At least 28 people were killed and 100 reportedly wounded in a suicide bombing at a cultural center in Suruc, a Turkish city located near Syrian border. The local interior ministry already have called it a terrorist attack and blamed the so-called Islamic State militants, as it came just days after the country made first serious efforts to combat ISIS: several militants and their supporters were arrested.
“It is likely to be the first of a series of moves by the Turkish authorities and ISIS, which could escalate continuously,” Yezid Sayigh, senior associate at Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, told Metro.
Is it an isolated incident or we should expect more to come?
Whether or not it’s in isolated incident depends on who did it, which we don’t yet know.
But if it were an Islamic State suicide bomber?
If this attack was conducted by ISIS, then it is likely to be the first of a series of moves by the Turkish authorities and ISIS, which could escalate continuously. In the short term, ISIS could cause more attacks and deaths, but in the medium term a determined Turkish security response could close off most of the border movement (of trade and money) and the reduce flow of foreign fighters to ISIS, causing it severe difficulties.
Are Turkish territories an object of interest for Islamic State?
ISIS has an interest in access from Turkey for the movement of foreign recruits and funds or other supplies, and to Turkey for wounded fighters and for exported commodities for sale in Turkey, such as oil. ISIS probably needs secure passage for its members who seek to go to places like Libya to connect with local ISIS affiliates, and the only reasonable access is via Turkey. But it is extremely unlikely that ISIS has any interest in expanding within Turkish territory.
What can we expect in the aftermath of this alleged attack?
It is likely that ISIS will retaliate against Turkish security measures such as the recent arrests. Probably ISIS will seek initially to gain leverage through a few attacks or other forms of pressure, in the hope of deterring the Turkish authorities from acting further against it. Turkey is vulnerable since it has long borers that are difficult to seal off, and also because there are Turks who sympathize with ISIS.
We know some have volunteered to fight for ISIS in Iraq or Syria. So, increased action by the Turkish government against ISIS will be supported by some Turkish parties, but also opposed by more conservative Islamist Turkish citizens, who may become more militant as a result.