A review of the new executive decision in the Turkish parliament and what impact it will make.
Turkey has been on the agenda since Obama announced a coalition to defeat the biggest threat in the Levant: ISIS. The top US officials paid visits to several countries in the Middle East including Turkey to convince them to join them in their new approach to defeating IS. Turkey was hesitant to join such a coalition as we had 49 hostages who were held captive by ISIS. Following intense diplomatic negotiations, the hostages were released. The world held its breath and waited for Turkey to make a decision on whether to partake in this coalition or not. The long awaited decision was made and Turkey finally joined the coalition. What Turkey needed was the Syria-Iraq bill to be able to send Turkish troops outside its border.
The main reason for this bill was to not hold captive the TSK (Turkish Armed Force) in case of an emergency. Even though it is not a bill for war, Turkey is ready to protect the civilians both near the border and in Suleyman Shah Tomb province located in Syria. The bill was ratified by the Turkish government last week and now Turkey is ready to do everything to protect its country and the civilians of the neighboring countries.
What is Suleyman Shah Tomb special for?
What makes this tomb special is that it serves as Turkey’s one and only exclave, a territory belonging to a country that is encircled by another country. Suleyman Shah Tomb is also an internationally recognized sovereign territory.
No one outside of Turkey really knew about this special territory until the flames of war kindled in Syria. Historically, the region where this Turkish exclave is sited was in control of England and France respectively following WW1. According to the Article 9 of the Ankara Treaty signed by France and Turkey in 1921, this land was ceded to Turkey. In 1923, Treaty of Lausanne’s 3rd Article appointed Turkey-Syria border to be arranged in terms of the Ankara Treaty, which once more approved the land where Suleyman Shah Tomb and Jaaber Castle locate was a Turkish territory.
This astonishing province lies on the coast of the River Euphrates. Jaaber Castle was annexed by the Ottoman Empire during the reign of Yavuz Sultan Selim. Suleyman Shah’s Tomb, the grandfather of Osman Bey, the founder of the Ottoman Empire, is placed on this beautiful Turkish land. This tomb is what makes this land important not only as the sole Turkish exclave but also due to its spiritual value. The tomb was re-built in the time of Abdülhamit II.
The Diplomatic Crises Between Syria and Turkey
For a very long time, things were calm in Jaaber Castle and there was no tension with Syria until 1973. In 1973 Syria started an artificial crisis and gave a diplomatic note to Turkey to re-locate the Tomb or take it back to Turkey. The reason for this note was that Syrians were constructing the Dabka Dam on the River Euphrates and they put forth that the Jaaber Castle would be submerged as a result. Turkey sent back a diplomatic note and retaliated by closing down Keban Dam thus preventing the water flow from Turkey to Syria through the Euphrates. After this showdown, they both reached an agreement in the very same year and the Tomb was re-located to Karakozak Village on the eastern side of the Euphrates.
This was not the only crisis Turkey and Syria faced vis-à-vis Suleyman Shah Tomb. A second crisis occurred in 1995. Syria again demanded to re-locate it from its current province as they started constructing another dam on the upper parts of the Euphrates. However, this time they agreed to protect the area from the negative effects. As the construction of this same dam was completed in 2001, again the re-location of the Tomb came into consideration. However this time the Tomb was kept in the very same place.
In 2003, a protocol was signed and thus the borders of the 10,000 sq meter Tomb were fortified, the building of Tomb was restored, a new police station building was constructed and the Tomb was once again opened to visit.
Is there a real threat on or near Suleyman Shah Tomb?
While there are rumors the Saygı Police Station located near the Suleyman Shah Tomb was under siege, these rumors were denied by President Erdoğan. There is of course a growing ISIS threat in the region but not a direct one to our own territory for the time being, as some news outlets have claimed. There is also an ongoing de facto war between PKK and ISIS in Kobane Province, which is on the Turkey-Syria border. Turkey watches this war closely and takes all the necessary precautions to protect our country and the civilians in that territory. It is very regretful to see civilians being killed as the world watches. People from Turkey see the big smoke stacks coming from the explosions in Kobane. Since the fighting is very close to our border, the city of Suruc was also hit by mortar shells last week. The situation is quite serious and sensitive for Turkey however, Turkey should be very wise and careful before taking any steps.
PKK: The most dangerous threat for Turkey’s unitary existence
Thus far not even ISIS has directly threatened Turkey. PKK on the other hand, a communist and terrorist organization, has been directly targeting Turkey for decades, martyring some nearly 60,000 civilians. It has proven to be the most dangerous threat for Turkey. Their primary aim is to divide Turkey and establish a sovereign state of their own by dividing Southern Turkey. They use every possible means to harm Turkey’s unitary structure. Lately, they were trying to provoke Turkey to put boots on the ground in the war near its border. This terrorist organization uses a multitude of unorthodox provocations to try and lure Turkey into the quagmire around its borders. For example PKK launches mortar shells inside Turkey and then puts the blame on ISIS. That is not to say that ISIS is not a threat to the whole region, but we should make a distinction and take our steps extremely careful.
It is quite apparent some circles along with PKK want to draw Turkey into a war, but Turkey is wise enough not to fall into this trap. Turkey has been a safe haven for the innocent people who fled to save their lives from the neighboring countries and it will stay this way for a very long time.
It is vital to approach with such circumstances with love, compassion, mercy, knowledge and education. Terror can only be eradicated by countering the ideology that drives it. Violence always causes more violence. If a party steps up with violence, it will be retaliated in a way never imagined before. This is true for everyone. We should always keep in mind that humans are lofty beings. We can always find a way to communicate, talk, and convince people towards a peaceful way.
(About the Author: Harun Yahya has authored more than 300 books translated in 73 languages on politics, religion and science. He may be followed at @Harun_Yahya and www.harunyahya.com.)
Photo credit: Andreas Metz/Flickr