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The night club attack in Istanbul: A new era in the political crisis of Turkey

By Ekim Kilic

At 1:30 a.m. in Turkey on the New Year night, an ISIS terrorist, or terrorists killed 39 people, and 65 people were injured in Reina nightclub, which is a well-known night club in Istanbul, Turkey. Turkish security forces were not able to catch perpetrator(s) when this article was being written. Plus, we don’t still know who they are, or he is. Although we know that killer or killers will be arrested, or not, it is not going to bring our lost people back.

Realistically, Turkish authorities are so unserious and hypocritical in terms of Jihadism as a political current. Yes, they condemned the attack and attackers. But, although there were warnings by the American authorities like the CIA, as it was claimed in the mass media, they didn’t take strict measurements.

After all, ISIS has released a statement to take responsibility for this attack. However, interestingly, for the first time, ISIS used, clearly, one of their attacks as a way of propaganda in Turkey.


Several Turkish Islamist political groups have been, regularly, doing anti-new year propaganda in the last weeks of the year. But, in this year, they escalated the level of this anti-new year campaign. They say “noel/new year is a Christian tradition.”

Obviously, noel and new year celebrations have different ways. But people can celebrate whatever they want.

But, in this year, even department of religious affairs of Turkey declared that new year is illegitimate. Santa Claus mascots were burned and knifed as ‘street plays’ by radical Islamist youth groups. So, the ISIS attack and its following propaganda was targeted to use this atmosphere in order to gain political and organizational influence along with ‘radicalizing’ youth through Jihadist ideas.

These tactics of the ISIS depend on fault lines in a country. In brief, Turkey has three fault lines: a tension between Turks and Kurds, a tension between Sunnis and Alewites, and another tension between conservatives and secularists.

Until now, ISIS had targeted the peace forces and Kurdish people to break down the attempts of the fraternity between Turks and Kurds; as well as foreign tourists.

But the nightclub attack aimed the third fault line, which is an attack to secularism, as a lifestyle and a democratic acquisition. It is certain that ISIS is willing to strengthen its existence in Turkey with different aspects.

Predictable consequences of ‘active’ foreign policies in the Middle East

ISIS has been organizing in Turkey. Especially, expressions of local people and democratic forces, as well as in police records, demonstrate that ISIS has chapters in Antep, Kilis, Adiyaman, Ankara, Istanbul, Bingol, Konya, and Izmir.[1] Although Turkish security forces had raid some ISIS cells, they were limited attempts. It can be thought as a ‘security’ problem. But the existence of ISIS has developed roots into the people of Turkey. The recent government intervention to social life in authoritarian and conservative ways directly and indirectly provides a great opportunity to the jihadists to organize among conservative masses.

And it is clear that the last attack and following statements of ISIS are a declaration of war against Turkey. By an article in The Independent, Abu Mutassim, an ISIS defector, describes the level of the hate of ISIS leadership against Turkey: “It is a Muslim country whose rulers have turned against Islam, allying themselves with the Americans and the Russians,” he told The Independent. “They are seen as the worst of enemies – Daesh [Isis] has declared war on Turkey.” [2]

Especially, the advance of the Turkish army and its clashes with ISIS, and the military operations of Iraqi, Syrian, and Kurdish forces towards Raqqa and Mosul push ISIS to find a way of escape.

Consequently, it is not a bomb attack. It was a mass shooting, which was so professional, and clearly is an organized act. The attack was not done by a lone wolf (or lone wolves). The attack targeted, directly, secularism in Turkey. And the attack was a result of interventionist foreign and reactionary-driven domestic policies.

This is a new era for Turkey. There is no light at the end of this tunnel. But there are honorable and courageous forces of labor, democracy and peace, who need to get more international solidarity than in the past.

[1] How Did Turkey create its own ISIS: Urban city ISIS cells

[2] Why the Istanbul attack should be read as a declaration of war by Isis

#UnitedStates #PeoplesStruggles #turkey #ISIS #Asia