Bombing of Istanbul. Importance of timing and context messages | opinions

Bombing of Istanbul. Importance of timing and context messages |  opinions
Bombing of Istanbul. Importance of timing and context messages |  opinions

Bombing of Istanbul. Importance of timing and context messages | opinions

After years of silence, Istanbul was rocked by a massive explosion last Sunday, which Turkish authorities said was the result of a bag of explosives placed by a woman on Istiklal Street in Istanbul, pointing her finger at the PKK.

anti-terrorism

The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) was founded in 1978 and began military action against Turkey in 1984 with the aim of secession and the establishment of a Kurdish state and is therefore classified by Ankara as a separatist terrorist organization. Over the course of 4 decades, this confrontation has cost Turkey more than 30,000 lives and estimated economic and financial losses at around 500 billion US dollars, in addition to being an act that opens the door to outside interference and threaten civil peace and the social fabric.

After years of trying with the PKK in the era of justice and development, the arbitration process collapsed in 2015 and the PKK resumed its operations against Turkey, influenced by developments in Syria and hoping that the dream of a state was near . In 2015-2016, Turkey faced a large number of bombings and terrorist operations, in addition to urban fighting in the Kurdish-majority areas of the south and south-east. After declaring “autonomous administrations” in it, before forcibly imposing collateral there.

Since then, Ankara has developed its tools and capabilities to fight terrorism, adopting the logic of preventive war and “drying out terrorism at its sources” in connection with the orientation of its foreign policy since 2016, i.e. after the failed coup clearly towards the introduction of hard power. Thus, Turkey conducted a number of successful operations inside Syria and Iraq, which on the one hand eliminated the idea of ​​a Kurdish state in Syria and on the other hand dealt painful blows to the PKK in its strongholds in Iraq.

As a result of all this, Turkey has been living in a state of security and tranquility since 2016, in the complete absence of bombings and terrorist operations, until the shock of the recent attack in Istanbul.

Turkish officials were keen to convey an implicit message of establishing security and stability in the country and controlling the situation after the attack. Therefore, the vice president attended the target street directly with a number of ministers, and Erdogan did not cancel or even postpone his trip to Indonesia to attend the G-20 summit.

Bomb attack on Istanbul

Whoever planned the Istanbul bombing carefully chose the place and time, targeting the busiest street in all of Turkey and one of Istanbul’s top tourist attractions, visited by hundreds of thousands of Turks and foreigners every day. Istiklal Street in Taksim district in the heart of Istanbul. He also chose the day off, Sunday, at rush hour, in the afternoon, so that the attack would be bloody and resonant.

Turkish authorities soon revealed the circumstances of the operation, which was carried out through a bag of explosives left on the street by a woman, before announcing the arrest of the woman and some members of the cell who carried out the attack. Turkey’s Interior Minister Suleiman Soylu said the woman received instructions from Ayn al-Arab/Kobani and entered Turkey from Afrin, two cities that have symbolism and significance for the PKK and its Syrian branches, and this suggests that Ankara’s estimates indicate its responsibility for the attack.

Therefore, Ankara did not care much about the Kurdish denial of his responsibility for the operation, apparently adding it to the framework of its attempt to avoid negative repercussions on him inside Turkey as well as in relation to Turkish reactions against him in both Syria and Iraq his precedents for rejecting some operations and other operations, was adopted by groups associated with him or rotating in his orbit, or even by fake groups when he didn’t want to directly claim the attacks.

It is not possible to be sure who is behind the attack before investigations are completed and an integrated Turkish official account is released, but the PKK remains the “usual suspect” in this type of operation, although the recent attack is very different from his usual attacks regarding the use of a bag of explosives against civilian targets in an open area of ​​security, leaving the door open to the possibility of other parties being involved.

Therefore, the logic of “interest” does not seem to be a framework for explaining the attack, but rather the logic of sending a “message” to Turkey in relation to the recent developments. And if the Kurdist is really behind the recent attack, there are developments that point to his motives. The ruling Justice and Development Party had taken two notable steps in the past few days towards the People’s Democratic Party, which is considered to be Kurdistan’s political front. A high-level delegation led by the Minister of Justice visited him to solicit his support for the constitutional amendments the ruling party intends to submit to Parliament on freedom of veiling and freedom of families Democratic Peoples, Salahuddin Demirtash, to leave prison for a brief visit to his father, who has suffered a heart attack.

Therefore, it seems that there are those who are reading the matter in terms of the relative openness of the judiciary and development to the democratic peoples to ensure the passage of the constitutional amendment, as well as wooing the voters of the democratic peoples and trying to do them to win for himself, so he wanted to blast that path and end it in its infancy.

People lay flowers to commemorate the victims of the explosion on Istiklal Street in Istanbul on November 14, 2022 (Getty Images)

future prospects

The other motive for the attack, if the PKK is behind it, is to try to influence the course of the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in Turkey in order to damage the state of security and stability and to pretend the government is there unable to prevent the attacks and to influence the popularity of the President and the ruling party, as well as to play on the nerve of possible electoral alliances and furthermore to damage the economy and tourism in the country. these are two important inputs for the upcoming elections.

Turkish officials were keen to convey an implicit message of establishing security and stability in the country and controlling the situation after the attack. Therefore, the vice president attended the target street directly with a number of ministers, and Erdogan did not cancel or even postpone his trip to Indonesia to attend the G-20 summit.

Their statements, led by Erdogan, centered on the idea that Turkey is no longer “the old Turkey that news is sent to in this way” and that this type of operation will not affect it or deviate from the path it has taken on its own itself, in addition to promising to hold those involved accountable and make them pay. These are statements directed both outwards and inwards, as there are those who associate Turkish foreign policy and its recent stations and achievements with attempts to pressure it with the stick of terrorism.

Given the results and the timeframe until the next elections, which is estimated at around 7 months, the recent attack is not expected to have a significant and/or direct impact on them, albeit a temporary relative impact on them today has the popularity of the president and the ruling party, positive or negative.

If this attack was a single and lonely act and the matter ended there, it is not expected to have important internal repercussions, particularly electorally. However, if these types of attacks are repeated, it could affect the popularity of the President and the ruling party in terms of the extent of their ability to detect and prevent attacks, and then disclose their circumstances and efforts to counter them, as well as popularity other parties as to their positions, statements and interactions with the events.

Expected Turkish responses range from quickly revealing all the circumstances surrounding the attack and presenting an integrated narrative on the Turkish street, to attacking any party or anyone associated with it, including leaders of the Kurdistan Workers’ Organization or the Protection Units, and bombings of their strongholds, warehouses and centers in Syria and Iraq.

The key question that needs to be answered, however, is whether the attack will push Turkey into a military operation in northern Syria, which it has repeatedly threatened and threatened, an option that has been on the table for months but awaits optimal conditions on the pitch and politically. Our assessment is that Turkey can resort to such a military operation in northern Syria if it is confirmed that the protection units in particular are involved in the attack, especially if there are preparations for other similar attacks inside Turkey, so that the operation is not only a response to the previous attack, but is also related to thwarting future attacks. What increases the possibilities of this process under this scenario is that the international parties will be more understanding of Ankara’s motives and less willing to obstruct or prevent the process, especially the United States of America.

Finally, the best response from the Turkish authorities may be to prevent further attacks in the future, as the timing and upcoming election date heighten concerns about future attacks when the main aim of the Istanbul bombing was to influence the elections in the first place .


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