Turkey: Israeli efforts behind spy-ring smear campaign

Days after WP reports Turkey sold Israeli operatives to Iran, Turkish official claims 'Israeli effort behind media campaign', citing Netanyahu's reluctance to pay Turkey compensation for Marmara deaths, Erdogan's connections with Hamas

While reconciliation efforts between Turkey and Israel remain "stuck", Israel's relations with Turkey have reached a new low point as the two countries exchange accusations over Turkey's reported disclosure of an alleged Israel spy ring to Iran.


Speaking with the Turkish daily Hürriyet, an intelligence official slammed the Washington Post report, and claimed that “We (Turkey) see this media campaign as an attack and there might be an Israeli effort behind it.”


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On Thursday, David Ignatius, a senior Washington Post reporter, claimed Turkey had disclosed to Iranian intelligence the identities of up to 10 Iranians who had been meeting inside Turkey with their Mossad case officers.


While Israel dubbed the Turkish disclosure of the spy ring – which speculations believe was comprised of Iranian Kurds – a "betrayal", Turkey has taken offence of what it says is an organized smear campaign against it and Hakan Fidan, its intelligence chief.


According to Turkey, the Washington Post story is just one in a larger campaign against the country. According to Ankara, the campaign began with a Wall Street Journal story about Turkish intelligence chief Hakan Fidan, in which it was claimed that Fidan was acting “independently” in Syrian operations, thus jeopardizing Western interests.


The story also claimed that Fidan had taken a soft stance on al-Qaeda .


צילום: פיט סאוזה, הבית הלבן

Erdogan, Fidan, Kerry, Obama (Photo: White House, Pete Souza)


In addition to the central claim, in the Post's report, Ignatius also personally named Fidan as being behind the disclosure, citing his "friendly" links with Tehran. Ignatius also claimed that the intelligence chief acted independently and has "rattled Turkey’s allies by allegedly passing to Iran sensitive intelligence collected by the US and Israel.”


In Saturday's report in Hürriyet, the official hinted that Israel is behind the report, which cited only “knowledgeable sources," and the smear campaign against Fidan: "Especially after the Washington Post story on October 17 and the follow-ups with Jerusalem bylines.”


According to the official, Israel's motivation for slandering Turkey is Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu's desire to avoid paying compensation for the Turkish deaths during the IDF raid on the Mavi Marmara.


In addition, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan’s close relations with Hamas are also cited by Saturday's report as being the cause for Israel resentment at Turkey. In this regard, the report noted that on October 9th, the very same day that the WSJ report was published, Khaled Mashaal was received by Erdoğan in his office in Ankara.


Breaking the rules

In an interview to USA Today, former Mossad head Danny Yatom said that "If true ... what (Turkey reportedly) did breached all rules of cooperation between intelligence organizations."


According to Yatom, the move would damage Ankara's ties to the West, and the US's intelligence efforts in regards to Iran "because we will be much more reluctant to work via Turkey because they will fear information is leaking to Iran," Yatom said. "We feel information achieved (by Israel) through Turkey went not only to Israel but also to the United States."


Ilhan Tanir, Turkish paper Vatan's Washington correspondent, told USA Today that Fidan, like Erdogan is "the kind of guy who wouldn't be quiet if his guy is targeted," hinting at possible retaliation on the regime's part.


USA Today also spoke with Reuel Marc Gerecht, a former CIA officer who was active in the region, handling Iranian intelligence sources in Turkey. According to him, it is doubtful that the Iranians who were compromised were crucial Israeli assets.


"The Israelis would not be sharing sensitive foreign intelligence assets with the Turks," he said. "They might share reporting but not operational details that would allow them to identify the assets… (Turkish intelligence) is not the kind of service you get intimate with," he said.


"I can't imagine any Western country ever ever cooperating with the Iranians to compromise and kill Israeli agents. That would never happen," he told USA Today adding that "If anything is going on with the Turks that you don't want the Iranians to know about, it should be stopped."



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פרסום ראשון: 10.19.13, 11:44
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