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Why ISIS is behind the Turkish wedding massacre

People mourn as they attend funeral services for dozens of people killed in last night's bomb attack targeting an outdoor wedding party in Gaziantep, southeastern Turkey, Sunday, Aug. 21, 2016. Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek said the "barbaric" attack in Gaziantep, near the border with Syria, on Saturday appeared to be a suicide bombing. Turkish authorities have put a temporary ban on distribution of images relating to Saturday's Gaziantep attack within Turkey.(AP Photo/Mahmut Bozarslan)

The massacre of 51 people at a Kurdish wedding party by a suicide bombing in the Turkish city of Gaziantep is a horrible atrocity.  It also points to the deteriorating security situation in Turkey.

Terrorist incidents associated with ISIS which have taken place in Europe invariably receive a colossal amount of international media coverage.  By contrast the far more frequent acts of far more deadly terrorism which now regularly take place in Turkey achieve far less.  This despite the fact that Turkey is a NATO ally and a candidate for EU membership. 

That fact incidentally shows how Western politicians, the Western media and indeed the Western public generally, do not really consider Turkey to be a European or Western country.

Turkish President Erdogan has blamed the massacre on ISIS.  He is almost certainly right.  At the time of the elections in Turkey last year various claims were spread that some of the terrorist incidents which were taking place at that time in Turkey were false flag affairs, carried out as part of some sort of “strategy of tension” to rally support for President Erdogan.

That is extremely unlikely. Very few governments carry out such actions because of the obvious danger they may backfire.  The political situation in a country has to be very bad indeed – much worse than it was in Turkey last year – before even the worst governments are prepared to do such things. 

Besides there is always the difficulty of finding collaborators within the state’s security services who are willing to undertake such actions. Whilst such things have certainly happened in other places in the past, it is unlikely they were taking place in Turkey last year, or are happening in Turkey now.

It seems far more likely that the terrorist attacks in Turkey, both the ones last year and the most recent one in Gaziantep, are part of a deliberate strategy by ISIS to turn the Turkish and Kurdish populations of Turkey against each other. 

From ISIS’s perspective such a strategy makes sense.  With ISIS under heavy pressure from Kurdish fighters in Iraq and Syria it is logical for ISIS to try to turn the Turks ad the Kurds against each other, especially at a time when President Erdogan and his government are talking of joining Russia in a military campaign against ISIS.

What the latest atrocity at Gaziantep does show is the disastrous mistake Erdogan and his government made when they backed the US’s and the Gulf Arabs’ regime strategy in Syria. 

Turkey has now become a staging area for Jihadi fighters travelling to Syria, and sections of its own population are as a result in the process of becoming radicalised.  The result is that Turkey now has a major terrorist problem where 10 years ago it had none.

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