The Turkish services probably took advantage of the old consolidated collaboration with the Mossad to set a trap and deliver an entire network of Israeli spies to Iran. This is the sad truth of the dirtiest spy story of the year, an unthinkable sellout only a few years ago. The story says two things clearly: the first is that Erdogan is out of control, in search of new alliances, hegemonic moves and Islamist supremacy; the second is that Obama doesn’t know how to judge who his allies are and, in any case, has lost his grip. This leads to a third problem: Turkey is in NATO — that is, it is our military ally, and yet it is waging its own private war and chooses its friends from among the worst.
David Ignatius revealed the story several days ago in the Washington Post. He himself moderated the debate between Tayyip Erdogan and Shimon Peres in Davos in 2009, when Erdogan inaugurated the campaign of hate against Israel, calling the elderly Nobel Peace Prize winner a murderer. The debate was ruined, but now Ignatius has given tit for tat. He discovered that the head of the Turkish services, Hakan Fidan, a friend of Shi’ite Iran (Turkey is Sunni) and a supporter of the most extreme anti-Assad forces (including Al Qaeda) on the Sunni side, has handed over to the Iranians a group of ten men from the Mossad who were operating in the territory of the Islamic Republic.
Once captured, the spies were probably condemned to death. In the past months, executions have increased many times over. Why has the affair come to light now? Is it because the unwritten code that politics does not matter and secret services do not betray each other was broken? Until now, relations were sealed by dozens of collaborations: it was David Ben Gurion who in 1958 signed a friendship treaty between intelligence [services] with President Adnan Menderes that was a pillar of Middle Eastern stability.
Perhaps Ignatius’s sources, if they are American, have considered sending a message to Israel to watch out and also to understand that Iran is not isolated, especially in this phase during which Obama is speaking to its new President Rouhani. As a consolation, the U.S. has canceled the sale of 10 drones to Turkey. The message to Erdogan: you have gone too far.
But the reason that Erdogan made such an extreme gesture lies with his policy, which by now lacks credibility in its search for European approval on the one hand, and for the approval of the Pan-Islamic leadership on the other. Iran is certainly pleased, but now no one will never again trust the once renowned Turkish intelligence. In addition, Erdogan’s anti-Israel hatred, which was his banner throughout the Arab revolutions in which he supported the Muslim Brotherhood, has become ridiculous. He has maintained that Morsi was overthrown by an Israeli plot. He has blocked the rapprochement promoted by Obama between him and Netanyahu. The treachery against Israel was accompanied by words of contempt for the entire West, the invitation to Hamas, threats against Cyprus, and incursions into Iran’s enriched uranium affair.
The regional role has been tarnished, while with the Ergenekon case generals, attorneys and journalists were jailed and laws against “offending Islam” and drinking alcohol are being upheld. Erdogan has repressed tens of thousands of demonstrators. He was sure of convincing Obama to make a punitive expedition against Assad. that did not happen, and his borders are being overrun by Syrian refugees. Thus, he is attempting to recover by doing a favor for the Iranian regime, the sponsor of Assad, whom he still fights in Syria. A great idea.
This article originally appeared in slightly different form in Italian in Il Giornale (October 28, 2013) ; English copyright, The Gatestone Institute