On Oct. 10, 2015, Ankara witnessed the largest terrorist attack on Turkish soil. Around 102 people died and over four hundred were injured. Turkey is still mourning this horrific terrorist attack.
A comprehensive investigation is underway. Over a dozen suspects have been detained. We will have more answers as the investigation deepens. The prosecutors are not ruling out any possibilities including Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and the PKK. In the meantime, the government took a number of measures, increased security in crowded areas and removed Ankara police chief and two others for the safety of the ongoing investigation. Political parties cancelled or rescheduled their large-scale rallies.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan ordered the State Investigation Council to look into the attack and investigate if there were any security and/or intelligence failure.
This horrific attack once again confirms that terrorism is a global phenomenon and requires global coordination and solidarity. Those who support, finance, justify and glorify terrorism are also responsible for the pain and agony terrorism causes.
Turkey's allies and friends should stand in solidarity with Turkey against all forms of terrorism whether from ISIS, PKK or others. A destabilized Turkey is in no one's interest. Turkey's security is key to the stability in the region especially in the face of the widening refugee crisis.
Currently, Turkey is fighting against three main terrorist organizations: ISIS, PKK and the People's Revolutionary Liberation Party-Front (DHPK-C), a leftist terrorist organization. Each has its own agenda but also an interest to destabilize Turkey before the Nov. 1 elections.
Turkey is part of the international coalition against ISIS and allows its airbases and airspace for attacks on ISIS targets in Syria. To date, Turkey has banned about 20,000 suspected people from entering the country and deported about 2,000 of them. After the Suruç attack on July 20, over 500 individuals suspected of being ISIS members have been detained and about 200 have been arrested. As Turkey has taken a clear stance against ISIS, the terrorist organization has turned its attention to Turkey, accusing the president and the government of collaborating with the West, betraying the Muslim world, et cetera. ISIS attacked Turkish targets before and may do so again.
While the world's attention is on the fight against ISIS, Turkey is also fighting against the PKK, which has killed dozens of security forces and civilians over the last three months alone. After two years of calm, the PKK began its terrorist activities this summer and mobilized its urban militants.
Interestingly, the PKK's urban terrorist branches have called for revenge attacks in major cities just two weeks ago. A group called "the Immortals Brigade" threatened major bomb attack in large cities. Murat Karayılan, a PKK leader in the Qandil mountains, confirmed this on Sept. 28. After the Ankara attack, two PKK and HDP-related individuals were arrested with possible ties to the attack. We will know more about all this once the investigation is completed.
Clearly, the goal of the attack is to destabilize Turkey before the elections on Nov. 1. It aims to create a sense of insecurity and uncertainty among Turkish citizens in an already chaotic region. The last thing the Ankara government wants to see is panic and chaos before the elections in less than three weeks.
Yet, some politicians and commentators have made the startling claim that the government is behind the Ankara attack. This claim, without a shred of evidence, is as ridiculous and irresponsible as the claim that the U.S. government was behind the 9/11 attacks or the British government was behind the 7/7 bombings. Anyone making such a claim would be laughed at as a loony conspiracy theorist and not taken seriously. Interestingly enough, those who accuse the Turkish government of resorting to conspiracy theories are themselves now concocting the wildest conspiracy theories to score cheap political points. This is irresponsible politics and cannot lead to peace, trust and security.
We need to reject all such attempts at political manipulation at a time of national mourning. Instead of seeking cheap political gains, we all must take a clear stance against all forms of terrorism including the PKK, ISIS and others. Those who glorify PKK terrorism and seek to justify it by manipulating the war in Syria and the fight against ISIS not only betray a fundamental moral principle but also sow hatred and animosity. Two wrongs do not make one right. We should reject ISIS as well as PKK terrorism without establishing any hierarchies of good and evil.
Given Turkey's long history of fighting terrorism since the 1970s, I am sure we will overcome this menace.