By Burak Bekdil
February 25 2016
Learning by suffering could have been a useful way to fight the asymmetrical security threats against Turkish cities, towns and military/police personnel. Worse, Turkey is not even learning by suffering. Suffering seems to be merely collateral damage.
Just a couple of days after the most recent Ankara bombing (and how sad, “the most recent,” not just the “Ankara bombing”), the top Turkish Islamic cleric, Professor Mehmet Görmez, was speaking of a “global Islamophobia industry.” This is not surprising at all; the cliché Turkish rhetoric that the reason for (Islamic) acts of terror targeting Western cities is Islamophobia in the West is deeply problematic and does not count for a healthy diagnosis.
If the reason for the Paris attacks last November was “rising racism against Islam and Islamophobia in the West,” as Turkish leaders stereotypically believe, then what was the reason for the jihadists’ bomb attacks in Ankara last October and in Istanbul in January? Did jihadists attack Turkey because of Turkish Islamophobia? Was that why jihadists bombed Suruç, Ankara, Diyarbakır and Istanbul in a span of less than a year?
Similarly, has the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) been engaged in terrorist activity - the thing it does best - because there has been “Kurdophobia” in Turkey? If Islamist terror targeting western cities should be blamed on Islamophobia in the West, as the Turkish leaders persistently claim, should the PKK’s terror targeting Turkish cities be blamed on “Kurdophobia” in Turkey?
Turkey has had a problem about diagnosing the “Kurdish problem,” which President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan admitted existed in 2005 but then denied existed last year. That was typical of “official Turkey,” not exclusive to Mr. Erdoğan: the Turkish administration is almost always consistently inconsistent.
A decade and a half ago the official Turkish rhetoric about the “tribesmen of northern Iraq” was exactly the same as today’s rhetoric about the “Kurdish terrorists of northern Syria.” Today, “official Turkey” loves to be partners with yesterday’s “tribesmen of northern Iraq.” They will probably love to be partners with tomorrow’s Kurdish regional government in northern Syria, with $$$$ trafficking across the border.
So, never mind if Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu is so happy that he “convinced the U.S. administration of Syrian Kurds’ unreliability” - although the U.S. administration happily affirmed later that it keeps on partnering with the Syrian Kurds.
Remember, barely two weeks before the Turkish fighter jets shot down a Russian Su-24 military aircraft on Nov. 24, 2015, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş said he could see Russia was coming closer to a Syria without Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. What immaculate accuracy!
The Turkish reflex in the face of a tragic terror attack is now as standard as a software program: A media blackout that comes quicker than ambulances, national mourning, big speeches reminiscent of the infamous phrase that “Turkey’s bark is bigger than its bite,” the arrests of accomplices of the perpetrators and the bombing/shelling of the comrades of the perpetrators – followed by a period of silence until the next big act of terror. And, typically, no one questions why those accomplices and comrades are not arrested or bombed/shelled before the act of terror so that they could not help.
All that would be followed by an argument over the corporate identity of the terrorists. Ankara tends to manipulate the identity matter in favour of its broader policy goals, probably not even convincingly.
How bizarre that the Turkish security machinery had no idea that a Syrian Kurd would blow up himself along with 28 innocent victims at a certain moment and a certain corner but can identify who, from which terrorist organization and why he blew himself and others up within a few hours. Such admirable intelligence capabilities should be utilized before, not after, an attack. It will remain black humour that the public learned of the perpetrator’s identity first wrongly from the government, and then correctly from the perpetrators.
Turkey’s story about Kurdish terror is, first, about wrong diagnosis, and then, about wrong methods to fight it, but certainly about inconsistency – in a very consistent way.