Return of urban terrorism is a message to government

Return of urban terrorism is a message to government

The theater where Tuesday’s terrorist attack, which claimed the lives of three innocent people and wounded 15, happened is only 200 meters from the compound that holds the Prime Ministry, the Justice Ministry and the Education Ministry as well as a number of other state offices. It is also just 300 meters from the Defense Ministry and the Chief of General Staff and a half kilometer from Parliament.

In addition to where it took place, its timing is also crucially important. It came on the same day Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was scheduled to meet with U.S. President Barrack Obama and top U.S. intelligence officer James Clapper, head of the Director of National Intelligence, who was in Ankara for talks about the joint fight against terror.

For many in Ankara, talks with Washington are part of the government’s plan to launch a massive anti-terror campaign against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK’s, hideouts in northern Iraq. A cross-border operation into Iraq is on the table, as suggested by a number of Cabinet members.

As of late Tuesday, the attack was not claimed by anybody and there was no official statement from the police on who might be behind it. But we have a good sense about the message given to the government: “The terror climate is active in every corner of the country even under the nose of the government.”

Equally important, the attack comes only a week after secret negotiations between the state’s intelligence organization and the PKK were revealed through a recording posted on a website. During the conversation, Sabri Ok, a senior PKK member, urges the Turkish delegation led by Hakan Fidan, currently serving as the head of the National Intelligence Organization, or MIT, that “the forces of the PKK are everywhere in Turkey; in the Black Sea, in the Toros Mountains.”

The last terrorist act in the urban sphere took place years ago, which makes Tuesday’s attack a possible horrifying beginning of a new campaign by terrorists.

On Sunday, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu was closing the doors of negotiations with the terrorists as the government would not talk to them when terror acts were increasing. “We talk to those who want to talk and not who want to show force,” he said. Whoever might behind the attack, thus, is aiming at killing off this dialogue and pushing both sides to more aggressive policies.

It also proves Davutoğlu’s finding about the coincidence between major terror acts and government’s major foreign policy moves. “We have made an analysis. Whenever we are set to take an important step, something unexpected happens to cast a shadow on it,” he said in an interview. His example was the release of secret recording on the day when Erdoğan was set to begin his historic Arab Spring tour. No doubt, Tuesday’s act coinciding with Erdoğan’s important U.N. meetings where he will promote an independent Palestine will strengthen the foreign minister’s suspicions... about growing collaboration between Israel and the PKK.