By William Tucker
Chief Correspondent for In Homeland Security
One police officer was killed and another wounded as a female suicide bomber attacked a police station in Istanbul Tuesday. The attack followed another strike against the Turkish police that occurred on Jan.1. That attack was carried out by the Marxist DHKP-C group, though no group has yet claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s violence.
Police have not yet released the identity of the woman involved in the Istanbul bombing, but stated she entered the police station and claimed to have lost her wallet before detonating her device. The alleged bomber reportedly had a second explosive device in her possession, however police successfully disarmed it.
Attacks against elements of the Turkish state are nothing new as the decades old struggle against Kurdish militants, Islamists and ultra-leftist groups continues. Many of the attacks executed by leftist groups in Turkey in the recent past have been low level attacks and don’t typically result in a high casualty count. That being said, the state crackdown on dissidents of all colors – led by the AKP government – has gained steam, making it possible that more violence from a variety of militant actors could certainly intensify.
Turkey’s woes with regards to violent non-state actors has been known in the west for years, but the Syrian civil war has become the focal point of reporting for western journalists in the region. This has allowed the AKP government more room to maneuver in suppressing dissent since wider coverage would result in complaints from Western allies. Furthermore, the government has detained journalists – most of them local – but if the government oversteps and begins targeting journalists from international bureaus, then unwanted attention may be more likely.
The AKP has had an uneasy time in power though it has broad support, making the continued allegations of conspiracy against it somewhat dubious. Granted, Turkey does have a history of military coups that sought to maintain Kemalism and suppress any political Islamism, but Turkey’s political landscape has changed.
It’s been a decade since the AKP became the dominate political player in Turkey, but a maturing in governance on many matters has appeared elusive. The diversity of internal players that are not shy about violence, and the government’s missteps in responding, will continue to complicate an already messy situation.