The final dispatch from Ankara

'Our investigation indicates that ISIS, PKK might be behind the Ankara attacks' says Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu speaking at a press conference in capital Ankara, October 10, 2015

Davutoglu’s government had been under intense pressure after the Ankara suicide bombings. Members of his own party, as well as the head of the state, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, were asking questions over, later admitted, security lapses.

The team has been in Ankara since October 10

Our team had been in Ankara since October 10, the day a peace rally across the Ankara train station had turned into the scene of a blood bath.

Kublai and Mark, managing the show and Rob, who'd cut video reports on edit in twenty minutes, Devis Aray, the novice cameraman who'd been on deployment, first in Izmir now Ankara, for three weeks and myself. We were exhausted after five fifteen hour days. 

So the prime minister’s curious assumption had us  confused. 

‘Leftist and Islamist groups have had historical links and have provided support to each other in the past’, Dr Birol Akgun, director of SDE, a think tank based in Ankara, told TRT World.

Akgun cited the example of violent German-leftists supporting right-wing Palestinians in the 1970s and 80’s.

Birol implied that Prime Minister Davutoglu’s suggestion,of an ISIS and or PKK link to October 10, wasn't unlikely, however unreasonable it may have seemed. 'But it would be unwise to let ISIS off the hook', said Dr Akgun.

‘This was an attack on Turkish unity’, said Recep Tayyip Erdogan in his first statement since the October 10 killings. The death toll had reached 99 and Erdogan had turned an official press conference with the Finnish President on October 13 into an opportunity to talk about Ankara.

‘Some intelligence reports indicate the attacks were planned in a neighboring country’, said the President, who went on, ‘If some countries support a group or person involved in terrorism then that means those countries are also involved in terrorism’, he said, while identifying Syria as the state in question.

The splintering of the Syria state, following the 2011 uprising, into fragmented areas of control, had given violent non-state actors an opportunity at a land grab.

Groups like ISIS had created havens from which to operate as had the Syrian affiliate of the PKK, the PYD. 

Under the guidance of Salih Muslim, the PYD had retaken Kobane and Tal Abyad initiating a process to create a seamless Kurdish corridor in northern Syria.

The prospect concerned Turkey. It feared the emergence of a hostile buffer of inter-connecting Kurdish pockets in northern Syria that could potentially be used by the violent PKK to launch attacks against the Turkish state. It was an unacceptable scenario for Turkey.

‘This was an attack on Turkish unity’, said Recep Tayyip Erdogan in his first statement since the October 10 kiliings [TRT World]

David Fromkin informs us that, ‘The Kurds are a scattered people who inhabit the plateaus and mountains of Iraq, Iran, Russian Armenia and Turkey. In his 1989 book, ‘A peace to end all peace’, he writes that the failure of Britain, France and Russia to agree on creating a Kurdish state in these areas, is one of the many injustices of the First World War.

Kurdish violence in southeastern Turkey and land grab in northern Syria as well as self-ruled areas in Northern Iraq can be viewed as a natural process to correct this historical wrong.

Prime Minister Davutoglu’s and President Erdogan’s statements, that ISIS and the PKK are the primary suspects for the Ankara bombings and that the attacks originated in Syria, gain new significance when viewed in this historical context.

It is often said that the PKK and HDP rely on an overlapping, collective base for support. So the implication that the PKK would attack its own support base seems a bit far-fetched.

Peace rally was accross Ankara train station [TRT World]

99 Turkish citizens were killed on October 10, So it doesn't matter who killed who. What matters is the response. There is no doubt the PKK needs to renounce violence and become part of a peaceful solution. But attempts to link the PKK with October 10 is unreasonable and can harm prospects for a resolution of the crisis. For that to happen, the government needs to take the PKK up on its peace offer, with conditions such as complete disarmament.

After five days of following victims' families, the President, Prime Minister and the cabinet, we were drained. So when we received orders to return, we discovered that all flights to Istanbul were fully booked.

We decided to rent a car and driving towards the Bosphorus. The prospect of being home was too tempting and the five hour drive offered time to reflect and so the four of us drove out of Ankara, five days after the deadliest attacks in Turkey’s modern history.

Author: Ali Mustafa