Initial thoughts after Paris attacks

Map showing the locations of the attacks. Source: BBC Int

Last night, Paris saw one of the biggest terrorist attacks in recent European history, with five simultaneous attacks which left more than 127 dead and over 200 injured. As a Turkish person living in France, I had the opportunity of witnessing the reactions of my friends coming from different parts of the world. For me and others coming from the region, we were eventually more “indifferent” than French people, simply because – it disgusts me to say it out loud – we are more “used to” this happening then them. After wrapping my head around all of this, I was able to sum up my initial thoughts on 3 main subjects: Surprising lack of intelligence of the French government, logistical span of ISIL, and the different measures taken by France and Turkey.

By Berke Alikasifoğlu

Even after a day, I am still having a hard time understanding how this huge of an act occurred in the heart of Europe. Everyone knows that Paris is one of the biggest cities in Europe, if not the biggest, economy-wise. France’s governmental body allows the country to be well protected against acts like this, with Parisian airports being very well secured (I, myself, have gone through a lot of random checks), as well as its ground borders. In important French cities such as Paris and Strasbourg, routine police patrols are taken very seriously. So the same question rises again: How was no one from the French internal security service (General Directorate for Internal Security, [French: Direction générale de la sécurité intérieure, DGSI]) able to intercept or even predict an attack on this scale? November 13th was way bigger than any of the attacks France has had to overcome over the past 40 years, and it was not just in one place; it was a simultaneous attack in five different parts of the city, with heavy artillery and profound planning. An attack of this scale is of course considered to be organized, and not being able to prevent this from happening is, to me, a huge fault of the DGSI.

Another aspect that shocks and scares me right now is the logistical span of ISIL. Even at their prime, neither Al-Qaeda nor Hezbollah were able to carry out attacks this big in such a short amount of time. The day before yesterday, ISIL carried out a suicide bombing in Beirut, killing 43 people. Last month, another couple of ISIL terrorists exploded themselves during a peace rally in the capital of Turkey, Ankara, leaving 102 souls deceased and more than 400 injured. At the same time, they are in a constant state of fighting against the Iraqi, Syrian, and Lebanese governments, as well as other armed forces like the Peshmerga and YPG (Iraqi and Syrian Kurdish armies) and Hezbollah. Despite all that, they were still able to wreak havoc in Paris, with not just one but five different locations. Hence another question: How can ISIL provide for all these attacks and current wars? How can an organization use suicide bombers this frequently? How can they have such an immense artillery? Those questions have been banging inside my head for quite some time now, and after Paris, I guess we all need answers for them.

The last angle that I want to tackle is more based in Turkey. Over the years, it has become a habit of mine to examine how the Turkish government reacts to certain events compared to other governments, and an ISIL attack on both soils within one month gave me the chance to do that. After Ankara, Erdogan gave a vague speech, visited the scene days later, and overall, didn’t appear to care enough. Now I know that the circumstances are different, the Ankara attack was meant to hurt Kurdish people and was carried out during a leftist protest, so it is not exactly the same case. Still, Hollande’s two hopeful speeches, his immediate declaration of a state of emergency, the closing of the borders, the uncensored media using any and all footage available, and professionals carefully analyzing the situation on TV were the first things that I noticed last night. Instead of asking who killed who, the police, the army, hospitals, taxis, and the Parisian people stood together, and I believe that the way Hollande handled things helped the people a lot. This, of course, does not change the initial failure of counter-intelligence, but still, it was touching to see every single French citizen united, which is something that we all miss in Turkey.

Photo taken from instagram

A memorial was held in front of the French Consulate in Istanbul. Credits: @cengilzehra on Instagram.

The world is facing a common enemy right now in ISIL. It is not easy to figure out what is going to happen next; will ISIL ever be stopped, how many casualties will be given in the name of this senseless act? It is hard to tell. Rumors about a possible NATO intervention started circulating already, would that be beneficial or just another step in a string of mistakes by Westerners in the region? We’ll wait and see. While waiting, discovering our mistakes and their strength will surely help.

Berke Alikaşifoğlu

Born and bred an Istanbulite, the co-editor-in-chief of Le Zadig, Berke has grown up in socially divided, politically complex environment that is Turkey, and he decided to focus on his passion for social sciences.
Utilizing his wits and writing skills to give voice to the diverse mentonese Ummah,Berke can express himself in three and-a-halflanguages. Although he admits that his red, thick and gorgeous beard is a vital part of his charm, he doesn’t like to be reduced to only his facial hair. He can rock a beanie like no other and rumor has it, that he is the reincarnation of the great pirate Barbarossa, exploring the Mediterranean, and discovering new horizons.
Berke’s passion for music is a driving force in his life, and please don’t talk to him if you don’t like Pearl Jam. His heart can be won by nuanced talks on Kurdish regional politics, anything Marvel or DC.
Berke is single and he resides in rue longue and his door is always open for those who seek intellectual conversations and intoxicated company.

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