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Turkey

After Ankara: Terrorism, Responsibility And Erdogan's Short Memory

Turkish President Erdogan was quick to blame U.S. and French leaders after terror attacks struck those countries, but has failed to take responsibility for allowing the deadly Ankara attacks to occur.

Turkish President Erdogan (2nd left) at a memorial in front of Ankara's train station
Turkish President Erdogan (2nd left) at a memorial in front of Ankara's train station
Gonul Tol

ANKARA — After three Muslim students were murdered last February in North Carolina, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had these words for American President Barack Obama:

"I call out to Mr. Obama; I ask: Where are you, Mr. President?" he asked, also singling out U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry. "We, the politicians, are responsible of the murders committed in our country. Because, when the public votes for you, they vote for you to provide safety for their life, safety for their property. If you stay silent in the face of such an event, the world will always be silent towards you, too."

Also, after last January's deadly attacks in at the Paris-based magazine Charlie Hebdo, Erdogan singled out the French intelligence services: "These people served 16 or 17 months in your prisons. Why didn't you follow these people? Isn't your intelligence working?"

Now, Turkey's capital has experienced the deadliest terrorist attack in the history of the republic; 95 people died, hundreds were wounded. The attack took place four kilometers away from the parliament and three kilometers away from the National Intelligence Agency.

The rally targeted by the attack had been promoted in the media and social media for weeks. Moreover, Turkey has experienced similar attacks in the last months: 32 people died in a bombing in Suruc near the Syrian border, and four died during an attack in Diyarbakir.

Erdogan's ally with the Justice and Development Party (AKP), Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu lectures the West on morality and democracy every chance he has. And yet now, the people running our country not only fail to take responsiblity, but blame the opposition, citing the fact that no governing coalition could be formed after last June's election.

"This government is not an AKP government, it is an election government," Davutoglu said in the statement after the attack in Ankara. "I wish we could have faced the difficulties with a national unity government. I do not want to start a political polemic but (the opposition) would have been a great support against terror if they had joined this government."

We are the government. When? Only when hiring hundreds of civil servants since the elections and going after journalists, columnists, academicians, dissident business leaders. But when put to answer for the deaths of 95 people in the center of the capital, no, then it is an "election government."

Tracking insults

We must ask whether there was a failure in security. The bloodiest attack in the history of the Turkish republic came from an organization that the government has not perceived as a threat and never dealt with the seriousness it warranted.

European Union member countries warned their embassies in Ankara that they expected an ISIS attack in Ankara before the Nov. 1 elections. Many embassies increased security measures afterward.

But our government looks for potential bombers elsewhere, even though their own investigators said the evidence points to the Islamic State.

What is a failure in security, if not this?

The judiciary, police, intelligence of this country are all busy keeping track of insults made to Erdogan and his family, columns and messages on social media, while murderers roam free in Diyarbakir, Hatay, Ankara, Mersin and Adana, killing the children of Turkey.

Let us end by redirecting President Erdogan's words back at himself: "Why didn't you follow these people? Isn't your intelligence working? ... We, the politicians, are responsible of the murders committed in our country. Because, when the public votes for you, they vote for you to provide safety for their life, safety for their property. If you stay silent in the face of such an event, the world will always be silent towards you, too."

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