Bad news and worse news in Turkey

Bad news and worse news in Turkey

Perhaps the only good news nowadays in Turkey is the wedding of Sümeyye Erdoğan, the daughter of President Tayyip Erdoğan, with engineer Selçuk Bayraktar. The wedding ceremony takes place on May 14 in Istanbul, with 6,000 people invited.

The rest is either bad news or worse.

Among the worst was an explosion in rural Diyarbakır, southeast Turkey, on the evening of May 12. At first it was thought that a bomb had exploded after being planted on a truck planned to be used in an attack by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Initial reports said four were killed and 10 were wounded in the blast. 

However, after the sun rose on May 13, a five-meter deep and 30-meter wide crater was could be seen a village road near the Dürümlü hamlet of Diyarbakır’s Sarıkamış village. The number of deaths had been announced as four because the parts of only four bodies could be found. Local villagers claimed that 15 bodies were missing – though there was no trace of body parts or the truck itself. The only explanation from the Governor’s Office was that the villagers had tried to stop the PKK militants from heading to Diyarbakır city to commit a major act of terror, and that in the jostling – which eyewitnesses say may have included armed clashes -  either the militants detonated the truck’s load or it went off by mistake. It’s like a horror movie.

Earlier on May 12, in clashes in rural Şırnak province, also in the southeast, the army announced that it had killed 15 PKK militants.

Meanwhile, as the sun was rising on May 13, worse news was coming from the Çukurca district of Hakkari, Turkey’s most southeasterly province bordering both Iraq and Iran. The PKK apparently raided a military station near the Iraqi border, killing six soldiers. Later on, according to the military, an army helicopter that was sent to the area to support the raided station crashed, killing two more soldiers. The reason for the clash was not revealed. 

Since the PKK has resumed its acts of terrorism in July 2015, ending a three-year dialogue process with the government, some 4,600 militants are said to have been killed in clashes, as well as nearly 400 from the security forces. (The army has also said that in the same period some 1,300 militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant have been killed in operations in Iraq and Syria.)

Bad news also came from Brussels. Turkey’s EU Affairs Minister Volkan Bozkır said at the end of three days of meetings that hopes were fading for the implementation of planned visa-free travel for Turkish citizens within the EU. EU officials have been insisting on a change in Turkey’s tough anti-terror law as part of the deal.

Cansen Başaran-Symes - the head of Turkey’s biggest business club TÜSIAD, which is also a major supporter of Turkey-EU relations - had said on May 12 that Brussels could show a bit more sympathy for Ankara in its demands amid the ongoing anti-terror fight. Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan has been warning for some time that if the EU “does not keep its promises” on the visa scheme, which is a part of the broader recent migration deal with Turkey, it can forget about the whole deal. 

If the deal does indeed fall through, that may lead to even more bad news - not only for Turkey but also for the EU.