterterrorism Navigating the Intersection of Security Ethics

Artificial Intelligence in Counterterrorism Navigating the Intersection of Security, Ethics and Privacy

How can Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies be used effectively for counterterrorism efforts? How does the quality of data affect the effectiveness of AI in counterterrorism? What are the ethical and privacy considerations in using AI for counterterrorism?


Recent months have seen a flurry of diplomatic activity between Türkiye and Iraq, culminating in a significant agreement in Baghdad last week. This accord signals a mutual eagerness to close a chapter of discord and paves the way for a comprehensive consensus on a range of issues, including a unified stance against the PKK. With President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s impending visit to Baghdad, and potentially Irbil, in April, this strategic alignment not only promises a sustainable framework for bilateral ties but also portends regional ramifications.

Türkiye and Iraq issued a joint statement following last week’s security summit in Baghdad, marking the beginning of a new chapter in bilateral relations.

As the municipal election campaign gained momentum with the unveiling of mayoral candidates and the fine-tuning of their campaigns, two major developments took place in foreign policy: the Turkish Parliament’s approval of Sweden’s NATO admission on Tuesday and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s visit to the Turkish capital, where Türkiye and Iran signed 10 agreements.

Traditionally, Türkiye-Iran relations have been defined by a mix of competition and cooperation. Sharing a long land border and possessing a multidimensional historical depth, numerous dynamics simultaneously affect the relationship between the two countries.

Türkiye's anti-terrorism consensus cannot be overshadowed by polemics

Parliament returned from recess on Tuesday to debate the PKK’s terror attacks. The PKK carried out suicide attacks against the Turkish forces in northern Iraq on Dec. 22 and Jan. 12, claiming 21 lives. That development fueled a multifaceted debate in Türkiye.

Türkiye's anti-terrorism consensus cannot be overshadowed by polemics
What is agenda of campaigns as Turkish local elections near

What is agenda of campaigns as Turkish local elections near?

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced the Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) mayoral candidates in 26 provinces, including Istanbul, on Sunday.


The new year got off to an extremely busy start in Türkiye.

As uncertainty, competition and conflict gain momentum within the international system, Türkiye engages in diplomacy to play a more defining role in global and regional crises.

Twelve Turkish soldiers lost their lives earlier this week in an attack by the terrorist organization PKK in northern Iraq. I offer my condolences to their families and the nation.

Ankara and Budapest have developed a close partnership in many fields since the Council’s inaugural meeting in 2013. Indeed, they elevated their bilateral relations to the level of advanced strategic partnership.

For the past ten days, President Biden has appeared indifferent to the gravity of the humanitarian crisis and outrage resulting from Israel's ongoing attacks. Israel's actions in Gaza, which leave civilians with no option but death, are considered war crimes. Biden's apparent indifference to this reality doesn't contribute to a solution but rather exacerbates the problem. While claiming to support Israel and acknowledge the importance of Gaza's civilians, attributing the responsibility for the hospital attack to the "other side" is a failure in Biden's policy.

Merely skimming over the world news, one quickly notices Türkiye’s growing geopolitical significance. Let me elaborate by highlighting four issues, excluding countless others – including migration, armed drones, the Altay tank and Türkiye’s rapprochement with Egypt. Türkiye will host the third international meeting toward the Ukraine peace summit. Ankara pledged to target all PKK terror groups and its Syrian presence YPG assets in Iraq and Syria. Azerbaijan refused to participate in EU-brokered talks with Armenia in Spain, citing Türkiye’s exclusion. Last but not least, the Abu Dhabi-based investment company ADQ is in talks with Türkiye regarding constructing a railroad over the Bosphorus as part of a trade corridor linking Europe with the Middle East and Asia. Obviously, Türkiye’s direct involvement in peace diplomacy, counterterrorism, the South Caucasus region’s stability and energy/logistics corridors does not just relate to its geographical location.

The 44-day war between Azerbaijan and Armenia in 2020, which concluded with Baku’s victory, triggered a significant shift in the post-Cold War geopolitical landscape of the Caucasus region. Azerbaijan’s successful effort to partially end the Armenian occupation of Karabakh had two major implications.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited Nakhchivan, Azerbaijan, on Monday with an official delegation, which included me, to attend groundbreaking and opening ceremonies for a natural gas pipeline and a military complex. By the time of the delegation’s departure, the media reported that eight senior Armenian military officers had been arrested on the charge of plotting the assassination of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.

For a considerable period, Türkiye and Syria have engaged in discussions aimed at reshaping their bilateral relationship into a new framework. Most recently, a diplomatic meeting took place in Moscow in April involving foreign ministers from both countries, along with Russia and Iran. However, since April, the trajectory of these talks has become increasingly uncertain. This uncertainty has been shaped by the complex nature of the Syrian conflict, the divergent priorities of the external actors, the strategically ambiguous behavior of the Bashar Assad regime and the lack of capacity of the state of Syria. Other dynamics exist that make the talks between Türkiye and Syria more difficult to reach the real objectives of the negotiations process.

Delving into the core of this study, we leverage data derived from two distinguished repositories—the Terrorism Analysis Platform and Türkiye’s Enemy Killed in Action Dataset—to compose an authoritative report. Our focus lies on the profound examination of the intricate effects of UAV deployment in counterterrorism endeavors, particularly pertaining to the PKK’s organizational structure, command hierarchy, recruitment of skilled human resources, access to essential material resources, and the dynamic tactical metamorphosis undergone by the terrorist organization. Through this rigorous analysis, we aim to shed illuminating light on the multifaceted role of UAVs and their profound impact on the protracted battle against terrorism.

It cannot be said that the efforts of Turkish foreign policy to open up space for itself through pragmatic steps in line with regional and global balances are adequately understood. Analyzes that depict Türkiye as "breaking away" from the Western alliance are based on the misconception that Türkiye cannot rationally determine its national interests and act accordingly. When every relationship President Erdogan develops beyond the Transatlantic alliance is presented as either an alternative to the West or a distancing from the West, unfounded prejudices about Türkiye's foreign policy emerge. As analyses of Türkiye are reduced to variations of the perception of a country caught between the West and the East, constantly experiencing ebb and flow, problematic perspectives on Turkish foreign policy become widespread. Unless it is based on the assumption that Türkiye has legitimate national interests and priorities, these analyses lose their ability to provide a profound explanation.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan started a new debate ahead of this week’s NATO Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania. Commenting on Sweden’s bid to join the Alliance, he argued that the relevant countries should “clear Türkiye’s path to European Union (EU) membership.” That statement aligned perfectly well with the readout of Erdoğan’s most recent phone call with U.S. President Joe Biden.