Ankara Explosion Should Prompt Turkey to Reconsider Its Policies Before It Is Too Late

There is no military solution to the Kurdish problem, but it is clear that the Kurds – if they are really involved in the attack – are reacting to what Erdogan is doing.

On Wednesday, a car bomb exploded in the Turkish capital Ankara killing 28 people and injuring 61. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu blamed the attack on a Syrian national with alleged links to the Syrian-Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), saying that the perpetrator had received assistance from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK). Experts interviewed by believe that the aggravating security situation in Turkey can be attributed to the precarious policies pursued by President Erdogan and his AKP party.

Those who stood behind this attack committed a heinous crime, whatever their intentions, but the act of terror should be seen in a broader context, said Veniamin Popov, Director of the Center for the Partnership of Civilizations at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO).

“There is no military solution to the Kurdish problem, but it is clear that the Kurds – if they are really involved in the attack – are reacting to what [Turkish President] Erdogan is doing,” the Russian scholar said, referring to the anti-Kurd military activities of the Turkish army in the south of the country.

“The situation is difficult for the Turkish authorities and it is time for them to take strategic decisions,” Popov went on to say. “It is one thing if they want war against all, but if they want to develop and live in peace, they need to adjust their policies,” he stressed.

As a result of Erdogan’s course, Turkey has serious problems both domestically and internationally, Popov said. Turkey’s relations with Russia soured several months ago and now its relations with the West are being damaged, he stressed. “Relations with neighbors – Armenia, Greece, and Cyprus, not to mention Iraq and Syria, – are not brilliant either. This is in stark contrast with [Turkish Prime Minister] Davutoglu’s initial declarations that Turkey’s foreign policy goal is to have ‘zero problems’ with neighbors,” the Russian scholar said.

He was echoed by Mustafa El-Labbad, director of Al Sharq Centre for Regional and Strategic Studies in Cairo, Egypt. “We are not criminal investigators to know who stands behind the attack, but [Erdogan’s] policy is encouraging such acts from all directions – inside Turkey, from outside Turkey. So I think he should reconsider his policies in order to bring Turkey back to peace,” the Egyptian scholar said.

“He is confronting Kurds within Turkey, he is confronting ISIS, he is confronting Syria, he is confronting Iran, he is confronting Russia. And this explosion is clear evidence that Turkey is not only isolated in the region, but it is also isolated within its own borders,” El-Labbad pointed out.

Asked if the latest explosion will prompt Erdogan to change his course, Veniamin Popov said the Turkish president is too hard to predict. “He may begin a wave of repression followed by attempts at establishing contact [with Kurds], this is Erdogan’s style. But no one knows what Erdogan is really thinking about, and guesswork in politics is pointless and counter-productive,” the scholar said.

Wednesday’s blast was one of the bloodiest terrorist attacks in Turkey’s modern history. It follows a series of similar bombings throughout Turkey, including its largest cities Istanbul and Ankara, in the past months, which have claimed lives of dozens of people.
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