A Kurdish militant group has claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s bloody car bombing in in the Turkish capital of Ankara that left at least 28 dead. It’s just not the one most people thought.
A little-known militia called the Kurdistan Freedom Hawks, or TAK, took credit for the attack with a statement on their Web site. Turkish officials, includingPresident Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have tried to tie the group to the Kurdistan Workers Party, known as the PKK, and the Kurdish YPG, Washington’s closest battlefield allies in the ground war against the Islamic State in Syria. Erdogan has publicly accused the YPG of being responsible for Wednesday’s carnage.
Bulent Aliriza, a Turkey expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said that few had heard of TAK before December 2015, when the group said it was responsible for a mortar attack at an airport in Istanbul that killed one and injured one.
TAK, also known as the Kurdish Freedom Falcons, maintains it has severed ties with the PKK, a separatist group that has been fighting Ankara for decades. However, according to Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the group are separate in name only.
“The Freedom Falcons are a group that assume responsibility for PKK attacks when it’s not convenient for the PKK to do so,” Cagaptay said. “It allows the group to avoid a public diplomacy debacle. The PKK want to attach it to their cause, not their organization.”
“It’s a nebulous organization,” he added, suggesting TAK does not have its own leadership, but takes its cues from the PKK. ...
A Princeton PhD, was a US diplomat for over 20 years, mostly in Eastern Europe, and was promoted to the Senior Foreign Service in 1997. For the Open World Leadership Center, he speaks with
its delegates from Europe/Eurasia on the topic, "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United." Affiliated with Georgetown University for over ten years, he shares ideas with students about public diplomacy.
The papers of his deceased father -- poet and diplomat John L. Brown -- are stored at Georgetown University Special Collections at the Lauinger Library. They are manuscript materials valuable to scholars interested in post-WWII U.S.-European cultural relations.
This blog is dedicated to him, Dr. John L. Brown, a remarkable linguist/humanist who wrote in the Foreign Service Journal (1964) -- years before "soft power" was ever coined -- that "The CAO [Cultural Affairs Officer] soon comes to realize that his job is really a form of love-making and that making love is never really successful unless both partners are participating."