On Our Generation’s Cold War (And the Second Bombing in Ankara)

Last night another car bomb went off in Ankara.  It sounded like thunder – either hailing the rain that came this morning in a quiet, grey drizzle or the greater storm to come.  Unlike all previous attacks in Ankara and Istanbul, which were on political protests or government buildings/vehicles, this was an attack against anonymous everyday citizens.  One car laden with bombs drove into the side of a bus – bus 284, a normal, everyday bus filled with a random sampling of 20 normal, everyday people – and exploded.  Near the temporarily-permanent Police center on the top half of Guven Park cordoned-off in blue chainlink fence, near several ministries and important government buildings – but not an attack directly on the government, or government employees, or protesters, or foreign tourists (Istanbul).

When I heard the thunder my immediate thought was that it might be another attack – the second within a month – the same way that I’m always now wary when walking through Kizilay.  Because we are living in a sort of cold war, one where we worry about bombs and attacks, and this general anxiety runs parallel to our everyday lives.

It’s amazing how easily we turn from serious discussion to trivial thoughts.  On Friday, by the end of a conference held here on “EU-Turkey Cooperation on ‘Refugee Crisis'” concerning Syrians and huge questions for Turkey (followed by the German EU Ambassador refuting the EU’s responsibility for the refugee crisis in Turkey), I was thinking about what I would have for lunch, the same question debated by panel speakers clustered around the front steps.  After yesterday’s bombing we flipped through 5 or 6 news channels, found what we could online (not much; the same 3 half-known facts and a few shaky video clips), my mother-in-law switched back to her favorite show, Turkish Survivor. The great debate was then on which route to take to work, as the entire downtown is closed off to private vehicles until the 25th.  Why?  Because people can’t live in constant crisis, and because there’s very little we can do, especially after the fact.  We call each other and make sure everyone is ok, we reconfigure our commutes to avoid certain areas; I talked to USAK about arriving and leaving earlier to avoid being near any government buildings around rush hour and avoid the center entirely. And we pack our lunches and we go on living.

Today we left at 7:45 – though tomorrow we’ll start leaving at 7:30 – and took the Konya road around the center, past the main bus terminal and Bahcelievler.  I got off at Besevler 45 minutes before most people arrive at the office and walked for half an hour, through quiet Monday morning streets subdued by either the downcast weather or  last night’s shake on civilization.

besevler march 14

As to who’s to blame for the attacks, This Washington Post Article makes a fair point – albeit a few days early (prophetic) in examining the effects of power under the current party.



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