Evacuation of Tomb of Süleyman Şah an abandonment: Turkish main opposition head

Evacuation of Tomb of Süleyman Şah an abandonment: Turkish main opposition head

Evacuation of Tomb of Süleyman Şah an abandonment: Turkish main opposition head

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Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has criticized the government over the recent evacuation of the Tomb of Süleyman Şah within Syrian territory, describing it as an “abandonment.”

“On what grounds are you evacuating the tomb and carrying away the bodies [buried there]?” Kılıçdaroğlu said at the weekly meeting of his party’s parliamentary group on Feb. 24.

He slammed Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu for his government’s decision to evacuate the historic tomb and the soldiers guarding it, recalling Davutoğlu’s own remarks delivered around a year ago when he vowed that Turkey had the right to take all precautions to protect the site. He recalled a March 14, 2014 statement by then Foreign Minister Davutoğlu, in which the latter said any attack against the tomb either from “the regime, radical groups or from anyone” would be subjected to retaliation from Turkey, which would take all measures for the protection of that land.

The Republic of Turkey has secured the presence of the Tomb of Süleyman Şah through several international treaties, including the Lausanne Treaty of 1923, the founding treaty of the Republic of Turkey, Kılıçdaroğlu said, asking: “Why are we abandoning it [now]?”

He said he had “an open and clear call to all 77 million citizens” of Turkey: “Take a step back and think about what to call a government that hands its own territory to foreigners and runs away while handing it over.”

“[What would] the withdrawal of soldiers from a place known to be territory of the Turkish Republic in international treaties, bombing the tomb and removing the bodies be called?” he asked.

“In exchange for what did you abandon the Republic of Turkey’s territories? I want each and every honorable citizen to ask this question,” Kılıçdaroğlu added.

Both Davutoğlu and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have argued that Turkey’s evacuation and relocation of the tomb was not a retreat, rejecting opposition claims that Ankara surrendered the area to jihadists.     

In remarks delivered on Feb. 23, Erdoğan indicated the Feb. 21 overnight operation was motivated by concerns that the tomb and its Turkish guards could have come under attack by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants who control the area.