Tuesday, July 21, 2015

21-Jul-15: Devastating first-time experience of ISIS savagery stuns Turkey

A selfie taken seconds before the blast in Suruc, Turkey, yesterday
Turkey is reeling from a terror massacre and the looming impact this is likely to have on tourist travel to their tourism-dependent state. 

First the facts: AFP says 32 people were killed, more than 100 injured, yesterday (Monday) when a bomb ripped through a crowd of young socialist activists in a mainly Kurdish region of Turkey, in the town of Suruc (population about 57,000). 

They were members of the Federation of Socialist Youth Associations (SGDF), there to take part in "a rebuilding mission for Kobane, which Kurdish forces had retaken from IS earlier this year". They evidently intended to carry aid across the border into Syria. They were seated at tables having breakfast just before the explosion. 

Right across the social media today, there are photos and horrifying videos (easy to find online, but we will not link to them) of smiling, relaxed members of the target group, oblivious to the disaster about to befall them seconds later. 

Hurriyet Daily, a Turkish paper, is quoted by AFP today saying there had been warnings by Turkey's intelligence agency that seven IS members, among them 3 women (named in this Turkish report), had entered Turkey in recent weeks to carry out attacks. Hence numerous reports today saying the deaths were accomplished by what we think should be termed a human bomb. (That's still not confirmed.) One report says the human bomb was an 18 year old girl. 

ISIS already controls large swatches of Syria and Iraq up to the Turkish border, has not claimed 'credit' for the Suruc massacre.

Not so surprisingly, parts of the British media - Independent UK for instance ["Is it safe to travel in Turkey following suicide attack?", July 21, 2015] - are suggesting British tourists, already terrified by the idea of holidaying in Tunisia ["12-Jul-15: In confronting terror, Tunisia's government tells visitors to trust them and ignore the advisories"], are probably thinking twice before going to Turkey. 

But the information they provide is (in our eyes) surprisingly relaxed: 
"What does the Foreign Office say? All of Turkey is currently subject to varying levels of Foreign Office travel advice. They encourage all visitors to read their travel advice before travelling, wherever they are in the country - this reflects the fact there is a heightened risk of terrorism across the country than there is in other European countries. However, this warning does not mean they advise against travel... Referring to terrorism from ISIS and other, domestic militant groups, the Foreign Office says: "attacks could be indiscriminate and could affect places visited by foreigners."" 
Not much doubt which self-image the Turks prefer [Click to visit
theGoTurkey travel site
from which this poster comes]
Understand now?

Scanning the Turkish media, we see that Today's Zaman, ["Already-beleaguered tourism sector in Turkey concerned about Suruç attack"] writes today about Turkish anxieties. A senior travel official 
is critical of the gruesome photographs of the terror victims plastered on the front pages of Turkish dailies:
"This will definitely affect tourism, but to what extent I cannot be sure. The publication of photographs by the media was not a good move. The world is very small and everything circulates quickly. I hope the effect won't be strong. This is a crisis that needs to be managed properly..." 
Our experience is that he's unfortunately got the right idea. Leaving aside the victims themselves - those who are dead or injured, and their families - the negative impact on non-victims tends to pass rapidly, as the events post 9/11, 7/7, M-3 and other huge terrorist atrocities have shown. 

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