Monday, 16 September 2019 12:36 GMT

Erdogan's new normal: Turks told to live with terrorism

(MENAFN - Asia Times) A vehicle burns after an explosion in Ankara on March 13.

The blast is the first by the PKK targeting innocent civilians as opposed to the military and appears to be a reprisal for a series of fierce crackdowns by the Turkish authorities against the movement in southeast Anatolia. The operations marked by curfews have lasted weeks have often involved the use of tanks and rockets and left districts of several towns in ruins. Turkey has promised to rebuild the damaged areas over the next two years.

Three new punitive operations were launched hours ahead of the bombing on Sunday in the towns of Nusaybin Sirnak and Yuksekova with the proclamation of indefinite curfews banning residents from going onto the streets.

Erdogan defiant

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan responded defiantly to news of the bombing promising to step up anti-terrorism measures and bring terrorism to heel. 'Terror attacks do not diminish our will to fight against terror but further boost it” the president said.

In the Turkish capital however many citizens questioned the reasons for the government's apparent inability to prevent a second bomb attack by the PKK in less than four weeks. Opposition MPs pointed out that the city's police chief removed after the October bombing has not yet been replaced.

There was also anger at news that Turkish authorities had not issued warnings even though it emerged that they had warned the US Embassy in Ankara last week that a terrorist attack might be imminent in the city. American diplomats warned travellers from the US to take precautions. Challenged about why it had done so embassy officials revealed that they had acted on information from Turkish government sources.

More soft targets?

Meanwhile the country has to ponder how it will manage if its Kurdish nationalists begin striking regularly at soft targets in western Turkey something they have been indicating that they may do ever since Dec. 26 when mortar bombs were fired again by TAK militants at parked airplanes at Sabiha Gokcen Airport in Istanbul a warning which the government ignored pressing ahead with its operations against towns in southeastern Turkey.

Kurdish PKK supporters

Till now the PKK has generally refrained from attacks in metropolitan and western Turkey apparently fearing the consequences in areas where groups of ethnic Turks and Kurds exist side by side. However groups of Kurdish militants are periodically caught and detained by police in Turkey's big cities where it is estimated that their numbers run to several millions though many of these reject the PKK.

Opinion in many provincial Turkish communities is bitterly polarized between angry Turkish nationalists strongly supporting the tough policies of the Erdogan government in the belief that Kurdish militants should be taught a stern lesson and ethnic Kurds who see themselves as the victims of state intolerance.

The HDP Peoples Democratic Party a group of moderate Kurds who wanted to work with Turkish liberals to create dialogue called for compromise but its support has been steadily eroded by the rise in violence since the summer and repeated accusations by government ministers that it is involved in terrorism itself — charges which the party strongly rejects. On Sunday it condemned the Ankara bombing and its perpetrators in very strong language.

Nonetheless the HDP now seems to be a spent force with its three most prominent parliamentarians including its two chairpersons waiting for the government to strip them of their parliamentary immunity and launch criminal proceedings against them. A similar prosecution of an earlier Kurdish party in 1994 in Turkey led to a group of Kurdish politicians spending a decade in jail. Few expect events to play out differently this time.

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Erdogan's new normal: Turks told to live with terrorism


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