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A Stab in the Heart
The building of the general staff of the Turkish armed forces, buildings of ground, naval and air forces, the country's parliament and Interior Ministry are located in Kizilay District of Ankara - the capital of Turkey. In other words, it is the heart of the state. And it is precisely in this area where the terrorist attack, from the shock of which the whole of Turkey is still reeling, was carried out on 17 February at a distance of only 200 meters from the abovementioned buildings. As a vehicle carrying military personnel of the Turkish general staff stopped at the red light, a car bomb was detonated. As a result of the terrorist attack, 29 people were killed and over 60 were injured.
Immediately after the attack, Turkish President Tayyip Recep Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu named the probable perpetrator, a native of Syria, Salih Najar, who was suspected of collaboration with the Kurdish party of Syria, the Democratic Union (PYD) and its military wing - the People's Protection Units (YPG). PYD leader Salih Muslim denied the involvement of his organization in the incident and said that "they have nothing to do with the terrorist attack in Ankara". In turn, responsibility for the terrorist attack was claimed by the terrorist organization "Kurdistan Freedom Hawks" (TAK), which once broke away from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). The terrorists' propaganda statement said that the person who committed the attack was Abdulbaki Somer.
The Turkish leadership emphasized the fact that the terrorist attack was carried out precisely by military units of Syrian Kurds. According to this theory, the reason for the attack is artillery strikes on the positions of the Kurds in Syria to prevent attempts to create another Kurdish formation on Turkey's borders. Exactly one day before the attack, the UN Security Council unanimously recommended that Turkey stops artillery strikes on the PYD positions in Syria. But this act of terrorism strengthened Turkey's position, which is based on the fact that the PYD is nothing but a terrorist organization. Unlike their Western partners, Turkey originally put the PYD in one rank with other terrorist organizations like the PKK or ISIL.
It is quite natural that this terrorist attack is an action aimed at destabilizing Turkey. Despite the fact that responsibility for the terrorist attacks was claimed by TAK, suspicions by the Turkish authorities in relation to the YPG are also explained by the fact that the terrorist crossed the border with Turkey precisely in the area controlled by Kurdish militants.
In addition, the Syrian intelligence service is also accused of preparing the terrorist attack. It is alleged that they also fund and support TAK and other radical left-wing half-armed groups. For example, three years ago, when a terrorist attack was carried out in the town of Reyhanli in the Turkish province of Hatay, which killed 51 people, it was argued that it was the Syrian secret service that was behind the terrorist act, giving the terrorists the appropriate logistical support and financial assistance. In the terrorist attack in Ankara, the Syrian intelligence service could have played the same role as in the Reyhanli terrorist attack.
The fact that the terrorist attack in Ankara was committed not far from the building of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey and the target was a bus carrying military personnel is a "black mark" against Turkey. On this basis, one could argue that this attack would not have been possible without the involvement of foreign intelligence services, because this government area is always under the watchful eyes of the Turkish security forces.
This attack was carried out bypassing the Turkish secret services, whose vigilance must be criticized by Turkey itself. For if any terrorist attack reaches its target, one should definitely think about the vulnerability of the special services.
In a statement after the terrorist attack, Davutoglu mentioned the creation of a new security concept for Ankara. The fundamental feature of the concept is a more visible presence of police forces and other security agencies. In other words, if earlier it was mainly police personnel under cover and in civilian clothes on duty at the scene of the incident in Ankara, it is now planned to increase the state security personnel in uniforms, which should serve as a deterrent for terrorists.
The main factor that pushed the Turkish government to create the concept of security for Ankara is the fact that the PKK has transferred its forces from rural to urban areas. In this respect, Turkey has a risk associated with the possibility of urban fighting with the PKK. Initially, with the beginning of spring, Turkey aimed to oust the PKK forces from cities (Diyarbakir, Sirnak) into the countryside. However, everything points to the fact that the PKK and its derivatives are willing to continue fighting in city centers.
Speaking about the reaction of the international community, it would perhaps be more appropriate to compare this terrorist act with the events in France. It seems that recently, after a series of attacks in Paris, the whole world showed solidarity against terror. The similarity between the terrorist attacks in Ankara and Paris is that they were both committed with the help of fanatics from among Syrian immigrants. At the same time, they differ as to the events in Ankara are People's Protection Units.
After the terrorist attacks in the French capital, the whole world realized the danger posed by groups of "radical Islamists" and expressed solidarity against terror. At the same time, following the YPG attack world leaders did not show the same unity, as the international community considers only radical Islamists to be real terrorists. Although the international community has recognized the YPG and PYD as terrorist organizations, the PYD will continue to plague Turkey until it gets the desired result.
Speaking about the reaction of the international community, one should pay attention to one important detail present in the statement of condolences from the Russian government. So, the statement posted on the Foreign Ministry website and addressed directly to the "Turkish people" says: "We express deep condolences to the Turkish people." This indicates that Russian-Turkish relations will remain strained for a long time. The direct address to the Turkish people and not to the leadership in the text of the statement means the absence of any opportunity for improving bilateral relations.
In conclusion, it can be argued that the main political motivation for the terrorist attack in Ankara is Turkey's policy in Syria. Among other political reasons for the Ankara attack, one can name the fact that Ankara underestimated the role of the PYD and expressed its willingness to send ground forces if the PYD crossed to the western bank of the Euphrates. Turkey's indecision in carrying out a ground operation in 2012 played a huge role in the negative outcome of the events in the region. If in 2012, a security corridor had been opened in Syria under the leadership of Turkey, now Turkey would not be experiencing problems with migrants and the PYD would not have been able to strengthen its positions in the border zone. It is curious that the United States, which does not want Assad from the start of the rebel movement in Syria, not only kept silent about Turkey's desire to open a security corridor in 2012, but is not showing a strong preference for a joint ground operation. Compared to 2012, a ground operation in the region is more difficult in the current situation. For example, today Turkey actually neighbors on Russia on the Syrian border. Due to the changing regional situation, Turkey should develop a new policy on Syria.
Yusuf ÇINAR - Analyst, Strategic Outlook
10.03.2016 - Hit : 1593

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