WEB DESK: Since the fresh outbreak of hostilities been the Turkish government and the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) a few months ago, many lives have been lost in terrorist violence. An attack last June, on an election rally of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) left two people dead and another 100 injured.
In July, 27 left-wing political activists were killed in a bombing blamed on the IS. What happened on last Saturday is the country’s worst terrorist attack ever. Twin suicide bombings on a peace rally in Ankara killed 128 people and injured scores of others. Pointing the finger at different people, Prime Minister Davutoglu said IS, Kurdish militant factions, or far-left radical elements, could have carried out the bombings.
IS, normally quick to claim credit for such incidents, has made no such claim. Considering that the peace rally was organised by supporters of HDP and leftist groups, neither of them could have done the horrific deed. Yet the Kurd question seems to have a linkage.
A while ago, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had raised hope of ending the 30-year-long Kurd insurgency that has claimed about 40,000 lives when he opened negotiations with the PKK. Unfortunately, the stated resolve to settle the problem did not last long. Just when the talks seemed to be making progress Kurd militants were alleged to have attacked Turkish soldiers bringing the process to an abrupt halt.
Last July, the president announced air strikes on Kurdish-controlled areas in northern Iraq also rounding up suspects within Turkey, which reignited the tensions and violence between the two sides. In an indication that the military campaign did not have wide popular support, the HDP, supported by Erdogan’s left wing opponents, won a significant number of seats in last June’s elections entering parliament for the first time.
The president’s AKP lost its majority to form government forcing him to call fresh elections for November 1. As electoral activity picked up steam, fears abounded about something bad happening and it eventually happened on Saturday.
The opposition accuses the government of deliberately using Kurdish militancy to inflame the atmosphere in order to regain its lost position at the upcoming elections, and in so doing encouraging nationalists who are opposed to conceding any concession to Kurdish rights. In any event, escalation in violence is bad news for the Turkish government and the people.
It will only sharpen divisions in society at a time the country’s economy is faltering and the self-styled Islamic State poses a new threat from across the border in Syria. It is in the interest of all, including the government and its nationalist supporters, to avoid fuelling tensions that could cause further violence, and political instability.