This week began with the horrifying news of an apparent suicide bombing in the Turkish town of Suruc. This predominantly Kurdish town lies just across the Syrian border from the YPG-controlled city of Kobane, and has served for months as a stepping-stone into Kurdish regions of Syria. On Monday this week the town played host to a left-wing Socialist Youth group who were planning to bring aid to Kobane. As they gathered together, a bomb exploded in the crowd, killing at least 32 people and maiming many more. The footage of this attack can be viewed below:
With the burials beginning, the discussion shifted to who was to blame. While in most instances of these ‘spectacular bombings’, the group involved (usually IS or one of its affiliated ‘Wiliyaat’) generally claims responsibility as soon as possible, this was not the case for this attack. Due to the lack of an obvious claim of responsibility from IS, many people began to draw their own conclusions.
Among the most important of these is a theory held by many Kurds within Turkey, as well as members of the country’s Left scene, that the attack was either carried out, or at the very least allowed to occur, by the Turkish government. Proponents of this theory point out that many of those killed in the bombing were leaders of the Gezi Park demonstrations and are viewed as enemies of the current government. Others point out that the Socialist Youth meeting was heavily protected, and the bomber would have been unlikely to get through security checks without major lapses of police attention.
While it is not within the scope of this article to examine the veracity of these claims, what is important is that there is a significant group of people who believe them, and this is having real-life consequences. Over the last two nights there have been wide-scale anti-Government demonstrations across Kurdish regions of Turkey, as well as in Istanbul. Many of the protests turned violent, and in at least a few instances, protesters were photographed carrying automatic rifles.
This tension then ratcheted up even further last night when 2 Turkish police were found dead not far from the Syrian border. In a stunning move, a PKK-affiliated website then announced that guerrillas from the organisation conducted this killing as retaliation for the bombing in Suruc.
“Today around 6 am, a punishment operation was carried against 2 policemen collaborating with ISIS in Serêkaniyê North. Both policemen were killed and their weapons/ID documents were seized by an Apocî team,” a translation of the PKK statement read.
This killing, and the clear admission of responsibility by the PKK, amounts to an extremely dangerous escalation in the region. Kurdish, and left-wing anger towards the Turkish government and the AK Party of President Erdgogan is at an all time high, and now for the first time in recent years, the PKK is openly supporting resistance and attacks against government targets.
With a further crackdown from the Turkish government following these killing almost inevitable, and this coming in conjunction with calls from Kurdish and left-wing groups to once against come out onto the streets tonight, many within the region fear that the situation is about to get much much worse. Cooler heads may prevail, however with people already killed on both sides, this is far from guaranteed.