In questo momento un dibattito critico infuria in Turchia riguardo il distaccamento di forze speciali turche (TSF) dislocate a circa 20 miglia all’interno della Siria per custodire la tomba di Suleiman Shah, un enclave turca extraterritoriale. La discussione è stata alimentata dal dibattito parlamentare di autorizzare l’invio di truppe turche in Iraq e la Siria.
Actually, the tomb has been on the agenda since March, when then-Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (now prime minister) referred to the escalating civil war in Syria and declared that Turkey wouldn’t hesitate to take any measure needed for the security of the tomb that was marked as Turkish territory by the 1921 Turkey-France border accord.
Turkey indeed took some measures. On March 14, relatively inexperienced Turkish conscripts guarding the tomb were entirely replaced by about 50 to 60 combat-proven elite troops of the Turkish Special Forces Command, all experienced in anti-terror operations. After that rotation of troops, Davutoglu said, “For the time being, there is no question of a transgression against our troops at the tomb. The tomb is considered Turkish territory. Should there be such a threat, we are ready with all necessary measures. Our public should have no worries. We have completed all our preparations for any eventuality.”
This TSF detachment has been serving at the tomb the past 6½ months. But the situation has radically changed in the last 10 days, after the release of Turkish hostages by the Islamic State (IS), the IS assault against Kobani and clashes that broke out between IS and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) forces in the vicinity of the tomb. Since the end of July, the Turkish detachment has lost contact with local elements that had been providing it with logistics and intelligence. TSF personnel have been guarding the tomb under extremely difficult, high-risk conditions with limited electricity, water and food supplies. The Turkish news media have woken up and begun to question the safety of these 50 to 60 Turkish fighters equipped with light weapons.
According to some media reports quoting a Washington Post report by Ishaan Tharoor, IS has laid siege to the tomb and even took hostage some Turkish Special Forces personnel. On Sept. 30, Yeni Safak, a pro-government daily, reported on its front page that IS has deployed more than 1,000 militants around the tomb and cut the possible evacuation routes.