Explosion in Istanbul

The Turkish government is blaming militant Kurdish organisations for last weekend's bomb attack in central Istanbul. The suspected perpetrator and 46 other people have been arrested. Both the PKK and the Kurdish militia YPG have said they did not carry out the attack. Commentators look at who stands to gain from such an act.

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Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

Erdoğan benefitting from the fear

The terrorist attack does not bode well for next year's elections, fears the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung:

“Still fresh in Turks' minds is the fact that the months leading up to the November 2015 election were one of the bloodiest periods in recent history. Erdoğan emerged strengthened from the election. The more people are concerned about their security now, the more they will be willing to accept further restrictions on their basic freedoms. The rigorous news blackout could be a sign that the government intends to further restrict fundamental rights before the elections.”

Népszava (HU) /

Increased pressure on Finland and Sweden

Erdoğan could also use the attack to advance his foreign policy interests, argues Népszava:

“The attack could provide the unpopular Turkish president with a pretext to launch a long-announced campaign against Kurdish forces in Syria, which he sees as part of the radical left-wing terrorist organisation PKK. It could also help him to force Finland and Sweden to make further concessions in return for agreeing to them being allowed to join Nato, because these two countries are accused of being too soft on the PKK.”

Karar (TR) /

Government has no interest in provoking terror

Rumours that the Turkish government could itself have instigated the attack are out of place, says Karar:

“The immediate arrest of the suspects and the detentions are not evidence of collusion, but of the success of the security forces. Once all the evidence has been collected there will be a public hearing in court and we will see everything in detail. The theory that the government is behind the attack is as unrealistic as the conspiracy theories the government is putting forward about the opposition. It is not in the government's interest to create fear of terrorism. Its goal is rather to convey the impression that it is winning the fight against terrorism and providing security.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Turkey has more than one enemy

La Repubblica suspects the perpetrators are linked to the Kurdish PKK:

“The Islamic State is quick to claim responsibility for attacks. ... But that has not been the case this time. Moreover, the extremist group uses male assassins in 99 percent of cases.... The PKK is the other main suspect. In the last nine months, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has kept us on tenterhooks, but of course this does not mean that there is no more extreme violence in other crisis zones of the world. In October, the Kurds accused the Turkish army of having used chemical weapons against one of the group's camps in northern Iraq during one of Turkey's frequent raids against PKK militants in neighbouring countries.”

Cumhuriyet (TR) /

Better border control needed

Cumhuriyet calls for a strong reaction from the state:

“The solution to the problem requires social consensus and a unified state policy. The key to this policy is to get serious in the fight against foreign and domestic supporters of terrorism and to express a common will. ... Above all, plans should be formulated for border security. In particular, and without wasting any more time, a list of terrorists who enter Turkey disguised as asylum seekers and a list of Afghan-Syrian special forces accused of crimes should be drawn up.”

Sabah (TR) /

Terrorists' rearguard battle

For the pro-government daily Sabah, the attack in Istanbul is an indication of how weakened certain organisations really are:

“Turkey has crushed the heads of terrorist groups, especially the Gülenists, the PKK and the IS. Both the cause of terrorism and the way to fight it are clear. Attacks on civilians highlight the desperation of the terrorist organisations. It is when Turkey becomes stronger that such attacks on our stability occur. The terrorists still believe we are living in the Turkey of the 1990s. They will never succeed.”