Suicide Bomb Attack in Center of Istanbul

2016 has just started and terrorism strikes again.

This time in Istanbul, Turkey, on Tuesday the 12th of January, where a suicide bomb attack killed ten people. The beauty of Istanbul ’s monuments mixes, on a quiet sunny morning around 10am local time, with innocent blood. Eight of out the 10 killed were tourists,many of them were German, for the attack was in Sultanahmet district, heart of the visitors’ sight-seeing trips. It is in fact right in that district where one can find the Blue Mosque, a “must have visited” for whoever may go to Istanbul.

Istanbul

Photo credit: akk_rus via Foter.com / CC BY

Turkish and international sources claim ISIS responsibility and the Islamic State itself recognizes the attack as being thought and done by one of its members. The suspect is a Syrian man in his 20s, who was apparently an asylum seeker.

The Deputy Prime Minister, Numan Kurtulmus, affirmed that the man responsible for the attack had been identified using parts of his body which were found on the spot after the explosion.

Turkish President Erdogan along with Turkish institutions affirmed that they knew their country was “the top target for all terrorist groups in the region”.

This would be linked to the strong position taken by Turkey in the anti-terrorism fight, especially for what concerns the Islamic State.

Turkey: A Popular Target of Terrorism

In 2015, Turkey has been overall one of the countries which has been attacked the most by terrorism. Starting in January 2015, when a Russian woman blew herself up in a police station, then in July, when a suicide bomber killed more than 30 people in Suruc, and ending up in October, where 100 people were killed in Ankara.

While the first two attacks can be surely attributed to militants of Daesh, nobody claimed responsibility for the third one, in Ankara. Nonetheless, authorities think the two suicide bombers of the afore mentioned attack were actually working for the Islamic State.

From all the events which have been currently taking place in Paris, Beirut, Egypt, Mali, Turkey , Lebanon and Baghdad, it is quite predictable that attacks on “soft targets” by ISIS will be going on for a while. In fact, this is what Daesh aims to; the Islamic State acts in order to make western societies petrified and horrified by its actions and by its strength.

Turkish-Syrian Relations

As it can be observed, the majority of the people responsible for the latest terrorist attacks in Istanbul were identified as Syrians. This brings to the attention the many weaknesses of Turkish-Syrian relations. The struggle for having the main role in the distribution of energy resources, which is determined by the various pipelines’ projects, is one of the points which make these two countries diverge. Moreover, seen as too religious-centred and not as democratic as the EU would appreciate, they are both suspiciously looked at by the European Union.

Istanbul

Photo credits: Flickr/Freedom House/
Syrian refugees wave Turkish and Syrian Independence flags during a protest against Assad at Yayladagi refugee camp in Hatay province on the Turkish-Syrian border/ April 10, 2012/CC BY 2.0

Turkey is for this reason in a very difficult position. On the one side, the country is trying to maintain control of its border with Syria for security reasons and it is also trying not to take part in the Syrian conflict or to do so as little as possible; on the other side Turkey aims at gaining European sympathy, in order to get benefits from it, which is not compatible with the situation with Syria.

The attack has however brought not only further hostility of Turkey towards Syria, but also towards others actors.

Immediately after the attacks, the police intensified researches for terrorists in the region and arrested around 30 people, three of whom were Russians. Relations of Turkey with the Russian Federation, especially after the downing of the Russian warplane in November 2015, are still very tense, and this event does not make it better.

Moreover , the position of Turkey is very problematic especially concerning people’s possible engagement in Daesh. Situated between the Caucasus and Syria , and with a rooted Muslim culture, Turkey has the hardest of the tasks in controlling affluence to the Islamic State. In the meanwhile, Turkish authorities say that the involvement of Syrians in the recent terrorist attacks will be used as a prejudice in order not to facilitate migration from Syria as the European Union is pushing Turkey to do.

Istanbul

Photo credit: Wikimedia/CC BY 3.0/Middle-East-map/ 13 April 2010

Turkey Attacks ISIS

As a response to the attacks in Istanbul, Turkey has started to shoot on IS positions in Syria and Iraq. The Turkish prime minister, Ahmet Dovutoglu, explains that nearly 200 members of Daesh have been killed, among whom there were some regional chiefs. The prime minister said that in case of other attacks on Turkey, they would be ready to start bombing on ISIS positions, as it has been done by both the Russian Federation and France in light of the attacks received.

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Valentina Spina

Valentina Spina

Italian, second year student at Sciences Po Paris university in France, I study political sciences with a focus on Central and Eastern Europe. I am passionate about the Balkan region, interethnic coexistence and post-conflict reconstruction as well as Europe, human rights and international security.