Erdoğan and his Crazy Accusations
The President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan–seen as a Sultan of sorts by many in Turkey–may be beginning to lose it, mentally that is, or at the least he is getting rather lazy. Why would I say such a thing? Well Erdoğan has alleged that the recent and deadly Ankara suicide bombing was jointly organized by ISIL, the PKK, the PYD and Bashar al-Assad’s intelligence agency. He said the Ankara bombing, “totally is a collective terrorist act, in which Daesh [ISIL], the PKK, the Mukhabarat [Syria’s military intelligence] and the PYD in northern Syria each played a role.”
Background Information on the Ankara Bombing
Before we can proceed further a little background information is necessary. On October 10 two suicide bombers struck a peace rally in Ankara, the capital of Turkey, killing over 100 people and injuring hundreds more. The rally was mainly attended by supporters of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), a predominantly Kurdish political party in Turkey. It has been reported that the original target was the headquarters of the HDP in Ankara, but when the bombers heard of the scheduled peace rally they decided to attack it instead. All of this indicates that the Kurds were the target of the attack.
The two suicide bombers have been identified as Yunus Emre Alagöz and Ömer Deniz Dündar, who are members of the Dokumacılar group affiliated with ISIL. Turkish prosecutors have stated that the bombers took direct orders from ISIL in Syria to strike PKK and anti-ISIL targets within Turkey. The prosecutors also speculated that the motive for the attack was to postpone the November 1 elections by destabilizing the country.
It seems that mass murder runs in the Alagöz family, as Yunus’ brother Şeyh Abdurrahman Alagöz carried out the Suruc suicide bombing in July, which also targeted Kurds. Another man who has been implicated in the attack, Yakup Şahin, who acted as a driver and observer, was a former al-Nusra member, and is currently an ISIL member. Thus to date all of the reported evidence pertaining to the Ankara bombing implicates ISIL, while their is no evidence implicating either the PKK, the PYD or the Mukhabarat.
Are the PKK, PYD and Assad’s Regime Involved?
With these facts in mind, if Erdoğan actually believes what he is saying then he believes in absurdity. The PKK and PYD are Kurdish military organizations and are nothing short of mortal enemies with ISIL. In response to the Suruc bombing the PKK murdered two suspected Turkish members of ISIL. Furthermore, on October 10 the PKK called on its fighters to cease conducting attacks until after the November 1 elections. So why would the PKK break its own ceasefire and now cooperate with ISIL to bomb a predominantly Kurdish target in Ankara? The same question applies to the PYD, which is fighting ISIL in northern Syria. The answer is they most likely wouldn’t.
Now we must consider the alleged involvement of Assad’s Mukhabarat, an allegation unsubstantiated by any direct evidence. It could be plausible that Assad would cooperate with Kurdish groups, but why would he cooperate with ISIL? At face value ISIL and Assad’s regime are at war with each other, with the former controlling large parts of Syria. But the relationship between ISIL and Assad is complicated. There are allegations that ISIL is cooperating with Assad to undermine other rebel groups and that the Syrian air force has not been bombing rather obvious ISIL targets. Furthermore in 2014 it was noted that Syrian airstrikes against rebel forces in Aleppo province benefited ISIL, which at the time was advancing against those rebel forces.
To some this is evidence that ISIL and Assad are in cahoots, but this is a simplification of the situation. Assad and ISIL are enemies, but Assad also has other enemies, which also happen to be the enemies of ISIL, as any group that does not swear allegiance to ISIL is considered an enemy. It is rational for the Machiavellian Assad to not go full out on ISIL, as the latter will just as likely war with other rebel groups as with Assad’s forces. Therefore in certain limited situations it is in the interest of Assad not to bomb ISIL, enabling them to attack other rebel groups, which in the situations in question may be a greater threat to Assad than ISIL.
While in certain situations it may be in the interest of Assad not to attack ISIL, that does not mean that the two are directly cooperating with one another and that they would work together to conduct the Ankara bombing. Furthermore Assad may be enemies with Erdoğan but what does he have to gain by blowing up mostly Kurds in Ankara? Wouldn’t it be more effective and vengeful to attack an AKP rally? Maybe targeting the Kurds will incite them and the PKK to violence thereby destabilizing Turkey and possibly weakening Erdoğan. However, destabilization of Turkey could just as likely empower Erdoğan, giving him the pretext for assuming dictatorial powers and making him more dangerous to Assad. Thus such a plot would be reckless for Assad to be involved with.
What is Erdoğan Thinking
For all of the reasons enumerated it is laughable to posit the cooperation of ISIL, Assad, and Kurdish elements. But in defense of Erdoğan, he is not this stupid. He most likely does not believe his own accusations, instead he is spreading propaganda to demonize the PKK, the PYD and Assad’s regime by associating them with the evil ISIL and the horrific Ankara bombing. That such propaganda is farcical, for the reasons given above, is immaterial to Erdoğan, for he is so imperious and authoritarian that to him any thing that he says will be accepted by those he rules over.
At first glance one may think that the task of reviving the Ottoman Empire is a bit too much for Erdoğan. The pressure may be getting to him and causing him to accuse ISIL, the PKK, the PYD and Assad of jointly conducting the Ankara suicide bombing. It is tempting to laugh at Erdoğan’s accusations, but his behavior is no laughing matter, for it is indicative of a very dangerous power mad individual who will say anything to further his geopolitical ambitions and those ambitions are not confined by the borders of Turkey.