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Dangerous liasons.

ySTANBUL (CyHAN)- On Oct. 30 two young Syrian journalists who fled Raqqa, the Syrian capital of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and took up residence in E[currency]anlyurfa, Turkey, were brutally murdered in their apartment.

Ibrahim Abdel Qader, 22, was beheaded, and the throat of 20-year-old Fares Hammadi was slit. They were staunch enemies of ISIL, which has claimed to have killed them. This ruthless organization later posted a video of their murder, warning that "enemies will never be safe from the blade of the Islamic State."

This was the first beheading in Turkey. People are used to violence involving firearms, but slaughtering human beings like animals is a result of the ripple effect of the Syrian civil war only kilometers away.

The Kurds in Turkey believe the Turkish government is consciously using these jihadists to suppress Kurdish demands and dissent. They claim this strategy has become more obvious after Syrian Kurds took over large sections of northern Syria and established self-governing cantons under the rule of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is officially considered in Turkey to be an adjunct of the notorious Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

The PKK is an armed organization that is recognized as a terrorist outfit by both the Turkish government and many others. Now the realization of an autonomous Kurdish area in Syria facilitated by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq rings danger bells in Turkey.

Labeling both the PKK and ISIL as terrorists and their initiatives as coordinated acts of terror was the successful election tactic of the government. Many people believe the government rhetoric that the explosive cocktail offered by both organizations is a plot by external powers to destabilize Turkey.

This mental short-circuit offers a plausible explanation and evades the difficulty of reaching a convincing conclusion as to why Turkey is undergoing such difficult times. Accordingly, every retaliation against the PKK is also perceived as hitting ISIL targets. This psychology expediently covers up the real character of ISIL and its insidious development in Turkey while Turkey was supporting the Syrian opposition without too much scrutiny of its composition.

On the other hand, the PKK allowed the government to develop its strategy to fuse the activities of the two organizations. When a suicide bomber blew himself up in Suruc (a town in Urfa) in July, the PKK retaliated by killing two Turkish police officers in their home, giving the impression that the government was behind the bombing. Neither the majority of people nor the government has forgiven this murderous act. Since then, the government has used all available methods to criminalize and punish the PKK and other Kurdish formations affiliated with it in and outside Turkey.

A relentless bombing campaign on PKK strongholds in Turkey and northern Iraq has been coupled with harsh curfews in a number of towns where the PKK declared autonomy. No doubt the PYD in Syria is the target of official Turkish wrath, but striking its positions while this organization is the most important ally of the American-led coalition fighting ISIL in Syria is likely to create complications. Furthermore, the PYD is viewed favorably by Russia.

However, this is not the only Turkish concern. Bombings in Diyarbakyr (June 5), Suruc, and later Ankara (Oct. 10) by ISIL militants have driven the point home that past lenience to groups that fought against the Assad regime may prove costly in the long run, even if those groups were composed of fellow Muslims.

Two issues stand before the new government. Feeling an affinity for fellow Muslims may be detrimental if these groups have a political agenda of their own that has nothing to do with the Islamic solidarity so naively celebrated in Turkey. Secondly, pitting radical religious groups against the Kurds, who have been seen as more dangerous to Turkish security, may complicate things both in and outside Turkey.

The success of the new government depends on how it deals with these two questions.

DOy[currency]U ERGyL (Cihan/Today's Zaman) CyHAN

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Publication:Cihan News Agency (CNA)
Geographic Code:7IRAQ
Date:Nov 11, 2015
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