Why the Ankara bombing is a Turkish classic

Why the Ankara bombing is a Turkish classic

The headline might come as a surprise since the Ankara bombing was the deadliest terror attack in Turkey’s history.

But it is a Turkish classic in the sense that whenever Turkey’s politics entered murky waters, it experienced a deadly incident, whether in the form of an attack attempting to harm as many people as possible or in terms of assassinations of prominent figures.

It is a Turkish classic in the sense that there are some, and not only the pro-Kurdish opposition party but even ordinary people, who suspect the state’s, in other words the Justice and Development Party government’s, involvement in the bombing. So the long forgotten “deep state” is back on the agenda again, creating a sense of déjà vu. 

It is a Turkish classic because the atrocity said “I am coming.” Ever since Turkey opened its İncirlik airbase to coalition forces fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), it was obvious that the whole country would turn into a target for that deadly organization.

It is a Turkish classic because the Turkish security system does not learn from past mistakes. If the culprit was ISIL, as it was the case in the Suruç bombing in July which left 33 people dead, by now the Turkish security apparatus should have learned how it operates and what tactics it uses. 

Suppose the culprit is not ISIL. The atrocity still said “I am coming.” Ever since the conflict between the state and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) resumed, the country has been open to all sort of provocative acts from a number of terrorist organization ranging from the PKK to the leftist Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C). Ever since Turkey entered the Syrian scene as a game changer it became a target for all sorts of international and regional state and non-state actors.

It is a Turkish classic because instead of concentrating on the real threats, it focuses too much on “imaginary enemies from within.” While the state needs to be cleansed of any “parallel structure” that is loyal to other power centers, obsession and disproportionate allocation of resources creates vulnerabilities on other fronts.

While the security authorities should allocate their energy and resources to following and analyzing social media posts by sympathizers of terror groups, it is allocating resources to following and pursuing those criticizing the president or the government. 

It is a Turkish classic because we hear the same and very similar rhetoric from authorities - “If there is any negligence, what is necessary will be done” - followed by non-action (the rhetoric is never along the lines of “if there is any negligence those responsible will be punished.” The preferred terminology is “what is necessary will be done,” which includes options that will not seriously harm the professional career of the public officer in question).

It is a Turkish classic in the sense that there has still not been a resignation even after two days have passed since the incident.

It is a Turkish classic because you would expect some sort of national unity after such a terrible incident, but people became more polarized, more frustrated and angrier.

It is a Turkish classic because political parties continued bickering and blaming each other. This is exactly what they did when blood was shed every day in the dark days of the 1970’s, this is what they did at the peak of the war against the PKK claiming the lives of thousands of people.

It is also a Turkish classic for its future consequences; because the Turkish nation, while it usually does not openly display unity in face of dramatic developments, has always punished the political parties which it saw responsible for the continuous turmoil.