Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Who Bombed Ankara?

On 17 February, a VBIED--by all evidence a suicide one--exploded alongside the Turkish equivalent of a DoD commuter bus in the literal heart of Ankara, the notoriously security-obsessed capital of that most Byzantine and conspiratorial of states, Turkey. Media has settled on about 28 dead and dozens hospitalized as of 18 February. According to a graphic from the pro-AKP Daily Sabah, the Turkish Parliament building and several military staff sites lay within a 300-meter radius of the blast. Try superimposing that radius on a major Western capital. Scary shit.

Also really, really hard shit. This most likely was not some random act of martyrdom by a Kurdish patriotard or full-time Caliphate enthusiast. Turkish law enforcement, and more recently their intelligence (should I even distinguish the two, after July 2015?) have had Islamist groups honeycombed with assets for years to prevent just these sorts of attacks, and to wield terror cells as state-held weapons in their own right. Even the Ergenekon and Gulenist trials say as much. And the Kurds have demonstrated little willingness or ability to carry out these sorts of attacks, though there have been cases.

The one faction with the capability (stellar tradecraft, influence with Islamists, plus knowledge and control of most variables present in the given theater of operations), willingness (their trademark organizational sociopathy), and reason (see below) to carry out this attack are the Turkish security services. Nothing else makes a lick of sense. 

Now, yea, this sounds like some Truther shit and it kinda is, but Turkey is the one place where it's commonly accepted that false flag ops are run by the state, often through a third party (Islamists) and occasionally directed at a fourth party (the Kurds). 

No militant group on their own can run a successful op like this in the literal and metaphorical heart of the Turkish security state. It's a country at war, and it's a country governed by Putin's Sunni Islamist spirit brother who rules like Hitler in Downfall,looks like he downs methaqualone, and generally speaks like he just did a line of coke on the lectern before the cameras came on. 

The relatively simultaneous attack on a Turkish center in Stockholm indicates a level of planning, coordination, and tradecraft that Kurdish militant organizations lack. Both populations have sizable communities in the city, but only one of them has a formal intelligence agency that can coordinate assets across continents. With Turkish intelligence's penchant for false-flag attacks on civilian soft targets, and the fluid situation in North Aleppo...

Given all this, I put forward a tentative hypothesis: 

The Turkish security apparatus enabled an Islamist cell--possibly ISIS--to bomb a bus of soldiers and civilian employees in central Ankara to provide justification for further intervention in northern Syria for reasons of national security.

It's all circumstantial, yea. I won't disagree. But it doesn't add up otherwise. 


Turkey--Erdogan, really--must intervene, certainly more decisively than in the past. Assad's February offensive has shaken the opposition to their cores, while the Kurds and the Russians are more openly aligned by the day. Any hope for a solution to Syria that is optimal for Turkey will be dead by summer if the country does not conclusively intervene.

This intervention is likely to come in the form of 

1) Heightened support for Arab rebels in the North Aleppo pocket, most likely in the form of war materiel

2) Turkish intelligence and special forces providing assistance for Turkmen fighters (and possibly FSA) in Idlib

Projecting forward through the spring, I assess that we will see a significant buildup of Turkish assets in rebel territory--and immediately across the border in Turkey--that will dwarf the infrastructure currently in place to support anti-Assad fighters. This may take a form similar to the Russian Federation's intervention in Ukraine, where special forces, small armored/artillery/technical support detachments, and contingents of "volunteers" quickly became the backbone of the rebel fighting force. 

Turkey has additionally demonstrated both the capability and willingness to carry out extended cross-border bombardment of YPG and government forces to both prevent advances within Syrian territory (in Aleppo), as well as to keep select rebel-held border crossings open (in Idlib and Latakia). An escalation by Turkey as described above may also result in far more widespread cross-border fire on the part of the Turkish Army to support rebel forces up and down the line.

- a fyrdsman

*Everything after this is a combination of spit-balling and me being too tired to pump out those sweet sweet hyperlinks. 

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