ISTANBUL WAS HIT BY TERRORIST ATTACK

upa-admin 19 Kasım 2022 1.110 Okunma 0
ISTANBUL WAS HIT BY TERRORIST ATTACK

A deadly blast in Istanbul’s popular touristic destination Taksim (İstiklâl Street) on November 13, 2022 caused the death of at least 6 people and injured more than 80 others according to Turkish authorities and media institutions.[1] The terrorist attack was organized on Sunday, a day when Istanbul’s best-known commercial pedestrian avenue was full of citizens as well as tourists. In that sense, the attack clearly aimed at harming Turkey’s tourism industry and its image as a safe host country. In this piece, I am going to summarize recent developments in Turkey about this terrorist attack and domestic political issues.

İstiklâl Street was decorated with Turkish flags after the incident

It was an ordinary day at Taksim’s İstiklâl Street… The long avenue known as “Turkey’s Champs-Élysées” was full of citizens and tourists enjoying Istanbul’s multicultural life; eating delicious street foods, listening to the melodies of street musicians, and buying new clothes in a historical place reflecting the Ottoman Empire’s grandeur and encircled by foreign consulates and churches. A huge explosion around 16:20 disrupted the normalcy of life and caused panic and disorder among people.[2] Tourists and citizens began to escape and Turkish police soon arrived at the place.[3] The attack was carried out by a female terrorist covered in Islamic dress who detonated a parcel bomb made of TNT explosives.

Syrian terrorist Ahlam Albashir was captured by Turkish police within a few hours after the bombing[4]

Turkish police and intelligence were very quick to capture the terrorist after examining nearly 1,200 security cameras covering the avenue and phone-tappings of the terror-related groups. The female bomber was identified as Syrian national Ahlam Albashir and she was captured later that night at a safe house in Küçükçekmece.[5] Turkish police later released a photograph showing the woman standing between two Turkish flags in handcuffs. During the police interrogation, the female terrorist confessed that she had been trained for months as a “special intelligence officer” by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorist organization as well its Syrian branch Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing the People’s Defense Units (YPG). Albashir also said that she entered Turkey illegally through the Syrian border town of Afrin a few months ago.[6] At least 46 other people were also detained for questioning after the attack. Police discovered that the female terrorist was about to escape for Greece if she was not caught by the Turkish security forces.

Süleyman Soylu

Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu made important statements following the attack. “Our assessment is that the order for the deadly terror attack came from Ayn al-Arab in northern Syria, where the PKK/YPG has its Syrian headquarters”, said Soylu.[7] Later Soylu also stated that “We know what message those who carried out this action want to give us. We got this message. Don’t worry, we will pay them back heavily.” Soylu also blamed the United States (U.S.) for its political and military support to Syrian Kurdish militia and said that they do not accept condolence message from Washington.[8] The event caused public anger in Turkey which came to surface and became visible especially on social media. Although Turkish government tried to slow down the internet and censor the social media, huge nationalist reactions were observed against the Syrian immigrants, the U.S., and terror-affiliated groups.

New York Times’ tweet

Another crisis took place when Turkish people discovered that American The New York Times newspaper published a report that lacked expressions of sympathy with Turkish people and government.[9]Of the tens of millions of tourists from around the world who visit Turkey each year, many spend time in the area where Sunday’s bombing took place”, the newspaper stated in a tweet, referring to İstiklâl Street, the scene of the bombing.[10] Turkish people showed anger towards the American journal in social media due to their cold reporting.

However, many world leaders expressed their condolences to Turkey following the attack. Among them Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Russian President Vladimir Putin, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg can be mentioned.[11]

PKK terrorism is influential in Turkey and its near abroad almost for 40 years and causing the death of approximately 50,000 lives. In that sense, it can be said that the country is immune to terrorism and Turkish people are very determined for eliminating all kinds of terrorism. After the capture of Abdullah Öcalan in 1999, everyone hoped for a political solution to decades old problem; but so far no solution was materialized. Moreover, Syrian civil war and its spillover effects created new safe havens for PKK-related terrorist groups, which all Western governments should take seriously.

Although there can be political disagreements among countries, I think this kind of violence targeting civilians and causing fear among ordinary people should be condemned by everyone. There can be no political cause or excuse that would justify the killing of innocent civilians. In that sense, this is a day of solidarity with Türkiye although the country’s democratic deficits and problematic relations with its neighbors and other countries are also facts. I think it is also timely for everyone to think about how we can solve political and economic problems (terrorism, Syrian civil war, economic problems in the region, illegal immigration, Kurdish Question, Cyprus Problem etc.) instead of ignoring or delaying them. In that sense, Western countries and especially the U.S. should try to understand Turkey’s sensitivities on terrorism and offer a roadmap to eliminate political and economic problems in the region. Last word: “geçmiş olsun Türkiye”…

Assoc. Prof. Ozan ÖRMECİ

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

[1] Servet Gunerigok (2022), “Turkish people on social media blast New York Times for its ‘scandalous’ headline on Istanbul terror attack”, Anadolu Ajansı, 14.11.2022, Date of Accession: 15.11.2022 from https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/turkish-people-on-social-media-blast-new-york-times-for-its-scandalous-headline-on-istanbul-terror-attack/2737177.

[2] Hürriyet (2022), “Son dakika: Taksim İstiklal Caddesi’nde bombalı saldırı… Emniyet’ten yeni açıklama TNT tespit edildi”, 14.11.2022, Date of Accession: 15.11.2022 from https://www.hurriyet.com.tr/gundem/son-dakika-taksim-istiklal-caddesinde-bombali-saldiri-6-kisi-hayatini-kaybetti-2si-agir-81-kisi-yaralandi-42170195.

[3] For the video footage of the bombing, see; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4hfQhGTbJug.

[4] DHA (2022), “Taksim’deki saldırıyı gerçekleştiren teröristin yakalanması polis kamerasında”, 14.11.2022, Date of Accession: 15.11.2022 from https://www.dha.com.tr/gundem/taksimdeki-saldiriyi-gerceklestiren-teroristin-yakalanmasi-polis-kamerasinda-2161473.

[5] Hürriyet Daily News (2022), “Perpetrator behind deadly Istanbul bombing arrested”, 14.11.2022, Date of Accession: 15.11.2022 from https://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/suspect-arrested-in-deadly-istanbul-bombing-minister-says-178493.

[6] France24 (2022), “Turkey accuses PKK over deadly Istanbul blast, Kurdish groups deny involvement”, 14.11.2022, Date of Accession: 15.11.2022 from https://www.france24.com/en/asia-pacific/20221114-suspect-arrested-over-istanbul-bombing-says-turkey-s-interior-minister.

[7] Hürriyet Daily News (2022), “Perpetrator behind deadly Istanbul bombing arrested”, 14.11.2022, Date of Accession: 15.11.2022 from https://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/suspect-arrested-in-deadly-istanbul-bombing-minister-says-178493.

[8] France24 (2022), “Turkey accuses PKK over deadly Istanbul blast, Kurdish groups deny involvement”, 14.11.2022, Date of Accession: 15.11.2022 from https://www.france24.com/en/asia-pacific/20221114-suspect-arrested-over-istanbul-bombing-says-turkey-s-interior-minister.

[9] TRT World (2022), “New York Times coverage of Istanbul explosion sparks anger on Twitter”, 14.11.2022, Date of Accession: 15.11.2022 from https://www.trtworld.com/turkey/new-york-times-coverage-of-istanbul-explosion-sparks-anger-on-twitter-62526.

[10] The tweet is available here; https://twitter.com/nytimesworld/status/1591845866851241986.

[11] Hürriyet Daily News (2022), “World leaders condemn terror attack in Istanbul”, 14.11.2022, Date of Accession: 15.11.2022 from https://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/world-leaders-condemn-terror-attack-in-istanbul-178513.

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