News of the Week – 14th March 2016

Source: Barcroft Media

Source: Barcroft Media

Our latest weekly news digest, summarizing everything you might have missed last week in Turkey and the region.

Bombing in Kizilay Ankara

A car bomb in the Turkish capital claimed the lives of 37 people on Sunday, 125 people were wounded in the attack. Around 6:00pm a car laden with explosives crashed into a city bus at a busy bus terminal in Kizilay. Prime Minister Davutoglu has said that the attack was “almost certainly” perpetrated by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), although no group has yet claimed responsibility. On March 14, the day after the attack, protesters gathered in Istanbul’s Taksim square to release a statement concerning the attacks as well as criticize the ruling administration for their inactivity in preventing the attack. The protest was met by police intervention and the crowd was dispersed with water cannons and tear gas. The explosion constitutes the third attack in Ankara since October of last year, and it has put the entire country on edge. Last month a car bomb went off at an intersection near military installations in Turkey killing 34 people, a radical branch of the PKK known as the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK) claimed responsibility. In October Daesh claimed responsibility for two suicide bombers who detonated bombs during a crowded pro-Kurdish peace rally killing 103. Our hearts go out to the families and friends who lost loved ones over the weekend.

Update: In the latest development concerning the recent Ankara bombing, today The Ministry of Interior Affairs released the identity of one of the perpetrators of the attack. The twenty-three year old perpetrator Seher Çağla Demir was from the Northeastern province of Kars and was identified as a member of the outlawed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK).

EU Accepts Turkey’s Migrant Deal

European Union president Donald Tusk said that the recent deal regarding the relocation of refugees from the EU to Turkey sent “a very clear message that the days of irregular migration are over.” This came after the EU largely agreed to the terms of a draft agreement Turkey presented at negotiations this week. According to the agreement, the EU would send any future asylum seekers who reached its borders illegally back to Turkey, and would in return resettle a legal applicant within the 28-nation bloc. The United Nation’s refugee agency, however has expressed concern over the legality of such an agreement. Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR’s Europe regional director said that the collective expulsion of foreigners violated European and international law. Turkey currently houses more than 3 million refugees, the vast majority from war-turn Syria.

Turkish-Iranian Relations on the Mend

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran this week. The two leaders spoke amicably of strengthening economic ties despite disagreeing on most regional security issues—most notably the Syrian Civil War. The recent decision of the US and European countries to lift sanctions on Iran has reopened the 400-billion-dollar market to foreign companies, and Turkey is eager to get its fair share. Both leaders spoke of the importance of mutual trade and of regional powers, such as themselves, working together to solve regional disputes.

Curfews in the Southeast to Continue

Curfews are to be lifted in some of the neighborhoods of Diyarbakir’s historic Sur district, but Interior Minister Efkan Ala has promised new curfews in other districts. Sur has remained under 24-hour curfew since December 11th, with some residents complaining of a lack of basic necessities such as utilities and emergency medical care. As military operations appear to be winding down in Sur the Turkish government is poised to enact new curfews in other districts in an effort to rout out PKK militants. The cost to human life from these operations is staggering, with thousands dead and hundreds of thousands internally displaced in the Southeast.

PKK-affiliated group TAK claims responsibility for Ankara bombing

In an online statement, the Turkish militant group TAK has claimed responsibility for the deadly attacks. TAK is known to be an offshoot of the PKK. Following the bombing, the Turkish government had already claimed to be in possession of evidence pointing towards PKK involvement.

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