Sanctions on Syria, attack on Topkapı
MURAT YETKİNEarly Wednesday morning the Turkish Foreign Ministry invited journalists to a press conference by Ahmet Davutoğlu about sanctions on Syria; it was supposed to take place at 8:45.
Davutoğlu had been at the Arab League foreign ministers meeting in Cairo – as an observer – on Nov. 27, after which the nine-point sanctions plan was declared. He gave support to the Arab plan in principal; the Turkish sanctions were to be declared after consulting with Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan.
The same day, Nov. 27, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad slammed Turkish policies regarding Syria and claimed the Erdoğan government was after a dream of reviving the Ottoman Empire.
The same day, Nov. 27, a Syrian-plated car entered Turkey with a Libyan in it, a certain Samir Salem Ali Almadhavri.
Davutoğlu had a meeting that night with a number of fellow ministers on a sanction plan but could not declare it the next day. Prime Minister Erdoğan had surgery for his digestive system Nov. 27 and was in recovery at Marmara University Hospital in Istanbul.
The next day, Nov. 28, Burhan Galion, the Paris-based leader of the dissident Syrian National Council, arrived in Turkey for a secret meeting with the supposed leader of the so-called Free Syrian Army defector Col. Riad al-Assad (as you could read from our headline story yesterday).
On Nov. 29 Erdoğan left the hospital safe and sound, according to the official statement. Again on the same day Joe Biden, the U.S. vice president, arrived in Baghdad to revise the last preparations of their military withdrawal there as the beginning of a new phase.
It appears Davutoğlu had the opportunity to present the sanction plan to Erdoğan and wanted to announce it before flying to Jeddah.
The presser was more than an hour late. Minutes after Davutoğlu started to declare Turkey’s nine-point sanction plan on Syria (which is more solid than the Arab League plan) the police radios started to give alert on an armed assault.
There was an armed man opening fire near the front of one of Turkey’s most touristic sites, the main gate of the Topkapı Palace, the old headquarters of the Ottoman sultans before the Republic was announced through the War of Independence in 1923.
The man wounded a soldier guarding the gate and a private guard of the Topkapı Palace Museum and clashed with police for nearly an hour before he was shot dead.
Governor of Istanbul Hüseyin Avni Mutlu told the press the gunman was Almadhavri, a 36-year-old Libyan, and it seemed like an “ordinary” case, meaning in Turkish security terminology it was not politically linked.
By listing the sequence of events I do not jump to the conclusion that the assault might have been linked with the Turkish stance on Syria. The case is still under joint investigation of Istanbul police and the Turkish National Intelligence Agency (MİT).