Trying to make sense of Turkey

The Oct. 11 edition of the Süddeutsche Zeitung ran a front-page story and photo of young men in Ankara, Turkey, marching in protest against the massacre on Saturday of nearly 100 people in the capital city. The dead were among thousands who had gathered near the city's main train station in preparation for a demonstration calling for peace between Kurdish separatists and the Turkish government.

The article's headline: "Erdogan's Responsibility" (Erdoğans Verantwortung). Whether passively, through lack of security at the demonstration, or actively through some nefarious plot, Turkish Kurds are suggesting the president of Turkey and his regime are responsible for the deaths.

No one has yet come forward to accept responsibility for detonating the bombs that killed and maimed so many. Theories also include Turkish IS sympathizers and Kurdish separatists.

Turkey is strategically important to Europe for many reasons -- culturally, politically, geographically and militarily. A member of NATO, Turkey also shares a border with Syria and straddles east and west culturally while consisting of a population that predominantly observes the Muslim faith. It has enjoyed economic gains over the past decade and a half and had hopes of being the first Muslim nation to join the European Union until a crackdown on democratic protests in 2013 stalled those talks. Erdogan is the strongman whose rhetoric has included complaints that democracy is "inefficient."

That his government was actually responsible for the incredible tragedy that occurred Saturday is hard to believe, but it is significant that many of his people have so lost faith in his policies that they really think it is possible.

Since its Ottoman days, Germany has historically shared a special relationship and intermittent alliances with Turkey, made all the more important since a post-World War II Gastarbeiter (guest worker) program brought hundreds of thousands of Turks to the country to help with its reconstruction. There is a third and fourth generation of Turkish-Germans living here now who still speak Turkish, albeit with a German accent.

The Süddeutsche Zeitung article pushes hard the likelihood that individuals or a group associated with the Islamic State was behind Saturday's deadly blasts, stating "militant Kurds have until now been the most successful combatants against IS in Syria and Iraq. (Für eine Täterschaft des Islamischen Staats (IS) dagegen spricht viel: Milizen der Kurden sind bislang die erfolgreichsten Kämpfer gegen den IS in Syrien und im Irak.). It goes on to point out that Turkey recently opened up an airbase for U.S. warplanes carrying out attacks on IS tarkets in Syria.

"An (IS) act of revenge is feasible. The possible objective is also clear: the further destabilization of Turkey." (Die Türkei hat erst kürzlich ihre Flugbasis Incirlik für Angriffe der US-Streitkräfte auf IS-Ziele in Syrien geöffnet. Ein Racheakt ist denkbar. Das Ziel wäre auch klar: die weitere Destabilisierung der Türkei.)

With the people of Turkey's trust in their government at an all time low, the article concludes, a Nov. 1 election must take place as planned. The consequences otherwise could "drive the country into the abyss" (Alles andere wäre eine Einladung an alle, die das Land in den Abgrund treiben wollen.)

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