Was last week’s Ankara attack just the beginning?


PKK has been learning from fighting IS. One technique that the PKK has adapted well is the decision-making process for operations, allowing local cells to decide on their planning, execution and financing. This means we are facing autonomous cells that don’t take direct orders from the PKK’s upper echelons and that they plan their attacks by assessing the developments on the ground. Bayik’s statement appears to support this thesis.


While persistently denying any PKK link to the attack, he drew attention to youngsters who are capable of deciding by themselves and taking action in response to field developments. Bayik also said the PKK respects such decisions. This decentralization inside the PKK brought about by its involvement in Syria and combat against IS is something new. Previously, the PKK was known for its strict organizational discipline and absolute command structure. By embracing the rising trend of youth rebellion, the PKK is trying overcome the pressure it’s under in Syria and southeast Turkey by transferring its operations to Ankara and the country’s west.

While putting pressure on Ankara with such low cost, low risk and highly effective operations, these autonomous cells do not endanger the PKK’s growing international visibility and reputation. But the PKK’s approach of franchising violence makes the war dirtier. The PKK’s need to mitigate the pressure it’s under in Syria and the southeast makes it difficult for it to grasp how dirty the war has become. Meanwhile, Ankara, isolated in Syria, is having problems explaining its views to the United States, other Western allies and the international public. Naturally, Ankara’s blemished reputation and eroding persuasive powers are serving the PKK.

Diplomatically, Ankara will keep trying to persuade the United States and the rest of the West that there is an organic link between the perpetrators and the YPG and that the YPG, under direct command of the PKK, was behind the attack. But Ankara still has the problem of persuading its allies about the Syrian issue. This time it is imperative for Ankara to take a stand with solid intelligence to back it up. Nevertheless, given the developments in Syria, it appears unlikely that the United States will change its attitude and terminate its cooperation with the PYD.What Ankara can do the on the ground is limited. About two hours after the Ankara bombing, at around 8:30 p.m. local time, Turkish planes struck a group of 60-70 people that included some senior PKK leaders in Iraq’s Haftanin area. But it is almost impossible for Ankara to conduct such an operation against YPG targets in Syria because of the de facto no-fly zone Russia has imposed in the country’s north.

It is possible that the Turkish howitzer fire on YPG targets in Syria will be intensified and the border crossings between the PYD-controlled area and Turkey will be further restricted. Ankara is also likely to adopt an even tougher line in its operations in the southeast because of recent military casualties sustained in that area. In a nutshell, Ankara doesn’t really have too many effective options.One must not ignore the ethical, sectarian, political and socio-economic fault lines that will deepen with Ankara’s toughened approach to security. The real question Ankara must ask is why Turkey has become a country where acts of terror are so easy. Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/02/turkey-syria-ankara-blast-pyd-kurds-worry-similar-attacks.html#ixzz410nVXWBe