So the Turkish army is in Syria…

So the Turkish army is in Syria…

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan publicly acknowledged that a Turkish military convoy has carried “aid” into Syria, to the Süleyman Shah tomb. The tomb, which sits 25 kilometers from the border, has been Turkish land under Turkish sovereignty since a 1921 treaty.

Can anyone tell Turkey it should not defend its territory? Of course no one can and if anyone dares to make a comment on the issue, Turkey rightly would not listen to it either. Can Turkey wander into a neighboring country with tanks and armored military vehicles without getting consent from the government of that country? Can Turkey do that even if there is a civil war in that neighboring country?

What would be the meaning of Turkey with its tanks and troops entering foreign land clandestinely, without receiving approval from the government of that land?

The amount is irrelevant. Though for some people in the government, “legalization” of a wrong move might be undertaken later and any offense may be made a non-offense a while later thanks to the overwhelming parliamentary majority of the ruling political clan, but that cannot be done in foreign relations. Even if your next-door neighbor is Syria in civil war and its government has lost its international legitimacy, the tanks and troops that were ordered to enter the country was not no-man’s land. It is a constitutional crime in Turkey, for example, to allow even one single armed foreign soldier to be deployed on Turkish soil without consent from Parliament, unless it was done under Parliament-approved allied arrangements or as a requirement of international law.

Since Turkey does not accept the legitimacy of the current Syrian government and has long withdrawn its Damascus envoy, obviously Syria’s consent was not obtained before such a deployment. But, was it a deployment, a routine troop exchange practice, or as claimed widely, a Turkish operation on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) near the tomb of Süleyman Shah?

Syria has become massive quick sand, a quagmire that Turkey should remember Reyhanlı and such past examples of probable fallout on Turkish territory and stay away from that menace. That does not mean stop assisting refugees and carrying out precious humanitarian work. But Turkey’s prime concern must be to protect its own territory, provide security to its own people. Turkey cannot act like the gendarmerie of the Middle East.

This country, once upon a time, was pulled into a world war because of the greed of some Ottoman pashas to align with the apparent victor and reclaim some of the empire’s lost territory. The end result was rather bitter; the Ottoman Empire was no longer the “sick man of Europe,” but a deceased heritage of which was up for grabs among the victors. The Turkish Republic was established on the ashes of that empire with the dictum “peace at home, peace abroad.”

The claims that Turkey has entered Syria with tanks and some 300 troops reminded me of the alleged leak regarding the March 13 security discussions in Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s office that showed four top security officials of Turkey engaged in war mongering.

Since the military is just obeying orders, I am asking the prime minister, foreign minister or the top spy: Am I right to be worried?