Davutoglu, other officials are heard plotting an attack on Syria
ANKARA—The Turkish government swiftly banned YouTube Thursday afternoon hours after a leaked voice recording allegedly featuring the voices of Turkey’s foreign minister, intelligence chief and a top army general discussing the possible intervention in Syria, reported the Today’s Zaman newspaper.
The YouTube account presents the recording as being of intelligence chief Hakan Fidan discussing with Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Deputy Chief of Staff Yasar Guler and Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu a possible operation to secure the tomb of Suleyman Shah, grandfather of the founder of the Ottoman Empire, in an area of northern Syria largely controlled by militant Islamists.
Ankara regards the tomb as sovereign Turkish territory under a treaty signed with France in 1921, when Syria was under French rule. About two dozen Turkish special forces soldiers permanently guard it.
Turkey threatened two weeks ago to retaliate for any attack on the tomb, after clashes with militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), an al Qaeda breakaway group, in the area, east of Aleppo.
“An operation against ISIL has international legitimacy. We will define it as al Qaeda. There are no issues on the al Qaeda framework. When it comes to the Suleyman Shah tomb, it’s about the protection of national soil,” a voice presented as that of foreign ministry undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu says.
When the discussion turns to the need to justify such an operation, the voice purportedly of Fidan says: “Justification can be created. The matter is to create the will.”
In a written statement the Turkish foreign ministry did not deny the entire conversation but said portions of the recording had been manipulated.
In his first comment on the leaked audio recording, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the leak a wretched attack on national security and a treason against the country. Confirming the authenticity of the leaked recording, Erdoğan vowed action against those who were responsible for the leak.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said voice recording of a high-level secret security meeting is a war declaration against Turkey.
Thursday’s ban of YouTube comes a week after official Ankara banned Twitter and canceled the nationwide broadcasting license of one station and issuing a record number of penalties to another.