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Ankara blasts to affect general election, not Turkey’s stance over Syria - analysts

October 12, 2015, 21:30 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara
© EPA/HEDAYATULLAH AMID

MOSCOW, October 12. /TASS/. Last Saturday’s terror bomb blasts in Ankara, which claimed more than 90 lives, may seriously affect the results of early parliamentary elections due on November 1, but not the country’s stance over the conflict in Syria. Turkey will continue to regard Bashar Assad as its main culprit, polled experts have told TASS.

According to Turkey’s law enforcers, the two suicide bombings in Ankara looked very similar to the July 20 blast in Suruc Province, where an Islamic State militant blew up himself killing 32 and injuring more than 100 others.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has offered condolences to Turkey and urged unity in the struggle against terrorism. In the meantime, Turkey is critical of Russia’s air operation against the Islamic State in Syria and keeps pressing for Assad’s resignation. The recent incidents involving violations of Turkey’s airspace by Russian planes drew a strong reaction from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who said that Ankara might curtail the import of Russian gas and Moscow’s participation in building what is to become Turkey’s first-ever nuclear power plant.

A leading Russian expert on oriental affairs, Georgy Mirsky, believes that Erdogan’s emotional outburst addressed to Russia was an immediate reaction to strikes by Russia’s air and space force planes against Islamic State positions in Syria. "Our task is to stabilize the legitimate government and create conditions for a search for a political compromise. By military means, of course," Russian President Vladimir Putin said last Sunday.

"Ankara argues that Assad has permitted a civil war in his country. First, Turkey had to accommodate military defectors, and then, more than two million civilian refugees. But up to a certain point that was no impairment to Erdogan in maintaining friendly relations with Russia," Mirsky said.

"When Moscow launched air strikes to provide effective assistance to government troops in Syria, Ergodan realized that his chances in confrontation with Assad had been reduced to naught and Damascus and Latakia would stand firm. This explains why he is so nervous," Mirsky said.

"Since the beginning of the 20th century, since the rule of Ataturk — the founder of the modern Turkish state — Turkey has been considered a secular, European country. It was Erdogan who began to turn it into an Islamic state again and to build up Ankara’s presence in the Middle East as a counter-balance to Israel and Shiitic Iran. Now Damascus, Tehran and Moscow have presented a common front in an effort to handle the Syrian crisis. Erdogan sees this as an outright challenge," Mirsky said.

The October 10 terrorist attack in Ankara could not but affect the lineup of political forces in Turkey ahead of the November 1 early parliamentary elections. "Thousands of demonstrators in different Turkish cities have been accusing the government of inability to prevent the militants’ attacks. In the previous elections the ruling party garnered fewer votes than it had originally expected and fell short of the chance to form a Cabinet on its own. Now its rating may slide further down," Mirsky believes.

On the other hand, Turkey has no other personality as charismatic as Erdogan. Faced with the terrorist threat the people may vote for a strong ruler. Nobody will dare make any forecasts with 100% certainty in the wake of the terrorist blasts, he said.

"Although the latest attack in Ankara bears an unmistakable imprint of IS suicide bombers’ style, the Turkish authorities feel strong temptation to put the blame on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. This might reduce the chances of pro-Kurdish parties in the November 1 elections and provide an extra pretext for Ankara to attack not the Islamic State positions in Syria, but the positions of Kurdish militias," Mirsky said.

A member of the science council of Moscow’s Carnegie Centre, Alexey Malashenko, believes that Erdogan may feel he has a free hand to bomb both the Islamic State and the Kurdish militias, but Bashar Assad’s resignation remains his prime target. "It is Moscow’s support for government troops in Syria that explains why Erdogan has staged the anti-Russian demarche. Russian planes that briefly strayed into Turkish airspace in bad weather were only a pretext," Malashenko said.

"As the early parliamentary elections in Ankara draw near, the terror attack in Ankara may cause the electorate to unite. This will play into Erdogan’s hands. He is being tough, but Putin is acting tough, too, and the public at large likes it," Malashenko said. In his opinion "before the elections are held both parties should take a pause and start a dialogue through diplomatic channels over political and economic problems, including the Turkish Stream pipeline issue."

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