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The effect of the Ankara attack on Turkey

The effect of the Ankara attack on Turkey

By Fahrettin Altun

The HDP sees the latest wave of attacks as a window of opportunity to support its anti-ErdoÄŸan propaganda for the Nov. 1 elections. However, this discourse only benefits the West’s campaign to smear Turkey

This past Saturday Turkey faced a terror attack the likes of which it had never seen before. Right in the middle of the capital Ankara, close to the main train station, two suicide bombers detonated themselves and 99 people lost their lives. The bombs exploded 1 kilometer away from an area where various unions had organized a rally in support of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in the upcoming Nov. 1 elections in the midst of people who had been preparing to join the peace rally. In the attack, hundreds of people were wounded next to those who lost their lives.

While who organized this terror attack is not entirely clear, Prime Minister Ahmet DavutoÄŸlu announced after the attack that the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), the PKK, or the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), could have been behind the attack. Security forces also indicated that there were many similarities between this suicide bomb attack and the one that occurred in Suruç on July 20, 2015, in which 33 people were killed. Aside from the technical similarities between these two terror attacks, it will be of use to say that at first glance, both of them appear to be directed against HDP supporters.

Ankara'da tren garına giden köprü altında patlama meydana geldi. Tren garının bulunduğu bölgede nedeni henüz belirlenemeyen büyük bir patlama meydana geldi. Olay yerinde ölü ve yaralıların olduğu bildirildi. Patlamanın olduğu bölgeye, sağlık ekipleri ve itfaiye gönderildi. (Muammer Tan - Anadolu Ajansı)

Ankara’da tren garına giden köprü altında patlama meydana geldi. Tren garının bulunduÄŸu bölgede nedeni henüz belirlenemeyen büyük bir patlama meydana geldi. Olay yerinde ölü ve yaralıların olduÄŸu bildirildi. Patlamanın olduÄŸu bölgeye, saÄŸlık ekipleri ve itfaiye gönderildi. (Muammer Tan – Anadolu Ajansı)

Another similar terror attack occurred on June 5, 2015, just two days before the June 7 general election at an HDP Diyarbakır rally. According to public surveys, the Diyarbakır terror attack, which targeted citizens going to the rally, increased the HDP’s votes by 1.5 percent, and the HDP received 13 percent of the vote in the June 7 election.

This attack was directly used as election propaganda by the HDP. Right after the attack, HDP members and HDP Co-Chair Selahattin DemirtaÅŸ made statements blaming the administration and President Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸan before the details of the attack had even been released.

While preparing for the June 7 election, the HDP directly placed ErdoÄŸan in opposition to itself and attempted to garner votes by criticizing ErdoÄŸan and DavutoÄŸlu’s Justice and Development Party (AK Party) policies. During this period, DemirtaÅŸ depicted ErdoÄŸan as a politician who made mistakes in foreign policy and ended the reconciliation process due to his administration ambitions. DemirtaÅŸ criticized ErdoÄŸan and DavutoÄŸlu for not helping the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria and accused them both of taking political steps in support of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). While calling on people to join the protests on Oct. 6-8, 2014, in which more than 50 people were killed, DemirtaÅŸ also used this supposed support for ISIS as a tool.

When the July 20 Suruç suicide bombing happened, Demirtaş used much harsher language to blame Erdoğan and said that the terror attack occurred due to the support given to ISIS, and then the PKK once again entered into armed struggle against the state, using this terror attack as an excuse. Nearly 2,000 PKK militants and 150 security personnel have lost their lives in the skirmishes that have occurred since then.

DemirtaÅŸ has radicalized his discourse even more after the attack in Ankara and this time alleged that the attack were ordered by ErdoÄŸan and the state. DemirtaÅŸ made such an irrational and untruthful allegation at first that it surprised those who closely follow Turkish politics. Alongside this, it has been observed that the HDP has already transformed this accusation into aggressive election propaganda. The HDP’s aggressive election propaganda has been aligned with and legitimized through the anti-ErdoÄŸan discourse that has found a place in both domestic and international contexts. This time around, the HDP did not see the need to construct an imaginary connection between ErdoÄŸan and ISIS, and rather directly blamed the state under the direction of ErdoÄŸan.

However, the point that must be emphasized is the HDP’s creation of a discourse of victimization over this terror attack and consolidation of its own masses. A terror attack, in every sense, has been used as a political interest tool by the HDP. In this sense, the terror attack in Ankara has enlarged the HDP’s area with the political baggage and cost falling on ErdoÄŸan and the AK Party government.

Unfortunately, the Ankara terror attack has been taken up on a non-factual basis by both Turkish and Western media and used instead as a tool to enlarge the area given over to the anti-ErdoÄŸan discourse with the addition of fantastical elements. Neither ISIS nor the PKK’s probable roles in this attack have been seriously discussed. Despite the hostile discourse of ISIS leaders against ErdoÄŸan and the fact that Turkey is already fighting ISIS, the attack has been taken up through the language of PKK propaganda. What’s more, in the aftermath of the terror attack, whether the PKK committed it in order to open up the way for the HDP has not been discussed in any way. And yet, PKK leader Murat Karayılan had declared a week before the attack that its Immortals Battalion, formed in 2007, would be activated. In the evaluations made despite this clear declaration, the fact that the PKK is not included is a topic that must be critiqued.

The most problematic evaluation of Turkish politics in the aftermath of the Ankara attack is that Turkey is soon to become a failed state. David Goldman, writing that Turkey has been betrayed by Russia and the U.S. and that it is retreating in the face of Kurds, alleges that the Turkish state will fall into the status of a failed state in the period ahead. However, we are talking about a Turkey that is administered in a legitimate, democratic management system with an economy that is growing despite everything that is happening; a country that despite all the differences the U.S. can work closely with and a country that can protect its strong commercial ties with Russia and Iran despite differences on Syria. Turkey has conducted serious military operations that have caused the PKK to retreat despite the support the PKK received from its Syrian arm, and continues with these operations. That Turkey is able to provide public order not just in the West but in the Middle East as well despite the conflicts, point to the fact that the state has a working mechanism.

We can understand Turkey not by moving off ideological baggage, but through analysis based on facts. The baseless accusations of ErdoÄŸan’s politics are doing nothing other than to limit the area for criticism of Turkish politics and cause their securitization. (Courtesy: Daily Sabah)

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