Massacre in Turkey Leads to Further Criticisms of the Government’s Failure to Act

Recep_ErdoganTurkey is planning to increase its border security in the wake of the the latest Islamic State attack which killed 32 and wounded 100 mostly young people in the southern, largely Kurdish town of Suruç.

The suicide attack happened on Monday at a cultural centre, as the students were preparing to journey to Kobane, a nearby town on the Syrian side of the border which has been devastated by the fight against Islamic State, to help with the rebuilding effort. The town had been recaptured just last month, with Islamic State militants obviously livid over losing ground to the Kurds, fighting fiercely to keep their homeland intact. And so they struck the most peaceful people they could find: young humanitarians who were literally risking their lives to help others in need.

In the wake of this massacre, Turks have been laying some of the blame on the government, which had been reluctant to get directly involved with the war in Syria. Protests erupted in Istanbul and Ankara following the attack on Monday, as Kurds across the country accused President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government of failing to protect them from Islamic State. Turkey has an 822 km border with Syria, and nearly two million refugees have already crossed it to escape the conflict, while countless others have went the other way around, using Turkey as an access point for joining the extremist organization. Yet it took the lives of 32 people to convince the government that tighter border controls were required.

It is likely that Turkey’s reluctance to confront Islamic State is largely related to their much longer feud with the Kurds, who have been fighting for their own independent state for decades. More recently they have been fighting against the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in addition to Islamic State, reclaiming substantial territory along the Turkey-Syria border. They now stand to have a greater sphere of influence for making their independence goals a reality, which is likely to make the government in Ankara more than a little nervous.

Leaving them to wonder whether to allow Islamic State to take out the Kurds so that they don’t have to.

Further reading:
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/07/turkey-bolster-border-security-suruc-attack-150721000033031.html
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/07/anguish-turkey-funeral-held-bombing-victims-suruc-kobane-150721183657196.html
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-31088684
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-33607629
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/20/explosion-hits-turkish-town-near-syrian-border

Image: “Recep Tayyip Erdogan” by Gobierno de Chile CC BY 3.0 cl

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