Turkish opposition castigates evacuation of tomb in northern Syria
Turkish opposition parties have harshly reacted to the evacuation of the Tomb of Süleyman Şah in northern Syria, accusing the government of abandoning the country’s only territory outside its borders.
“We are losing our lands without fighting for the first time in the 90-year history of the republic; this is not acceptable,” main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Secretary General Gürsel Tekin said during a press conference in Ankara on Feb. 22.
Turkey evacuated its military personnel protecting the tomb, as well as the artifacts in the mausoleum in an operation jointly conducted by the intelligence organization and the Turkish army.
The operation came a few days after reports suggested that Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) jihadists had besieged the tomb and that Turkish soldiers protecting the enclave had been trapped by the militants.
The CHP lawmaker recalled that he had invited government officials to visit the tomb together two days ago after the siege reports, but “they said then there is no problem.”
“Unfortunately, Turkey is facing a distressing situation,” he said.
Tekin also expressed his sorrow over the death of soldier Halit Avcı in a traffic accident during the early hours of the operation, saying, “God rest his soul.”
“The ones who ordered the flight from Süleyman Şah will also flee this country tomorrow, but I will ask for payback for all the embarrassments you have caused Turkey,” main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said in a post on his Twitter account.
“The government that bowed before terrorists and sold the homeland’s soil has showed that its first job will be running away from other threats that will be faced tomorrow,” he said. “Presenting the destruction of your own police station, the withdrawal of your soldiers and leaving you land as a ‘success’ is the proof of a sham fight,” he also tweeted.
Yusuf Halaçoğlu of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), meanwhile, dubbed the operation “treason.” “This is a total treason. You leave your homeland to ISIL and you brag about ‘saving the television inside,’” the deputy parliamentary group leader of the MHP told daily Hürriyet on Feb. 22.
“How could you abandon your own land? That enclave is your soil according to international terms. It is no different than Hatay, Hakkari or Ankara,” he said.
He also slammed the government’s previous remarks seeking to dismiss security concerns over the tomb.
“President [Recep Tayyip Erdoğan] was making statements, saying, ‘It is not under siege.’ Then why did you leave it?” Halaçoğlu said.
Tuğrul Türkeş, deputy chairman of the MHP, also slammed the lack of “an explanatory statement form the government,” saying the announcement made by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu early on Feb. 22 was not sufficient and “was a cosmetic statement.”