Scholar and activist Sardar Saadi discusses the political context of the recent ISIS attacks in Turkey.
JARED BALL, PRODUCER, TRNN: What’s up world, and welcome back to the Real News Network. I’m Jared Ball here in Baltimore. On the afternoon of Monday, July 20, the Islamic State detonated a suicide bomb at the Amara Cultural Center in Suruc, a Turkish city near the border of Syria. Today officials claim that DNA evidence points to a 20-year-old Turkish Kurd whose ID was found at the site of the bombing. The bombing claimed the lives of at least 32 young Kurdish students, and injured more than 100. The students were involved in Khobani solidarity work as the Socialist Federation of Youth Associations and were traveling there to help with rebuilding efforts. Now joining us to discuss these tragic events is Sardar Saadi, who joins us from Diyarbakir in Southeastern Turkey. Welcome, Sardar, to the Real News Network. SARDAR SAADI, PH.D. CANDIDATE, UNIV. OF TORONTO: Thank you so much [inaud.]. BALL: So could you just simply paint the picture of what happened exactly on July 20? SAADI: So as you mentioned, 300 activists all around Turkey, they gathered in Suruc, Amara Cultural Center, to go to Khobani to take part in the construction process of the city. Most of them were members of the Socialist Federation of Youth Associations, which are the youth wings of [ESP], which is the Socialist Party of the Oppressed. The Socialist Party of Oppressed formed an alliance with the People’s Democratic Party before the historical elections. So if you look at the location of these explosions, Amara Cultural Center has been playing the role of an embassy for Khobani after the siege of Khobani, starting from September 2014. And after that many international solidarity activists, journalists and activists all around the world, they gathered there before going to Khobani or to offer their support for. And it was also a place for many refugees from Khobani, when they crossed the border to Turkey. I was actually there a month ago. I was trying to go to Khobani, but I couldn’t. I stayed there for two nights and the–many people who have done something or wanted to do something for Khobani have very good memories of this place. It was a very nice building, nice little park, and people having teas and talking about the situation in Khobani [over there]. So I think that what happened was a direct attack against this solidarity, this international solidarity against Khobani. Unfortunately, 32 Turkish and Kurdish activists from Turkey that were killed, and over 100 injured. And right now as I am speaking to you there are protests all over Turkey because people are angry at the Turkish government, the Justice and Development party as government, that they haven’t done enough to prevent this attack. BALL: So we hear that many are skeptical of the fact that the knowledge of the bombing escaped Turkey’s intelligence. And according to at least one co-chair of the Pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party or HDP, he said that, quote, I’ll wager that all of the young people present at the press briefing in Suruc were under surveillance. The police force knows everyone who was there, let’s not kid ourselves. The state knows who was going to come, and who is going to come and who is going to go. Can you comment on that, and does that have anything to do with the protests that you’re describing out in the streets now? SAADI: That’s quite right. And as I’ve said, when I was there, it’s–Suruc is a very small city. It’s about 15 kilometers away from Khobani. And the border with Khobani is protected militarily. And the Turkish states, the military and intelligence service presence in the city is felt. And it’s almost impossible to [move] Iran without the knowledge of the Turkish state. So I joined the co-chair of the HDP to, at least to find some way or some sections of government or intelligence services know about what happened, or to neglect about the Islamic State’s militance, movement in the Kurdish areas of Turkey. So people are really angry, or are burning with anger because this is not the first time that the Islamic State, the jihadist–and there are many other organizations in the Kurdish region of Turkey that are actively fighting or like, making troubles for the Kurdish movement here, that are easily moving around and threatening people, and on this occasion killing tens of activists from Turkey. Iran, Turkey. And these activists are particularly socialist anarchists, and people who are ideologically against the Turkish state. So I think there is a truth in that the Turkish government is knowingly or just by–politically they’re neglecting the Islamic State’s militants, activities in this region. BALL: So–and finally, what would you–what do you think can come of Turkish elections? Or what do you think is the value of Turkish elections in addressing any of the concerns you’ve laid out here in this segment? SAADI: So I think this attack has, in three dimensions we can see this attack, this explosion, against these 300 activists. One of them as I mentioned, it’s a direct attack against the international solidarity work with Khobani. People all around the world, not just in Turkey, they see a [inaud.] revolution as an alternative in the Middle East against the Islamic State and against the decades and centuries, even, of oppression of sectarian politics and authoritarianism in this region. [Inaud.] revolution has provided a hope, and Khobani’s fighting against the Islamic State during the siege clearly gave this hope a big rise. And the spirit of this revolution is growing every day passing by. So this attack was directly against this spirit. And on the other side we have the process of reconstructing the city of Khobani. Because as I said, Khobani has become a symbol of resistance. And these 300 activists, they brought with themselves toys and books, and they wanted to go to Khobani and build little parks for children of Khobani, and join some other works in memory of all the socialist and internationalist activists who had joined the fight in Khobani. And also the third dimension of this explosion I see, it’s directly related to the direct involvement of Turkey with their regional politics. It is almost clear that the Turkish government does not want to fight ISIS or actively engage in a fight against the Islamic groups active in Syria and Iraq, including ISIS. There are some reports, some claims that the Turkish state has provided logistical and military support for Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Nusra Front, and other Islamic factions and Islamic State as well. And the way they’re using Islamic State in the internal politics is also very important to mention, because we know that after June 7 elections, the ruling AKB party, they lost the majority of government. And Kurdish and the leftist movement in Turkey led by the People’s Democratic Party, HDP, they won a historic election and they have 80 members of parliament right now that can prevent the, a majority of government by the AKP. So right now, political situation is in Turkey quite unclear. There are many speculations about a possible coalition with the Republican people’s party, CHB, and there is also a nationalist movement party. And the AKP does, clearly does not want a coalition with each of them. They have basically ignored the Kurdish political party. The political movement of the Kurds. They want to blame them for being involved in terrorist activities. The Turkish government has, has said before that there’s no difference between PYD, the political party of [inaud.] and ISIS. They see them as, both of them as belong to a terrorist movement, they are both terrorist organizations, and they’re declared as terrorist organizations by the Turkish sate. So right now I feel that the Turkish AKP government, the Turkish government, wants to go for another election, an early election in which they could attract more nationalist votes from nationalist movement party, NHB. And this way they can form a majority government, and they continue and go ahead with the, their plan for changing the Turkish constitution and changing the political system of Turkey from parliamentary to a presidency, with Recep Tayyip Erdogan as the president of Turkey, and the leader of the next government. I feel that the plan is to in short term use this environment of [chaos] and crisis to give arise to nationalist vote and use them in the next election against the Kurds. But I feel the spirit of [rojava] revolution has inspired many people in Turkey, and it seems quite impossible. BALL: Sardar Saadi, thank you very much for joining us and helping us distill some of this horrific event here at the Real News. Thank you very much. SAADI: My pleasure. Thank you. BALL: And thank you for joining us here at the Real News. And for all involved, I’m Jared Ball. Again, here in Baltimore. And as always, as Fred Hampton used to say, to you we say peace if you’re willing to fight for it. So peace, everybody. Catch you in the whirlwind.