Season of Bombs
The 8 people killed in Iraq since Wednesday by various guerrilla bombings and attacks are dwarfed by the disaster in Istanbul. A US soldier was killed and two wounded by a bomb attack in Ramadi. Another bomb went off outside the house of the pro-US mayor of Ramadi. Guerrillas blew up a bomb outside the offices of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan in Kirkuk, a party headed by Jalal Talabani, the president of the Interim Governing council. Gunmen killed an Iraqi policemen when they opened fire on the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad (guerrillas had blown up a bomb there last summer. Jordan is training the new Iraqi police).
Then, of course, there were the bomb blasts in Istanbul outside the British consulate and the branch of a London bank, which killed 27 and wounded an astonishing 450 on Thursday morning. Presumably the British targets were chosen because Bush is currently in London and because of the UK’s support for the Iraq war and the war on terror more generally. Istanbul wa likewise being punished because the Turkish government, especially the military, is close to the US.
The culprits are probably the Turkish Hizbullah (no relation to the Lebanese Shiite group of the same name), who may have hooked up with some al-Qaeda cells.
The Turkish Hizbullah originated in the radical Kurdish struggles of Eastern Anatolia. Its leader was a classmate of Abdullah Ocalan of the Marxist militia/party, the PKK, which carried out terrorist attacks especially in southeastern Turkey. Some of its members were also former PKK. But Hizbullah aimed at establishing an Islamist state instead, and for a while mainly targetted the PKK. There are rumors that it received Turkish government support in this bloody campaign of assassination. Then it turned against the Turkish government, especially as the PKK subsided. See for background the Al-Ahram Weekly piece by Gareth Jenkins from a couple of years ago.
See also the Human Rights Watch report on Hizbullah. It appears that the Istanbul bombings may be yet another instance of blowback, where anti-communist religious movements promoted by rightwing governments ultimately became major threats in their own right.
I wonder if Hizbullah has hooked up with Ansar al-Islam, the Iraqi Kurdish terrorist group, which has shadowy links to al-Qaeda?