Washington, D.C.– Today’s bombing in the historic heart of Istanbul—the third attack in Turkey attributed to ISIS in just over six months—confronts the regime of Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with a fundamental question: is this an attack against Turkey or simply an attack that happened to take place in Turkey? Blaise Misztal, national security director at the Bipartisan Policy Center, said how Erdoğan’s government answers that question is key.
“The Turkish government has shrugged off previous attacks, which targeted Kurds in Suruc in July and Ankara in October 2015, as not directed at Turkey itself. With primarily foreign victims in this latest bombing, Turkey might draw the same conclusion. Alternatively, the Turkish government might choose to see this attack as blowback from the few more aggressive policies it has adopted against ISIS lately and decide the best response is disengagement from the anti-ISIS coalition,” Misztal said.
“Neither of these outcomes would contribute to the goal of defeating ISIS. Instead, this attack should galvanize European countries to join with the United States in urging the Erdoğan regime to continue ramping up its opposition to ISIS—sealing the Syrian border, disrupting ISIS networks within Turkey, and contributing more to the military operations against the group,” Misztal said.
Blaise Misztal is available for comment.