Column: Sponsor states behind terrorism in Turkey


The terrorist attacks perpetrated on Turkish soil have always been aimed at forcing Ankara to change its line of foreign policy

Turkey has been subjected to many violent and bloody terrorist attacks in recent months. It is noteworthy, though, that the attacks seem to have stopped since the decision to hold a constitutional referendum.

The tremendous efforts and sacrifices by our security forces have certainly played an important role in preventing new attacks. Moreover, Turkey’s military operations in Syria and in Iraq, too, have been a factor improving our citizens’ security. We know that border controls have been enhanced and armed groups who were stationed in border areas have been swept away.

Despite these improvements, we know that one cannot eradicate international terrorism by military means alone. Most terrorist groups enjoy political support from one or more countries and as long as these sponsor states think the organizations are valuable to their interests, they will keep using them.

The attacks perpetrated on Turkish soil by the Daesh or PKK terrorist groups were aimed at forcing Ankara to change its line of foreign policy. They wanted Turkey to reconsider its alliances and its position about the ongoing crises in Syria and Iraq. Partly because of this pressure, Turkey’s relations with European countries have been ruined, and its ties with the United States have suffered terribly. In the meantime, Turkey has moved closer to Russia and Israel. Trump’s election victory, however, gave the opportunity to heal the damaged relations with Washington.

Under these circumstances, some commentators promptly concluded that Turkey is now getting closer to Russia while it is drifting apart from the “West.” Nevertheless, the new U.S. administration has decided to engage more in the fight against Daesh and sought ways to build a more constructive relationship with Russia. Besides, the new administration has insisted the Democratic Union Party (PYD) must part ways with the PKK and it pressured the Syrian Kurdish militants to cut ties with the PKK terrorists.

Because of the Trump administration’s decisions, those who were hoping to corner Turkey have lost their chance. Maybe that’s why the terrorist groups are now looking for new sponsors. It seems they could only contact minor powers until now, those who have little clout in the international system, thus incapable of modifying the balance of power in the Middle East.

Turkish authorities are angry at the Europeans over terrorism, because they have an idea about who the sponsors are. It is not surprising that Turkey does not trust European countries, especially in the fight against the PKK.

It is indeed time to seriously think why terrorist attacks have suddenly stopped in the last few months, after a devastating wave of attacks. Maybe the sponsor countries believe that relations between Turkey and the European Union have deteriorated enough, so their goal has been reached. Or maybe their main objective was to push Turkey into a direct fight with Daesh, and they think similarly that the target has been reached.

One way or the other, it is impossible to think that the terrorist attacks that have targeted Turkey were solely planned by the terrorist organizations, in order to achieve their own goals. Maybe even the terrorists, who don’t hesitate to kill innocent people, to put bombs everywhere or to carry out suicide attacks don’t know whose purposes they are serving. But the sponsor states do.

When subjected to terrorism, like any other country, Turkey may be pushed to make erroneous decisions, but no matter what, no Turkish government will fall because of a terror attack. Maybe it works differently in other countries. Maybe in France, for example, governments may fall because of rising terrorism. Anyway, with the presidential elections approaching in France, we will see quite soon which politicians are benefiting from this ambiance of growing insecurity.

*Beril Dedeoğlu, born in 1961, is a Turkish academic who served as the Minister of European Union Affairs in the interim election government led by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu between 22 September and 17 November 2015.

(Published in Daily Sabah on Wednesday, March 21, 2017)