An urban fiasco

An urban fiasco

Whatever excuse Turkish authorities might say and irrespective of what great successes the security apparatus might have silently scored in the fight against terror, the latest blast has demonstrated once again how badly Turkey has failed in fighting urban terrorism. Eleven lives were lost and around 40 were wounded in the latest attack. I hope the death toll will not have risen further by the time this article reaches the reader.

There is no connection, of course, with the demands for reforms on anti-terrorism laws to limit the definition of terrorism, as well as who is a terrorist. However, the blast was yet another clear demonstration that while the government is insisting on hunting journalists by branding them as terrorists, terrorists have been freely operating in Turkish cities. Has anyone counted how many blasts have taken place and how great a number of Turks and guests visiting this beautiful country have become victims of this menace?

Close your eyes and put your headphones on securely to avoid official contamination. Can you visualize or hear what Turkish leaders, particularly the tall, bald, bold and ever-angry man yelling at everyone at every occasion and his interior minister might have said to soothe the worries of the nation? Could it be an acceptable explanation that over the past three months, Turkey’s intelligence and the security apparatus was so successful that it prevented over 100 major terrorist attacks in Istanbul, Ankara, Bursa, Diyarbakır, Gaziantep and elsewhere? Was such a statement not a confession that this country has turned into a free area for terrorists? How can it be that this country has become so vulnerable to urban terrorism, even though there has been a very strong government and continued “political stability” for the past 14 years?

Turkish officials and security analysts were all united moments after the blast in declaring that security operations in the eastern parts of the country had been so successful that the gang was trying to assert that it still had some operable capability by staging such acts in cities. Furthermore, there appeared to be an obsessive consensus as well that Turkey’s allies were behind such hostile acts against Turkey.

Well, that might be the product of a rather sick mentality, but Official Turkey and security analysts have developed such phobias. Indeed, there has always been the “Sevres syndrome” or “Balkan syndrome” or such ailments that have impaired the ability of many to conduct analysis in this country. Lately, unfortunately, from the German “genocide” legislation to “precious loneliness” the country has been pushed into because of differences in interpreting developments in this region, there has been a solidifying conviction or reincarnation of the old nationalistic rhetoric that the Turk has no friend but the Turk.

Is Turkey in that notorious “precious isolation?” Well, perhaps even that stage has been left behind as the Turkish state continues to tilt toward becoming a full-fledged sharia state. Will Turkey’s president attend the funeral of the victims of yesterday’s dastardly terrorist event? Most probably not. He already visited the wounded at a hospital and will soon repeat some nationalist and anti-terrorist rhetoric and most probably feel satisfied at fulfilling his duty for the perished Turks. But he will travel to the United States to attend the funeral of Muhammad Ali, the former heavyweight boxing champion. Why? Was he a great Turk? Was he a global political leader? Did he do anything worthy of mention for Turkey? No… He was a Christian, Cassius Clay, who converted to Islam. He was a great professional boxer, a three-time world heavyweight champion.

What else? Why would a Turkish leader go to Louisville, Kentucky, and attend his funeral and deliver a speech there? Was it just because the Turkish leader cannot go anywhere in the West otherwise and has been condemned for some time to only visit Africa? Obviously not. He was going there to demonstrate to friends and foes how big a Muslim leader he is. He will demonstrate how high he valued the conversion of someone from Christianity to Islam.

But it is just normal for terrorists to detonate themselves or roadside bombs in cities and as Erdoğan relentlessly commented after the latest attacks, Turks must get used to such incidents... Was it a confession of failure? Sure it was. Why should Turks get used to the failure of the intelligence and the security apparatus? How many Turks need to die for security chiefs, the interior minister and the government to accept failure?

But we should all be thankful. It was great luck that the terrorists detonated their roadside bomb in front of a hotel which was closed down two years ago. If the hotel had been open, the death toll probably would have been much higher. It was great luck as well that while the Şehzadebaşı Mosque suffered considerable harm in the attack, it was neither Friday nor prayer time, meaning no one was killed there. What would have happened if the blast happened in the afternoon hours when many people might have flocked to the area to attend a book fair? No one should of course thank the terrorists for blowing themselves up in front of a hotel which was closed or at a morning hour when people were not massed at the mosque. But it is so sad that the security network of the country – which is “so successful in fighting urban terrorism” – that a bigger catastrophe was averted just because of circumstantial factors.

We’re so lucky that we were not among the victims… yet.