“It must be known that Turkey will not hesitate to use its legitimate right to defend itself always, everywhere and under any circumstances,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared in his statement following the bombing in Ankara on February 17.
At least 28 people were killed when a bomb targeting military vehicles of the Turkish Armed Forces exploded on Thursday evening.
According to Reuters, Turkey suspects the Syrian Kurdish YPG, a group backed by the United States in its fight against the Islamic State (IS), of coordinating the attack. However, the Kurdish Freedom Hawks (TAK), a more radical wing of Kurdish separatists, has since claimed responsibility.
The Turkish government views YPG as “an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a Turkish-Kurdish rebel group fighting for autonomy since the 1980s,” BBC reports.
Despite the proliferation of factional disagreement among Kurdish groups within Turkey, the government does not differentiate between their competing interests and condemns any rebel activity on its soil.
The YPG has in turn accused Turkey of aiding IS militants by attacking Kurdish-held territory, writes BBC.
The U.S., which does not consider the YPG a terrorist organization, has refused to confirm or deny the group’s involvement in the Ankara bombing, thus further complicating the uneasy relations with its ally.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu believes that Washington must view any attack on Turkey, a NATO member, as an attack on the U.S., Daily Star reports.
The bombing could not come at a worse time as the UN launched its Syria cease-fire task force, co-chaired by Russia and the U.S., in an effort to resolve the Syrian conflict.
Following the attack on its capital, Turkey renewed its shelling of the YPG Kurdish fighters inside Syria, an action immediately condemned by the U.S. and EU.
Russia, a powerful ally of Assad’s regime in Syria, went so far as to propose a UN resolution condemning “cross-border shelling, the flow of terrorist fighters and the illegal movement of weapons from Syria’s ‘neighbors’,” according to Voa News.
This proposition may further escalate tensions between Russia and Turkey. The two countries have remained on shaky footing ever since Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet that it claims entered its airspace while flying missions in Syria.
Turkey’s UN envoy dismissed Russian accusations.
“Turkey will not be going into Syria with boots on the ground if it is not a collective action,” he stated.
The effects of the attack against Turkey will likely ripple through the entire international coalition involved in battling IS. By creating disunity among already wary partners, it allows IS to push back against the Kurds, weakened by the Turkish bombardment, and to regain some of the territory it has lost as a result of Russian airstrikes.
Turkey, which has already lost a potentially valuable ally in Russia after its jet fiasco, may further distance itself from the U.S should it choose to continue its shelling of the Kurds.
Invoking the NATO alliance against those responsible for the Ankara bombing may also set a dangerous precedent for a disproportionate military response to an isolated incident.
Finally, Washington’s hesitation to even condemn Turkey’s attackers demonstrates its lack of commitment to the security of its allies when its own interests are not in jeopardy.