Déjà vu all over again
It was a quiet night in Istanbul until the blast reverberated across the Bosphorus and we all realized it was not a thunderstorm approaching. The Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) offshoot and deeply dark arm, the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK), had literally hit the heart of Istanbul. From the Asian suburb of Ataşehir, to the posh neighborhood of Etiler, thousands felt as if the attack had happened next door. This indeed may be a game-changer in the fight against the PKK.
For the first time, the target is the first defense line of the secular lifestyle. Unlike the Sultanahmet or Vezneciler attacks, it is not the history of the Ottoman ties of this government that it under threat. It is the core crowd that could vote for a change and better Turkey. Young people, who go to Beşiktaş games, who like hanging out in Taksim despite its dismal situation and who defend our right to live side by side, were killed in the attack.
The PKK’s message is clear and it is much darker than pro-Justice and Development Party (AKP) papers can write. It is not the “big outside powers” that are dictating these policies. The terrorist group is now claiming its stake in big cities, seeking revenge against the operations that lasted for months in Sur, Cizre and Şırnak. The security forces might have “cleansed” the area and literally wiped a place (Şırnak) off the map. But the desperation continues for the people that are stuck in between, and so the PKK always finds enough human resources.
The Turkish Enterprise and Business Confederation’s (TÜRKONFED) chairman, Tarkan Kadooğlu, himself from Cizre, said this in an interview in daily Hürriyet before the attack. “Nobody in the southeast is interested in building their houses or using the government grants to open up shops anymore. The government is promising to build factories for free. Nobody is applying. People are tired, they have lost hope. They do not want to deal with this anymore.”
Muharrem Sarıkaya, a veteran columnist at daily Habertürk, calculated the number of attacks in a year during a TV interview on Dec. 12. “Nineteen big attacks, 23 altogether,” he said; “one for every 45 days, and six of them in Istanbul.” Sarıkaya said that we as citizens have the right and duty to ask the authorities why.
Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu’s answer to this question is probably a “Sri Lankan Model” of destruction that would wipe out at least 1 million Kurds, including the relatives and sympathizers of PKK terrorists.
Speaking to A Haber, AKP MP Şamil Tayyar said “there will be a new deep state, reporting to the people only.” For that, there is a word: It is called militia. Ufuk Ulutaş, an academic, wrote in daily Akşam that Turkey should practice “non-conventional combat” methods. Those methods most likely include summary executions, disappearances, torture and the like.
Turkey’s rulers want a combat like the 1990s, but it is too late for a déjà vu. Turkey’s officials should wake up immediately. The PKK has transformed itself into a war machine with allies in northern Syria and a dark urban killing machine in Turkey’s cities. To fight it, you need a better ideology, better media, better civil servants and, yes, much better NGOs. Kurdish politicians should urgently engage in some soul-searching and part ways with this brutality. Otherwise, even Selahattin Demirtaş will end up in the pages of history as a lost hope and this nation will be forever divided.