The world stands in solidarity with the Turks in the wake of the terror attacks at the Ataturk Airport on June 28, which claimed 42 lives and injured at least 239 people. It has now been declared the “deadliest in a string of attacks in Istanbul this year.”
But it was not the first.
The Ataturk Airport massacre was the sixth major terror attack in Turkey this year — or, to be precise, in the first six months of this year — of which four were carried out in Istanbul. Despite the devastation, the June 28 attack was only the ninth most devastating instance carnage this past year. The Oct. 10 explosions in Ankara are the deadliest in the country’s modern history and killed more than 100 people at peace rally outside railway station.
It’s a deadly pattern that’s emerged, mostly, as a result of two conflicts: While Turkey is battling the emergence of the Islamic State group in bordering countries Syria and Iraq, it’s also waging an internal war with Kurdish militants.
So, how has the Turkish government’s response been to the two security threats?
Inadequate, to say the least.
Turkey joined the U.S.-coalition against ISIS last August with loud promises to eradicate terrorism in the Middle East. But it has remained much keener on fighting Kurdish militants, seen as terrorists domestically and by much of the West, as well as blaming Kurds for whatever bad happens in the country.
In the first week of June, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan declared his government’s security forces killed 7,600 Kurdish militants over the past year. Around the same time, he also made a claim that Turkey has killed 3,000 ISIS militants in Syria and Iraq, which is a pretty big number for a country that was initially reluctant to join the anti-ISIS U.S.-coalition.
This imbalance in the Turkish government’s approach to tackle the two threats, in turn, has facilitated ISIS’ aspirations, it appears.
It’s also interesting to note that Erdogan stated the numbers for ISIS fighters only when speculation arose that he is actually in league with the terrorist organization. Aaron Stein, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, told the WorldPost in an interview that a “large minority of the Turkish public believes there is silent AKP support for the Islamic State.”
The anti-Erdogan sentiment is understandable considering how, instead of coming up with effective strategies to defeat the ISIS, the Turkish president has given more importance to political blame games, crackdown on journalism, free speech in general and sexist statements.
Following the June 28 tragedy, Turkey declared a day of national mourning while Erdogan blamed ISIS, proclaiming the attacks "will not divide or split our country."
However, the rate at which terrorism is gaining ground in Turkey, the Turkish people deserve a lot more than condemnation, flags flying at half-mast and blame games.
Over all, at least 260 people have been killed in terrorist attacks over the past year.
How many more deaths will it take for Erdogan to actually do something?