Terrorist attack in Turkey. Сui prodest?
Turkey suffered the worst terrorist attack in its modern history on Saturday, when two suspected suicide bombers killed at least 95 people at a peace march organized by Kurdish and left-wing political parties. The government's response: attempt to ban media coverage, obstruct Twitter and smear the victims.
Let's try to find out what goals pursued by terrorists and to who could be a beneficial in the act of terrorism. How this will affect the geopolitical situation in the region and in the Turkish domestic politics?
Pay attention to the reaction of the first persons in Turkey. Acting Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu named several possible culprits right after the attack: the militant Kurdish Workers' Party, or PKK; left-wing terror organizations; and Islamic State. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan described the assault as an attack on democracy, equating it with PKK attacks on Turkish security forces.
Recently, for President Erdogan the things went not so bad with the Kurds. In 2013, the PKK and Ankara has even agreed to a ceasefire. It lasted about one and a half years - until bloody attack in Suruci, responsibility for which has taken over the PKK.
One cabinet minister, Veysel Eroglu, even blamed the participants in the peace rally: Our people need to be careful of such provocateurs that organize terrorist demonstrations in order to incite discord in social harmony.
The reality is that nobody yet knows who carried out this act of terrorism - which, of course, would have been the responsible thing for Turkey's leaders to say. Responsibility is not taken, no terrorist group. What ISIS, by the way, quite unusual.
But what goals had the terrorists? The first and most obvious purpose - to destabilize the situation in Turkey. It can actually be beneficial both to Islamic radicals and leftist extremists. This is advantageous Kurdish rebels to. They want to disrupt the operation of the Turkish army in Kurdish areas.
Especially since this is the third bombing of Kurdish political rallies and civilians in recent months, all of which looked like the handy-work of Islamic State, as Syria's civil war spills across the Turkish border. However, the group, which is usually quick to boast of its atrocities, hasn't claimed responsibility for any of the bombings in Turkey, leaving the situation murky. Conspiracy theories abound.
The PKK seems a less likely candidate. It responded to Saturday's bombing by announcing a unilateral truce; the government by launching fresh airstrikes against PKK positions. When Kurds and other mourners tried on Sunday to place flowers at the scene of the bombing, they were dispersed by riot police.
Not surprisingly, anger among Turkey's large Kurdish minority has surged, with many accusing the government of engineering the attack.
The bombing occurred in the midst of an election campaign, ahead of an unnecessary snap election that Erdogan has set for Nov. 1. He called for the vote after failing to get a majority for his ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, in June's parliamentary election and discouraging efforts to form a coalition government. The electoral balance was tipped against Erdogan by the Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party, or HDP, which won an unprecedented 13 percent of the vote and whose leaders were at Saturday's rally. Erdogan is using every lever in his power to undermine those gains.
The government has tried to use the war with the PKK, which rekindled after the June result, to discredit the Kurdish political party. It has accused the party's Kurdish legislators of conspiring with terrorists, launched criminal probes against them, and arrested hundreds of party activists. The response to Saturday's carnage was part of this political campaign.
Yet two weeks ago, according to opinion polls, the AKP gained 38%, which is less a 3% than it was in June. Perhaps it was the hope to draw the electorate on the side of the party "Justice and Development", to show that only the president and the party can deal with the situation, but it turns out the opposite. Now the party's position will weaken even more in this case, inevitably forming a coalition government.
Predict the result of the election is very difficult. And Syrian operations in the rating of influence on people's minds here - not the last. Moreover, it comes not only to the Kurds. The country's participation in the bombing of the so-called coalition of Syrian territory and simultaneously support the opposition to Assad forces - such actions of the authorities have many dissenters. Discontent the Turks caused by the new trends in the worsening of relations with Russia.
Erdogan and his government also risk that Islamic State terrorist attacks connected to Syria might cost votes, amid broad opposition to Turkey's involvement in that country's conflict. The government hasn't been foolish enough to directly accuse the PKK of responsibility, but its obvious efforts to link Kurds to the bombing of Kurds look like cynical campaign politics.
The second piece of history for Erdogan to recall is the 1980s and '90s, a dark period in Turkey when a war with the PKK raged in the east; a "deep state" with connections to the authorities sponsored the growth of Kurdish Islamist terrorists as a counterbalance (they still exist); media freedoms and the rule of law were suppressed; and the economy languished.
Erdogan and the AKP claimed to have put all that behind when, after coming to power in 2002, they broke the grip of the generals who had held ultimate power in Turkey ever since the foundation of the Republic in 1923. But as November's vote approaches, the country looks all too much as it did in the bad old days of the '80s and '90s.
The difference is that Erdogan, once a victim of state repression, is now in charge. He is right that the country's unity and democracy are at risk, yet most of this regression can't be blamed on the PKK. For that, the government must look to its own actions, of which its initial, politicized response to Saturday's tragedy was just the latest example.
This gave many a reason to think the terrorist attack organized by Turkish special services, to once again "intimidate" the Kurds. Indeed rating of Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party falls every day. But three weeks later - elections in he which will have to negotiate. The ruling AKP this summer for the first time since 2002 failed to gain a majority.
On the other hand, the fight against acts of terrorism gives cause to strengthen the regime of Erdogan. Turkish analysts say that large-scale struggle against terrorism may be a kind of preparation for the dictatorial regime of Erdogan.
The sovereignty and independence of Turkey require a struggle against the Kurds, and the US push to strengthen the role of the Turkish armed forces in the anti-Assad coalition.