The dark side of the Ankara attack

The dark side of the Ankara attack

Sometimes finding excuses is easier than finding answers.

The Ankara attack on March 13 left the dead bodies of 37 people behind, with many more wounded still in hospital in critical conditions. It was the second suicide car bomb attack in a month in Ankara, after the one on Feb. 17 that killed 29 people. Also considering the one on Oct. 10, 2015, which killed 103 people, Sunday’s attack was the third suicide bombing in the Turkish capital in the last five months. 

Turkish officials had revealed that two militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) were responsible for the October 2015 attack. The Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK), a shadow organization of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), then claimed responsibility for the Feb. 17 attack. And an alleged PKK militant, a university student, is thought to have carried out the most recent attack by blowing herself up while passing by a public bus waiting at a busy bus stop in central Ankara, just 100-150 meters away from the Prime Ministry building and the Justice Ministry and Education Ministry buildings.

The attack hit Ankara locals at a time after the government had announced an extraordinary “security strategy” after the February attack. Terrorists found a way to land another blow, despite military and civilian intelligence reports telling the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) about certain stolen cars with known (real or fake) plate numbers that were under suspicion for use in new attacks. 

The point is that neither President Tayyip Erdoğan, nor Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, nor Interior Minister Efkan Ala, nor any other official, thought there could have been any mistake made by the government, which is responsible for the lives of its citizens. It is right that the terrorists are the first to be blamed for any deadly attack -but it is the government’s duty to take necessary preventative measures.

On March 14, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, the leader of the social democratic main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), asked PM Davutoğlu why the government had still not been able to appoint a police chief for the capital? Previous Ankara Police Chief Kadri Kartal was removed from his position on Oct. 14, 2015, right after the ISIL bomb attack, due to negligence, and since then no one else has been appointed to the position. That’s right – Ankara does not have a police chief. Even after the February attack, only a deputy was “acting” as the chief with limited authority, despite the government’s proudly announced new “security strategy for Ankara.”

There are dozens of other questions awaiting answers. Why could the police not take necessary measures despite having sufficient intelligence before the attack? Was there a foreign intelligence link to the attack in relation to the civil war in Syria? Why is the government never responsible for mistakes and why is everything negative always somebody else’s – like the opposition parties’ – fault?

The Syrian civil war has infected Turkey badly. It is true that terrorist organizations are trying to turn Turkey into a battleground for themselves. It is true that sometimes terrorist organizations establish coalitions among themselves to carry out combined attacks. But isn’t it yet time to see results from the many security meetings, which take place one after the other, and after which government officials always vow to bring an end to bloodshed?