The bomb attack on the youth wing of the Socialist Party of the Oppressed, the SGDF, as their members travelled to Suruc on the Turkey–Syria border to help reconstruct Kobane, has provoked a wide ranging response from the Turkish state.
The SGDF according to official accounts were attacked by a suicide bomber from Daesh (ISIS), with over 30 of their members killed. The SGDF is part of a coalition of groups with close links to the People’s Democratic Party. Press reports from across the region quote their members and supporters who are sceptical of the official claims and believe they were targeted by the Turkish state, for their support for Kurdish autonomy.
In response to the attack Turkey has launched “anti terrorism operations” in Northern Iraq. Quoted in the Guardian, the Turkish Prime Minister’s Office declared that “strikes were carried out on targets of the Daesh terrorist group in Syria and the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) terrorist group in northern Iraq,” adding that all anti-terrorism operations were “carried out indiscriminately against all terrorist groups”.
This marks the effective end of the ceasefire with the PKK, who have responded by attacking a police convoy in Diyarbakir, southeastern Turkey. Although the PKK have not formally lifted their ceasefire it is now likely that forces committed across Rojava to fighting the Islamic State may now weaken as sections resume fighting with the Turkish military.
Turkish fighter jets are now also targeting Daesh positions in Syria where, with pressure from the US and other NATO members, the PYD forces are viewed as allies in the fight against Daesh.
Previous actions by Turkey against Daesh have not involved flying into Syrian airspace.
Turkey now claim to be committed to the fight against Daesh, whereas they had previously acted as a conduit for weapons and people attempting to cross into Daesh held territory.
Within Turkey itself the bombing of Suruc has instigated a crackdown on internal dissent with the state announcing that over the weekend 600 terrorism suspects were detained who had links with either Daesh and the PKK.
The subsequent level of tension in the largely Kurdish south-east of Turkey could easily provoke an escalation of PKK activity in the region. Protests that have occurred across Turkey against the Suruc bombing and state oppression have been met with water cannons and other repressive measures.
The People’s Democratic Party which operates legally in Turkey and has widespread support amongst Kurds as well as ethnic Turks said in a statement: “We underline again how very much Turkey needs peace and a solution [to the Kurdish issue]. It is possible to solve our societal, historical and political problems through mutual dialogue, negotiations and through the development of democracy. The increase and perpetuation of violence will not bring a lasting, democratic and egalitarian solution for any side, or any part of society.”
Whilst no coalition can be formed following the most recent Turkish elections, the currently ruling AKP is likely to call new elections later this year. Their current strategy could seek to build an electoral victory on a wave of crackdowns within Turkey and an anti Kurdish hostility.
Whether Turkey’s new found desire to attack not just the PKK but Daesh as well is a cynical electoral manoeuvre remains to be seen.