Who are the enemies of Turkey?

After the Istanbul attack : What enemies does Turkey have?

After the renewed attack in Turkey, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has once again announced a relentless fight against terror. The "real backers" should be fought, he said in an initial statement. The situation in Turkey is currently extremely unstable.

How is Ankara taking action against terrorism?

Everyone agrees with Tayyip Erdogan's statement. "You want to destroy the morale of our country and spread chaos," the authoritarian ruling president told his Turkish compatriots on Sunday. Even after the terrorist attack in the chic “Reina” nightclub in Istanbul, the political leadership in Ankara has announced that it will fight and retaliate until the end. The fight against terrorism - at least that is what the Turkish electorate is showing - has become primarily a military matter. The army throws bombs on the hideout of the Kurdish underground army PKK in the Kandil Mountains in northern Iraq and on the positions of the "Islamic State" in northern Syria. Tanks are in the mostly Kurdish cities in the southeast of the country, the centers of which have been destroyed by months of operations against the guerrillas. The government repeatedly promises the civilian population financial aid packages designed to stimulate investment and reduce the influence of the PKK. The Turkish judiciary, in turn, does the non-military part of the campaign and has “terror suspects” put in jail almost every day: Kurdish politicians, political liberals, supporters of the alleged coup organizer Fethullah Gülen, and more rarely alleged sympathizers or members of IS.

Why are Kurdish extremists fighting the Turkish state?

Since the summer of 2015, the fight between the Kurdish extremists and the Turkish state has flared up again. From 2012 to 2014, the Turkish state had negotiated with the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which was classified as a terrorist organization. However, the so-called "solution process" had serious flaws, as it turned out: the imprisoned PKK founder Abdullah Öcalan did not seem to have full influence over the PKK in northern Iraq, and the newly founded pro-Kurdish minority party HDP was never able to take on a real political role in the negotiation process. Above all, however, there was no timetable that would have stated which stages and where the solution to the Kurdish question should lead. Withdrawal and disarmament of the PKK group within Turkey did not go as Ankara imagined. Clashes and skirmishes with the army increased in spring 2015. According to the allegation in Ankara, the PKK had secretly hoarded weapons and was preparing for a new confrontation. The explanation for this was the rapid military rise of the Kurdish PYD and its YPG militia in northern Syria, along the border with Turkey. Both the government and the opposition in Ankara - with the exception of the HDP - saw the new Kurdish region of Rojava as a threat to southeast Turkey. The PKK tried to export the Rojava model and began to mobilize youthful supporters for the first time for a fight in the cities in the southeast. Attacks on the police and the army increased. The splinter group TAK carries out terrorist attacks in the western part of Turkey - in Ankara, Istanbul, also on the Mediterranean coast - to help preserve the PKK's image as an “independence fighter” in the southeast.

What role does the “Islamic State” play?

Some eyewitnesses in the Reina nightclub in Istanbul said they heard Arabic voices during the attack. But on Sunday it was still unclear whether IS had actually carried out another act of terrorism in Istanbul, for example in retaliation for the Turkish army's storming of the IS stronghold of al-Bab in northern Syria. In the first few years of the Syrian civil war, Ankara had at least tolerated Sunni Islamist rebels against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, possibly also actively supported it with the delivery of weapons. Islamist fighters were treated in Turkish hospitals, the IS recruited some of its militiamen in Turkish cities and it was able to use Turkey as a transit route for fighters from Europe and Asia for a long time. It was only with the increase in terrorist attacks in Turkey, which investigators officially attributed to ISIS, that the tide turned. Head of state Erdogan began to publicly deny IS any religious claim in 2015. In August 2016, the army began the invasion of northern Syria with the declared primary goal of pushing back the IS. But it is more important to Ankara to keep the Syrian Kurds in check there.

What about the Gülen movement?

The leadership in Ankara is now endeavoring to present the network of its former ally, the preacher Fethullah Gülen, who lives in the USA, as a terrorist organization at home and internationally. Only the Conference of Islamic States (IOC) now recognizes the FETÖ - the terror organization of Fethullah supporters - declared in this way. The president and government blame Gülen for the coup on July 15 last year. The state of emergency that Erdogan imposed after the failed coup is also directed against the PKK and its alleged supporters in Turkish society. Ankara is now also trying to show a connection between the PKK and the military close to Gülen. The fight against the PKK would have been more successful in the past had Gülen not been pulling the strings in the background, it is claimed. The preacher is now also charged with a large part of the political murders that have not been fully investigated in recent years. Most recently, however, the assassination attempt on the Russian ambassador in Ankara had shown that the quick pointer to Gülen is not always verifiable. This could also apply to the attack in the “Reina” nightclub.

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