Turkey rejected American condolences in the wake of the bombing of Istanbul, which was the deadliest attack on the country in over five years.
Six people were killed and 81 injured in the Sunday bombing at Istiklal Avenue, Istanbul’s most crowded commercial street. A small bag containing a small amount TNT was left on the busy street. The explosion rocked the shopping area. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdan declared that the attack was deliberate and promised to punish those responsible. Erdogan stated to media members that terrorist attempts to make Turkey and Turkey surrender by terror would not succeed today as they did in the past. He was speaking to journalists before departing for the Group of 20 summit in Indonesia.
Turkish authorities claim that the bombing occurred during peak hours at Istiklal Avenue. Because a soccer match featuring one of Turkey’s top teams was being played nearby, the commercial street was busier than usual.
Residents and business owners along Istiklal Avenue are concerned about the long-term consequences of the bombing. The area around Istiklal Avenue has been devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic and its travel bans. Although Istanbul’s tourism sector has seen a recovery as travel restrictions were lifted, and the relative weak Turkish lira makes it more affordable to visit Turkey, the threat of violence in the major commercial districts could again pose a danger to the community’s economic well-being, in addition to safety concerns.
Authorities had already raided 21 locations and taken 47 suspects into custody. Suleyman Soylu, Turkey’s Interior Minister, announced that one of the detainees was the suspected bomber. Soylu stated that “our people should be assured the perpetrators in the incident at Istiklal Avenue will face the consequences they deserve.” “The state’s relevant units continue to investigate the plotters of this treacherous attack as well as the group behind it.”
Ahlam al-Bashir has been identified as the arrested person. She is a Syrian woman who claimed to have received orders form Syria’s Democratic Union Party. According to authorities, al-Bashir illegally entered Turkey from northern Syria after being given instructions about how to attack the Kurdish city Kobani.
Turkey considers the PYD to be a Syrian affiliate the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is the main belligerent group in the conflict of more than 40 years between Turkey and Kurdish rebels. However, the PKK denied any involvement in this attack. The PKK released a statement Monday on its website, saying, “It’s not in question for us to attack civilians in any manner.”
Biden’s White House press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre issued a Sunday statement saying that the United States strongly condemned the violence in Istanbul, Turkiye (Turkey) today. Our thoughts and condolences are with the injured, as well as those who have lost loved ones. Our NATO Ally Turkiye stands shoulder-to-shoulder in combating terrorism.
In an update on the bombing investigation, Soylu said that the Turkish interior minister had rejected America’s condolences. Soylu stated that Turkey would not accept condolence messages from the United States. He compared Washington’s sentiment to “a murderer being the first to arrive at a crime scene.”
Fahrettin Altun (Turkish president of the directorate for communications) continued to ramble. “The international community should pay attention. Altun stated that terrorist attacks on civilians are the direct and indirect consequence of certain countries’ support for terror organizations. If they want Turkiye to be friends, they must immediately stop their indirect and direct support.
Although Washington and Brussels consider PKK a terrorist organization like Ankara’s, the United States continues its support for other Kurdish militants, namely the People’s Defense Units, which al qhave ties with the PKK, but are part of the Syrian Democratic Forces who fought the Islamic State (ISIS) in northern Syria. Washington and Ankara have been at odds over the arming of these groups since the start of the civil war in Syria.
Max Abrahms from Northeastern University is an international security professor. He explained via email to The American Conservative that America views the Islamic State as the most dangerous terrorist threat and has prioritized its efforts accordingly. Washington’s policymakers were caught between two rocks when it came down to fighting the Islamic State of Syria. “Washington did not want to ally itself with President Assad, because they are enemies. These so-called rebels were unreliable fighters tainted with extremism and led Al-Qaeda and its jihadi buddies who prefer to overthrow Assad to fight ISIS. After the Battle of Kobani, the YPG emerged in Syria as the most pro-American, anti-ISIS fighters. Abrahms stated that the Kurds were America’s top counterterrorists. Erdogan, who regards the Kurdish militants the most dangerous terrorists, was not pleased.
Abrahms explained that this is why Erdogan refused to accept American condolences. However, it is difficult to determine if the PKK was responsible for the attack. Statistics show that attacks such as the one in Istanbul are often not claimed by smart militant leaders who don’t want to be held responsible for the reputational damage of killing civilians. Abrahms continued, “Attacks on government targets are much more likely to be claimed.”
Abrahms stated that attribution of the attack to PKK serves Erdogan’s agenda since he is a well-known critic of American support for Kurdish separatism and has also been critical of American support for Kurdish fighters fighting in Syria. He claimed that the attacks were unconnected to PKK terrorist activity in Turkey. While Erdogan is correct in claiming that the groups are linked, the strength of this connection is still hotly debated.
Abrahms believes that terrorists will be punished regardless of who they are. “Terrorism justifies hardline stances towards them and their political aspirations while increasing popular support for government most of the times,” he said.
Andrew Doran, a senior researcher fellow at the Philos Project acknowledged to TAC in an email correspondence that the “relationship between the YPG & PKK is close” (at least ideologically).
Doran stated that “The Ocalists, as I’ve observed in previous pieces in TAC, and elsewhere, frighteningly ideology” and “have perpetrated terrorist attacks against Turkish civilians which is unacceptable.” However, the Syrian Democratic Forces were not all Ocalists (i.e. Not all PKK/YPG, and the SDF-DoD’s operation was infinitely more successful in advancing U.S. goals than the CIA’s idiotic caper. Doran stated that the Syrian Democratic Forces weren’t all Ocalists (i.e.
Doran stated that “as it happens, our allies, the Turks seem in the habit of arming people wanting to kill Americans or genocide Christians.”
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It seems that there are no good guys with the brutal fighting and tactics used by both sides of the Kurdish–Turkish conflict. Washington policymakers are often more confused and morally shaky than they would like the public to believe. This is why “U.S. Doran says that foreign policy in Syria and Iraq, as well as Yemen and Libya has been foolish, imprudent and unwise for more than twenty years.”
Doran gave an example: “The Islamic State wouldn’t have been possible without the toppling Saddam.” “Reasonable minds may differ as to whether it is better to keep the ISIS caliphate intact, or to destroy it. It was more beneficial to eliminate it, I think. Doran said that the Kurds were very effective in fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
Doran noted that there has been a widening of the divide between the NATO allies in recent years. Doran stated that there are some in the U.S. foreign-policy establishment who believe the Turkish alliance with its roots in the Cold War has run its course and Erdogan’s illiberal Islamism is enough to make it difficult to part ways after Turkey’s accession to the EU was not going to happen. “Turkey is not a part of Europe and its values and interests are currently and historically at odds with the West’s. The Turks pose a greater threat to the West today than the Arabs or Persians.