War or retreat?

War or retreat?

Are there any Turks aware of what Süleyman Şah’s tomb on the bank of Euphrates, the sole Turkish territory cut off from the mainland, who could say right away that s/he was pleased with the “relocation” of the tomb? Or, are there any Turks who, Machiavellian political considerations apart, would right away accuse the government of undertaking an operation to save Turkish soldiers caught in between the warring sides in Syria’s civil war? Could anyone with some brains – again apart from political exploitation – accuse a government that with such a successful operation pulled the country a few inches away from becoming part of the Syrian fire?

It is difficult for many people to praise a government that has been persistently and intentionally pulling Turkey into an atmosphere of confrontation with awareness that the hot air of polarization has successfully filled the balloon of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Yet, like even a broken watch shows the correct hour at least once a day, this government has been the architect of many accomplishments and the replacement of the tomb of Süleyman Şah was just one of them.

Turkey’s land inside Syria might have reduced by a few square meters or expanded. What’s in that? Is Turkey going to engage in irrigation there? Or, if the plot is opened to construction and will a few meters more be important? Likewise, flats with a view of the Euphrates might fetch a higher value, but secure flats right next to the border at the new tomb area could be equally precious.

Joke apart, it is high time to concentrate on what happened and why indeed it did. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or Daesh or whatever it might be called, Islamist terrorists have been dreaming of converting their sectarian obsessive and heinous campaign in Syria and Iraq into a regional war. Not only the dictator of Damascus, many of Turkey’s allies even dream of Turkey becoming part of the Syrian war – and pay the price of incredible wrong political calculations of the Recep Tayyip Erdoğan-Ahmet Davutoğlu team of adventure.

An attack on the tomb by the terrorists would compel Ankara to engage militarily and become the active part of the war while so far Turkey has been a “passive” element of the war equation next door.
Turkey becoming an active element of the war might help to bring an end to the atmosphere of chaos, restore some sort of normalcy at the cost of Turkish blood. On the other hand, it could pull Turkey as well into the fire and make it an even bigger regional one.

Well, over the past many years, political charlatans in Turkey have delivered many lofty statements.
They vowed to take tough military action if Turkey’s interests were hurt, sacrosanct places such as the Süleyman Şah tomb, were attacked. Turkey’s Mosul consulate was occupied. The consul, security guards, families and children were taken hostage by ISIL terrorists. With a deal, the details of which still remain a secret, Turkey rescued all of its citizens. The end result was something Turkey’s rulers have rightfully boasted of since then.

There have been claims at the time that militants were promised the Süleyman Şah tomb they very much wanted to demolish in exchange of the freedom of Turkish hostages. These claims have so far not been verified. Yet, nationalist sentiments apart, if forced to make a choice between the two, which option must have been preferred?

Well, withdrawing from Turkish land does not sound well to the ears. Worse, knowing that this was the first time since the establishment of the republic that Turkey has withdrawn – and without fighting for it – from a part of the homeland. It is sickening. It is sad. It really hurts. But, if war is pushed off and a greater agony was averted, could we really criticize the government? Would not that be gross injustice?

It is sickening.