Je Suis Ankara…Non Monsieur!
Posted on March 16, 2016
Ankara, the capital of Turkey was blasted by a car bomb for the third time in three months on Sunday, once again claiming dozens of lives and leaving the bustling city in a state of confused chaos.
It made the news for a while, gaining about the same coverage as England being crowned Six Nations Champions at rugby and Arsenal going about their obligatory late season collapse at football.
Then everyone forgot about and watched ‘The Night Manager’.
I forgot about it too, perhaps because my sub-conscience was me telling that Turkey doesn’t really count because it is over there in the East somewhere and my brain only has enough energy to digest misery that occurs on my doorstep.
Reading about the terrorist incidents in Ankara is quite depressing and demonstrates that in Britain and at a guess, Western Europe, we are almost terror numb and are too busy to use up any more of our empathy on countries who have a history of turning on their own ethnic minorities.
It’s almost as if we believe civilians in Ankara a more deserving of terror than we are but surely it is not their fault if they are caught up in violent acts that have caused such confusion, some are even suggesting that they were carried out by an increasingly draconian AKP Government (Tayyip Erdogan) as a way of turning the public on the separatist PKK; a suggestion which you would hope, is just conspiracy.
I couldn’t help but wonder why the Erdogan government would have such enemies within that would want to inflict such misery.
Well, for starters, Erdogan backed Syrian rebels in their fight against Assad but refused to support Syrian Kurds fighting ISIS just over the border, so you can see where the obvious enemies come from (a ceasefire with PKK ended in 2015) but that apart, it all gets a bit confusing for us in Western Europe.
Turkey are members of NATO and have long been an ally of the West in an area that is of huge geographical importance (Google map of Europe, Russia the Middle East and you will see why) yet the AKP has been accused of becoming increasingly conservative and polarised with Erdogan’s attempts to criminalise adultery and introduce alcohol free zones seen as examples of Islamic intent.
The construction of his £385 million palace in Ankara, the imprisonment of establishment and political enemies as well as the threat to wipe out social media giant Twitter, add further fuel to those accusing him of authoritarian tendencies which are an obvious concern to the West.
The PKK (the likely terrorists) are listed in the EU and NATO as a terrorist organisation (but not by the UN, Russia or China) however, they also fight against ISIS, so western governments are in a complete pickle as to where their support lies; as a consequence maybe they just turn a blind eye to Turkish terror attacks and ensure they don’t get too much coverage?
In Turkey, you have a leader that condemns Israel for persecution of Palestinians (good) builds a massive palace for himself (worrying) supports the overthrow of Assad (good) won’t support Kurd rebels fighting ISIS (bad) is leaning towards an authoritarian Islamic state (bad) doesn’t like Russia (good) imprisons political enemies (bad) and is still, apparently a political and geographical ally of the West (good).
It is little wonder our brains are completely scattered all over the place with regards to Turkey and what it means to us apart from as a holiday destination (Bodrum is beautiful by the way). However, the chaos reigning between the Government and the PKK ‘terrorists’ is hardly the fault of a woman out walking with her kids, a bloke running a market stall, or young lad riding his bike.
When the attacks happened in Paris last year, the schools of Ankara had a day of mourning and the tricolour was flown over the city as a show of support for the loss of the innocent lives peacefully going about their day in a capital city. Western Europe didn’t respond in kind on Sunday, in fact most people have forgotten it already; there were certainly no Turkish flags as Facebook profile pictures.
It appears that in the subconscious minds of us in the West, we only have a department for terror that takes place within a certain radius and Turkey remains outside it, despite its historical and geographical importance as a Western ally.
In an increasingly dangerous world, maybe it is worth adjusting our mind-sets to offer some kind of equality in empathy?