A powerful explosion on Wednesday shook the Turkish capital Ankara, claiming 28 innocent lives while leaving another 61 individuals wounded. The assault was the last in a long line of atrocities directly tied to the Syrian civil war against Turkish citizens. Since the suicide attack in Suruç, terrorists claimed more than 150 civilian lives, suffering no consequences with the exception of statements from Turkey's allies and a tacit support for more violence.
Enough is enough. Wednesday's attack should be a tipping point in Turkey's Syria policy: Unless our allies are willing to take meaningful action and distance themselves from terrorist groups, Turkey will have no choice but to protect its interests.
Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu identified the perpetrator as Saleh Nejan, a 28-year-old Syrian national - a suicide bomber, he said, was working with the PKK/Democratic Union Party (PYD). Until now, U.S. President Barack Obama's administration repeatedly voiced support for the PKK's Syrian franchise. The direct involvement of a People's Protection Units (YPG) militant in a terror attack against Turkish citizens, however, means that the government no longer can turn a blind eye to the national security threat next door. At this time, Turkey should urge the international coalition, including the U.S., to make a decision: Start targeting YPG positions in northern Syria or vacate İncirlik Air Base, which is supposed to keep Turkey safe, immediately. If Mr. Obama is so interested in cooperating with the YPG, he might want to deploy U.S. jets to the Mannagh air base, which his favorite allies recently seized and renamed after the PKK's imprisoned founder Abdullah Öcalan.
Hours before the Ankara attack, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stated that his country would not let the PKK leadership create a new stronghold in northern Syria. To be clear, the suicide bomber proved Erdoğan right: Moving forward, the PKK and PYD will move to effectively render the Turkey-Syria border obsolete by securing the free movement of weapons and personnel between a NATO ally and the conflict zone. In the wake of the most recent developments, the creation of a safe zone in northern Syria is not just a foreign policy objective but a necessary step to safeguard Turkey and the West from terrorists.
Since 2011, Turkey's European allies have been part of the problem in Syria. Although German Chancellor Angela Merkel and others were quick to condemn the suicide attack in the Turkish capital, they conveniently avoided tough questions about the flow of foreign fighters, volunteering to fight among DAESH and YPG forces alike. Instead, they have been trying to bribe the Turkish government into stopping refugees, who are escaping the violence created by Europe's own children. Here's an idea: Unless European nations are willing to crack down on terror networks at home, the Turkish government should scrap the EU refugee deal and present the Syrian refugee community in Turkey with a choice between staying and safe passage to the Greek islands. We even came up with a new proverb: If Europe won't come to Syria, bring Syria to Europe.
The time for futile words is over and Turkey's allies have to take action without further delay: Unite behind Turkish leadership to start fixing Syria or risk losing a valuable ally in the Middle East. Whether or not the international coalition is ready to take action, the Turkish government should move to create a safe zone in northern Syria to host refugees across the border and deny terrorists the opportunity to claim more Turkish lives.