Opinion: High Stakes for Turkey | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 21.11.2003
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Opinion: High Stakes for Turkey

Istanbul was shaken by deadly terror attacks on Thursday that exploded in the banking quarter and in front of the British Consulate. The international fight against terror must be intensified.


The blasts in Istanbul killed at least 27 people and injured over 400.

Whoever is behind the Istanbul attacks is likely to bomb the country even deeper into a conflict it has tried to keep itself out of in recent months: During the Iraq war Turkey was pained by the unreserved support of U.S. policies toward Iraq that was demanded of it.

The Turkish refusal to allow the allies to use its territory for deploying their troops severely disturbed the American plan. And when Ankara did finally offer troops to reinforce the allies, it quickly rescinded the offer out of consideration for Iraqi sensitivities.

Consideration and reserve have been of no use to Turkey. It has become the scene of previously unknown terrorism, that strikes blindly and hits the innocent despite the fact that the actual targets are apparent: First Jewish, now British facilities.

Sick logic

And tomorrow? In their sick logic, the people behind the attacks aim to drive a wedge between Turkey and those who they deem responsible for the war in Iraq -- that is, Americans, Brits and Israelis.

That Turkish pedestrians die vicariously, does nothing to disrupt the terrorists plan. On the contrary, the terrorists reckon on "solidarity out of fear" turning the people's ranks against their own government, which should discontinue all support for the United States and all cooperation with Israel.

But that is precisely what will not happen now. The Turkish government has been challenged by the attacks and it will not back down. It was not prepared to in the course of the conflict with the PKK (Kurdish paramilitary group) and the whole world appealed to Ankara to give in. Why should it now yield when Turkey has been bombed right in the middle of the anti-terror war stage and foreign countries demand pertinacity?

There's a lot at stake for Turkey. If it fails to position itself clearly and unambiguously against such terror, for example, skepticism and rejection of Turkish rapprochement to the EU will grow, an understandable reaction perhaps, but nevertheless utterly wrong.

Europe's latent terrorism

Europe is not threatened by a new terrorism from Turkey, but rather the danger of terrorism is latently in existence in Europe itself -- and not just since September 11. Volunteers from Europe and from Germany have supposedly gone to Iraq to fight against the Americans. Other like-minded people are sure to have remained in Europe, and it would therefore be no surprise if bombs detonate there tomorrow.

Fanatics and fools are also among us. It would be fatal to stonewall against Turkey. Ankara needs the support of everyone who rejects terrorism. That is the only way to insure that the Istanbul murderers' calculation doesn't tally.

Peter Philipp is Deutsche Welle's chief correspondent.

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