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Turkey-Iran Wall

In Suguest 2021 Turkey ramped up efforts to protect its eastern border with Iran, as increasing numbers of refugees were expected from Afghanistan following the withdrawal of United States troops. Hundreds of Afghans have crossed into Turkey in recent weeks amid rising violence in Afghanistan, raising concerns of a fresh influx of refugees. Turkey said it was extending a wall 295km along the border to prevent illegal crossings.

The issue of immigration from Afghanistan to Turkey had never been as much a part of domestic politics in Turkey as it is now. The Turkish government is also taking steps to address the growing public concern about the fight against illegal irregular immigration. It is frequently stated by the government that the 295 km border between Turkey and Iran will be completely closed with a wall.

Turkey began building a wall along the Turkish-Iranian border as part of measures against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), outlawed in Turkey, the daily Hürriyet newspaper reported 12 May 2017. "The PKK has the Maku, Dambat, Navur, Kotr, Keneresh and Sehidan camps inside Iran near the Turkish border. There are some 800 to 1,000 PKK terrorists in those camps. They enter Turkey, carry out attacks and leave," it quoted a senior official as saying, adding that they "escape to those camps when security operations are conducted" in the Turkish eastern province of Agri and the Mount Tendürek region.

"As a precaution against this, we are going to build a wall along 70 kilometers of the border near Agri and [the eastern province of] Igdir, and we will close the rest of it with towers and iron fences. In addition, we are placing lights on the border," the source stated. The outlet reminded that Turkey previously built a wall along the Syrian border in order to prevent the PKK and the Islamic State (Daesh) from carrying out suicide attacks. Concrete blocks weighing seven tons that the Turks were preparing to plant along the border would be two meters in width, three meters in height, and 30 centimeters thick.

The Persian language daily newspaper Ettelaat reported that the Iranian Foreign Ministry has expressed its indignation. The outlet quoted its source in the ministry as saying that the Iranian government is aware of Turkey's plans, however it thinks that Ankara should officially notify Tehran of the planned measures at their joint border and get Iranian agreement.

Critics claim that international legislation binds any country to act in concord with its neighbor in the areas of joint borders. It should not only notify its neighbor of a certain activity at the border but obtain its agreement for it. In this particular case, according to international legislation, Turkey should have got the agreement of the Iranian authorities for the construction of a wall along the joint border with Iran. However it failed to do so.

Other sources claim that Turkey's decision to build a wall along its border with Iran was considered to benefit both sides in terms of security. Reports claim that there are a number of PKK camps, hosting approximately 1,000 terrorists, along the Iranian border. In the case of any military operations against the PKK in eastern Turkey, the terrorists easily cross the border and take shelter in those camps. In order to prevent such crossings, the plan to build the wall, similar to that on the Turkey-Syria border, was taken up. In May 2017, Iranian officials said they did not object Turkey’s construction of a wall along the two countries’ border, adding they only needed coordination in that regard according to the Press TV.

Turkey had completed more than half of a 144-kilometer-long wall along its border with Iran, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu confirmed. "I believe that once the construction is completed and the wall is integrated into our border systems, it will play a substantial role in stemming irregular migration, smuggling and the infiltration of terrorists," Soylu said during a visit to the area 08 January 2018. Around 70 kilometers of the structure was completed in just under eight months.

Soylu said the main reason behind building a wall along the border was the fight against terrorism. He added that issues like smuggling and irregular migration also necessitated that the structure was built. Welcoming the Iranian government's contributions to Turkey's efforts, Soylu said mutual steps were being taken to increase cooperation in the fight against terrorism and securing the borders which would yield good results for both sides.

The interior minister said Turkey will also ramp-up efforts to secure its borders with Georgia and Armenia. In relation to the issue, Soylu said those borders will be protected using other methods instead of walls.

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Page last modified: 13-09-2021 13:49:10 ZULU