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Ambitious men with nothing to offer and old ones with even less may take an interest in designing and exploiting the political value of an explosion guaranteed to make them look strong — or strong again.

November 14, 2022.

Erdogan Rounds Up His Usual Suspects

Nothing could be more dumb or predictable than the rounding up of PKK suspects in the near immediate aftermath of yesterday’s explosion in Istanbul.

ISTANBUL, Nov 14 (Reuters) – Turkey blamed Kurdish militants on Monday for an explosion that killed six people in Istanbul and police detained 47 people including a Syrian woman suspected of planting the bomb.

No group has claimed responsibility so far for Sunday’s blast on the busy pedestrian Istiklal Avenue, and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) denied involvement in it.

Spicer, Jonathan, Ali Kucokgocmen, Ece Toksabay. “Turkey blames deadly bomb on Kurdish militants; PKK denies involvement.” Reuters, November 14, 2022.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been waging against the Kurdish community for many years but with periodic sustained ceasefire arrangements with the PKK. However, on July 20, 2015, a suicide attack against Turkish leftists had Erdogan’s government blaming the Kurds while the Islamic State was claiming responsibility. Erdogan’s own Sunni extremism appeared to have surfaced in the authoritarian’s somewhat twisted stance toward ISIL. The sense of confused politics may be gotten through this paragraph in Wikipedia–

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack the following day.[15] ISIL had allegedly made the decision to pursue more active operations in Turkey just days before the attack.[16][17] The attacker, Şeyh Abdurrahman Alagöz (20), a Kurd from Adıyaman, reportedly had links to Islamic State militants.[18] Both the Turkish government and police were accused of turning a blind eye to ISIL activities as part of their collaboration with ISIL and failing to give leftist and Kurdish gatherings the proper law enforcement protection given to other gatherings.[19] Two Turkish police officers were subsequently prosecuted over the bombing.[20] It was possibly the first planned attack by ISIL in Turkey, although previous incidents such as the 2013 Reyhanlı bombings, the 2015 Istanbul suicide bombing, and the 2015 Diyarbakır rally bombings have also been blamed by some on ISIL. Soon after, the Turkish government launched Operation Martyr Yalçın, a series of airstrikes against mostly Kurdish militant positions in Northern Iraq and Syria. Large-scale operations against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), but including some ISIL targets, began on 24 July; however, most arrests were of PKK members.[21] This led to the resumption of the Kurdish-Turkish conflict (2015-present).

Wikipedia. “Suruç bombing”.

Apparent evidence for picking up a suspect: “Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag told Turkish media a woman had sat on a bench in the area for more than 40 minutes, leaving just minutes before the blast took place” (BBC, “Istanbul: Six dead, dozens wounded in Turkey explosion, Nov. 14, 2022).

Among the dead (and quoting from the previous cited article)–“…a government ministry employee and his young daughter….”

Of course, anything’s possible, and with autocratic ambition and power in place, politics as theater engineered for power is possible too. With an election taking place in 2023 and a quaking bog of a collapsing economy associated with him, the autocratic Erdogan may not have been without motivation for the once unheard of practice in the top echelon of both secretly setting the fire and publicly putting it out.

One would not bring up even the notion of a “False Flag Operation” with any liberal humanist leader of any open democracy anywhere, but for more than 20 years, Erdogan has displayed himself as another “populist” autocrat merely propping the very much nominal “democratic” of a Turkish state that has repeatedly proven anti-democratic, illiberal, and deeply repressive, and not exactly unlike what Putin has had going in Russia.

As of publishing, no trustworthy investigation of Sunday’s bombing at a popular shopping mall has been conducted (given the overnight spread of associated arrests or detentions), and given the autocratic and feudal-medieval character of Erdogan and his regime, none may be expected.

And on the other hand, “According to Istanbul police, 1,200 security cameras have been checked near the site of the explosion. Police have conducted raids at 21 different addresses the female suspect has been identified to have links with” (Al Jazeera. “Turkish police arrest 46 people over Istanbul explosion.” November 14, 2022).

It’s possible as well that given the chaos attending radical enterprises in their configurations, numbers, and relationships that one or more in the dragnet “done it” and leadership(s) elsewhere may not known of related plans for “action”.

Call the attitude here “Epistemological Ambivalence”, the possibility remains that the leader who has displayed contempt for his society’s journalists and others has indeed put on a bloody little play–and if not, who among Turkey’s journalists and publishers are left to believe him out of independent reason rather than fear?

Related Online

Al Jazeera. “Turkish police arrest 46 people over Istanbul explosion.” November 14, 2022.

Askew, Joshua. “Soaring inflation and a collapsing currency: Why is Turkey’s economy in such a mess?” EuroNews, October 11, 2022.More than two-thirds of people in Turkey are struggling to pay for food and cover their rent, according to a survey by Yöneylem Social Research Centre, fuelling a surge in mental illness and debt.

Butler, Daren and Birsen Altayli. “Turkey’s kingmaker party keeps options open ahead of Erdogan’s election test.” Reuters, September 8, 2022: “ISTANBUL, Sept 8 (Reuters) – A pro-Kurdish party set to play a key role in Turkish elections next year said it is open to talks with other opposition parties on finding a joint candidate who could end President Tayyip Erdogan’s two decades in power.”

Daou, Marc. “With an eye on re-election, Turkey’s Erdogan risks the ire of Western partners.” France24, June 22, 2022.

Erlanger, Steven. “Election Approaching, Erdogan Raises the Heat Again With Greece: Turkey’s president suggested that troops “may suddenly arrive one night” in Greece. With inflation rampant and the lira sinking, a manufactured crisis might be just the thing he needs.” The New York Times, October 16, 2022.

Genc, Kaya. “Erdogan’s Way: The Rise and Rule of Turkey’s Islamist Shapeshifter.” Foreign Affairs, September/October 2019.

Hacaoglu, Selcan. “Inflation Hits 86%, But Erdogan’s Vital Heartland Stays Loyal.” Bloomberg, November 13, 2022.

Hubbard, Ben and Safak Timur. “Blast in Central Istanbul Kills at Least 6 and Wounds Dozens.” The New York Times, November 13, 2022.

Hubbard, Ben and Safak Timur. “Turkey Accuses U.S. of Complicity in Istanbul Attack That Killed 6.” The New York Times, November 14, 2022.

Mansoor, Peter R. “False-Flag Operations.” Hoover Institution, February 23, 2022.

Phillips, David and Kelly Berkell. “The Case for Delisting the PKK as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.” Lawfare, February 11, 2016.

Satter, David. “The Unsolved Mystery Behind the Act of Terror That Brought Putin to Power.” National Review, August 17, 2016.

Turak, Natasha. “Erdogan says Turkey will keep cutting interest rates, mocks British pound.” CNBC, September 29, 2022.

U.S. Department of State. “Executive Order 13224.” Bureau of Counterterrorism.

Wikiepedia. “Suruç bombing”.

Erdogan has converted his popular mandate into power and used that power to remake Turkey’s relations with the rest of the world. He has expanded Turkish influence in Syria and northern Iraq and tilted Turkey—a NATO member—toward China, Iran, and Russia. His use of power has also generated dissent among feminists, leftists, and the secular middle class. Under Erdogan’s watch, Turkey has become the world’s largest prison for journalists. Filmmakers, novelists, photographers, and scholars are also among the imprisoned. Turkey has banned gay and transgender pride marches since 2015; Wikipedia has been blocked since 2017.

Genc, Kaya. “Erdogan’s Way: The Rise and Rule of Turkey’s Islamist Shapeshifter.” Foreign Affairs, September/October 2019.