Monday,23 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1134, 7 - 13 February 2013
Monday,23 July, 2018
Issue 1134, 7 - 13 February 2013

Ahram Weekly

Behind the embassy bombing

Does Turkey’s AKP face some kind of conspiracy or are Turkey’s chickens merely coming home to roost, asks Sayed Abdel-Meguid

Al-Ahram Weekly

Turkey was headed for some tough times with intermittent terrorist attacks, the Milliyet predicted on 19 January. In a lengthy report, the Turkish daily cited informed sources close to the Turkish national intelligence agency, MIT, who maintained that there was a conspiracy to sow a wave of unrest and acts of sabotage with the aim of toppling the current government, which is headed by the Justice and Development Party (AKP).

The newspaper likened the plan to the notorious Balyoz (Sledgehammer) case involving what were alleged to be preparations to stir chaos in order to justify a military coup against the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2003. The report warned that similar plans were afoot, this time in order to ignite ethnic and sectarian strife between Turks and Kurds, and between Sunni and Alevi Muslims with the aim of fragmenting Turkish society.

The Milliyet also reported that special security teams had uncovered evidence indicating that terrorist groups intended to bomb major infrastructure, such as the two bridges over the Bosporus, the Mount Bolu tunnel on the Ankara-Istanbul highway, and other major thoroughfares. The alleged conspiracy also includes plans to assassinate prominent political figures, such as President Abdullah Gül and Vice Prime Minister Bülent Arõnç, and to wage character assassination campaigns against the wives of senior politicians, such as Haryülnisa Gül and Amina Erdogan.

Meanwhile, according to the sources cited by the newspaper, there would be attempts to sow strife and conflict on university campuses while another propaganda campaign would be launched with the aim of casting doubt on the performance and intentions of the AKP government. Part of that campaign would entail deluding Turkish public opinion into believing that AKP leaders had designs to sell out the country through their close cooperation with the government of Iraqi Kurdistan whose leader, Massoud Barzani, dreams of an independent Kurdish state that would ostensibly include a portion of eastern Anatolia and who has been reported to have had dealings with leaders of the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Interestingly, however, the Milliyet report made no mention whatsoever of possible attacks on foreign interests or diplomatic missions in the country. As a result, many Turkish dailies lashed out against security agencies for their failure to foresee the bombing attack at the US embassy in Ankara on Friday. The attack, responsibility for which was claimed by the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), a far-left group that is banned in Turkey, was carried out by 40-year-old Ecevit Sanlı. The suicide bomber had been involved in previous terrorist activities. At one point he managed to flee Turkey to Europe. However, he was eventually apprehended and jailed, but was subsequently released due to illness.

Another Turkish daily, Vatan, laid part of the blame on the US for the bombing which killed a Turkish security guard at the embassy and injured three people, one of whom was the well-known journalist, Dedem Tuncay, diplomatic correspondent for the Turkish NTV news channel. Vatan charged that Washington was known for dealing with terrorist organisations in various parts of the world and that it used members of the banned DHKP-C as well as Kurdish separatists only to turn against them afterwards, just as it had turned against Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.

In a similar vein, Cumhuriyet suggested that the suicide bombing at the US embassy was an act of revenge against both the US and Israel. The newspaper pointed to the militant left political orientation of the perpetrator and observed that his attack took place immediately after the Israeli aerial assault against a scientific research centre on the outskirts of Damascus. But the newspaper went on to add, “one can not help but to note that the Turkish government has not condemned or declared its position on the Israeli assault. Rather, it has remained silent in spite of the fact that Syria, a Muslim country, was the victim of an Israeli attack. How can one explain this position on the part of the Erdogan government which has vowed to defend Muslims everywhere throughout the world?” Perhaps the Cumhuriyet article sounded a warning bell somewhere in the corridors of the AKP government for on Saturday, a week after the Israeli bombardment of the Syrian research centre, Erdogan declared that Tel Aviv practised “state terrorism”.

Radikal faulted Turkish security agencies for having released Sanlı in spite of his illness. “How many ill people are behind bars? How curious it is that state security would show such indulgence to a proven terrorist at a time when prisons are overflowing with generals, officers, university professors and dozens of journalists pending investigation, many of whom are ill and have to be taken to hospital from time to time to receive treatment. It is odd that these, in spite of their respectable place in society, have not been released.”

Sustaining its tone of scathing sarcasm, the left wing newspaper wondered how Sanlı could have been allowed to roam around freely while former chief of the general staff General Ilker Basbug remains in prison on the allegation of heading a terrorist group. It then proceeded to enumerate what it claimed were the AKP government’s double standards. The government hosted several meetings, in Istanbul and elsewhere in Turkey, of military and civilian forces opposed to the Al-Assad regime in Damascus; it permitted Syrian militiamen, including some affiliated with Al-Qaeda, to pass from Turkey into Syria and the reverse; and it allowed a number of Turks to take part in the hostilities against the Syrian army.

The newspaper, along with public figures, concluded that all quarters of society had to work together in the fight against terrorism. In the process, they should not discriminate between one terrorist group or organisation and another, since all terrorist groups everywhere use armed violence and bloodshed in order to attain their objectives.


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