On Monday morning, an explosion claimed 32 lives in Suruç, a border town in southeastern Turkey, and left dozens of young activists wounded. The victims were members of the Federation of Socialist Youth Associations (SGDF), a radical leftist organization, who traveled from across the country to help rebuild Kobani, a Syrian border town across the border best known for having been attacked by the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) last year.
The terrorist attacks did not stop there: An ISIS member is accused of perpetrating the Suruç attack, which was followed by the murder of two off-duty police officers in Ceylanpınar, the killing of a soldier in Adıyaman, both by the terrorist PKK. The final straw was the ISIS attack that killed noncommissioned officer Yalçın Nane by ISIS in Kilis.
The Turkish military, in response, conducted a military operation, named after Yalçın, against ISIS positions in Syria. While not crossing the border, Turkish tanks and fighter jets bombarded key ISIS installations, which Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said were totally effective in destroying the targets.
Turkey is now engaged in a fight against both the PKK and ISIS as part of its War on Terror strategy and conducted pinpoint attacks against ISIS positions in Syria that were perceived as posing a threat to Turkey's border security. Meanwhile, the Turkish police launched simultaneous nationwide operations against both terrorist groups in the past two days.
Turkey sees both groups as an equal threat to national security and will continue to combat the PKK within Turkey and ISIS abroad.
The recent spate of terrorist attacks spurred Davutoğlu to say, "I call on the leaders of major political parties to sign a joint declaration to condemn all forms of terrorism." Coming from the chairman of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), whom pundits have long accused of polarizing Turkish society, the statement was notably powerful.
Davutoğlu's call received mixed reactions. While the Republican People's Party (CHP), which is currently holding coalition talks with the AK Party, seconded the proposal, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) issued a written statement to turn down the offer and propose that the prime minister apologize for shaking hands with the Kurdish militants.
The strongest reaction, however, came from the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), whose co-chair, Figen Yüksekdağ, suggested that the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) was cooperating with the perpetrators. HDP Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş, on Tuesday, echoed Yüksekdağ's sentiments: "ISIS may have been the perpetrators, but the government was responsible for the attack." Such irresponsible statements were the direct instigators of the attacks in Ceylanpınar, Adana and Istanbul that occured the very next day.
Surely enough, Turkey faced similar challenges before last week's attacks. For three decades, the country constantly woke up to reports of extrajudicial executions and violent exchanges between security forces and PKK guerrillas. Although the Kurdish reconciliation process and disarmament talks have led to a cease-fire, which has held for over two years, many people still remember the heavy cost of war. Despite the nationalist fervor among the nation's youth, Turkish society must once again respond to violence with solidarity and compassion. Turkey, a country that takes pride in its cultural and ethnic diversity, has the power to mourn for its dead and avoid future casualties. In order to overcome this challenge, however, we must all join forces.
The authorities have a key responsibility to shed light on last week's attacks and take necessary steps to bring those responsible to justice without delay. Public officials, if proven negligent, must be removed from their posts. Furthermore, the government must act to restore public order in order to make sure that the sound of shots being fired does not interrupt our national conversation on peace.
Now more than ever, the Kurdish political movement must show where it stands on violence. Having pledged to bring peace to Turkey on the campaign trail, both Demirtaş and Yüksekdağ find themselves at a crossroads. Although the party has been unable to distance itself from the PKK until now, there is still hope for the HDP leadership to turn its back on guns. If the Kurdish reconciliation process ends and the bloodshed continues, they will have no choice but to watch armed militants dictate their terms on the movement. Last but not least, the international community has to take a clear stand against terrorism today. There are no ifs, ands or buts when it comes to civilian casualties.
Over the past decades, the world conveniently avoided tough questions to leave Turkey, a NATO ally, alone in its war on terror. In the age of global terrorism, however, physical distance from the conflict zone cannot protect Western countries from violence. As such, the glorification of the Kurdish radicals in Turkey and Syria as a force for good in the Middle East needs to stop now. As Daily Sabah, we offer our condolences to the families and loved ones of the people who perished in last week's terrorrist attacks by the PKK and ISIS.