Awkward questions will now be asked about whether focus on Kurdish threat is misdirected and politically motivated
The Guardian Jan 12, 2016
Tuesday’s terrorist attack in central Istanbul has confirmed Turkey’s precarious position on the frontline of the escalating confrontation between Islamic State and western and Arab governments. Isis suicide bombers were behind at least two similar atrocities in Turkey last year – in the capital, Ankara, and at the Syria-Turkey border town of Suruç.
But even as Turkey is increasingly drawn into the firing line of Syria’s civil war and the region-wide struggle against Sunni Muslim extremism, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey’s combative and choleric president, remains stubbornly fixated on a wholly different foe – the Kurds. It is this battle, deliberately ramped up last summer in the heat of a rerun general election, that is Erdoğan’s obsession, blind spot, and top priority.
Even as the terrorists were preparing their attack on Istanbul’s famous Sultanahmet tourist district, Ahmet Davutoğlu, Turkey’s prime minister and loyal Erdoğan acolyte, was looking the wrong way. He told a weekend meeting of the ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) that the security forces’ lethal crackdown in indigenous Kurdish minority areas would continue indefinitely.
“We will pursue our anti-terror fight with great determination until … our mountains, plains and towns are cleansed of these killers,” Davutoğlu said. But the “killers” he was talking about were fighters from the pro-autonomy Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK), not Isis jihadis.