On October 10th, trade unions, organizations representing doctors, engineers and architects, pro-Kurdish political party HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party), some other leftist parties and groups organized a “peace rally” in Ankara, Turkish capital. The rally was supposed to call for an end to the armed conflict between PKK and Turkish army which has been recently resumed after a two years period of “peace talks.”
The participants were just beginning to gather when two bombs exploded successively in the middle of the demonstrators’ corteges. 102 demonstrators died and hundreds injured, some very severely.
This was the last chain in a series of attempts to massacre members of HDP and leftists groups allied with it. The first big massacre took place on July 20th in Suruç, where 34 young socialists who went there to provide humanitarian aid for the war-torn Syrian Kurdish city Kobane had been killed.
Who are the real perpetrators of Ankara massacre?
It was obvious from the beginning that the suicide bombers responsible of the Ankara massacre might be affiliated with IS (Islamic State), as was also the case in Suruç, but the real perpetrator, that is, the planner and organizer was probably Turkish “deep state”. Recently authorities announced the identities of the suicide bombers. Not surprisingly, it has been revealed that they were Turkish members of a IS group and wanted by the police as “suspects for a likely suicide bomb attack”. Somehow they had been able to commit the attack in a place just 300 meters away from the headquarters of National Intelligence Service and 500 meters away from the Ministry of Interior and Security General Directorate. The government wanted us to believe that the IS militants were so professional that they could commit such a massacre in the most tightly protected place in Turkey without a help by the Turkish intelligence and police.
Almost every dissident people in Turkey believe that the real perpetrator is some branch of the state machinery.
What we can say about the reasons of Ankara Massacre?
The election of June 2015 was a critical turning point for Turkey. HDP succeeded to meet the 10 % electoral threshold and won 80 seats in parliament. Due to HDP success AKP, which had been the ruling party for 13 years lost the power. The de facto leader of AKP, President of Republic Tayyip Erdoğan refused to form a coalition with other parties and called for a snap election. Meanwhile an “interim regime” has been established by an oligarchic power consisting of the military, security bureaucracy and a clique within AKP. The leader of the interim regime was of course T. Erdoğan. The parliamentary activities have been suspended, not officially but by means of a prolonged summer vacation for the MP’s. This non-elected power center made the most crucial decisions: Turkey participated in the international coalition against IS and opened two very crucial air bases to the United States warplanes for a more effective bombing of IS’s positions in Syria. After having re-established good relations with US and won its support, the “interim” AKP government broke down the “peace talks” which had been carried on with the imprisoned PKK leader A. Öcalan and resumed the armed conflict with PKK by bombing heavily its bases in Kandil mountainous area in Northern Iraq.
One of the main goals of the interim regime was to create an atmosphere of “national unity against PKK terror” and criminalize HDP by stigmatizing it as the political extension of PKK. They thought that in this way a segment of HDP voters could be convinced to change their minds and thus HDP could be kept under the electoral threshold. Another crucial goal was to sweep away the political and diplomatic gains of Syrian Kurds. Syrian Kurds have been able to constitute three autonomous “cantons” just beside the Turkish border, unite two of them by capturing from IS the strategic town of Tal Abyad and were preparing to establish a “Kurdish corridor” along the Turkey southern border by uniting the third canton with the rest. Furthermore, US recognized diplomatically the leading Syrian Kurdish party PYD –indeed a sister organization of PKK– as an ally by virtue of its determined struggle against IS and organized common operations with its armed wing YPG-J.
In the face of these unfavorable developments Turkish authorities declared that a Kurdish corridor in Syria was not permissible. They planned to create a “safe zone” in Northern Syria with the support of US in order to prevent the constitution of a “Syrian Kurdistan”.
Adverse developments for the interim regime
The interim regime couldn’t reach most of these goals and this fact may lead us to reveal the reasons behind the Ankara massacre.
Polls before the Ankara massacre showed that AKP would not be able to form a majority government in the upcoming snap election which will be held on 1st November. This meant that the strategy of creating a “national unity by means of a war against terror” was collapsed. I think this is because the main concern of the secular segments who voted for HDP in the last election is not “PKK terror”, but the covert alliance of the AKP government with IS and the resulting nationalist-Islamic fascism which threatens very much the secular society in Turkey.
Polls before the massacre also showed that in spite of the repression in the Kurdish Southeast, HDP succeeded to maintain its votes because, to my opinion, Kurdish people held Turkish security forces –not PKK- responsible for the repressions and severe human rights violations.
The interim regime’s plan to establish a secure zone just between two Kurdish cantons also seemed to have been collapsed. The military intervention of Russia on behalf of Assad regime undermined Turkey’s plans conclusively. Russian warplanes didn’t only bomb IS but also jihadist groups such as Al-Nusra Front and Ahrar Al-Sham. Indeed the latter two groups were actively supported by Turkey. They were supposed to expel IS from the Northern Syria. Then a “safe zone” would be formed just in the hearth of Syrian Kurdistan and would be protected by Turkish –and hopefully US– air forces. The air operations of Russia effectively closed the airspace of Northern Syria to any Turkish intervention.
Finally the value of PYD increased significantly in the eyes of both US and Russia. Both of the big powers were eager to make use of the military power of YPG-J against IS. Thus it was clear that any serious Turkish attack against PYD would be strongly opposed both by US and Russia.
A Massacre planned to demoralize and pacify opposition
I think that in the face of these adverse developments, the interim regime decided to consolidate itself by resorting to more direct and violent methods. Surely they aimed to intimidate large segments of the population, demoralize them and pacify them. Indeed the planners of this horrible massacre sought to convey a message, especially to the secular segments that tend to sympathize with HDP: “You have better to obey this fascist regime; else you will never be able to live in a secure country.”
However the crucial question remains: Will it work? I don’t think so. Turkey’s society is deeply divided and the secular and Kurdish sections don’t trust the government and T. Erdoğan in any way. The results of the general election next Sunday will reveal a lot concerning the tendencies of this divided society.