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Turkey heading toward civil war, travel warnings issued, and exodus to the country from Syria

Mr. Ambien

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The situation in Turkey has escalated quite a bit:

Erdogan's Cynical Game: Is Turkey Creeping Toward Civil War?

Turkish President Erdogan claims to be battling the terrorist Islamic State, but in reality he is mainly fighting against the Kurdish PKK militia. By doing so, he has shown that he is willing to derail the peace process in his country for the sake of clinging to power.

Newal Bulut grew up in war, and now she fears it could return. She is a 27-year-old graphic designer from the predominantly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir in eastern Turkey. Sometimes she asks herself whether that night in June, when the pro-Kurdish party HDP won seats in the Turkish parliament thanks in part to Turkish voters, was only a beautiful, ephemeral dream?

Bulut spent several nervous months with Selahattin Demirtas, the co-chairman of the HDP. She applauded at his speeches, and convinced friends and relatives to support the young party leader, who not only promised but also embodied change in Turkish politics. At school and later at university, Bulut saw how friends who had advocated for more rights for Kurds, were arrested as suspected terrorists. She hoped that the HDP's success in the June 7 election would help Turkey become a peaceful, pluralistic country.

Just two months later, Bulut walks through downtown Diyarbakir, wearing black leggings, dark nail polish and piercings. She strolls past armored police cars as fighter jets roar overhead. Anti-government protesters erected barricades and set cars on fire the night before. The words "Kobane is everywhere" and "Freedom for Öcalan" are spray-painted on walls. "I was naïve," says Bulut.

'This Is Only the Beginning'

The same ritual repeats itself night after night: At around 9 p.m., fighter jets take off from the military base outside the city to conduct air strikes against positions held by the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, in northern Iraq, and its offshoots in Syria. Only a few of the air strikes target Islamic State (IS) positions. At the same time, young Kurds are setting downtown Diyarbakir on fire. Where roadblocks are erected, the police respond with water guns and tear gas. But the protesters are not easily deterred. They chant: "This is only the beginning." In Istanbul and other cities, violent clashes with police have erupted, resulting in injuries and death.

The Kurdish Spring has turned into a hate-filled, violent summer. Many people in Diyarbakir believe that civil war is inevitable.

The peace process between the government and the Kurds has come to an end. Statements made this week by both Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and PKK leaders have confirmed as much. PKK fighters and Turkish soldiers are being killed almost daily by fighting, air strikes and attacks.

Last week, it seemed as if Erdogan would finally do what the West has long hoped he would, namely to take action against IS after years of tolerating the militant group.

After the devastating suicide bombing at a Kurdish youth rally on July 20 that left 32 dead in the town of Suruc, across the border from the Syrian Kurd enclave of Kobane, US President Barack Obama spoke with his Turkish counterpart on the phone. Both sides agreed to join forces in the fight against IS, something the Turkish government had stubbornly resisted until then.

The US Air Force is now permitted to use multiple Turkish military bases as well as the NATO air base at Incirlik to stage its air strikes against IS militants -- access it did not have before. This dramatically reduces the distances US jets have to fly. Instead of taking off from their bases in the Persian Gulf and refueling mid-air, the planes now only have to travel 150 kilometers (93 miles) from Incirlik before reaching IS-controlled territory.

Last Friday morning, four days after the suicide bombing in Suruc -- which, incidentally, no one has claimed responsibility for yet -- the Turkish air force launched an attack on IS positions. "Three F-16 fighter jets took off at 3:12 a.m. from Diyarbakir Air Base and bombed three IS targets between 3:40 and 3:53 a.m.," the office of the prime minister announced several hours later.

A Cynical Excuse to Wage War?

But Erdogan's true intentions quickly became clear. He wanted to use the opportunity to fight what he and the other hardliners in his party felt was the greater evil: the PKK. This has created an absurd situation in which Turkey is now striking at both IS and its most effective and toughest opponents. Seen in this light, Turkey appears to be using the Suruc suicide bombing as nothing but a cynical excuse to wage war, not against IS, but against the terror organization's victims.

The Turkish fighter jets take off day and night to attack the PKK headquarters in the hard-to-reach Qandil Mountains in northern Iraq, as well as their positions in Turkey. Turkish tanks have also fired on fighters of a PKK offshoot in Syria who were near IS positions.

What has been happening in the past week in northern Iraq and Turkey in particular seems counterproductive. As more and more countries in the Middle East have descended into violence, the peace process between Turkey and the PKK that had materialized after years of tough negotiations was a rare glimmer of hope. Erdogan himself long seemed determined to end a civil war that had raged for two decades and left 40,000 dead, but in which neither side could claim victory. "We can no longer wait for a political solution," he said in a moving speech to the Turkish parliament in 2009. "The tears of the mothers of dead sons on both sides will not allow it."

But as paradoxical as Erdogan's current military strategy seems, considering what he said in 2009, it doesn't come as a surprise.

Erdogan has always treated politics as war. No other prominent Turkish politician is more ruthless than him. By attacking the PKK, he is fomenting the sort of turmoil that will likely pave the way for new elections in the fall.

Disconnected from Reality

In June, after 13 years in power, Erdogan's Justice and Development Party, the AKP, lost its absolute majority in parliament and is now dependent on a coalition partner for the first time in its history. For Erdogan, the election result is a setback. He had hoped for a two-thirds majority, which he needs in order to amend the constitution to create a presidential system and cement his dominant position for years to come. But the Kurdish HDP thwarted his plan when it entered parliament.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had 45 days to form a coalition. The deadline is Aug. 23. Erdogan apparently wants people in Turkey to have the impression that only a one-party government dominated by the AKP can manage the chaos in the country. He wants the HDP to be labeled a party of terrorists, pushing it below the 10-percent hurdle required to secure seats in parliament in the next election. This is also supported by the fact that the Turkish judiciary in Diyarbakir on Thursday said that it is investigating Demirtas for allegedly "provoking and arming" protesters.

The question is whether this strategy can be convincing. Observers assume that Erdogan could draw voters from the far-right extremist MHP party to his AKP with his nationalistic agenda. HDP voters' loyalties appear to be unshaken even despite the recent tumult. Opinion polls show that only six percent of them would vote for another party should new elections be called.

The stalemate could last for months, but that's not enough of a reason for Erdogan to abandon his cynical game. It's entirely possible that the president is unaware of just how dangerous his game really is. After many years in power, he seems increasingly disconnected from reality. A military escalation could not simply be stopped with the push of a button come election day.

At the starting point of the current escalation, the border to Syria, nothing seems to be happening these days.

Along the eastern section of the border, the Turkish town of Karkamis faces the Syrian town of Jarabulus. On the Syrian side, a black-and-white Islamic State flag is visible, fluttering listlessly in the hot summer air. Directly adjacent, barely 100 meters (330 feet) away on the Turkish side, is the office of Erdogan's ruling AKP party. The border crossing is closed, but there are no tanks, no troops, not even a border patrol station -- nothing to indicate that Turkey's campaign against the jihadi terrorist army is about to begin.

Facilitating IS' Rise to Power

So far, the Turkish government has consistently denied supporting IS. But in the gray zone between active support and passively looking the other way, Erdogan's government has facilitated IS' rise to power.

Since the summer of 2012, when large numbers of foreign jihad recruits began flooding into Syria from Turkey, Turkish authorities have allowed them to enter and leave through provincial airports in the south. IS recruitment was long tolerated within Turkey, and members of IS were even allowed to use border crossings. It was only later, and little by litte, that Ankara changed its stance.


In return for providing support to the international coalition against IS, the Turkish government has long called for the establishment of a "protective zone" in northern Syria, and now the Americans have agreed. It will extend about 100 kilometers from the border town of Azaz north of Aleppo to Jarabulus, and about 50 kilometers into Syria -- in the areas that IS still controls. The plan to drive the jihadists out of the region, other than with increased air attacks, has remained vague, except that rebels supported by the Americans and the Turks are to advance into the region. But which rebels, and how will they accomplish this?

According to the official goal of the anti-IS coalition, the protective zone is intended to help cut off IS' supply lines and smuggling routes. But the Turkish government apparently has a different goal in mind: to prevent the Kurds from capturing and controlling a cohesive region along its border.

The People's Protection Units, or YPG, as the PKK offshoot in Syria is called, have captured large amounts of territory from IS in recent weeks -- to Ankara's horror and Washington's delight. In mid-June, the Kurds managed to capture the Syrian border town of Tal Abyad, and before long they were only 30 kilometers from the unofficial IS capital of Raqqa.

Erdogan Fears Kurdish State

In doing so, the YPG was able to create a corridor between two of the three previously isolated Kurdish "cantons" in northern Syria. If the militia, together with other rebels, could now drive IS away from the border entirely, all of the "cantons" would be connected. Erdogan was already threatening war after the capture of Tal Abyad. "Under no circumstances will we permit the establishment of a new state in northern Syria." He was referring to a Kurdish state.

Media organizations aligned with the government reported that 18,000 Turkish troops were being mobilized to invade the region that now encompasses the "protective zone." On June 29, the Arab-language newspaper Al-Araby al-Jadeed, published in London, predicted that Erdogan and his prime minister would "push for a Turkish intervention, especially in the region of Jarabulus, to prevent Kurdish forces from advancing any farther -- under the pretense of fighting IS." Now, only one month later, at least part of this prediction has come true. Although Turkish ground troops are not involved yet, it cannot be ruled out that this will happen soon.

If the Turkish army does in fact march into Syria, "we will consider this an invasion and defend ourselves," the leader of the political arm of the YPG, Salih Muslim, warned in a conversation with SPIEGEL. Otherwise, however, he is trying to deescalate the conflict. "We do not want conflict with Turkey. If Ankara wants IS to be driven out, we can do this together with other local groups, Arabs, Turkmen and Kurds. Instead, the AKP has slammed the door shut and is trying to weaken the Kurds, who are fighting IS."

However, there is currently no indication that Turkey will deploy ground troops. Even at a secret meeting of several Syrian rebel commanders in Ankara early last week, there was only talk of more support, but not of an impending invasion. Apparently a direct confrontation with YPG was also not on the table. Still, skepticism prevailed among the participants, including a leader of the Islamist group Ahrar al-Sham. "The Turks have already promised us twice to create a protective zone in the north, but nothing ever came of it," says one of the rebel leaders. "If they help us against (Syrian President) Bashar Assad or IS, okay. Otherwise we will continue fighting on our own."

US Intensifies Cooperation with Turkey

While the European NATO partners, especially the German government, criticize the Turks for their attacks on the PKK, the Americans apparently view the situation differently. For them, it is more important that the Turks, after years of unsuccessful attempts to win them over, are finally willing to help in the fight against IS.

"We look forward to intensifying cooperation with Turkey and all of our partners in the global fight against ISIL," tweeted Brett McGurk, US President Barack Obama's deputy special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, while ignoring the fact that two of these partners are currently declaring war on each other. A possible escalation, McGurk hastened to add, would certainly not be the fault of the United States. "There is no connection between these air strikes against PKK and recent understandings to intensify US-Turkey cooperation against ISIL," he added.

The US State Department declared that while PKK is a terrorist organization, improved cooperation with Turkey would now make it possible to offer the Syrian group YPG improved air support. In doing so, it created a separation between the two closely cooperating organizations, a distinction that apparently only exists in the minds of Washington politicians.

It is a bitter irony of history that Erdogan, as president, is now waging war against the PKK, even though, as prime minister, he did more for the Kurds than any previous Turkish politician. In 2005, he was one of the first to publicly state that there was a "Kurdish problem" that needed to be resolved democratically. Before then, the Turkish state had long refused to even recognize the Kurds' existence. Erdogan granted the country's largest minority greater autonomy and invested billions of euros in the infrastructure in southeastern Turkey. He relaxed a ban on the use of the Kurdish language and permitted Kurdish radio and TV stations. In 2012, Turkish intelligence began peace negotiations with PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, who has been imprisoned on Imrali Island in the Sea of Marmara since his arrest in 1999.


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Germany heightens travel warning for Turkey

The German government has issued more severe warnings about travelling to Turkey after a string of terror attacks in the south of the country, and as Ankara intensifies conflict against two militias in Syria and Iraq.

The German central government has issued further warnings about travelling to Turkey, in particular to the country’s largest city of Istanbul, Spiegel Online reported on Wednesday.

The Foreign Ministry had already warned on Monday of a heightened risk of terrorism.

"There are indications of possible attacks on subways and at bus stops in Istanbul," the government warned.

A government spokeswoman said that there is “known instability” and the risk of possible escalation in Turkey.

The Foreign Ministry said that travelling in the area near the Syrian border carries the "danger of further terrorist attacks and kidnappings of foreign citizens".

Imminent threats to vacation areas have so far not been detected, the ministry added.

Last week, a suicide bombing by an Islamic State fighter on a Kurdish town near the Syrian border left more than 30 people dead.

Separatist fighters with the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) then claimed responsibility for killing two Turkish police officers in retaliation. The separatist group complained that the Turkish government has failed to help them in their fight against Isis in their region.

Turkey has launched airstrikes since against Isis, but has also begun attacking the PKK.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan indicated this week that he would end the two-year-long peace process with the PKK, though the government has since said compromise may be possible.

A PKK insurgency that began in 1984 and went on for almost three decades resulted in tens of thousands of deaths.

The German government has called on Turkey to re-enter peace talks. Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Iraqi Kurdish President Massud Barzani agreed that Turkey must continue the Kurdish peace process despite escalating violence, Berlin said on Wednesday.


I can't see where the conflict winds up from here, but Turkey should have acted ages ago.

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I've always wondered, are Kurds actually actively persecuted? I mean, Turkey is a parliamentary democracy, do some people just not quite understand that things not going "your way" is still democracy?

Having autonomy due to ethnic lines is impractical, just ask the Albanians in Kosovo or the Georgians.

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Funny ... just read a story this morning on what would be a good traveling destination with the state of the Canadian dollar and Turkey was one of the countries along with Brazil and New Zealand .

Turkey is a fascinating visit for a Canadian or any visitor.

Once a safe multi cultural country of extreme paradox. Walking through Istanbul provides standing glimpses of Roman architecture and Euro influence dating to the time of Ceasar. Long since buried and the site of excavation in Rome. The call to prayer at 4 am rings through the city and starts people marching through its hillside cbblestone and brick streets. It expresses a much closer look at the citys current culture and standing of power. As does a sip of tea, or turkish coffee at a curbside textile merchant or the spice market. The Aya Sofya is a 2000 year old Roman church, tiled over by the Ottomon conquerors as an Islamic temple towering above the Bosphorous. And knelt at now by tens thousand of more worshippers at a time, several times a day, for more than 500 years.

It would be sad not to walk the city anymore.



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I spent 9 weeks roaming around there back in '95..... I loved it....Istanbul was amazing, the beaches were great and I met great people. Everyone seemed to want to have a chat.

One instance of hospitality: I went to a bank around 2pm. The door was open but when I went inside the staff had gathered for a potluck style late lunch. I turned to leave, as nobody else was in there to do business. The staff asked me to stay and join them in their meal. Fantastic. I had many experiences of hospitality and generosity there.

This is a real shame for the people of Turkey.

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I've always wondered, are Kurds actually actively persecuted? I mean, Turkey is a parliamentary democracy, do some people just not quite understand that things not going "your way" is still democracy?

Having autonomy due to ethnic lines is impractical, just ask the Albanians in Kosovo or the Georgians.


Hundreds of thousands of men, women and children were executed during a systematic attempt to exterminate the Kurdish population in Iraq in the Anfal operations in the late 1980s. They were tied together and shot so they fell into mass graves. Their towns and villages were attacked by chemical weapons, and many women and children were sent to camps where they lived in appalling conditions. Men and boys of ‘battle age’ were targeted and executed en masse. The campaign takes its name from Suratal-Anfal in the Qur’an. Al Anfal literally means the spoils (of war) and was used to describe the military campaign of extermination and looting commanded by Ali Hassan al-Majid. The Ba’athists misused what the Qur’an says. Anfal in the Qur’an does not refer to genocide, but the word was used as a code name by the former Iraqi Ba’athist regime for the systematic attacks against the Kurdish population. The campaign also targeted the villages of minority communities including Christians.

But the Kurdish genocide began decades before the Anfal and has claimed countless victims. The genocide perpetrated over decades began with the arabisation of villages around Kirkuk in 1963. It involved the deportation and disappearances of Faylee Kurds in the 1970s-80s, the murder of 8,000 male Barzanis in 1983, the use of chemical weapons in the late 1980s, most notably against Halabja, and finally the Anfal campaign of 1988. Hundreds of thousands of innocent people perished, families were torn apart, many still live with severe health problems. At the same time, 4,500 villages were razed to the ground between 1976 and 1988 undermining the potential of Iraqi Kurdistan's agricultural resources and destroying Kurdistan’s rural way of life and heritage.


The term al-Anfal is the name given to a succession of attacks against the Kurdish population in Iraq during a specific period. These attacks were named “al-Anfal” by Saddam Hussein and his cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid (known as ‘Chemical Ali’), who used this term to describe the carefully planned and orchestrated eight-staged genocidal campaign between February 23rd and September 6th 1988. In Kurdish society, the word Anfal has come to represent the entire genocide over decades.


  • An estimated 1million people in Iraq have ‘disappeared’ since the 1960s, all presumed murdered or missing.
  • Human Rights Watch reported in its 1993 comprehensive report on Anfal in Iraq that at least 50,000 and possibly as many as 100,000 Kurds are estimated to have been killed at the hands of the Ba’ath regime.1 However, since then, several sources have stated that as many as 182,000 or even more people were killed in that operation
  • Gendercide: Throughout the Kurdish Anfal, men and boys of ‘battle age’ were rounded up and ‘disappeared’ en masse. Most of these men and boys were captured, transported to mass graves and shot in mass executions. Of the total victims of Anfal, an estimated 70% were men, approximately aged 15 to 50.2
  • Thousands of women and children also vanished. Unlike the men, however, they were taken from specific areas as opposed to throughout the region. Evidence also shows that many were taken to internment camps where they were executed or died from deprivation.3
  • During the 1980s, the Kurdish population was attacked with chemical weapons, killing thousands of men, women and children indiscriminately.
  • During the Anfal, 90% of Kurdish villages and more than 20 small towns and cities were completely destroyed. 4


  • 16th March: Halabja Day, commemoration of the chemical bombing of the town of Halabja in 1988
  • 14th April: Commemoration of Anfal genocide against the Kurds in 1988
  • 10 July: Commemoration of the 40,000 displaced civilians from Kirkuk and the Kirkuk districts in 1962
  • 31 July: Remembrance of the Barzani disappearance in 1983
  • 18 August: Remembrance of the mass killing in Surria village in 1969
  • 4 September: Remembrance of the mass killing of Fayli Kurds in 1980

The following are some of the anniversaries of the chemical bombardment of towns and villages which took place across Kurdistan in hundreds of communites, in 1984, 1987 and 1988:

  • 26, 28 February: Chemical bombardment of villages Sargalu, Yakhsamar, Guezilla, Dolli Jafayti in 1988
  • 16 March: Chemical bombardment of Halabja city in 1988
  • 18 March:Chemical bombardment of villages Abnab village and Halabja district in 1988
  • 16 April: Chemical bombardment of Shekh Wasanan village and surrounding areas in 1987
  • 17 April: Chemical bombardment of villages Qzlar, Sangar, Mawlaka in 1987
  • 20 April: Chemical bombardment of villages in the Dolli Balisan Provinces in 1987
  • 21 April: Chemical bombardment of the Qarakh district in 1987
  • 3 May: Chemical bombardment of villages Goptapa, Aakar, Maylan, Sarchma, Shekhanm Kalasher, Chamy Rezan, Qochlakh, Zare in 1988
  • 23 May:Chemical bombardment of villages Malakh Gorasher, Kandol, Bardok, Ble, Tahe, Nazanin, Balisan in 1987
  • 28 June: Bombardment of Sardasht city of eastern part of Kurdistan (Iran) in 1987
  • 1 July: Chemical bombardment of many villages in Duhok district in 1987
  • 9 August: Chemical bombardment of the villages in the Bahdinan district and Gali Baze area in 1988
  • 16 September: Chemical bombardment of Mergapan village in 1984

Anfal campaign 1988

Anfal campaign in 1988 was performed in eight stages, in which 182,000 civilians lost their lives. Thousands of villages were destroyed, bringing the total destroyed since the 1970s to 4,500 The eight stages were orchestrated as follows:

  • 21 February 1988 – 18 March 1988: The first stage of the Anfal campaign started in Dolli Jafayty Marg
  • 22 March 1988 – 14 March 1988: The second stage of the Anfal campaign started in the Qaradakh district
  • 31 March 1988 – 14 April 1988: The third stage of the Anfal campaign started in the Garmyan district
  • 20 April 1988 – 18 April 1988: The fourth stage of the Anfal started in the Askar district, Goptapa, Shwan, Qala, Swaka, Dashti Koya
  • 24 May 1988 to 31 August 1988: The fifth, sixth, seventh stages of the Anfal campaign started in Shaqlawa and Rewandiz districts
  • 25 August 1988 – 6 September 1988: The eighth stage of Anfal campaign started in the Badinan district


I always remember these lines from a antiracist song by TISM

The Irish hate the irish , and it's arab versus Jew , you're cactus if you're kurdish...

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  • 2 weeks later...

Should come as no surprise:

US Consulate in Istanbul attacked as violence escalates in Turkey

ANKARA, Turkey – Two women opened fire at the heavily protected U.S. Consulate in Istanbul Monday, while assailants exploded a car bomb at a police station then fired on police inspecting the scene, in a day of heavy violence in Turkey's largest city.

In the southeast of the country a roadside bomb killed four police, and Kurdish rebels attacked a helicopter, killing a conscript. There has been a recent sharp spike in violence between Turkey's security forces and rebels of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, as Turkey has attacked PKK targets in Iraq in tandem with airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria.

One of the consulate attackers was later shot and taken into custody in a nearby building and hospitalized. The far-left Revolutionary People's Liberation Army-Front, or DHKP-C, identified her as 51-year-old Hatice Asik, and said she was a member of the group, though it did not directly claim responsibility for the attack. The DHKP-C and the PKK both have Marxist origins and have cooperated in the past, though there was no immediate indication of PKK involvement in this attack.

The second woman was still being hunted. There were no other casualties.

Hours earlier, an overnight bomb attack at a police station in Istanbul injured three policemen and seven civilians and caused a fire that collapsed part of the three-story building. The suspected bomber was killed during the explosion, according to the Istanbul governor's office.

Unknown assailants later fired on police inspecting the scene of the explosion, sparking another gunfight with police that killed a member of the inspection team and two assailants. There was no immediate responsibility claim for that attack.

Terrorists attack US consulate, police station in Turkey

Turkey last month carried out a major security sweep, detaining some 1,300 people suspected of links to banned organizations, including the PKK, the DHKP-C and extremists of the Islamic State group.

Turkey has recently started taking a more active role against IS militants. Last month it conducted aerial strikes against IS positions in Syria and agreed to let the U.S.-led coalition use its bases for its fight against IS. On Sunday, the U.S. military announced that a detachment of six F-16 fighter jets and some 300 personnel have arrived at Turkey's southern Incirlik Air Base.

In further violence Monday, Kurdish rebels in the southeastern province of Sirnak fired at a helicopter carrying conscripts who either had finished their term of duty or were taking leave, killing one of them and injuring another, the military said. Four police were also killed in Sirnak province when their armored vehicle was attacked with a roadside bomb, the Dogan news agency reported.

The DHKP-C, which has claimed responsibility for assassinations and bombings since the 1970s, has been designated a terrorist organization by the United States. It claimed responsibility for a 2013 suicide attack on the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, which killed a Turkish security guard.

In a statement posted on its website the group described the consulate attacker, Asik, as a "revolutionary" fighting American oppression and vowed to maintain its struggle until Turkey is "cleared" of all U.S. bases.

Turkey's Foreign Ministry condemned the attack and said security at U.S. missions around the country had been increased. It said Turkey was determined to fight terrorism through "cooperation and solidarity" with its NATO ally.

The U.S. Embassy said U.S. officials were working with Turkish authorities to investigate the incident. The consulate would remain closed to the public until further notice, it said.

Police wearing flak jackets and holding machine guns blocked off streets leading to the consulate. The building, which is surrounded by fortified walls, was intact and its flag was flying.

Other recent attacks by the DHKP-C have included on the headquarters of a political party and the Turkish Ministry of Justice. The group, which wants to set up a socialist state in Turkey, advocates a Marxist-Leninist ideology and opposes the U.S. and Turkish governments, as well as NATO.


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Meh nothing will happen.. There have always extremists elements in and out of Turkey.

What really needs to happen is Erdogan needs be voted out of power asap.

He's a real threat to Turkey and their way of life.

He basically wants to turn Turkey into Saudi Arabia of the North.

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Looks like Turkey's just taking a page from the US political playbook. Ruling party in trouble? Start a war.


ISTANBUL Confronted with widespread protests two summers ago, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordered a harsh police crackdown and tarnished the demonstrators as traitors and spies. Faced with a corruption inquiry focused on his inner circle, he responded by purging the police and judiciary.

So when Mr. Erdogan, now president, suffered a stinging electoral defeat in June that left his party without a majority in Parliament and seemingly dashed his hopes of establishing an executive presidency, Turks were left wondering how he would respond.

Now, many say they have their answer: a new war.

As Turkey resumes military operations against the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party, or P.K.K., analysts see a calculated strategy for Mr. Erdogans Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party to regain its parliamentary majority in new elections.

Having already delayed the formation of a coalition government, analysts say, Mr. Erdogan is now buttressing his partys chances of winning new elections by appealing to Turkish nationalists opposed to self-determination for the Kurdish minority. Parallel to the military operations against the Kurds has been an effort to undermine the political side of the Kurdish movement by associating it with the violence of the P.K.K., which has also seemed eager to return to fighting. The state battled the group for three decades at a cost of about 40,000 lives before a fragile peace process began in 2013.

The overall assumption is that President Erdogan wants to create the conditions so the result of June 7 can be overturned, so that he can run the country from the presidency, said Suat Kiniklioglu, a former lawmaker from Mr. Erdogans party and the executive director of the Center for Strategic Communication, a research organization in Ankara.

Now a sharp critic of Mr. Erdogan, Mr. Kiniklioglu said, I think there is little debate among normal and sane people in Turkey that the war with the Kurds is being used as a tool to reverse the election defeat. The Justice and Development Party, known as the A.K.P., recently began conducting nationwide polls to see how it might fare in snap elections, which could be held as soon as November.


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The outcome of these polls will be indicative of which direction they will go, Mr. Kiniklioglu said.

Many analysts say that after weeks of stalled coalition talks between the A.K.P. and three opposition parties, new elections are likely. And at a time of crisis, experts say, Turkish voters could very well turn again to Mr. Erdogan and the A.K.P.

Indeed, a voter survey released Wednesday by a widely cited Turkish pollster found that Mr. Erdogans party could regain a parliamentary majority if elections were held today.

He is going for early elections, said Henri J. Barkey, director of the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and an expert on Turkey. In any society, when there is a crisis, people rally under the flag, even if they dont support the leader. In this instance, Mr. Erdogan is playing the nationalism card for his own benefit.


Continue reading the main story

In addition to domestic political concerns, analysts said, Mr. Erdogan is worried about the growing military strength of the P.K.K., whose military affiliate has been working closely with the United States in northern Syria to resist and repel advances by the Islamic State. The bombing campaign against the P.K.K., they say, is intended to weaken it.

However, the presidents domestic political opponents see his moves as directed mostly against them.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the largest opposition party, the secular Peoples Republic Party, has accused Mr. Erdogan of interfering in coalition talks by preventing Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, the party leader who on paper is Turkeys most powerful politician, from negotiating a deal, and also of using war for domestic political gain.

I say this with all sincerity: Prime Minister Davutoglu really is willing to sit down and form a coalition and save the country from its problems, Mr. Kilicdaroglu said in a recent television interview. But the person sitting in the post of the presidency is not allowing it.

He added, If there is an aim to take the country to elections through blood politics, that would be extremely costly.

The resumption of war with the P.K.K. with Turkish warplanes strafing targets in northern Iraq, where the group is based came as Turkey, in a major shift, decided to join the American-led coalition against the Islamic State, the Sunni militant group that controls a large section of territory in Iraq and Syria. Turkey has struck Islamic State targets in Syria and granted the use of air bases to American warplanes, restoring its international standing as a reliable ally in the fight against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

On Wednesday, the Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, reaffirmed the governments commitment to the coalition, saying Turkey was ready for a comprehensive fight against the Islamic State.

Mr. Erdogan has said he is acting in Turkeys national security interests in targeting terrorists of all stripes, both the Islamic State and the P.K.K., as well as a homegrown leftist group that has periodically carried out attacks here.

But the bulk of the military operations so far have been directed at the P.K.K., which has carried out numerous attacks in Turkey over recent weeks that have killed nearly three dozen people, mostly soldiers and police officers. The latest came Tuesday, when a roadside bomb killed three soldiers in the southeastern province of Sirnak, an attack that was followed by more Turkish airstrikes on P.K.K. targets, according to Turkish news reports.

In a column in The Daily Sabah on Wednesday, Ibrahim Kalin, Mr. Erdogans spokesman, characterized the war against the P.K.K. as self-defense and said that despite promises under the peace process, the group had failed to disarm.

Others close to Mr. Erdogan said domestic politics had nothing to do with the decision to go to war. Turkeys military operations are being carried out in the interest of national security and has nothing to do with internal politics, said one A.K.P. lawmaker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he had not been authorized by top party officials to speak publicly.


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The lawmaker added: Those who are trying to connect these operations to the presidents political goals are trying to cause provocation and influence the formation of the new government, which has entered a critical phase.

Turkey has also arrested many suspected militants and has seemed to go to extra lengths to publicize the arrests of suspected Islamic State members, perhaps to counter longstanding criticism from the West that it has been ambivalent about the threat posed by the group. However, according to news reports, many of the Islamic State suspects have been quietly released for lack of evidence.

The electoral success of the Peoples Democratic Party, or H.D.P., a largely Kurdish group, is the main reason that the A.K.P. lost its majority. Mr. Erdogan had once embraced the Kurds, going further than any modern Turkish leader in the pursuit of peace, and counted on them for support in elections.

But this year, by attracting many liberals who had grown disenchanted with Mr. Erdogans authoritarian governing style, the Peoples Democratic Party for the first time passed the 10 percent legal threshold to gain representation in Parliament.

Now, though, rumors have circulated that officials are trying to close down the party and target its charismatic leader, Selahattin Demirtas. He is facing a judicial investigation over protests against Turkeys approach last year to the battle for Kobani, the Syrian Kurdish border city that faced an Islamic State onslaught. Kurds accused Turkey of aiding the extremists, while the West was sharply critical of Turkey for not coming to the aid of the Kurds.

We believe Erdogan is dragging this nation into war to move forward with his own political agenda, Mr. Demirtas said in an interview. He believes that by targeting the H.D.P., he can push us below the electoral threshold and regain the majority his party lost in the June 7 elections. I dont think he will be successful, because the Turkish public wants peace, and most people realize that the real motive behind all this is not peace but an A.K.P. victory.

Just two months ago, the elections were hailed as a victory for democracy, with many analysts predicting that the dominance of Mr. Erdogan, who has been the pre-eminent political figure in Turkey for more than a decade, had run its course.

People celebrated the election result prematurely, said Ibrahim Tumen, 46, a banker in Istanbul. It was obvious that the opposition wouldnt be able to unite and that Erdogan would try to win back his majority at any cost.

Many are doubtful that such a strategy by Mr. Erdogan could work.

The more that time passes and people see through this, Im not sure it will produce the outcome Erdogan wants, said Mr. Kiniklioglu, the former A.K.P. politician.

He added, The way this is being digested in society is not clear yet.

Yet the countrys new war footing already seems to be influencing some voters.

I dont support Erdogan or the prime minister, but Turkey cant afford to have a weak coalition government, said Oktay Cenk, a taxi driver in Istanbul. The government tolerated the P.K.K. for long enough. Its not possible to negotiate with terrorists, so we need to show strength against them, and we need a strong government to do that.

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