Turkey has become a target for terrorists.
On January 6, 2015, a female suicide bomber detonated her vest at a police station in Istanbul’s central Sultanahmet district, near the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. She was killed and two police officers were injured, one of whom later passed away. That attack was initially claimed by the DHKP-C far-left group, but officials later said it had been carried out by a woman with suspected Islamist militant links.
On July 20, 2015, outside the Amara Culture Centre in the Suruç, 33 people were killed and 104 were injured in a suicide attack carried out by Şeyh Abdurrahman Alagöz (age 20), an ethnic Kurd from Adıyaman, reportedly linked to Islamic State militants.
On October 10, 2015, two bombs were detonated outside Ankara Central railway station, killing 102 people and wounding more than 400. One of the two suicide bombers was officially identified as Yunus Emre Alagöz, the younger brother of the Suruç bombing perpetrator, also linked to the Islamic State and the ISIS affiliated Dokumacılar group.
Over the last half of the year 2015, violence has been constantly increasing in the mainly Kurdish southeast, since a two-year ceasefire between the Turkish state and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) collapsed in July 2015.
Turkey also faces a threat from the Kurdish groups in Syria, PYD and YPG, accused by Ankara of having close ties with the PKK, although they are fighting Islamic State with U.S. backing.
“For us, there is no difference between the PKK, PYD, YPG, DHKP-C … or whatever their abbreviation may be. One terrorist organization is no different than the other,” president Erdogan said, vowing that Turkey’s military campaign against Kurdish militants in the southeast would continue.
And yet today, January 12, 2016, another suicide bomber, thought to have recently crossed from Syria, detonated his vest killing at least 10 foreign tourists, mostly Germans, in Sultanahmet square, Istanbul’s historic heart, in an attack Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu blamed on the Islamic State.
“We have determined that the perpetrator of the attack is a foreigner who is a member of Daesh,” prime minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said. “Turkey won’t backtrack in its struggle against Daesh by even one step … This terror organisation, the assailants and all of their connections will be found and they will receive the punishments they deserve.”
Unfortunately, Turkey has become a two-way transit hub for ISIS militants travelling inside and outside Syria.
The recurrent attacks that have taken place on Turkish soil will definitely lead to more pressure on Turkey from the international community to increase its efforts in fighting ISIS and to prioritize it over Ankara’s current clash with the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK) or the Kurdish groups in Syria.
Turkish security and intelligence capacities may need to wage their fight more efficiently against ISIS terrorist attacks and security forces may need to conduct more severe operations, tracking and hunting down ISIS-linked sleeper cells and potential attackers, who can cross the border from Syria very easy.