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Turkish government outsources urban security

To make up for the security gap in southeastern cities and Istanbul, Turkey has resurrected the historical institution of neighborhood street watchmen.
A riot police stands guard during a pro-Kurdish gathering in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir, Turkey, August 31, 2016. To match TURKEY-SECURITY/POLICE   REUTERS/Sertac Kayar - RTX2OUGW

The last time I saw a neighborhood watchman in Turkey was in 1988 when I was still in elementary school. By the early 1990s, as police forces in cities became stronger, the neighborhood guards who assisted police at night by patrolling on foot and blowing their whistles to assure people that "all is well" had all but become extinct.

But in early 2016, the Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement (YDG-H), an affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) — which Ankara considers a terrorist group — intensified ditch-and-barrier warfare in Turkey’s Kurdish-populated southeast. That and a sharp escalation in local and transnational violence by Salafi networks linked to the Islamic State (IS) compelled the state to pay more attention to the security of cities.

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