Region of Concern: Turkey
Written By Cayla Lee; Edited by Claire Bracco, Amy McGee, and Jennifer Loy
Date: December 16, 2022
Event: On December 16, 2022, suspected Kurdish militants detonated a remote-controlled bomb located inside a parked vehicle near a market in southern Turkey. The explosion, which occurred in Kurdish-dominated Diyarbakir, injured one civilian and eight police officers driving past in an armored police van. The injured have been treated and have since been discharged. The Turkish Minister of Interior Suleyman Soylu said five people have been detained in connection to the incident. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack but Soylu blamed Kurdish militants as one of the detained suspects’ brother was killed during clashes with police. Similar attacks have been carried out by Kurdish militants and Islamist and leftist extremists in the region.
Significance: Tensions will very likely increase between Turkey and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) if law enforcement blames Kurdish militants without investigating other suspects. It is likely that the attackers were aware of the police’s travel route and likely obtained sensitive information through questionable means, such as using informants, infiltrating police ranks, or interfering with communication systems. It is likely that they targeted the police to undermine their reliability as public security officials. This is likely to discourage civilian support for law enforcement as regional clashes continue. It is also likely that the attack will cause social discontent as it occurred in a Kurdish-populated city, likely waning public support for the PKK. Governing bodies will likely continue having incompatible suggestions for remedying the conflict between Turkey and the Kurdish people. The Turkish government will very likely impose additional security measures, such as increasing law enforcement and military personnel, in Kurdish-populated areas. Kurdish militants will likely perceive this as further provocation and will likely be more inclined to retaliate against Turkish opponents.
Recommendations: The government should consider all suspects, including Islamist and leftist extremists, as possible perpetrators, and should not focus all attention on the Kurds. Law enforcement should investigate how the attackers obtained the police’s travel route and take necessary measures to mitigate possible vulnerability to further attacks. Turkish public security officials, the Kurdish people, and other civilians should remain on alert in case of further escalation from either side or instigated by other actors. Both the government and the Kurdish people should be more committed to direct dialogue and negotiations to strengthen regional stability. Discussions should focus on how to address grievances from both sides of the conflict, including human rights concerns against Kurds and the PKK’s influence. Kurds’ aspirations of greater rights and autonomy should also be considered within Turkey’s governmental structure during dialogue. The international community should continue providing diplomatic efforts by offering to facilitate discussions between Turkey and the Kurdish people. Rebuilding infrastructure and providing humanitarian aid, such as food, water, shelter, and winter necessities, should be facilitated by local NGOs, the UN, and the international community to support areas and people affected by the conflict.
 Bomb attack in Turkey targets police van, injuring 9, AP News, December 2022, https://apnews.com/article/turkey-bombings-210f15d4ef1ec1ce0c1ba7438c457c05