By Robert A. Vella
A public rally of anti-government leftists and pro-Kurdish activists promoting “Work, Peace, Democracy” was attacked today near the main train station in Ankara, Turkey by two large explosions which reportedly killed 86 people and injured 186. Turkish authorities stated that they believe the attacks were committed by two suicide bombers, but provided no additional details. It is being described as the deadliest such attack in the city’s history.
With Turkey’s second general election this year looming on November 1st (the first one in June resulted in a hung parliament), the deadly attacks on today’s peaceful protest was obviously done to send a brutal political message. By whom, it is still unknown; however, the two most likely interests are the Islamic State (a.k.a. ISIS, ISIL) and the Turkish government itself.
Turkey’s government, headed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has been waging an aggressive military campaign against its Kurdish minority inside and outside the country. It has also harshly treated the nation’s secular and democratic activists every time they have raised their voice in opposition to the sectarian and theocratic Erdogan – a Sunni Muslim.
ISIS, whom Turkey is ostensibly fighting alongside the U.S. in its counter-terrorism efforts, is also Sunni Muslim. Although Turkey denies any official association with ISIS, there is little unofficial doubt about its religious sympathies for that militant Islamist organization. Both ISIS and Turkey are aligned against the Shiite Muslim interests in the region – namely, the Assad regime in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Iran.
But, with so many disparate factions in the Middle East willing to perpetrate acts of violence for perceived gain, it’s not hard to imagine some other group being responsible for today’s attacks.
Further reading: Turkey terror attack: scores killed in twin Ankara blasts