A leaked audio recording of a high-profile meeting of top Turkish officials has emerged today, with the officials discussing using their sovereignty over an Ottoman tomb as a pretext for a military invasion of northern Syria.
Officials did not dispute the authenticity of the audio, but rather railed against YouTube for its publication of the leak, and against the opposition Gulen movement, which they accused of posting it. By Friday, officials had banned YouTube outright.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu insisted the publication of the leak amounted to a “declaration of war” against Turkey, going on to vow “heavy punishment” against those involved.
The Tomb of Suleyman Shah is in the middle of northern Syria, but is considered Turkish territory under the 1921 Treaty of Ankara. The territory is now under control of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), which is demanding Turkey withdraw its troops from the tomb. The audio leak involved officials discussing invading AQI soil, arguing they could spin it as “defensive.”