The latest leak against the government of Turkish Prime Miniter Tayyip Erdogan involves a high-level discussion about possible military operations in Syria to secure the tomb of a Turkish icon.
The leak, posted to YouTube under an anonymous account, purportedly involves Turkey’s intelligence chief discussing the tomb of Suleyman Shah, who is the grandfather of the founder of the Ottoman Empire, with the foreign minister, the deputy chief of staff, and other officials.
“An operation against ISIL [the radical jihadist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] has international legitimacy. We will define it as al Qaeda. There are no issues on the al Qaeda framework,” a voice presented as that of foreign ministry undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu says. “When it comes to the Suleyman Shah tomb, it’s about the protection of national soil.”
The tomb of Suleyman Shah is sovereign territory of Turkey under a treaty signed with France in 1921 while Syria was still under colonial rule. Turkey maintains a force of two dozen special forces soldiers at the tomb to permanently guard it. ISIL and other rebels groups fighting Assad have clashed near the tomb.
Erdogan confirmed the leak: “They even leaked a national security meeting,” he told a crowd of supporters. “This is villainous, this is dishonesty (…) Who are you serving by doing audio surveillance of such an important meeting?”
Turkey has blocked access to YouTube in an attempt to stop the video from being disseminated. This block follows a week after the Turkish government blocked Twitter in a similar desperate bid to limit the reach of other damaging leaked recordings.
When asked about justification for an incursion into Syria, intelligence chief Hakan Fidan allegedly responded: “Justification can be created. The matter is to create the will.”
Ironically, over the last three years Ankara has allowed al Qaeda-linked jihadists and weapons to flow into Syria as a way to influence the country’s civil war.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.