Turkey is facing a number of destabilizing forces: violence related to conflicts with Kurdish rebels and ISIL, political instability, economic uncertainty, and a growing flow of refugees from the civil war in Syria.

Altogether, the currents buffeting Turkey have evoked memories of the 1990s, when it was also gripped by violence and political uncertainty, shattering Turks’ image of their country as a haven of stability and prosperity next to a Middle East upended by wars.

The current instability has become increasingly intertwined with the broader unrest in the Middle East, an area whose fortunes Turkey has sought to shape in recent years by holding itself out as an example of a healthy democracy in the heart of the Muslim world.

One consequence of the wars convulsing the Middle East is that the Kurds, an ethnic group spread across four countries — Syria, Iraq, Iran and Turkey — have used the chaos to secure more rights and autonomy. In Iraq, the fight against ISIL has given the Kurds more leverage over Baghdad, and perhaps a road to independence.

In Syria, Kurds have carved out an autonomous enclave, and in Turkey, they have gained more political influence by appealing to liberals and other minorities disenchanted with the government.

But Saturday’s attack highlighted the difficult road ahead as the Kurds try to preserve their gains.

New York Times