Aside from a carefully worded statement urging unity, President Tayyip Erdogan was unusually quiet after Turkey’s worst ever bomb attack, writes Reuters in an analysis.
“Modern Turkey’s most divisive leader has in the past had no hesitation in dominating the air waves at times of crisis, rallying his fervent supporters and lambasting his opponents in equal measure in defense of the state. But the double suicide bombing that killed up to 128 people at a rally by pro-Kurdish and leftist activists on Saturday, threeÂ weeks before an election, has sparked criticism of Erdogan’s administration just as Turkey is already beset by conflict in its Kurdish southeast and seemingly paralyzed by the growing spillover from Syria’s war.
For those loyal to Erdogan and the Islamist-rooted AK Party he founded, the bombings marked another murky conspiracy by foreign-backed forces to undermine the Turkish state and damage its standing in the Middle East. For his opponents, including the pro-Kurdish opposition party apparently targeted in the blasts, his administration has blood on its hands – at best for intelligence failings, at worst for complicity in a bid to stir up nationalist sentiment.
“Once the initial shock has subsided, the attack appears likely to exacerbate the already deep cleavages in a dangerously divided society,” said Wolfango Piccoli, managing director of London-based Teneo Intelligence.
Investigations are focusing on Islamic State, senior security sources told Reuters, although Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in the hours after the blasts that any of a plethora of radical groups could have been responsible, from Islamist or Kurdish factions to far-leftists. Islamic State has openly claimed past attacks, sometimes opportunistically taking responsibility for actions it did not direct. There has been no such claim for the Ankara bombing, and skeptics see the group as a convenient scapegoat.”