When I blogged how iconoclastic Salafist paramilitaries(1) in Syria had surrounded the Turkish exclave of the Tomb of Suleyman Shah with the intent to destroy it, and how Turkish special forces were prepared to retaliate, I concluded that Turkish preparations seemed to be ‘an excuse… for further intervention‘. Leaked tapes reveal a conspiracy(2) between the Turkish government, Turkish intelligence and the Turkish military to provoke and excuse a war with (or perhaps, more precisely, in) Syria.
First things first
Sadece Haber (Only News) posted the split audio recordings with Turkish-language transcripts on YouTube. What has been reported as the full English-language transcript in the mainstream media is not the full transcript. Music journalist @castizbey translated the first tape. Sociologist @efekerem translated the second (and united the two (PDF)). I’ve reproduced the complete transcript at the end of this post. (Now I’m off to download @efekerem’s entire back catalogue of publications.)
Is this both the most dangerous and the most unsurprising secret plan yet?
I have traced Turkish intelligence/parastate-directed paramilitaries’ false flag operations (agents provocateurs‘ staged attacks) on cultural heritage sites as far back as 1958, and provocations with community property as far back as 1955, in Cyprus alone. So while this secret plan may be the most dangerous yet for Turkey and the international community, it is not the most surprising.
What was/is the plan?
The politics and logistics of invasion-by-provocation
Sinirlioğlu reminded Turkish Armed Forces’ Deputy Chief of Staff (Lieutenant General) Yaşar Güler that ‘there was no government decision’ on deployment of special forces and army battalions in northern Iraq, that they ‘managed that just with a single order’.
Lt. Gen. Güler demanded the stockpiling of at least six months’ arms and ammunition inside Syria to enable the establishment/maintenance of a long-term army war/occupation. Davutoğlu observed that Turkish armed forces had already been to and ‘come back from…. Çobanbey [Jawbān Bak in Aleppo Governate]’. Davutoğlu made everything more explicit: ‘between doing that [sending tanks and establishing a long-term armed foothold] and triggering/declaring war, we are doing an operation’. How?
A false flag attack on the Tomb of Suleyman Shah to provoke and excuse an invasion of Syria
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu confided: ‘Just between us, Prime Minister [Recep Tayyıp Erdoğan] said that this (attacking the Tomb of Suleyman Shah) should also be considered an opportunity’.
Davutoğlu’s Under-Secretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu stated: ‘We’re going to portray this [as] Al-Qaeda, there’s no distress [public outcry/diplomatic protest] there if it’s a matter regarding Al-Qaeda. And if it comes to defending Suleiman Shah Tomb, that’s a matter of protecting our land…. [T]he whole world will be behind us.’
Agreeing with National Intelligence Organisation (Milli İstihbarat Teşkilatı (MİT)) Director Hakan Fidan’s coy assessment, Sinirlioğlu calmly recognised that retaliatory Al-Qaeda ‘bombings are of course going to happen’. Why?
To do list, 2014: invade Syria; win elections; binge-watch Muhteşem Yüzyıl; ban Muhteşem Yüzyıl
Brain: We must prepare for tomorrow night.
Pinky: Why? What are we going to do tomorrow night?
Brain: The same thing we do every night, Pinky – try to take over the world!
With Lt. Gen. Güler’s complete support, Sinirlioğlu complained that ‘national security ha[d] been politicized…. become a matter of domestic policy’.
Davutoğlu made it clear that Turkey had wanted to commit this attack in 2011, 2012 and 2013, but that it hadn’t been able to ‘get the human factor in order’; now it has. Fidan reported that Turkey had delivered 2,000 trucks’ worth of supplies to the rebels. [And it’s delivered 160+ plane loads too.] And Sinirlioğlu and Güler affirmed that another order to supply more military material had already been given.
Cannot accept, can do
Fidan ‘[could not] accept’ that Turkey would risk military conflict ‘for the 22-28 soldiers’ in the Turkish exclave, but ‘[would not] risk it for the lives of millions of people’ in the Turkish borderlands; and Güler bitterly noted that ‘our Ministry of Foreign Affairs can never find a reason for the latter’.
Nevertheless, Fidan blithely stated: ‘I can send four men to the other side, and make them fire 8 missiles into deserted territory. It is not a problem! A justification can be created.’ Güler pointed out that ‘our forces there have been ready for a year, waiting’.
Since Sinirlioğlu had said that their retaliatory military offensive ‘should create a shocking effect’, and you can only guarantee a shocking retaliation when you control the triggering provocation as well, Fidan queried:
Why are we still waiting for the Tomb of Suleyman Shah [to be attacked]….[?] I can fabricate a justification…. If necessary, we can make an attack there ([against] the Tomb of Suleyman Shah) as well, there too, we [can] attack pre-emptively.
Towards the end, their conspiracy descends into complaints about the (dys)functioning of the country. Güler complained: ‘We cannot implement the decision, we are paralyzed…. The apparatus of the state is not working.’
Davutoğlu complained that ‘the state is run only through a few agencies and a few people who are able to make proper decisions’, and complained that civil servants did not automatically implement every government decision, regardless of problems and practicalities. ‘We say, let you take your retirement and we will find someone else to do it, don’t we?…. This is how democracy works.’
The complete transcript, care of @castizbey and @efekerem
They did a massive amount of work in a matter of hours, so the language could be tweaked – “Tomb of Suleiman Shah” instead of “Suleiman Shah Tomb”, “justification for war” instead of “reason to war” (which is English-speakers’ fault for rarely using the very useful verb “to war”), etc.; but it’s all understandable. I corrected typos and grammatical quirks in the post above, but I have not changed the text below at all.
The round-bracketed words are the translators’ explanatory notes (for abbreviations, etc.). The square-bracketed words are my additions. I have only changed the formatting to make it easier to read and easier to find the relevant information.
“Prime Minister [Recep Tayyıp Erdoğan] said that in current conjuncture, this attack (on Suleiman Shah Tomb) must be seen as an opportunity for us.”
[Director of the National Intelligence Agency] Hakan Fidan: “I’ll send 4 men from Syria, if that’s what it takes. I’ll make up a cause of war by ordering a missile attack on Turkey; we can also prepare an attack on Suleiman Shah Tomb if necessary.”
[Undersecretary of Minister of Foreign Affairs] Feridun Sinirlioğlu: “Our national security has become a common, cheap domestic policy outfit.”
[Turkish Armed Forces’ Deputy Chief of Staff (Lieutenant General)] Yaşar Güler: “It’s a direct cause of war. I mean, what’re going to do is a direct cause of war.”
[Minister of Foreign Affairs] Ahmet Davutoğlu: I couldn’t entirely understand the other thing; what exactly does our foreign ministry supposed to do? No, I’m not talking about the thing. There are other things we’re supposed to do. If we decide on this, we are to notify the United Nations, the Istanbul Consulate of the Syrian regime, right?
Feridun Sinirlioğlu: But if we decide on an operation in there, it should create a shocking effect. I mean, if we are going to do so. I don’t know what we’re going to do, but regardless of what we decide, I don’t think it’d be appropriate to notify anyone beforehand.
Ahmet Davutoğlu: OK, but we’re gonna have to prepare somehow. To avoid any shorts on regarding international law. I just realized when I was talking to the president (Abdullah Gül), if the Turkish tanks go in there, it means we’re in there in any case, right?
Yaşar Güler: It means we’re in, yes.
Ahmet Davutoğlu: Yeah, but there’s a difference between going in with aircraft and going in with tanks…
Yaşar Güler: Maybe we can tell the Syrian consulate general that, ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) is currently working alongside the regime, and that place is Turkish land. We should definitely…
Ahmet Davutoğlu: But we have already said that, sent them several diplomatic notes.
Yaşar Güler: To Syria…
Feridun Sinirlioğlu: That’s right.
Ahmet Davutoğlu: Yes, we’ve sent them countless times. Therefore, I’d like to know what our Chief of Staff’s expectations from our ministry.
Yaşar Güler: Maybe his intent was to say that, I don’t really know, he met with Mr. Fidan.
Hakan Fidan: Well, he did mention that part but we didn’t go into any further details.
Yaşar Güler: Maybe that was what he meant… A diplomatic note to Syria?
Hakan Fidan: Maybe the Foreign Ministry is assigned with coordination…
Ahmet Davutoğlu: I mean, I could coordinate the diplomacy but civil war, the military…
Feridun Sinirlioğlu: That’s what I told back there. For one thing, the situation is different. An operation on ISIL has solid ground on international law. We’re going to portray this is Al-Qaeda, there’s no distress there if it’s a matter regarding Al-Qaeda. And if it comes to defending Suleiman Shah Tomb, that’s a matter of protecting our land.
Yaşar Güler: We don’t have any problems with that.
Hakan Fidan: Second after it happens, it’ll cause a great internal commotion (several bombing events is bound to happen within). The border is not under control…
Feridun Sinirlioğlu: I mean, yes, the bombings are of course going to happen. But I remember our talk from 3 years ago…
Yaşar Güler: Mr. Fidan should urgently receive back-up and we need to help him supply guns and ammo to rebels. We need to speak with the minister. Our Interior Minister, our Defense Minister. We need to talk about this and reach a resolution sir.
Ahmet Davutoğlu: How did we get specials forces into action when there was a threat in Northern Iraq? We should have done so in there, too. We should have trained those men. We should have sent men. Anyway, we can’t do that, we can only do what diplomacy…
Feridun Sinirlioğlu: I told you back then, for God’s sake, general, you know how we managed to get those tanks in, you were there.
Yaşar Güler: What, you mean our stuff?
Feridun Sinirlioğlu: Yes, how do you think we’ve managed to rally our tanks into Iraq? How? How did manage to get special forces, the battalions in? I was involved in that. Let me be clear, there was no government decision on that [deployment of special forces and army battalions in northern Iraq], we have managed that just with a single order.
Yaşar Güler: Well, I agree with you. For one thing, we’re not even discussing that. But there are different things that Syria can do right now.
Ahmet Davutoğlu: General, the reason we’re saying no this operation is because we know about the capacity of those men.
Yaşar Güler: Look, sir, isn’t MKE (Mechanical and Chemical Industry Corporation) at minister’s bidding? Sir, I mean, Qatar is looking for ammo to buy in cash. Ready cash. So, why don’t they just get it done? It’s at Mr. Minister’s command.
Ahmet Davutoğlu: But there’s the spot we can’t act integratedly, we can’t coordinate.
Yaşar Güler: Then, our Prime Minister can summon both Mr. Defence Minister and Mr. Minister at the same time. Then he can directly talk to them.
Ahmet Davutoğlu: We, Mr. Siniroğlu and I, have literally begged Mr. Prime Minster for a private meeting, we said that things were not looking so bright.
Yaşar Güler: Also, it doesn’t have to be crowded meeting. Yourself, Mr. Defence Minister, Mr. Interior Minister and our Chief of Staff, the four of you are enough. There’s no need for a crowd. Because, sir, the main need there is guns and ammo. Not even guns, mainly ammo. We’ve just talked about this, sir. Let’s say we’re building an army down there, 1000 strong. If we get them into that war without previously storing a minimum of 6-months’ worth of ammo, these men will return to us after two months.
Ahmet Davutoğlu: They’re back already.
Yaşar Güler: They’ll return to us, sir.
Ahmet Davutoğlu: They’ve came back from… What was it? Çobanbey [Jawbān Bak in Aleppo Governate].
Yaşar Güler: Yes, indeed, sir. This matter can’t be just a burden on Mr. Fidan’s shoulders as it is now. It’s unacceptable. I mean, we can’t understand this. Why?
Ahmet Davutoğlu: That evening we’d reached a resolution. And I thought that things were taking a turn for the good. Our…
Feridun Sinirlioğlu: We issued the MGK (National Security Council) resolution the day after. Then we talked with the general…
Ahmet Davutoğlu: And the other forces really do a good follow up on this weakness of ours. You say that you’re going to capture this place, and that men being there constitutes a risk factor. You pull them back. You capture the place. You reinforce it and send in your troops again.
Yaşar Güler: Exactly, sir. You’re absolutely right.
Ahmet Davutoğlu: Right? That’s how I interpret it. But after the evacuation, this is not a military necessity. It’s a whole other thing.
Feridun Siniroğlu: There are some serious shifts in global and regional geopolitics. It now can spread to other places. You said it yourself today, and others agreed… We’re headed to a different game now. We should be able to see those. That ISIL and all that jazz, all those organizations are extremely open to manipulation. Having a region made up of organizations of similar nature will constitute a vital security risk for us. And when we first went into Northern Iraq, there was always the risk of PKK blowing up the place. If we thoroughly consider the risks and substantiate… As the general just said…
Yaşar Güler: Sir, when you were inside a moment ago, we were discussing just that. Openly. I mean, armed forces are a “tool” necessary for you in every turn.
Ahmet Davutoğlu: Of course. I always tell the Prime Minister [Recep Tayyıp Erdoğan], in your absence, the same thing in academic jargon, you can’t stay in those lands without hard power. Without hard power, there can be no soft power.
Yaşar Güler: Sir.
Feridun Sinirlioğlu: The national security has been politicized. I don’t remember anything like this in Turkish political history. It has become a matter of domestic policy. All talks we’ve done on defending our lands, our border security, our sovereign lands in there, they’ve all become a common, cheap domestic policy outfit.
Yaşar Güler: Exactly.
Feridun Siniroğlu: That has never happened before. Unfortunately but…
Yaşar Güler: I mean, do even one of the opposition parties support you in such a high point of national security? Sir, is this a justifiable sense of national security?
Feridun Sinirlioğlu: I don’t even remember such a period.
Yaşar Güler: In what matter can we be unified, if not a matter of national security of such importance? None.
Ahmet Davutoğlu: The year 2012, we didn’t do it 2011. If only we’d took serious action back then, even in the summer of 2012.
Feridun Sinirlioğlu: They were at their lowest back in 2012.
Ahmet Davutoğlu: Internally, they were just like Libya. Who comes in and goes from power is not of any importance to us. But some things…
Yaşar Güler: Sir, to avoid any confusion, our need in 2011 was guns and ammo. In 2012, 2013 and today also. We’re in the exact same point. We absolutely need to find this and secure that place.
Ahmet Davutoğlu: Guns and ammo are not a big need for that place. Because we couldn’t get the human factor in order…
Hakan Fidan: We sent around 2000 trucks loaded with supplies.
Yaşar Güler: I think guns aren’t needed there. My own opinion. Ammo is needed. Yes sir. Mr. Minister, Mr. Hakan (Fidan) is here, we said we can give a general. Mr. Fidan himself asked for it himself in the first place. We said we can. We designated the general, and that general went.
Feridun Sinirlioğlu: If we need to be practical, Minister of Defense should sign for the sake of this nation. Our Prime Minister should give the order once more, clearly.
Ahmet Davutoğlu: Actually to me, tonight…
Yaşar Güler: Sir, we don’t have any problems tonight.
Feridun Sinirlioğlu: The order for the operation is already given for tonight.
Yaşar Güler: We delivered the immediate order for the operation. Perhaps Mr. Fidan also knows.
Ahmet Davutoğlu: Hakan, what is the complications if we decide to send tanks?
Hakan Fidan: Well, without coordination, if we consider the power balance…
Yaşar Güler: This is why we ask for the MİT’s coordination Mr. Minister.
Hakan Fidan: …not with the presence and capacity of armed men.
Yaşar Gülen: This is why we take for the coordination of MİT as the prerequisite Mr. Minister. That is, there is nothing tonight that you should be concerned of Mr. Minister. Not tonight, not later. But we need to solve this issue in the long run Mr. Minister.
Ahmet Davutoğlu: I always think optionally about that thing, but we couldn’t convince those men. We will insert- strengthen with tanks from inside. From that point on we need to consider the war conditions -and between doing that [establishing an armed foothold] and declaring war-, we are doing an operation.
Yaşar Güler: This is reason to war (casus belli). What we will do is directly a reason to war.
Hakan Fidan: Not a reason to war with Syria.
Yaşar Güler: No, these men.
Hakan Fidan: What I am coming at is; now, we know that 2 plus 2 makes 4. Now, if we, there, that thing there does not signify anything strategically, if not the positive image etc… If we are to enter a war, let’s plan it and enter. I mean, …
Yaşar Güler: This is also what we are saying since the beginning.
Hakan Fidan: What I cannot accept is this; not that I take… Now, we consider to use force, for the Tomb of Suleyman Sah we consider using guns, which means, for a part of homeland with size of about this room, 10 decares of land, we run the risk of using guns, for the 22-28 soldiers there. Well, we have thousands of kilometers border, and yet we don’t risk it for the lives of millions of people. Look, this is not reasonable! Let me say this. If we are going to use guns, let us do it from very the beginning. If these men are a threat…
Feridun Sinirlioğlu: Well, there is a reason to that…
Hakan Fidan: Using this as a justification is another thing. The other is different..
Yaşar Güler: Well, our Ministry of Foreign Affairs can never find a reason to the latter, but for this yes…
Hakan Fidan: Wait, let me tell you this…
Ahmet Davutoğlu: Just between us, Prime Minister [Recep Tayyıp Erdoğan] said that this (attacking the Tomb of Suleyman Sah) should also be considered as an opportunity in this conjuncture
Hakan Fidan: Sir, look, if the justification- we can- I can send four men to the other side, and make them fire 8 missiles to deserted territory. It is not a problem! Justification can be created. Problem is such a will should be put forward. We are putting forward the will to enter into a war, but we fail in reasoning.
Feridun Sinirlioğlu: Let me tell you this, 10 decares of land. 10 decares of land is a very valid justification according to the international law, additionally, in terms of legitimacy, making such an operation against ISIL, the whole world will be behind us. Do not even doubt this.
Yaşar Güler: No, we do not have any doubts.
Feridun Sinirlioğlu: No, I am telling this to everyone. On that matter-
Yaşar Güler: Mr. Minister, our forces there have been ready for a year, waiting. This is not a precaution we took yesterday, these men are there for a year.
Hakan Fidan: Why we are still waiting for the Tomb of Suleyman Sah, I don’t get this.
Ahmet Davutoğlu: We did, we did everything diplomatically possible.
Feridun Sinirlioğlu: We need a justification, a good justification.
Hakan Fidan: No, I can fabricate a justification, justification is not a problem.
Feridun Sinirlioğlu: No, fabricating justification is another, there is a very solid justification
Hakan Fidan: If necessary, we can make an attack there (Tomb of Suleyman Sah) as well, there too, we attack preemptively. We can do, I mean, I am trying to understand.
Feridun Sinirlioğlu: We have done these before, these can be done of course. We can make it done,
Hakan Fidan: I mean, if we are ready to use that thing, in correct time and place, let us do it with a purpose determined by us.
Ahmet Davutoğlu: Hakan, as you said, if what you mean is a lack of strategy in fabricating a justification, you are right. Against these men…
An officer: Sir, without that happening-
Ahmet Davutoğlu: Yes, we will pass on to that okay take it and I am coming. You cannot say to the US Secretary of State, “we need to take strong measures.”
Hakan Fidan: Well, sir, what I am saying is-
Ahmet Davutoğlu: Then he will say, you did not even defend your own land. We had many friendly conversations, mostly with Kerry and he told me exactly this, did you decide to strike and …
Yaşar Güler: Sir, we did, we did a hundred times. With US…
Feridun Sinirlioğlu: Well, look, three days ago, a thing happened at the office of General Chief of Staff, this thing came up and they had a coordination meeting. I see that for the first time. The Americans-
Yaşar Güler: No, we do it regularly!
Feridun Sinirlioğlu: No, no.. The Americans in that meeting distributed the plans for the No Fly Zone. For the first time. Do you know that?
Hakan Fidan: Hmm, what I underline is, sir, if we are going to take such an important decision for this sort of reason, Sulayman Sah Tomb, if we are ready to take this decision
Feridun Sinirlioğlu: No, not only Suleyman Sah.
Hakan Fidan: I say this thing, if we are ready to make this decision, we should have taken this already. Because of the threat and the benefits we have, this is what I am trying to say. As a state, inability, the strategic decision-
Ahmet Davutoğlu: Yes, if we could have taken that decision in a smaller scale then we would not be isolated as today.
Yaşar Güler: No, wait, we took this decision,
Hakan Fidan: But it is not implemented.
Yaşar Güler: We cannot implement the decision, we are paralyzed for various reasons, this is our problem Mr. Minister. The apparatus of the state is not working.
Ahmet Davutoğlu: I don’t accept that, let me tell you clearly, I turn to my side of the matter, for the state tradition I was brought in. Would you accept this; in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, certain political debates are causing lags in the processes…
Ahmet Davutoğlu: Now, such a thing would not be legitimate! Everyone should do their responsibilities with determination. If an ambassador says, Mr. Minister they are taking me off duty they are taking everyone off, what do you do? We say, let you take your retirement and we will find someone else to do it, don’t we? This is the way to look at it. This is how democracy works..
Yaşar Güler: Mr. Minister, you are completely right
Ahmet Davutoğlu: Currently, the state is run only through a few agencies and a few people who are able to make proper decisions, this I
Yaşar Güler: Certainly Sir, certainly
Ahmet Davutoğlu: Well, are we going to back down from this
Yaşar Güler: No, we will not back down sir, we will not
Ahmet Davutoğlu: Anyway, let’s pass on to the other side.
1: the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)/Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS)/Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
2: I describe it as a conspiracy, rather than a strategy, because the Islamist government and the secularist military have long been locked in a country-ravaging struggle for dominance.