On June 28th, a group of suicide bombers conducted an attack on Turkey’s Istanbul Ataturk Airport, killing 41 people and injuring 239. As the world mourns the tragedy, investigators seek to bring justice to the perpetrators. But who is responsible? And Why?
Is it Daesh (ISIS)?
Is it PKK?
These are both valid suggestions, based on the history of violence among both groups.
Based on the PKK’s terrorism tactic, the attack in Istanbul does not necessarily fit their profile. According to news sources, though unconfirmed, the PKK usually target Turkish nationals. The conflict between the PKK and the Turkish government surrounds the Kurdish question of identity and statehood in the Middle East. The Kurds have been without an autonomous country and do not enjoy equal rights in Turkey. Iraqi Kurdistan is the only region where Kurds enjoy a degree of nationalism but it is far from being a nation-state.
Why would Daesh or ISIS commit the attacks?
Turkey has been supporting the armed insurgency against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad since its inception. The majority of Daesh or ISIS fighters are not Syrian but foreign nationals, from Turkey, the Arabian peninsula, North Africa and Central Asia, which raises the question as to whether this a so-called civil war between state and opposition or an international conflict between states. Is Syria a proxy conflict waged between global powers? Is this the continuation of the so-called “Great Game”?
If Turkey has stood against the Syrian government, thereby granting ISIS leverage directly or indirectly, then why would such an attack take place?
Since the emergence of ISIS, and the corresponding terrorist attacks globally which have victimized France, America and Turkey to name just a few, the political dynamic of the Syrian conflict has shifted. The ouster of Assad, like that of Mubarak, Morsi, Ben Ali, Abdullah Saleh, Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi, was originally argued as the procurement of stability and justice in the Middle East. The outcomes have proven otherwise. The tyrannical leadership of these autocrats is undoubtable, but is there another force enabling this instability to begin with?
As a result of ISIS’ apparent indiscriminate violence, fundamentalism and fickleness, Turkey has, like the US, altered its position internationally. Just last week, Turkey announced reconciliation efforts with its historical arch-rivals, Israel and Russia. Russia has arguably maintained the Syrian government since its intervention.
Could this rapprochement have provoked backlash from ISIS against Turkey? Were these two gestures of international rapprochements with ISIS’ nemeses, Israel & Russia viewed as a form of betrayal by the terror group?
As investigations continue, emerging facts will likely give this blurry picture some lucidity.
But a shifting world order is evidentially not as far off as one might have expected, particularly after England’s vote to leave the EU.
As the migrant crisis continues, and Middle Eastern instability intensifies, one might ask why foreign powers have prioritized their ambitions over practical politics.
One cannot speak of justice in the Middle East while neglecting the bedrock of human security – sovereignty.
Until this is realized, fanaticism and instability will continue to overshadow justice in the Middle East.