Sunday, 18 October 2015

Peace is attacked in Ankara: After 10/10/15 what next for Turkey?

Ankara Terror Attacks 10/10/15

The smoke may have cleared in central Ankara following the 10/10/15 atrocity by persons and organisations as yet not revealed, but the pall of grief hangs atop the Turkish Capital as 97 families grieve their losses and many more will be fearful of the fate of those who cling to life in hospital as a result of the cowardly bombings that recently occurred. At the time of compiling this copy, the identities of the bombers even if known, are not yet in the public domain; speculation is rife but IS/Da’Esh seem to be the likely culprits. PKK have been implicated too, but such an operation would not seem to have their prints on it neither is the timing – ahead of the snap elections – helpful to their cause.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has suggested that Turkey has a list of would-be suicide bombers but that the authorities are disbarred from intervening and acting upon such intelligence until an action has been carried out! By definition, you would have to think that it is a bit late to act after a suicide bomber has ‘hit the button’ and furthermore, surely National Security interests would have primacy over the legal niceties of an individuals rights (or otherwise). You could be pretty sure that here in Britain, our Intel Services would be –and almost certainly are – taking a somewhat active interest in an individual or group that were linked to such deadly organisations and it beggars belief that M.I.T are not similarly inclined. Apparently though and according to Davutoğlu, if any legal action is taken against suicide bombing suspects before the criminal act, there may be another act committed in protest by other suspects, quid pro quo. So why not take out the other suspects too!?

The terrorist action on 10/10/15 was the largest single terrorist action to be meted out upon the people of Turkeyin the history of the Republic and people have reacted angrily as they emerge from the understandable shock that such a thing took place. Following a call from the Confederation of Public Sector Trades’ Unions (KESK), the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (DİSK), the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) and the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB), a march was to be held on Oct. 13, starting at Cerrahpaşa and Sirkeci, two different venues in Istanbul’s Fatih district, before joining in Beyazıt Square, to protest the Ankara bombing and commemorate the 97 victims of the massacre. 

The governor’s office however said, at around 2 a.m. on Oct. 13 that the application filed for the demonstration had been rejected because “the places where the march was slated to be organized were places citizens use frequently,” because the route for the demonstration “was not among the places listed in the law on meetings and demonstrations” and because of “the sensibility of the current period.” Accordingly, police units were deployed to prevent people from reaching the planned demonstration routes. 

In the meantime, protests were held against the massacre across the country in multiple cities, varying from İzmir and Uşak in Turkey’s west to Malatya and Adana in the east and south and Giresun and Zonguldak in the north.  Among the cities in the south of the country where protests were held, police also used teargas to attack a group of around 30 lawyers and another 150 people who came to support them in front of the courthouse in the Alanya district of Antalya.

Many interested outside observers – this column being one - have been predicting an escalation of terrorist actions within Turkey as the Syrian crisis accelerates especially since Moscow initiated unilateral actions in support of the Assad Regime. Russia claims great success in neutralising IS/Da’Esh targets but we are not being shown evidence of these strikes whilst there is plenty of reason to believe that these ‘targets’ are actually those that are in direct conflict with the Syrian government which for some 40 years, have been supported by successive Russian governments. 

Turkey is more than ‘touched and concerned’ by this conflict; given that the shared border between Syria and Turkey is some 820 kilometres in length, it would be impossible to prevent some cross-over in the circumstances. Turkey’s geographical and strategic location is critical though for it has become an increasingly important conduit for the passage of many people onwards to Western Europe and many of these will be exceedingly dangerous groups ‘on a mission’.

Russia’s motives, opportunistic they so clearly have to be seen to be, are certainly not those to be interpreted as Moscow attempting to destroy IS; on the contrary, this is Russia taking an even more embedded position in Syria and, given their long pre-existing deep water naval facility there, they are looking further. Thanks to South Cyprus, Russian naval vessels are now able to use sea bases there too and perhaps air-bases may follow. Furthermore, for many years Russian influence has been steadily growing throughout the island of Cyprus. 

Divided Cyprus 'united' under Russia?

To conclude, the Cyprus Negotiations notwithstanding, what ever may be finally agreed it is quite possible these will count for nothing as a deep ‘red carpet’ is rolled out over Cyprus from the south northward. There have already been aerial incidents between Russian and Turkish aircraft recently and these may escalate; furthermore if Russian troops are based in Cyprus, the Turkic-Russo wars may launch again as they did in 1877/8.  

There is more than enough justification for Turkey to maintain and uphold her military presence in Cyprus irrespective of any deal that might be brokered in some sort of bi-federal, bi-zonal arrangement for the latter may count for nought as the Russian Bear's grip tightens. The strategic shape of the Eastern Mediterranean region could change dramatically during the next 5 years and Turkey has a right to defend her borders. The "Arab Spring" is becoming very 'wintery' indeed!

The Russians are coming!


Chris Green 

Besparmak Media Services