Operation to Relocate Suleyman Shah Tomb Mirrors Turkey’s Geopolitical Agenda

Operation to Relocate Suleyman Shah Tomb Mirrors Turkey’s Geopolitical Agenda

Turkey exerts increasing influence on the situation in and around Syria. The military raid across the Syrian border demonstrates the desire to advance its interests while playing the «Syrian card». Syria has become a battle field for belligerent groups fighting against each other (the government forces, Kurds and the Islamic State). It makes the country an element of any strategic plans. 

Hundreds of Turkish forces with 39 tanks, 57 armored cars, 100 vehicles and 572 personnel have entered war-torn northern Syria to evacuate troops guarding a historic tomb demolishing it and moving the remains to a different site. The burial site was the one and only Turkish enclave abroad in accordance with the Franco-Turkish Pact of 1921. Suleiman Shah was the grandfather of the Ottoman Empire's founder Osman I, the founder of the Ottoman Empire, the state which was at the height of its power during the 16th and 17th centuries. It was a powerful multinational, multilingual empire controlling vast territories in Europe and Asia, including Syria.

Syria was separated from Turkey as a result of WWI to make the tomb an extraterritorial Turkish territory. In accordance with Article 9 of the Treaty of Ankara signed between France and Turkey in 1921, the tomb «shall remain, with its appurtenances, the property of Turkey, who may appoint guardians for it and may hoist the Turkish flag there». The Treaty does not state that the tomb is deemed to be the territory of Turkey. Until recently there had been no problems with the status of the site guarded by 40 Turkish soldiers. The West-incited civil war in Syria keeps on raging on as the founders of «new world order» are gradually losing control over the events. Now the events summoned up the spirit of Suleyman Shah. Islamic State troops neared the tomb and demanded that Turkey evacuate the site. The threat coming from the radical group was used as a pretext for invasion plans. Turkey stopped short of direct confrontation with the Islamists. The Islamic State and Turkey have one common enemy – Syrian President Bashar Assad. Turkey had waited for changes as the events unfolded. The changes did take place. The territory near the border has moved under the control of local Kurds as a result of Kobane battle with the Islamic State formations. The relations between Turkey and Kurds have been strained for many years, but the Kobane victory allowed Turkey to conduct a raid and relocate the tomb without direct confrontation with the Islamists. 

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu let know the tomb may be finally moved to Turkey. For the time being the tomb is relocated to the Esme region of Aleppo, not far from the Turkish province of Şanlıurfa. 

Turkey pursues a long-term goal. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu are staunch advocates of Neo-Ottomanism, a Turkish political ideology that promotes greater political engagement of the modern Republic of Turkey within regions formerly under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, its predecessor state, as well as within Eurasia. 

It may not be the last time Turkey invaded Syria, especially in view of the situation involving Ankara, Kurds and the Islamic State and the fact that the United States pursues its own interests in Syria. 

According to Yeni Safak (1), a conservative and Islamist Turkish daily newspaper, the United States is about to send over one thousand military to the Middle East. The mission is to train opposition together with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The Syrian insurgents are training to fight the Islamic State. The outlet asks a rhetoric question - does it mean they are trained to fight Syrian government forces too? 

The Syrian government has condemned the incursion as «flagrant aggression». It said that Turkey had informed its Istanbul consulate about the operation but had not waited for Syria's consent. In contrast, Turkey had reached a previous agreement on the operation with the Kurdish leaders in Kobane. 

Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said today that the country «will submit the aggressive action taken by Turkey on its territory to the court of the international community and the European Union», referring to the special operation carried out by the Turkish army to evacuate the tomb of Suleyman Shah from Syrian lands controlled by Islamic State. «The behavior of Ankara shows that it is violating Syrian sovereignty to the detriment of bilateral relations. We reserve the right to defend our land and properly respond to this aggression at the right time», he added.

Tags: ISIS   Middle East  Syria  Turkey