quotes Rafik Hariri Center Resident Senior Fellow Aaron Stein
on how the ISIS attack in Istanbul will affect the Turkish economy and political climate in the region:
“This is the first [attack] that’s not aimed at a group linked to the national Kurdish movement,” Aaron Stein, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, told Business Insider. “It’s the first one that is uniquely aimed at foreign tourists inside of Istanbul.”
“Clearly this is an attack inspired by or at least similar to some of the attacks you’ve seen in Tunisia and to a far lesser extent the one you saw in Paris,” he added, referring to the November Paris attack that left 130 people dead.
Ths Istanbul bombing represents a “clear change in tactics [for ISIS] inside Turkey,” according to Stein.
“They’re attacking Turkish interests and those linked to the state rather than Kurdish nationalism that would operate underneath the state,” Stein said.
“That is the clear difference here. One outcome of the attack is that tourists who may have been going to Turkey … may cancel their trips now because the balance inside Turkey has moved to this urban center of Istanbul directly.”
And though the nationality of the victims of this latest attack might be a coincidence, Stein pointed out that Germans constitute the largest number of foreign tourists who visit Turkey each year.
“I definitely think that you’ll see an effect on the Turkish economy,” Stein said. “… Tourism is a massive industry inside of Turkey, and any sort of dip will affect their economy, and we’re already dealing with a decrease in Russian tourists in Turkey.”
The Istanbul attack is especially chilling, considering that “every tourist would walk right by” the part of the city the attack took place in, Stein said. Sultanahmet square is very close to the Blue Mosque, one of the top tourist destinations in Istanbul.