After bombings in the capital of Turkey, Ankara, thousands of protesters took to the streets of cities across the country on Monday, angered by the weekend bombings at a peace march in Ankara that left almost 100 people dead (with some estimating a much higher figure). Turkey’s government suspects two male suicide bombers in the killings.
Many protesters, however, pointed fingers directly at Turkey’s government over the bombings, according to CTV.
“The killer state will be held to account!”
Protesters feel that in the run up to elections on November 1, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been sowing the seeds of discontent and violence between Turks and Kurds to turn voters away from a Kurdish opposition party that received enough votes in the last election to put the Erdogan government in a minority position. Erdogan wants total control back, with a majority government.
In July of this year, a similar attack happened in the city of Suruc in southern Turkey, near the Syrian border that killed 33 people. That bombing was also blamed on ISIS. Media reports suggest that the same materials used in that bombing were also used in the bombings in Ankara. Reuters quotes the Prime Minister of Turkey explaining the direction investigations into the bombings are going.
“There was general intelligence that Daesh (ISIS) especially, and certain teams of the PKK in northern Iraq, teams calling themselves the ‘immortals,’ were being prepared … If you consider the way the attack happened and the general trend of it, we have identified Islamic State as the primary focus … DNA tests are being conducted. It was determined how the suicide bombers got there. We’re close to a name, which points to one group.”
Turkey has been a stable force in a region that strife has torn apart, and many worry that this is about to change, given the bombings. Prime Minister Davutoglu insists this is not the case, however.
“These attacks won’t turn Turkey into a Syria.”
But observers are not so sure. Turkey is the main country many joining ISIS use to get into Syria. Much of ISIS territory borders on Turkey. Making inroads into Turkey would be a major boon for ISIS. Furthermore, tensions between Turkey and its Kurdish population have risen in recent months with the PKK, a Kurdish independence group labelled as a terrorist organization by Ankara, as a peace deal between the two fell apart early in the summer.
Furthermore, President Erdogan has faced criticism for his increasingly authoritarian style of governance, silencing of critics, going after journalists and news outlets, and increasing Islamic influence over a fiercely secular country.
In May of 2013, Erdogan faced national protests after protesters in Istanbul occupied Taksim Gezi Park over an urban development plan. It spiraled, with thousands of anti-government protests being staged across the country. Across the country, 11 protesters were killed, while approximately 8,000 were injured.
Despite the rise in violence highlighted by the Ankara bombings and a decrease in security, the government of Turkey is determined to carry on with the November 1 elections, although an opposition party feels that Erdogan would prefer to hold off elections until he’s sure that he can get a majority government. At the moment, according to Today’s Zaman, it appears that Erdogan will not get the majority he desperately wants.
“This country needs peace and stability. No one has the right to write this country’s history in blood. I hope we will have a single-party government after the election, because [Turkey] needs unity and a stronger, more decisive fight against terrorism.”
[Photo from Getty Images / Gokhan Tan]