Yet another bomb was detonated in Turkey over the weekend, this time in the Central Anatolian city of Kayseri. A public bus was targeted by a car bomb, resulting in the death of 13 off-duty soldiers and 56 wounded. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blamed the PKK, a Kurdish separatist group, for the bombings saying “The style and goals of the attacks clearly show the aim of the separatist terrorist organisation is to trip up Turkey, cut its strength and have it focus its energy and forces elsewhere. We know that these attacks we are being subjected to are not independent from the developments in our region, especially in Iraq and Syria”. Interestingly, the Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) condemned the bombing in a statement that read, in part, “our call is towards ending the politics, tone and language that creates tension, polarization, hostility, chaos and conflict both in terms of internal and foreign affairs”. Although the party has talked a good game, the fact that they are still close to the PKK has roiled many in Turkey; that they were swift to condemn the attack however suggests that they might realize that the recent shift in the PKK’s tactics will not be good for anyone.
The HDP Talk a Good Game, But Can They Follow It Up With Concrete Actions? Image Courtesy Of: https://twitter.com/hdpdiplomacy/status/810059726667055104/photo/1
After the bus bombing protestors in Istanbul and Kayseri ransacked HDP offices in an alarming display of anger that—if left unchecked—could lead to the kind of violence motivated by ethnic difference that has been proven to lead to much worse.
Ultra Nationalists Attack HDP Building in Kayseri. Image Courtesy Of: http://www.insanhaber.com/guncel/son-dakika-kayseri-de-hdp-binasina-saldiri-h81889.html
State media—which, as always, is suspect—reported a more refreshing story about nationwide anti-PKK protests, including many in mainly Kurdish areas such as Hakkari province and Diyarbakir province. The Anadolu Agency story reports that “Mehmet Akdeniz, the provincial head of Confederation of Public Servants Trade Unions (Memur-Sen) in Sirnak, said people from all walks of life including Turks, Kurds, and Arabs united for Turkey. ‘The PKK terrorist organization that wanted to smash this brotherhood attacked our people who were going to work and school, and the soldiers who were going on weekend leave’.” The Twitter feed for Kurds News posted pictures and videos of Kurds protesting the PKK, corroborating the Anadolu Agency story. If this is indeed true—that Turks, Kurds, and Arabs united for Turkey—then that is notable.
Kurds Protest the PKK All Over Turkey. Images Courtesy Of: https://twitter.com/newskurds
As Mr. Erdogan pointed out, these attacks are not independent from what is happening in Syria, and one of the perpetrators of the 10 December 2016 Vodafone Arena bombing was revealed to have come from Syria.
The relationship between the violence in Syria and Turkey represents the tensions between nationalism and globalism that have ben revealed by both Brexit and Donald Trump’s election victory in the United States. The YPG, the Syrian offshoot of the PKK, have no ties to Turkey or Syria while the concurrent rise of ISIS/ISIL/DAESH in Syria and Iraq has shown the abject failure of Syrian and Iraqi nationalism, revealing the “imagined community” aspects of both countries’ nationalisms (which where only formed out of the remnants of French and British colonialism). Because the YPG similarly have no respect for national identity, they think nothing of committing brutal attacks on Turkish soil, attacks which only serve to alienate what little sympathy they may have at this point. The vast majority of Kurds and Turks have no qualms with one another on an interpersonal basis. However, if the PKK—perhaps in collusion with the YPG—continue their campaign of cowardly attacks on Turkish security forces and civilians alike, they will be further marginalized. The widespread support for security forces in the wake of the stadium bombing shows that the majority of Turks—regardless of ethnic background—are preferring unity to division. This is why the United States’—particularly during the Obama regime—continued support for the YPG in Syria has been such a bone of contention for Turkey. For all the talk of human rights that emanates from Washington, the bureaucrats and politicians seem blind to the fact that normal citizens—like myself—feel unsafe in the Istanbul subway because another bomb could go off at any moment. In Ankara, the climate is so tense that a “State of Emergency” has been declared at sporting events and fans will no longer be able to park their cars near stadiums or bring bags to games. Supporting groups who engage in this kind of violent terrorism that effects daily life should never be tolerated.
But the contradictions of “human rights” are evident for all to see, and the re-settlement of Syrian refugees is just one example of this. Current US President-elect Donald Trump has voiced his opposition to the further settlement of Syrian refugees in the past, saying “We’ve admitted tens of thousands with no effective screening plan. We have no idea who we are letting in. You’ve seen what happened.” Many on the left in the United States dismiss Mr. Trump’s rhetoric as “Islamophobic” or “xenophobic”, but the problematic results of resettlement have been seen. After a 22-year-old Syrian refugee was arrested for groping a 13-year-old girl in Lowell, Massachusetts, “The city manager of Lowell told his local newspaper Tuesday [07/12/2016] that he was not even notified by the U.S. State Department or its resettlement contractor that Syrians were being delivered to his community.” This follows some of the secrecy surrounding Mr. Obama’s resettlement plan reported by WND:
The chairmen of the House and Senate judiciary committees are demanding the Obama administration provide details of a secret resettlement deal in which the U.S. has agreed to take up to 1,800 mostly Muslim asylum seekers who have been rejected by Australia as illegal aliens.
Congress only learned of the deal through media reports two weeks ago and, according to a letter sent to administration officials by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., the deal is not only a matter of grave national security concern, but it could be illegal.
Notably, the only sites reporting on these kinds of things are Christian outlets like WND or Breitbart, which claims that the 110,000 migrants President Obama plans to bring to the United States will cost Americans 70.4 Billion USD over the next 75 years. State media—which is viewed as “legitimate” by many Americans—has remained conspicuously silent on these issues.
Perhaps that is because President Obama’s tenure has been—to put it nicely—characterized by many less than effective policies in the Middle East. Famous media personality Colonel Oliver North went so far as to call it “genocide”:
In the Middle East, the legacy of the Obama admin is genocide, a horrific refugee diaspora and a complete destabilization of the Middle East.
When Obama made his grand apology tour, utopian Arab spring speech in Cairo in June 2009, Syria had 23m people.
Today 12m people have been displaced; 400k+ Killed in Action; and 1.6m wounded.
Syrian civil war, Obama bug-out from Iraq, rise of ISIS, the IS invasion of Iraq, Al-Baghdadi’s “caliphate,” the overthrow of Gadhafi, global spread of radical Islam to 38 countries – all because of the Obama administrations weakness & failure to lead.
The administration creatively pioneered a third option, which it pursued not only in Syria but also in Ukraine and elsewhere: Between action and inaction, it chose inconsequential action. There is the Obama doctrine! We backed moderate Syrian rebels, but not as seriously or as generously as the immoderate Syrian rebels were backed.
That state media in the United States should voice these kinds of opinions is notable, even if the editorial does not underline the fact that some of the Obama administrations actions did have consequences; opposition to President Assad would never have gotten this strong without American “action”. Now millions more have died in Syria than ever would have under a (relatively) stable Assad regime. But human rights told us that President Assad was a “bad man”, right? On the surface, yes. But beneath the surface there are real geopolitical ambitions that could only be achieved through a destabilization of the region and the regime.
The reason I bring this up is because, after being back in Istanbul for a week, I can feel a tension that didn’t exist in the past. A past before the Syrian war, a past before weekly bombings. And the fact that President Obama had a hand in creating this environment is something that—as both an American and a Turk—I find deeply disturbing. One way that the Syrian conflict has seeped into Turkish daily life is the presence of three million refugees. Mr. Trump thinks they would have a problem settling into American society; given that they have problems in Turkey—itself a Muslim country—adds some credence to his argument. Take this story from the Washington Post, about how Arabic signs are being taken down in Istanbul’s Fatih district which has become “Little Syria”.
What Happened to Turkey’s Language Revolution? Arabic Dominates Storefronts in Istanbul. Image Courtesy Of: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/arabic-signs-face-removal-threat-in-istanbuls-little-syria/2016/11/25/ddc2cd10-b322-11e6-bc2d-19b3d759cfe7_story.html?utm_term=.5be3679a9154
While Turkey has opened its borders to Syrian refugees, allowing them access to education and even giving them business opportunities (much of the Arabic language signage mentioned in the story above is for restaurants), the hospitality seems to have been lost on some of the Syrian business owners. The Post reports that “Some Syrian residents are vowing to ignore the order, seeing it as an assault on their culture,” and a dual national Turkish-Syrian restauranteur predicts that attempts to remove the signage will be resisted by violence; Mehmet Basil Souccar said “You can be sure that if they enforce this order, there will be a very ugly picture in Aksaray”.
Mr. Souccar’s comments are—to me—disgustingly disrespectful. Turkey is not Syria. Refugees are guests, and as such they should do their best to adjust to their new surroundings. To threaten violence against the country that is hosting you is extremely disrespectful, to put it in as kind of terms as possible. If we want refugees to be tolerated in the era of globalism, we cannot afford to focus on ethnic difference to the extent that it renders assimilation impossible and creates an “us vs. them” mentality. But it is part of the struggle between globalism and nationalism that was unleashed in the post Cold War era and that is now coming to a head following the disastrous policies of the West in Syria.
The responses to this struggle are varied, but ignoring the enduring power of nationalism would be a mistake. The decision of the PKK to target the state in public settings—like a soccer stadium and public transportation—could prove to be a mistake. If Turks and Kurds can come together, recognizing their common destiny as citizens of one country and work together for a more equal society, then there may be a way out of the current vortex of violence that is hovering over the country. In order to do this, however, a less fascistic and more inclusive brand of civic—and not ethnic—conception of Turkish nationalism must be cultivated. The failures of globalism have shown that no government can force people to think in a certain way, that is up to the individual.