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Istanbul Attack: Isis May be Concluding Turkey Is No Longer a Place Where It Need Tread Carefully
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Turkey is becoming a more dangerous place, but then so is the Middle East and North Africa and anywhere Isis can send its suicide squads. The Turkish authorities say that the bomber who killed at least 10 people, mostly German tourists, near the obelisk of Theodosius, not far from Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, was a 28-year-old Saudi making it likely though not certain that Isis ordered the attack.

If Isis was behind the bombing it is important to know if this is a one-off or the start of a new campaign. In July its suicide bombers killed 30 Turks going to help rebuild the Syrian Kurdish city of Kobani and in October they killed a further 100 peace demonstrators outside Ankara railway station.

By doing so, Isis succeeded in setting the political agenda by provoking a resumption of hostilities between Turks and Kurds and setting the scene for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan success in the parliamentary election on 1 November.

Isis targets civilian targets with such frequency that it is possible to read too much into a single explosion. It was presumably aimed at Turkey’s $21 billion income from tourism with an implied threat of more to come.

Turkey has been unenthusiastically sending planes to bomb Isis targets in Syria, under pressure from the US, and has arrested members of Isis cells inside Turkey. The government may not have done very much, but this is very different from the years when Isis volunteers were able to cross unimpeded the Turkish-Syrian border to reach the Islamic State.

Much of this border has been closed on the Syrian side by the advances of the Syrian Kurdish forces that now control half the 550-mile-long frontier. The Turkish government has insisted that it will not allow Kurdish forces to advance west of the Euphrates, to close off the last 60-mile long stretch of territory which is Isis’s last access and exit point with Turkey.

The US has been forcefully demanding that Turkey seal this border by stationing 30,000 soldiers on the Turkish side of the frontier, west of Jarabulus. This pressure has been growing since the Paris massacre on 13 November, in the light of evidence that the master-mind of the plot had been able to reach France from the territory controlled by Isis, by crossing easily into Turkey. A possible motive for yesterday’s bombing could be a warning that Isis will retaliate for any measures taken against it by the Turkish state. It certainly has the means to do so, because 1,000 or more of its fighters are Turks and it has pockets of committed support inside Turkey.


The violence emanating from the civil wars in Syria and Iraq has already affected Turkey. Low level guerrilla warfare between the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the Turkish army is spreading across Kurdish areas of south east Turkey. President Erdogan reinforced his power at home when his party won the parliamentary election. Turkey’s influence in Syria is under threat, however, both from the Syrian Kurds – backed by US air strikes and from Russia’s extreme hostility to Turkey after Turkish jets shot down a one of its aircraft in November, in what looks like a carefully-prepared ambush. Russian military engagement in Syria makes it more difficult for Turkey to threaten to act against the Kurds there.

Isis may be concluding that Turkey is no longer a place where it need tread carefully in order to preserve official tolerance of its activities. With no sign of the war in Syria ending, the latest Istanbul bomb could be the precursor of far worse carnage.

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: ISIS, Turkey 
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  1. Could these bombs going off in Turkey be timed in a rhythmic structure? I need something to dance to.

    • Replies: @Avery
  2. Avery says:

    {I need something to dance to.}

    Not nice.

    People being murdered and maimed by these bombs are innocent civilians.
    I will dance with you when Turk occupation troops and Turk “security” personnel (aka murderers in uniform) are killed, but no dancing for me when innocent civilians fall victim: they have nothing to do with criminality of Turk leaders.

    Those murdered in this bombing were mostly German tourists.
    The victims of a couple huge terrorist bombings last summer which killed about 200 people and wounded scores more were mostly young Kurds at peace rallies. The latter two terrorist bombings were most certainly organized by Turk leaders with the help of ISIS.

  3. MEexpert says:

    The attack on Germans is not an ISIS operation. It is Erdogan’s payback to the Europe’s pressure on him to do something about ISIS. Erdogan cannot afford to antagonize the Islamic State.

  4. ISIS is clever as they know weakness and double talk when Erdogan is being double tongued dealing with them so they can exploit that to their advantage. By Erdogan going against PKK, there is an opening for chaos and ISIS is right were they need to be based on the environment, doubledealing and Russian influence in the area.

  5. Rehmat says:

    Yes, Mr. Cockburn, Turkey and Middle East are certainly becoming dangerous places. But don’t forget IRA, ETA, Irgun, Hanagah, and several other terrorist groups operated in Europe before the so-called “Islamic Terrorism” was coined after the demise of Soviet Union to continue Judeo-Christian imperialism around the globe.

    Last year, Hollywood actor and film-maker Sean Christopher Ali Stone, 30, interviewed Virginia state Republican Senator Richard Haydon (Dick) Black for RT. Colonel Dick Black is a Vietnam War veteran. Sean Stone asked him his views about the on-going bloodshed in the Middle East. Interestingly none of the two mentioned Israel, the greatest threat to world peace after United States, during the whole interview. Watch a video below.

  6. terryt says:

    I find it very suspicious that, as far as I know, ISIS has not claimed responsibility. They are usually quick to do so. Also suspicious is that no Turks were killed. Surely if the attack was aimed at Turkey there would be more ‘desirable’ targets. The whole thing smells putrid to me.

    • Replies: @unit472
    , @tbraton
  7. unit472 says:

    Indeed, the apparent ‘targeting’ of German nationals would seem to have other goals. With the suicide bomber (if a Saudi by birth) ‘officially’ a Syrian refugee, this atrocity, if you are ISIS, inflame public opinion in Germany and, hopefully, provoke attacks on refugees in retaliation.

    By not ‘claiming credit’ ISIS blurs responsibility away from its ‘brand’ and shifts it generically to Muslim refugees.

  8. All three of the alleged ISIS attacks cited could well have been initiated by Turkish intelligence (MIT). The second attack, in particularly, was directed against a largely Kurdish pre-electoral gathering that was supporting the Kurdish majority political party, which Erdogan had been taking steps to undermine. It was inevitably blamed on ISIS, but Turkey did not join the offensive against ISIS as a response, preferring to sit back, which has to arouse some suspicions. Erdogan is not to be trusted. Period.

    • Agree: tbraton, Jeff Davis
    • Replies: @Jeff Davis
    , @Avery
  9. I just love it when in all this analyisis the possiblity that the ISIS attacks on Turkey could be a false flag is never even raised. Turkey has been accused of supporting ISIS, buying their oil and allowing safe passage. What better way to counter such accusations than to appear to be attaked by them.

    Then when the counterattack against ISIS they instead bomb the Kurds like they always do.

    Pleeeeeeze, it’s all so obvious. ISIS is Turkey’s proxy against Syria (and Iran) as it is Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Gulf States, NATO the US.

    Biggest Bullcrap story since 9/11

    • Replies: @WorkingClass
  10. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Where in Turkey exactly are the “pockets” of ISIS-affiliated / Turkish supporters/sympathizers? What are the reasons for their presence in these places? Is there affiliation due to the political or economic situation in such places, or….?

  11. tbraton says:

    ” Also suspicious is that no Turks were killed.”

    That’s also what got my attention. There seem to be a whole lot of “ISIS terrorist attacks” which seemed aimed at killing mostly non-Turks, such as Kurds, German tourists, etc.

  12. Renoman says:

    Turkey is run by slime and it’s getting what it deserves. America and NATO should back away from than nest of treachery.

  13. @Philip Giraldi

    Phil, I’m a big fan, but something here bothers me, particularly coming from someone I admire and whose point of view I agree with. It’s a small annoyance, a detail. You write:

    Erdogan is not to be trusted. Period.

    That “period” thing. I hate it. It’s like the writer is telling the reader(s) that he/she doesn’t get to have an opinion, telling the reader that you are some kind of self-appointed god of discussion who has decided he matter, and any further discussion or thinking is to be silenced.

    This seems very unlike the Phil Giraldi I though I knew. Perhaps you’re having a bad day.

  14. Avery says:
    @Philip Giraldi

    {Erdogan is not to be trusted. Period.}

    Mr. Giraldi is being too clever by half.
    He does not want to hurt the feelings of his Turk buddies.
    So he is singling out Erdogan: how convenient.

    Reminder to those who may not know:
    Mr Giraldi spent _redacted_ years as a CIA/DIA officer in Turkey working with Turkish MIT spooks. The same spooks who most certainly organized the mass murder of peaceful Kurds in two terrorist bombings last summer.

    By blaming Erdogan, Turkophile Mr. Giraldi conveniently absolves his Turk buddies.
    Fact is, Erdogan was popularly elected by majority Turk electorate.
    Even today he is admired by most Turks: anti-Christian, anti-American, anti-Western IslamoFascists.

    It is not Erdogan. It is the nomad Turks: they love and admire him and the anti-Christian, anti-American, anti-Western Islamist AKP.
    But Mr. Giraldi has many Turk friends, so cannot admit that majority of Turks are anti-Christian, genocidal IslamoFascist invadonomads.

  15. @GeorgyOrwell

    Agreed. Why would ISIS bite the hand that feeds them?

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