(News Analysis) Turkey is burying the victims of recent terror attacks. The government blames the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, the experts say Islamic State (IS), who have been supported by Ankara for a long time, are to blame. Some observers do not exclude the possibility that the attacks were organized by the government itself in order to create anti-Kurdish sentiments in the country.
Two explosions blasted under the overpass next to a railway station in Ankara on 10 October. Many people died and nearly 200 people were injured. Victims appeared to be members of anti-military rally “Labour, Peace and Democracy”, organized by unions and leftist opposition parties, including the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party.
Local media have blamed the attack on opposition and local Kurds, as well as the fighters of Islamic State. The latter were probably included to justify the strengthening of Ankara’s military presence on the territories of warring Iraq and Syria.
However, for Turkey its military presence in these lands does not necessarily mean actually fighting Islamic State. It is more likely an attempt to solve Turkey’s own domestic problems, physically destroying the “Kurdish problem”, including through support of IS.
It is no secret that the Turkish government has turned its country into a resort for terrorists from the entire Eurasian region. The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan exists quite legally exists in Istanbul (it is known that IMU gets financial support from Turkey), Taliban representatives, and IS fighters. There was a scandal in Turkey this summer when photos of an IS fighter, vacationing on Turkish resorts Amasra and Bartın, appeared on Facebook. Earlier, this same fighter posed with bodies of beheaded Syrian soldiers and published videos, appealing to kill all “infidels”, especially Western people.
It has been known for quite some time that Turkey renders logistical and financial support to almost all opposition groups in Syria, like IS, including allowing the use of its territory for regrouping after military operations. Besides that, when IS controlled hundreds of kilometers of Turkish border, there was a mutual traffic of varied contraband, from oil products to weapons, and most importantly, living force, willing to actively assist in the building of the caliphate. The border seemed to be only juridical, but in fact quite transparent. Which points to working relationships between the terrorists and official Ankara representatives. This is probably why the Turkish government chooses to close its eyes to the radical ideology and brutal methods of this group.
The experts assume that Ankara’s main “political” goal in intergroup relationships in the Middle East is not only overthrowing Assad’s government (as claimed by US and EU, Turkey’s political allies), but rather controlling the growth of Kurdish military forces in the territories of Iraq and Syria.
The “Kurdish problem” is Ankara’s longstanding “headache”. Abdullah Öcalan, the leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party is serving a life sentence in Turkey. One of the offences he’s been convicted is military action against Turkey under the banner of Kurdistan’s independence. 16 years after Öcalan’s conviction, pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) won the election in several provinces in Turkey, posing some real competition for Erdogan’s ruling party. HDP puts forward the same slogans as Kurdistan Workers’ Party- autonomy with a perspective of independence.
But while within Turkey Kurds are trying to solve problems peacefully, outside of the country, especially in the Iraq territory, Kurdish military squads are gaining experience. These squads appear to be quite successful, as shown by their first confrontations with IS. It was the Kurdish squads who cleared the Turkish-Iraqi border from IS. This scared
Ankara a lot, so it was probably the reason why Turkish government entered the “anti-IS military coalition”, which is more of an excuse to start bombing the Kurds.
Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan admits that his country fears the Kurds’ intention to create their own state on some territories of Turkey, Iraq, and Syria and that the bombing of Kurdish positions by Turkey and NATO are a “game ahead of the curve”.
With this policy in the background, some observers talked about “Erdoğan’s trace” in the July terrorist attack in the town of Suruç, where Turkish and Kurdish socialists and communists died preparing to go to Kobanî, Syria, to assist the Kurdish opposition in their fight against IS.
It is not excluded that the new, bigger attack in Ankara, where the supporters of ending the conflict between the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party and the Turkish government died, could also be a government “order”. Almost straight after the explosions, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said that IS, Kurdistan Workers’ Party, and two leftist-extremist groups- the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party–Front and the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Turkey could be behind the attack.
While the anti-Kurdish sentiment grows inside the country and NATO forces strike positions of Kurdish oppositionists in Syria, Ankara hopes that it would be able to contain the looming Kurdish threat from outside through IS.
Meanwhile the intervention of Russian military forces in the Syrian conflict practically deprives Ankara of means to control the objectionable Kurdistan Workers’ Party.
This is probably why Turkey, following its “political sponsors”- the US- is strictly against Russian operations in the Middle East. Moreover, Turkey is even ready to renounce its economic interests it has in good relationships with Russia. After a couple of incidents of Russian planes crossing Turkish airspace, the Turkish President expressed an intention to refuse using natural gas from Russia. He started by reducing the capacity of the still building Russian gas pipeline Turkish Stream to 32 billion cubic meters.
In attempts to have its chestnuts pulled out of fire by someone else Ankara seemingly doesn’t think much about the consequences. The terrorist attacks in the past months might as well have been organized by the IS militants, who grew dissatisfied with decreased support from Turkey. In any case Ankara risks the lives of its own citizens in order to realize its political ambitions.