"I'll make up a cause of war by ordering a missile attack on Turkey." This leaked conversation is coming back to haunt the highest echelons of the Turkish government as it plans a provocation in Syria, while scrambling to contain social media internally.
The leaked audiotapes that reveal Turkey's highest ministers staging an anti-Assad military intervention in Syria, have already caused YouTube to be shut down in the country, as well as leading to fevered accusations of treachery and betrayal of Turkey's political interests - "a declaration of war," as Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu put it.
This is of course after intelligence chief Hakan Fidan suggested seizing the opportunity to secure Turkish intervention in the Syrian conflict - a war that has already claimed 140,000 lives, and counting. In the conversation, Davutoglu is heard saying that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan sees any attack as an "opportunity" to increase troop presence in Syria, where it has staunchly supported the anti-Assad rebels.
Below is a transcript of that conversation in full. The video can be found below.
"Prime Minister said that in current conjuncture, this attack (on Suleiman Shah Tomb) must be seen as an opportunity for us."
"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.
"Our national security has become a common, cheap domestic policy outfit."
"It's a direct cause of war. I mean, what're going to do is a direct cause of war."
Ahmet Davutoglu: 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 Sinirlioglu: 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 Davutoglu: OK, but we're gonna have to prepare somehow. To avoid any shorts on regarding international law. I just realised when I was talking to the president (Abdullah Gl), if the Turkish tanks go in there, it means we're in there in any case, right?
Yasar Gler: It means we're in, yes.
Ahmet Davutoglu: Yeah, but there's a difference between going in with aircraft and going in with tanks...
Yasar Gler: Maybe we can tell the Syrian consulate general that, ISIL is currently working alongside the regime, and that place is Turkish land. We should definitely...
Ahmet Davutoglu: But we have already said that, sent them several diplomatic notes.
Yasar Gler: To Syria...
Feridun Sinirlioglu: That's right.
Ahmet Davutoglu: Yes, we've sent them countless times. Therefore, I'd like to know what our Chief of Staff's expects from our ministry.
Yasar Gler: 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.
Yasar Gler: Maybe that was what he meant... A diplomatic note to Syria?
Hakan Fidan: Maybe the Foreign Ministry is assigned with coordination...
Residents of Syria's besieged Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp, south of Damascus, stand amidst debris as they wait to receive food parcels on March 24, 2014. (AFP Photo / Rami Al-Sayed)
Ahmet Davutoglu: I mean, I could coordinate the diplomacy but civil war, the military...
Feridun Sinirlioglu: 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.
Yasar Gler: 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 Sinirlioglu:I mean, yes, the bombings are of course going to happen. But I remember our talk from 3 years ago...
Yasar Gler: 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 Davutoglu: How did we get special 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 Sinirlioglu: I told you back then, for God's sake, General, you know how we managed to get those tanks in, you were there.
Yasar Gler: What, you mean our stuff?
Feridun Sinirlioglu: Yes, how do you think we've managed to rally our tanks into Iraq? How? How did we manage to get special forces, the battalions in? I was involved in that. Let me be clear, there was no government decision on that, we have managed that just with a single order.
Yasar Gler: 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 Davutoglu: General, the reason we're saying no to this operation is because we know about the capacity of those men.
Yasar Gler: 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 Davutoglu: But there's the spot we can't act integratedly, we can't coordinate.
Yasar Gler: 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 Davutoglu: We, Mr. Siniroglu and I, have literally begged Mr. Prime Minster for a private meeting, we said that things were not looking so bright.
Turkish Foreign Affairs minister Ahmet Davutoglu (AFP Photo / Adem Altan)
Yasar Gler: Also, it doesn't have to be a 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 Davutoglu: They're back already.
Yasar Gler: They'll return to us, sir.
Ahmet Davutoglu: They've came back from... What was it? obanbey.
Yasar Gler: 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 Davutoglu: That evening we'd reached a resolution. And I thought that things were taking a turn for the good. Our...
Feridun Sinirlioglu: We issued the MGK (National Security Council) resolution the day after. Then we talked with the general...
Ahmet Davutoglu: 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.
Yasar Gler: Exactly, sir. You're absolutely right.
Ahmet Davutoglu: Right? That's how I interpret it. But after the evacuation, this is not a military necessity. It's a whole other thing.
Feridun Siniroglu: 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 organisations are extremely open to manipulation. Having a region made up of organisations 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...
Yasar Gler: 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 Davutoglu: Of course. I always tell the Prime Minister, 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.
Civilians inspect a site hit by what activists said were barrel bombs dropped by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Karam Homad district in Aleppo March 26, 2014. (Reuters / Mahmoud Hebbo)
Yasar Gler: Sir.
Feridun Sinirlioglu: The national security has been politicised. 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.
Yasar Gler: Exactly.
Feridun Siniroglu: That has never happened before. Unfortunately but...
Yasar Gler: 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 Sinirlioglu: I don't even remember such a period.
Yasar Gler: In what matter can we be unified, if not a matter of national security of such importance? None.
Ahmet Davutoglu: 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 Sinirlioglu: They were at their lowest back in 2012.
Ahmet Davutoglu: Internally, they were just like Libya. Who comes in and goes from power is not of any importance to us. But some things...
Yasar Gler: 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 Davutoglu: Guns and ammo are not a big need for that place. Because we couldn't get the human factor in order...