Armed left behind Ankara embassy blast?

A suicide bomber blew himself up Feb. 1 in front of the US embassy in Ankara, killing himself and a Turkish security guard, and damaging the entrance to the building. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan identified the bomber as Ecevit Şanli, allegedly a member of the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP-C), an armed left faction oriented towards opposing Turkish involvement in NATO. (WPHurriyet Daily News, Feb. 1)

Ankara says the DHKP-C, listed as a terrorist organization by the US and the EU, has killed dozens of police officers and soldiers along with more than 80 civilians since it was formed in 1978, although it has been less active in recent years. In January, Turkish police made more than 80 arrests in raids targeting the group. Among those detained were students, lawyers, reporters and even members of a pop group thought to be linked to the DHKP-C. The group was formed in 1978 as Dev-Sol (Revolutionary Left), a Marxist-Leninist splinter from the larger Dev-Yol (Revolutionary Path). It became the DHKP-C in 1994. (BBC News, Feb. 1)

The DHKP-C’s re-emergence may be related to the recent installation of NATO missiles in Turkey in response to the unrest in neighboring Syria. The missiles were deployed after Turkey called a NATO meeting in response to the shooting down of one of its warplanes by Syrian forces.

Remnants of the armed left of the ’60s and ’70s remain active in Europe, although not in the US—where such long-extinct groups are nonetheless exploited by politicians for cheap red-baiting. However, it should be pointed out that the armed left has not typically used suicide bombers, on either side of the Atlantic.