On June 28, 41 people died at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport as a result of an explosion caused by three suicide bombers. More than 230 people, including at least one Russian, were injured.
For now no one has claimed responsibility for the terrorist act. The Turkish authorities presume that the attack was organized by Islamic State (ISIS). Turkish Prime Minister Binali Ildirim stated that all evidence points to ISIS.
There are also theories that the terrorist act could have been orchestrated by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (a Kurdish separatist group that Turkey, the U.S. and the EU recognize as a terrorist organization).
Head of the Russian Federation Council Committee on International Affairs Konstantin Kosachev has even written on his Facebook page that the terrorist attack in Istanbul is a response to Ankara’s attempts to re-establish relations with Moscow.
According to Yury Mavashev, Middle East and Turkey scholar and expert at the Caucasus Geopolitical Club, it’s too soon to link the event with the normalization of Russian-Turkish relations. “It’s obvious that the terrorist act, in which at least one Russian person died, is not a provocation to compromise bilateral relations,” said Mavashev.
Kerim Khas, Eurasian politics expert at the International Organization of Strategic Studies independent analytical center (USAK) in Ankara, agrees with Mavashev.
“I don’t see a direct connection between the terrorist act in Istanbul and the measures that Ankara has taken to normalize relations with Russia,” he said. “The attack is related to the fact that ISIS is experiencing serious losses in Syria as a result of the operation carried out by the coalition forces. The radicals just want to frighten Turkey.”
At the same time experts see a possible link between the tragedy and Ankara’s intention to re-establish relations with Tel Aviv. On June 27 the number one topic in the Turkish mass media was the normalization of ties between Turkey and Israel after a six-year crisis.
In May 2010 there was an incident involving the Turkish Freedom Flotilla, which was bringing humanitarian aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip. When the vessel tried breaking the blockade the Israeli border guards opened fire, killing eight Turkish citizens. Afterwards relations between the two countries deteriorated drastically and were maintained by low-ranking officials. The terrorist attack in Istanbul has given rise to theories that it is linked to the Israeli issue.
“This probability should not be excluded,” said Mavashev. “Turkey’s rapprochement with Israel could have spurred the terrorists to commit the crime in the international airport in Istanbul, given Turkey’s former position in relation to those who are fighting Israel, regardless of the methods. The terrorists could have once again reminded Turkey of their existence.”
Author: Yekaterina Chulkovskaya