On the morning after, the carnage in Ankara is mind-numbing, the fear palpable and everywhere. For the second time in less than a month, terrorists targeted the venerable Turkish capital, this time via a car bomb that killed at least 37 people and wounded dozens of others.
Security officials immediately said the attack bore the hallmarks of the separatist (P.K.K.), long the bête noire of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who quickly called for national unity and tried hard to sound positive about a future that seems anything but.
“Our people should not worry,” he said. “The struggle against terrorism will for certain end in success, and terrorism will be brought to its knees.”
Ah, but there’s the rub, exactly where it’s always been for Erdoğan, who remains as keen as ever to crush the Kurds’ dream of self-determination yet unwilling to engage the Islamic State (I.S.) as its madmen wreak havoc on his southern border.
Ostensibly, Turkey is a partner in the international coalition to bury the I.S. and its goal of a global caliphate, but many an observer has noted that the jihadists have operated in and around Turkey with more or less free reign.
In fact, it’s long been suspected that Turkey is actively aiding terrorist groups intent on toppling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In the interminable drama that is the Middle East, this is an oft-repeated episode, titled “The enemy of my enemy . . .”
The Kurds, who continue to man the front lines against the I.S., have gained ground where others have faltered. Yet Turkey has asked the West to ignore its incursions against the Kurds because, well, subjugating those other terrorist groups will necessarily include beating the separatists into submission.
Most world powers have not taken the bait. But security officials have affirmed that at least one member of the P.K.K. was involved in this latest attack on Ankara. Thus, Erdoğan, who has vowed to destroy his perceived enemies and claim self-defense, may get his desired green light to wipe out his longtime nemesis once and for all. As for those enemies at the southern gate, he’ll no doubt promise, yet again, to get to them . . . eventually.