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Erdoğan’s Bloody Gambit

The Turkish government is using the massacre in Suruç to wage war — not on ISIS, but on the Kurdish liberation movement.

Kurdish protesters in Paris on July 25 demonstrating against the July 20 massacre of socialist activists in Suruç, Turkey. Jacques Brinon / AP

On July 20 a suicide bombing took the lives of thirty-one socialists in Suruç. A delegation of the Federation of Socialist Youth Associations (SGDF) was on its way to Kobanê to help with the reconstruction of the city, and build a library and a playground.

The massacre took place in the yard of the Amara Cultural Center, a meeting point for those who flock to the Turkish border to show solidarity with the struggle in Kobanê or even cross the border. During a public declaration, a twenty-year-old ISIS supporter blew himself up amid some three hundred people.

The result: thirty-one dead and many more injured — a brutal and heinous attack on socialists from Turkey who stand in solidarity with the Kurdish national liberation movement and are struggling against Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) party — a party which by now basically is the state.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan expressed their condolences, but Erdoğan neither cut his trip to Cyprus short, nor did he declare a day of national mourning (as was declared after King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia passed away earlier this year).

International messages of condolence were mostly addressed to Erdoğan, and the Western media near-unanimously stated that “ISIS terror has now struck Turkey as well.” It was sometimes added that the attack may have been an act of revenge after a small number of ISIS supporters were detained a few weeks before, and Turkey was seemingly finally showing some motivation to join the fight against ISIS. However, this attack did not hit “Turkey” or her state institutions, but socialists, mostly young, who were expressing solidarity with the Kurdish struggle.

As was soon to become clear, this attack was only the prelude to a flurry of frenetic events unfolding in the days following the massacre, initiating a new phase in Turkey — state of emergency and war. War, directed not against ISIS, but against the revolutionary left and the Kurdish national liberation movement.