On January 2, 2020, the U.S. Defense Department announced that the U.S. military had killed Qassem Soleimani, leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force. News outlets reported that Soleimani had been killed in a drone strike at Baghdad International Airport. While the reaction of the government was mild, other political figures and the press, including the press affiliated with the government, responded harshly to the killing.
Turkish Government Response Slow And Mild: "We Are Inviting All Sides To Act With Common Sense And Restraint"
On January 3, 2020, Turkey's Foreign Ministry said in a statement: "We feel a deep concern over the escalating U.S.-Iran tensions in the region. We forcefully emphasize again the warning that the conversion of Iraq into a battle zone will harm the peace and stability of both Iraq and our region. In this context, it is clear that the U.S. air operation carried out in Baghdad this morning against a convoy carrying Iranian [sic] Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Forces Commander Qassem Soleimani and those with him will increase the insecurity and instability in the region. It should be known that these escalating steps, which threaten the stability of our region, will increase the spiral of violence and that all sides will be harmed by this situation. Turkey has always been against external interventions, assassinations, and sectarian efforts in the region. For this reason, we are inviting all sides to act with common sense and restraint, to avoid unilateral steps that will endanger the peace and stability of our region, and to give priority to diplomacy."
Turkish news website Birgün.net commented on the slow response of the Foreign Ministry, which apparently released its statement ten hours after news of the strike became public. Responding, before the statement was released, to another writer's comment about the delay, Turkish journalist Can Dündar joked: "It is expected that Erdoğan will make a statement, saying: 'And we captured Soleimani's wife but we didn't make a big fuss about it.'" Dündar included a link to an article titled "President Erdoğan: We Captured Al-Baghdadi's Wife, Sister, And Female Relative," following the death of Islamic State (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi in the course of a U.S. operation in October 2019. Can Dündar, who had previously been imprisoned for his reporting related to Turkish intelligence shipments of weapons into Syria, now lives in Germany and a "capture resolution" has been issued for him in Turkey.
Harsh Reactions In Media To Soleimani's Killing: "The Bandit U.S. Is Pursuing A New Order In The Middle East" – "The Imperialism Of The U.S. And The Zionism Of Israel Will Drown In The Clean Blood Of [Soleimani] And All The Martyrs"
Other Turkish politicians and writers commented on the strike. A January 3 article in Turkish pro-government daily Yeni Akit, titled "The Bandit U.S. Is Pursuing A New Order In The Middle East," quoted "West Asia expert" Barış Adıbelli, who said: "It is the biggest attack or action that the U.S. has made against the region in recent times. It was a big throwing down of the gauntlet to the Middle East... We had been talking about how the U.S. and Iran may be able to sit down at the table [to negotiate]. Now Iran has left the table and will return to the scene in a different way. Iran may take steps to create chaos in the region... Iran may take a number of actions in countries in the region that support the U.S... For example, it may assassinate prominent political and military leaders in Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf countries. It may attack the U.S.'s diplomatic staff. Iran has strategies for intensifying crises."
Doğu Perinçek, leader of the nationalist political party Vatan Partisi, tweeted: "Iranian [sic] Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force Commander General Qassem Soleimani and Hashdi Shahabi Deputy Commander [Abu Mahdi Al-]Muhandis are martyrs of the front of humanity stretching from the Black Sea to the Arabian Sea." Utku Reyhan, general secretary of Vatan Partisi, tweeted: "We as the Vatan Partisi conveyed our condolences by visiting the honorable Mohammad Farazmand at the embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Ankara. What we determined together [is that] 'the end of the U.S. has come.' We also signed the condolence notebook. You can see our signature below." An image accompanying the tweet reads: "Great soldier and revolutionary General Qassem Soleimani, you are the martyr not only of Iran but of the whole Islamic world and of the oppressed nations. The imperialism of the U.S. and the Zionism of Israel will drown in the clean blood of you and all the martyrs. Down with U.S. imperialism! Long live Turkey-Iran friendship! Martyrs never die! Utku Reyhan, Vatan Partisi general secretary." The official account of the Iranian ambassador to Turkey retweeted Reyhan's tweet.
Mehmet Ali Güller, who writes for the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet, tweeted: "Islamists and liberals have joined up and they are happy that Qassem Soleimani was killed in a U.S. terrorist attack! Shamelessness! After all, Soleimani was someone who resisted U.S. imperialism and Israel. I am sorry for the loss to the anti-imperialist world." Without taking a clear position on the killing, Ismail Saymaz, an author and journalist for the Turkish daily Hurriyet, tweeted: "Qassem Soleimani was not any ordinary soldier for Iran. He was a commander whose posters are hung in the streets and squares of Tehran, who we could call Iran's Che Guevara. Iran will certainly respond."
Opposition To Soleimani As Enemy Of Turkey, Killer Of Sunnis
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Şamil Tayyar, a member of parliament representing Gaziantep for the AKP, tweeted: "The death of Qassem Soleimani is a loss not only for Iran but for the terror organization PKK and YPG. During the solution process he tried to stop the PKK from disarming and he tried to sabotage Euphrates Shield, Afrin, and Peace Fountain [i.e., the Turkish invasions of northern Syria]. He was the biggest patron of the PKK. The water jug broke on the waterway [this is a saying approximately equivalent to 'who lives by the sword, dies by the sword']." Prominent Turkish religious leader Ahmet Mahmut Ünlü colloquially known as Cübbeli Ahmet Hoca, tweeted: "With the hand of the unbelieving tyrant America, [Allah] took revenge on Qassem Soleimani, whom [Iranian Supreme Leader] Khamenei considers a 'living martyr' but who, for us, is a dead nonbeliever, and his men."
Writer Bülent Şahin Erdeğer wrote: "Qassem Soleimani, the butcher of Syria, was killed. A wry smile spread across my face when I heard the news. I remembered our children whom he had slaughtered in Houla, Tireymse, Bayda, and Aleppo. I wish we could have judged you for the crimes you committed against humanity. May he be in lots of fire [in hell]." One Twitter user tweeted a comic and wrote: "Iranian media are commenting on Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, who died yesterday, as a warrior who made jihad in the path of Allah. And how many unbelievers did he kill?" The comic he tweeted shows a Shi'ite leader waving his finger at U.S. President Donald Trump and saying: "Listen here, don't make me angry, or I'll go and bomb all the Sunnis!"
A Shi'ite leader tells President Trump: "Listen here, don't make me angry, or I'll go and bomb all the Sunnis!"
İbrahim Karagül, editor-in-chief of the Turkish daily Yeni Şafak, tweeted: "The killer of Aleppo... Qassem Soleimani was killed by the U.S. There was no savagery that he did not commit for his war of 'Armageddon within Islam.' He was a war criminal. He did in Syria what the U.S. did in Iraq." Yeni Şafak columnist İsmail Kılıçarslan tweeted a picture of Soleimani and wrote: "He has the blood of tens of thousands of innocent people on his hands. May his abode be hell."
 Defense.gov/Newsroom/Releases/Release/Article/2049534/statement-by-the-department-of-defense, January 2, 2020; Cnn.com/2020/01/02/middleeast/baghdad-airport-rockets/index.html, January 3, 2020.
 Mfa.gov.tr/no_2_-kasim-suleymani-nin-abd-hava-saldirisi-sonucu-hayatini-kaybetmesi-hk.tr.mfa, January 3, 2020.
 Birgun.net/haber/saray-in-kasim-suleymani-sessizligi-uzun-surdu-282584, January 3, 2020.
 Twitter.com/candundaradasi/status/1213045047442255874, January 3, 2020; Tr.euronews.com/2019/11/06/cumhurbaskani-erdogan-bagdadinin-esini-kiz-kardesini-ve-enistesini-yakaladik, November 6, 2019.
 Bolgegundem.com/can-dundar-kimdir-can-dundar-nerede-yasiyor-564820h.htm, September 29, 2018; Sabah.com.tr/gundem/2018/12/06/son-dakika-can-dundar-hakkinda-yakalama-karari, December 5, 2018.
 Yeniakit.com.tr/haber/haydut-abd-orta-dogudan-yeni-duzen-pesinde-991138.html, January 3, 2020.
 Twitter.com/Dogu_Perincek/status/1213058501053825025, January 3, 2020; Twitter.com/UtkuReyhan_/status/1213051075063943168, January 3, 2020; Twitter.com/MhdFarazmand/status/1213054461838548993, January 3, 2020.
 Twitter.com/MaliGuller/status/1212999241641140224, January 3, 2020.
 Twitter.com/ismailsaymaz/status/1212941906180792322, January 2, 2020.
 Twitter.com/samiltayyar27/status/1213001400604614656, January 3, 2020.
 Twitter.com/c_ahmethoca/status/1213026009169244160, January 3, 2020.
 Twitter.com/Ebu_Nidal/status/1212990826747432960, January 2, 2020.
 Twitter.com/davran12selami/status/1213067022038372354, January 3, 2020.
 Twitter.com/ibrahimkaragul/status/1212991092754391042, January 3, 2020.
 Twitter.com/kilicarslan_is/status/1212960708914225152, January 2, 2020.