Turkey to the West: Walk the walk against terror
The death toll of the Dec. 10 Istanbul bomb attacks had risen to 44 by the late afternoon of Dec. 12, while many injured were still being kept in the intensive care units of hospitals. The Kurdistan Fighting Falcons (TAK), one of the ghost names used by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in its urban attacks, claimed responsibility for the bombing, which was carried out on U.N. Human Rights Day.
The Turkish government declared a day of national mourning for Dec. 11 out of respect for the victims. The grief spread across the country like a snowball as the funerals of the police officers and civilians killed in the twin attack took place, together with a feeling of unity. Some 360 people have been killed in PKK attacks in 2016 alone.
The spread of sorrow and anger this time was something rare. For two days, people have been rushing to the site of the bombing to leave flowers, pray and show their respect for those killed. There have been rallies with flags all over the country against terrorism, in a manner rarely seen before.
Perhaps the reaction is due to the site of attack. As in the bombing by the PKK in Ankara earlier this year that hit a central bus stop, anyone could have been there.
Perhaps it was also due to the timing of the attack. With the attack taking place against police gathered after the end of a football match, obviously maximum causalities was aimed for.
Perhaps people are simply saying: “Enough already.”
Also rare were the promptness and unequivocalness of the messages of solidarity from the international community.
Perhaps this was due to regrets following Turkish complaints - by the government, the opposition and civil groups - after the bloody July 15 military coup attempt that Turkey’s international partners did not show enough solidarity.
Perhaps it was due to the escalating reaction by the government to the fact that many activities by the PKK and its front organizations have been tolerated within the EU, despite Brussels officially recognizing it as a terrorist organization.
Perhaps it was due recognition of the cooperation of the U.S., Turkey’s major military ally, with the Syrian branch of the PKK, despite knowing that the group poses an existential threat for Turkey.
Perhaps they were simply saying: “Enough already.”
The Turkish government and people have noted this swiftness as a positive development, but with the caveat that this reaction should not be limited to words.
Turks think that if the West has started to talk the talk on terrorism, it should also walk the walk.
If the U.S. keeps supporting the PKK in Syria - knowing that its real aim is not a noble fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) but rather to gain a dominant position against Turkey - before Donald Trump takes over as president, words would not be enough.
If the European Parliament continues to gives propaganda and recruitment opportunities to the PKK - against Turkey’s U.N.-recognized borders and sovereignty – and if it continues to effectively consider the PKK’s acts a legitimate method of political struggle, despite the fact that people are being killed every day, words would not be enough.
It is one thing to criticize Turkish government’s line in the fight against terror, asking it to conduct that struggle within the boundaries of a state of law and democracy. It is something else to turn a blind eye to the international support and tolerance that the PKK has been getting, especially from Turkey’s Western friends and allies, when people are being killed every day.
It is Turkey’s right to ask the West to walk the walk against terror, and it is time for the West to win Turkey back.