Skip to comments.Turkey Warns of Syrian Intervention to Protect Ancient Tomb
Posted on 03/28/2014 3:02:21 AM PDT by Mount Athos
Turkey has warned it will take any necessary steps to protect the Suleyman Shah tomb in Syria if it comes under attack. The tomb, which is protected by Turkish soldiers, is located in the city of Aleppo in Syria near the Turkish border and Ankara considers it to be Turkish territory.
Turkeys political leadership has reacted strongly to a threat made by the radical group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or ISIS, to attack the Suleyman Shah tomb protected by Turkish soldiers in Syria. Tensions recently have been on the rise with Ankara strongly condemning ISISs tactics in Syria.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in a television interview said everything would be done to protect the tomb saying it is Turkish property under the guarantee of international agreements. He said any attack on the tomb would be considered an attack on Turkey.
Suleyman Shah was the grandfather of the founder of the Ottoman Empire. In a deal between France and Turkey in 1921 when Syria was under French rule, the tomb and a 25-kilometer area surrounding it became Turkish territory. A Turkish flag flies above it.
Sinan Ulgen, a visiting scholar for the Carnegie Europe institute, says Ankara is serious about its threat to intervene.
"There is now a threat to ISIS to that shrine; there are 25 Turkish soldiers currently there and the Turkish government takes this threat seriously because it is Turkish territory," said Ulgen.
Since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, Ankara has strongly backed the Syrian rebels. Turkish forces have been massed along the 900-kilometer Syrian border for more than a year.
Diplomatic columnist Semih Idiz of the Turkish newspaper Taraf and Al Monitor website says any incursion into Syria could be for the long term.
"I can foresee a period where Turkish forces go in there, but not only go there to protect the tomb; to actually create a safety buffer zone around it and maybe even open a corridor between mainland Turkey and the region," said Idiz.
Turkish-Syrian tensions have been on the rise. Last week, Turkish fighter jets shot down a Syrian bomber after Ankara claimed it violated its airspace, a charge Damascus denies. In the past few days, the Turkish military has alleged Syrian air defenses locked their missiles on its planes. Ulgen says any incursion into Syria to protect its forces is an extremely risky move.
"An incursion deep into Syrian territory [of] Turkish expeditionary forces to reprisal attacks by not only extremists groups but by also possibly by Syrian regime as well and from that point onward Turkey would be implicated in the Syrian war," said Ulgen.
Turkish opposition parties oppose the governments support of the Syrian rebels. They have accused the prime minister of trying to provoke a conflict with Syria in order to change the political agenda, which remains focused on high level government corruption allegations, a charge angrily dismissed by ministers.
Columnist Idiz says the government will have to finely calibrate any intervention into Syria.
"Whatever operation Turkey engages in as a result of this tomb will have to be seen as a self-defense operation or an operation in response to an attack rather than as a stepping stone to start attacking Syrian forces; because that could turn public opinion against the government and against an operation," said Idiz.
Opinion polls indicate there is little backing for government support of the Syrian opposition. Observers, however, say the government will be looking to the country's strong nationalist sentiments to back any operation into Syria, whatever the dangers.
2) Turkey has been extremely upset over losing some border checkpoints to ISIL. A Turkish journalist speculates that a Turkish invasion might create a lasting corridor between the tomb and Turkey. Maybe the intention is also to retake the checkpoints with Syrian side action? Just speculating.
3) Would this draw NATO into the conflict if Syria naturally reacted by attacking the Turkish invading forces? Maybe a dumb question, I don't understand NATO commitments. Maybe NATO was looking for a justification to escalate anyway?
False flag operation by Turkey? Leaked recording of national security meeting?
“As the rough translation explains, it purports to be a conversation between key Turkish military and political leaders discussing what appears to be a false flag attack to launch war with Syria” (Suleiman Shah Tomb)
Among the most damning sections:
Ahmet Davutolu: Prime Minister said that in current conjuncture, this attack (on Suleiman Shah Tomb) must be seen as an opportunity for us.
Hakan Fidan: Ill send 4 men from Syria, if thats what it takes. Ill make up a cause of war by ordering a missile attack on Turkey; we can also prepare an attack on Suleiman Shah Tomb if necessary.
Feridun Sinirliolu: Our national security has become a common, cheap domestic policy outfit.
Ya?ar Güler: Its a direct cause of war. I mean, whatre going to do is a direct cause of war.
Turkeys political leadership has reacted strongly to a threat made by the radical group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or ISIS, to attack the Suleyman Shah tomb...
Turkey has always protected monuments and historical sites with troops, including Ephesus, other places that visitors want to see. They are national treasures. Turks are protecting the sites FROM the visitors as much as for the visitors’ safety. I was there ‘93 - 94 and had to get used to driving up to terrific ruins between two lines of unsmiling armed troops in trucks.
I don’t think they’re wrong to protect Muslim historical sites near Aleppo, since the idiot Syrians and rebels don’t give a bleep what they wreck.
For what it’s worth, Turkey was my favorite place to visit, and I’ve been to 22 countries. People were polite, gracious, soft-spoken, and welcoming — don’t think you’ll win at bargaining with them tho. Shrewd as they come.