For those who might still be unaware, Turkey is playing a large role in perpetuating violence across the Mid-East.
A few months back, when President Recep Tayyip Erdogan finally decided to allow US warplanes to fly sorties from Incirlik, it was fairly obvious what what was going on. Erdogan had just lost his absolute majority in parliament which is a bigger deal than it might sound. That majority was critical for Erdogan in his bid to alter the constitution and consolidate his power. Adding insult to injury, the AKP’s lost ground at the ballot box was partially the result of a strong showing by the pro-Kurdish HDP. Given the, how shall we say, “contentious” relationship between Ankara and the PKK, that was a bitter pill to swallow.
So, what Erdogan did, is effectively start a civil war by reigniting the conflict with the Kurds. This was done under the guise of a “war on terror” (and when you think about it, what isn’t done under the guise of a “war on terror” these days?) and NATO gave its blessing in exchange for access to Incirlik and a (largely fake) promise from Erdogan that part of his war would be focused on ISIS.
For Erdogan, the idea was to stir up fear amongst the populace in an effort to boost support for AKP. Once that plan was put into motion, he then moved to stymie the coalition building process. Once he had sabotaged that completely, the path was clear for him to call for new elections.
In short, this was a gambit to subvert the democratic process by stoking violence which Ankara hopes will lead to stronger support for AKP at the ballot box in November. That, in turn, would pave the way for Erdogan’s power play. Thanks to the fact that Erdogan is a US “ally” in the war on terror, this whole thing gets the Good Housekeeping seal of Western approval.
You’d be hard pressed to concoct a more tragically ridiculous ploy if you tried. Erdogan is simply trying to scare the people into voting for AKP but he’s not doing this in a vacuum. That is, Turkey is right next to Syria and indeed, there have long been rumors that Ankara tacitly supported ISIS. Meanwhile, the Kurdish YPG are fighting ISIS just across the border and the PKK have long accused the Turkish government of supporting terrorists (well, “terrorists” other than themselves that is). So Erdogan should have realized that this political gamble would be impossible to control - there are just too many moving parts and too many people who Ankara had to have known would smell a rat right from the start. That means either one of three things was destined to happen: i) the PKK would be so furious they would start a widespread civil war, ii) the plan wouldn't work and HDP would retain support causing Ankara to step up false flag attacks in a desperate attempt to double down on the "terror" in order to scare voters ahead of November, or iii) some combination of both.
Sure enough, the violence has now escalated to the point that some than 130 people were killed on Saturday in a pair of blasts - at a peace rally no less. Erdogan said the blasts “target [Turkey’s] unity and brotherhood [and] the aim is to make enemies of different groups in the society.”
He is of course exactly right, although because HDP was participating in the rally, blaming the PKK is far-fetched, which leads one to raise serious questions about possible false flags and because no false flag attack would be complete without the mention of the biggest geopolitical smokescreen ever created, Ankara says it suspects ISIS. Of course, as mentioned above, many suspect Ankara of cooperating with the very same Islamic State the government claims to be fighting and none of this is lost on HDP. Here’s more from Bloomberg (note the mention of the bombing at Suruc which kicked off this entire bloody debacle back in July and which we suggested seemed suspect) :
- Turkey’s pro-Kurdish HDP calls on intl community to extend condolences to Turkish people, “not to the state representatives who are politically and administratively responsible for the massacre.”
- "AKP’s policy of relying on radical groups as proxies, which began with President Erdogan’s support of, and even channeling through the intelligence organization MIT, the activities of such groups as ISIS, Al-Nusra, and Ahrar Al- Sham — used particularly against Kurds in Rojava — is at the heart of today’s tragedy’’
- Accuses AKP-led govt of seeking to escalate violence to try and push HDP below the 10% election threshold
- Claims “clear links” between bombing of HDP rally on June 5, attack in Suruc on July 20 and Saturday’s bombing of a peace rally in Ankara
- "We see no political accountability with regards to this bloodiest attack in the history of republic. On the contrary, their public statements show a readiness to blame the victims of this attack and our party’’
- Expresses concern that investigation may be “hidden from public scrutiny”
- Statement dated Oct. 12 and signed by Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, HDP co-chairs
But don't worry, because these theories are nonsense according to Ankara and prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu is purportedly "close to getting one name" and "has a list of potential suicide bombers."
Obviously that's completely ridiculous, and Turkey's citizens aren't buying it either. Here's AFP:
Anger towards President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over Turkey's worst-ever terrorist attack intensified as authorities raced to identify the two male suicide bombers it blamed for the bloodshed.
The streets of Ankara filled with anti-government and pro-Kurdish protesters accusing the government of responsibility for the blast that ripped through a peace rally a day earlier, with several shouting "Erdogan murderer" and "government resign!"
In Istanbul on Saturday, a 10,000-strong crowd accused the government of failing to protect citizens by providing security for the event, carrying placards reading "the state is a killer" and "we know the murderers".
As tributes poured in from world leaders, Selahattin Demirtas, leader of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), was cited as saying "State attacked the people. Condolences recipient should be the people not Erdogan" on the party's Twitter account.
In an emotional address to mourners in Ankara, Demirtas said that citizens should aim to end Erdogan's rule, starting with the upcoming legislative elections.
"We are not going to act out of revenge and hatred. But we are going to ask for (people to be held to) account," he added, saying the vote would be part of a process to "topple the dictator."
Here are some images from the protests sweeping the country on Monday where police have broken out the tear gas:
And more from WSJ:
“There were too many wounded, tens of dead, body pieces scattered around, and people screaming,” said Onder Bayindir, who was among demonstrators in front of Ankara’s train station in the immediate aftermath of the blasts.
“People were dying as we tried to help them, collapsing in our hands as we waited for ambulances,” said Mr. Bayindir, who had also volunteered in a nearby hospital. “We didn’t know what to do. We were also in shock.”
Political leaders traded barbs over the attack, a sign that political divisions were hardening ahead of Nov. 1 elections.
“The state wasn’t able to prevent a massacre right in the middle of Ankara,” Selahattin Demirtas, head of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, or HDP, said at Sunday’s rally. “Instead, it enabled it,” he said, accusing the government of allowing the attack.
We realize this is all impossibly convoluted and it's made even more so by Turkey's role in Syria's civil war, but the takeaway, as we've explained before, is this: this is a NATO member, run by a US-sponsored President, who is accused by political opponents of not only supporting ISIS, but of using the group as an excuse to start a civil war and possibly to carry out attacks on peaceful protesters. Here, for reference, is a helpful list of key events (via Gefira):
- June, the AKP failed to secure a majority in parliament. Erdo?an has to shelve his plan to enlarge the executive power of the president. The emergence of HDP was applaud by Brussels and the international press. Gefira immediately warned for political upheaval and estimated that there would be a reelection
- July, Turkey and US agreed to attack terrorists from incirlik air base. Gefira directly predicted that Turkey will never accept the reemergence of a Kurdish autonomous region in Syria and that the unfolding situation will result in more violence within Turkey and could lead the state of emergency and the postponing of the elections.
- July 21 The suicide attack in Suluc killed 32 Kurds and was the beginning of the war with the PKK, leaving hundreds of people dead. The AKP opponents accused the AKP and Turkish security service MIT complicit in the Suluc attack
- August – September, Turkish press was attacked by mobs, the Turkish government raided news papers for insulting Erdo?an. Many foreign journalist were detained and extradited.
- September, the on estimate 3 million refugees that are displaced in Turkey for more than 3 years started their march on Europe.
- October, Erdo?an visits Brussels. Europe express sympathy for Turkey and promise to pay for refugees in Turkey. Brussels and Turkey plead to revive the Turkish access process
- Bomb attack in Ankara killed almost 100 peace activists, Erdo?an opponents.
And this is the same Turkey who is supposedly one of Washington's greatest allies in the "war on terror" and is also the corridor for Mid-East refugees fleeing to Europe. As Reuters put it, "at stake is the stability of a NATO country seen by the West as a bulwark against Middle Eastern turmoil."
Ultimately, the absurdities run so deep here that it's nearly impossible to disentangle them, but at the end of the day, just be wary of Turkish despots bearing ballot boxes.