Terror in Ankara —amid state terror against Kurds

A car bomb exploded in a park in the central Kizilay district of Turkish capital Ankara March 13, killing 32 people and wounding more than 100. No group has yet claimed the attack, but officials told Reuters that initial findings suggested it was the work of the PKK or an affiliated group. (BBC News) The Feb. 17 bomb attack in Ankara that left 28 dead was claimed by the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK)—which is a break-away faction of the PKK, not "affiliated" with them. That attack killed many civilians, but military buses were the target. Previous recent attacks in Turkey that, like this new one, actually targeted civilains were the work of ISIS. The PKK itself, while hardly fastidious about avoiding civilian deaths, has neither targeted civilians like ISIS nor been as reckless about "collateral damage" as the TAK. It is waging a campaign of guerilla warfare, not terrorism. The rush to blame the PKK in the new attack is political and unseemly.

Turkey's state Anadolu Agency of course trumpets: "World leaders condemn Ankara terror attack on civilians." We wish world leaders were a fraction so forthright in condemnding Turkey's own invisible war in the country's Kurdish east. Turkish warplanes last week bombed supposed PKK-stronghold villages in the mountains of Mardin province. (Firat News Agency, March 7) Towns across the Kurdish east are under curfew, especially in Mardin and Hakkani provinces, with armed personnel carriers patrolling the streets. (Hurriyet, March 14)

The round-the-clock curfew in the town of Cizre, Sirnak province, was lifted March 2, and residents who had fled the fighting there allowed to return. But after weeks of counterinsurgency operations, the town is "in ruins." Ali Ihsan Su, governor of Sirnak province, said the Turkish troops did not distinguish between civilians and fighters. "They destroyed houses by placing explosives from the kitchens to the bedrooms," he told Al Jazeera. "They attacked callously and mercilessly, without distinguishing between military, police, women, men, old or young."

These are but the latest horrors in Turkey's internal war. Last, the burning of Kurdish villages and expulsion of their populations was barely noted by the world media. 

And Turkey continues to take the war across the border to Iraq. Recent days have seen repeated Turkish air-strikes on Kurdish villages in Iraq's Qandil Mountains that are believed to harbor PKK fighters, supposedly killing 67 militants. (ANF, Reuters, March 12)

After February's Ankara attack, Turkey stepped up air-strikes on presumed PKK strongholds in Iraq—blaming the PKK and its Syrian ally YPG in the bombing, despite the fact that it was claimed by the TAK. (The Independent, Feb. 17)

There is no scolding from "world leaders" over these strikes, and the presumed "collateral damage" is completely invisible. 

And if I post this rant to Facebook, you won't be able to see it in Turkey. Facebook, Twitter and other social media are again blocked across the country in the wake of the new attack. (The Independent)

  1. Erdogan calls for thoughtcrime crackdown

    Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is calling for his country to "redefine" the legal definition of terrorism to include anyone supporting "terrorism"—including legislators, academics, journalists or activists. Erdogan said: "Either they are on our side, or on the side of the terrorists." (AP, March 14)

  2. Ankara blames PKK, YPG in Ankara bombing

    Hardly a surprise, but Turkey's Interior Ministry announced that the Ankara blast—now said to be a suicide bombing—was conducted by 24-year-old female PKK militant who also trained with the YPG in Syria. (Daily Sabah)

    Are suicide bombings—much less one that targets civilians in a park—really the style of the militantly secular PKK and YPG? We await their denials…