Ankara Blast: change course, not tactic

On Wednesday, February 15, at least 90 people were killed and injured in a rush-hour car bombing targeting military personnel in the heart of the Turkish capital, Ankara.

After the blast, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed revenge against those responsible. This is while no organization has claimed responsibility for the attack. Regardless, with what Turkey has done to Syria and with no shortage of suspects, from ISIL to the Kurdish PKK and various leftist groups that launch bombing attacks fairly on a regular basis, it is not that hard to guess who might have been behind the deadly blast. But that’s not the purpose of this write-up. The argument is this:

In light of the Ankara blast, there is little doubt that the American-Saudi-Turkish fantasy for regime change in Syria - in collaboration with hard-core jihadists and Takfiri mercenaries - has reached a bloody dead end. The “House of Erdogan” is free to blame the Kurdish forces or even its own mercenaries fleeing the battlefield of Aleppo for the blast, but they are wrong to assume shelling and invading Syria is the answer.

Lest they forget, there have been similar terrorist attacks in Europe, such as the one last November in Paris. When that happened, the French jumped onto their fighter jets and dropped a dozen bombs on the self-declared capital of the ISIL terrorist group, Raqqa, with no meaningful outcome. The terrorist group said it had already evacuated the targeted buildings, while the civilian population felt the damage. And for good reasons, Paris decided to change course – not tactic - and correct past mistakes vis-à-vis the Syrian conflict. 

As it turned out, those behind the Paris attacks were the sort of returnees the Western intelligence community – and Iranian-Russian officials – had been warning about for years, European nationals that activated sleeper cells with a longstanding presence in Syria. There is no reason to say the same thing is not happening in Turkey. After all, for at least five years Turkey has been acting as the main “Jihadi Super-Highway” for home-grown European terrorists joining ISIL and Al-Qaeda in Iraq and Syria. 

This should be more than enough for the “House of Erdogan” – with the hysterical news networks and subservient media following suit - to stop fueling anti-Kurdish speculation and sentiment, all while shifting the blame to the ongoing war on Syria which Ankara helped to start and fuel in the first place. This should also be more than enough to conclude that it is the United States, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the mere extras who have blood on their hands, and not the Syrian Kurds.

Meaning, the answer to the deadly Ankara blast is not revenge and going after the “pawns” as Erdogan would like to suggest. Indeed, holding Europe to ransom, erecting fences, sealing off external borders, and withholding aid as a deterrent to those seeking refuge from the very same kind of violence Ankara helped create is not the way forward. Equally, giving in to fear and shelling Syria will not protect anyone in Turkey from future attacks either. It is changing course and backing the Real War on Terror in Syria and Iraq that can save Turkey from itself.

Regardless, under the pretext of “self-defense,” Turkey cannot, and should not, impose further restrictions on its Southern borders with Syria - in direct breach of International Humanitarian Law and Geneva Conventions. If it can, it had better stop terrorists' flow into Syria via the same borders in the South, or still better, pay a little heed to the growing number of the terrorists that arrive in Turkey from across the world, not through porous borders and illegally, but on flights from different countries to be transited to Syria. Ankara shouldn’t allow political parties and opportunistic politicians to ratchet up anti-Syria and anti-Kurdish rhetoric in response to the latest attack. 

It bears emphasizing: Erecting fences and designating “no-fly” zones over the Syrian border is not going to stop future terrorist attacks and/or refugees fleeing violence in the war-torn country. All this will stop if Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United States also stop training and arming “moderate” extremist outfits in Iraq and Syria. It is past time for Ankara to realize that.