How to read the Somali attack?
In the aftermath of the al-Qaeda attack on the Turkish mission in Mogadishu that killed one Turkish policeman, Turkey’s absolute ruler had a telephone conversation with Somali Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon. The two must have discussed many things, but the press office of the Turkish premier disclosed only that Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stressed his determination to continue Turkey’s activities in Somalia and to stand with the people of the African country.
It was as if the attack was a “routine one;” just a traffic accident around the corner. However, the attack was carried out by the most notorious Islamist terrorist gang, al-Qaeda. Worse, this was not the first attack of the Islamist gang on Turkey. The first attack by the gang on Turkey was on Nov. 15 and 20, 2003. In attacks – on a synagogue, a British bank and the British consulate –more than 50 people were heinously murdered, including the British consul-general. The mastermind of that attack, a Turkish member of the gang, fled to Iraq and was reported to have been killed in a blast there. The obvious message of that 2003 attack was to show Ankara how strong the gang was in Turkey.
The second important heinous action of the gang in Turkey was the May 11 Reyhanlı blast this year that killed 54 people. The gang “delivered a lesson” to the Turkish government and the people of Reyhanlı who were not cooperating enough to “facilitate” its cross-border Syria activities. As there can be no Islamist terrorism, the Turkish government refused to acknowledge existing intelligence that al-Qaeda was going to undertake an operation in the region. Worse, people pointing at an al-Qaeda link were smashed by the state secrets act…
The Mogadishu Turkish embassy attack, thus, was at least the third important al-Qaeda attack on Turkish targets since 2003. Still, Turkish government members have not been able to officially accuse al-Qaeda for either the Reyhanlı carnage or the Mogadishu attack. However, the Mogadishu attack was claimed by the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab gang. Furthermore, this was not the first-ever attack carried out by al-Shabaab on Turkish targets in Somalia. The gang was against Turkey’s actions there right away. But, was the July 27 attack a “local incident” or did it carry a meaning greater than Somalia? Was it just an action telling Turks how unhappy Somali Islamists are with Turkish contribution to Western efforts to prevent an Islamist takeover of Somalia, or was it part of a bigger picture?
Well, who was in Istanbul just before the Somalia attack? What is the connection between the Democratic Union Party of Syria (PYD) and the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)? The Turkish government – which feted PYD leader Salih Muslim in Istanbul and allegedly gave him the green light for Kurdish provisional autonomy in northern Syria – does not want to acknowledge it, but the PYD is nothing more than the Syrian extension of the PKK.
Still don’t get it? Let me say it more openly: Turkey has engaged in a peace-making deal with the PKK, allowed the gang to send some of its fighting power to Syria and changed the balance of power in favor of its extension, the PYD. The PYD, meanwhile, has started down the path of declaring autonomy following instructions from the PKK chieftain, a life-term convict, while the Turkish government has embraced the provisional autonomy idea. Amid all this, al-Qaeda has said, “Hold on, you are not the only players in this area…”
What about Turkey’s stepson, al-Nusra? The Americans, who have been suffering from Taliban syndrome, don’t like a new, potentially dangerous stepson…