What is behind Turkey’s Suruc attack?
Monday’s bombing attack in the border town of Suruc in which 32 mainly young activists were killed has shaken Turkey deeply. The attack is believed to have been led by a suicide bomber affiliated with ISIS. But why are radical Islamists attacking Turkey?
Cutting support of Kurds
The international coalition against ISIS led by the United States still faces difficulties in finding enough support to build a land force against the terrorist group. The Iraqi National Army lost a certain amount of credibility last year after leaving Mosul to ISIS and many policy-makers in Washington see the INA as incapable of defeating ISIS. The Kurdish President of the KRG is reluctant to use Peshmerger fighters from Kurdish dominated areas for future considerations and not to risk security of his territory. The YPG and PYD, affiliated with the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), have been the only force active against ISIS. These groups receive manpower and logistics from Turkey. By targeting youngsters from Turkey, who were trying to rebuild Kobani as a Kurdish city after last year’s destruction, ISIS wanted to cut the flow of aid from Turkey.
Destabilizing Peace Process in Turkey
The Turkish government has been in talks with imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan for three years. The aim of the talks is to find a peaceful solution to Turkey’s Kurdish issue and stop the war with the PKK. The political wing of PKK, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) got 13 per cent of the vote in June 7 elections and won 82 seats in the national parliament. ISIS has revealed its hopes of having a right wing coalition government in Turkey, which would stop the peace talks and result in the Turkish army fighting the PKK again. Having the PKK fighting on two fronts against ISIS and the Turkish Army would relieve ISIS in their fight against Kurds in Syria.
Despite accusations in Western media Turkey openly defines ISIS as terrorists and government officials say they will never tolerate terrorists operating in Turkey. Turkey recently arrested tens of ISIS affiliates and increased its border controls. ISIS may have targeted Turkey as a reaction to the Turkish ‘surge’ against it.
ISIS believes that democracy is disbelief and defines Turkish rulers and most of its citizens as “murtad” (non-Muslims). Turkey presents a different understanding of Islam, in peace with a democratic system. For this reason ISIS sees Turkey and other countries like Tunisia as enemies of their belief and this makes Turkey a natural target for the organization.