The Oct. 16 report in The Washington Post that Turkish intelligence blew the cover on an Israeli spy ring in Iran and exposed it to the local authorities is just the tip of a big, evil iceberg that looms over Israel and Turkey’s defense establishments. For dozens of years, Israel and Turkey, like close allies, cooperated in all areas of intelligence and security. Intelligence cooperation was close-knit and accurate. There was great trust between the parties, which yielded many mutually beneficial fruits. No more. The conciliation between Israel and Turkey, which was brokered by US President Barack Obama after immense efforts, is merely a veneer. In essence, there is no change.
High-ranking Israeli security officials contend that the 45-year-old Hakan Fidan, who used to serve as special assistant to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is a radical Islamist who maintains very close ties with Iran. His appointment as chief of intelligence was a watershed that marked Erdogan and his party’s full seizure of the country’s defense establishment. At first, Israel was unaware of this appointment. It was only in the wake of the Mavi Marmara flotilla events in 2010 that its intelligence services became aware of the fact that Fidan was heading Turkey’s intelligence services. Until that point, the working assumption in Israel was that Turkey’s intelligence and military remained independent and that a certain degree of cooperation could be maintained, even when Ankara was being hostile or standoffish.
That’s precisely what happened after the Muslim Brotherhood rose to power in Egypt, where the formula actually worked. Egypt’s intelligence agencies continued to cooperate with their Israeli counterparts, and with greater force yet following the tacit agreement of the now-ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and his associates in Cairo.
In Ankara, it turns out, things are done completely differently. Erdogan enhanced his grip on power, carrying out a massive purge of the military by sending dozens of generals to prison and not hesitating to appoint a close Islamist associate as chief of intelligence. According to Israeli sources, the Mavi Marmara flotilla events unearthed the deep schism. Almost instantaneously, Israel realized that it had lost Turkey. Things will never be the same again.
It is hard to believe that it was just a few years ago that Israeli and Turkish generals could have held intimate tête-à-tête consultations and even gossiped about their leaders. One of Israel’s former air force commanders received a perk from his Turkish counterpart by getting a “peek flight” along the Turkish-Iranian border. Another retired Israeli general told me last week about his productive working visits to Istanbul and Ankara, after which he would be hosted by his Turkish counterpart. The latter would take him sailing on a luxury yacht on the Bosporus. He would whisper a secret or two in his ear, perhaps even gossip about Turkey’s senior leadership and the independence of the Turkish military as the “guardian of democracy and the constitution” in accordance with the spirit of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, deemed the founding father of the modern Turkish nation.
Since then, Turkish Kemalism has been waning and has been on the defensive. Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) grip on Ankara is tighter than it has ever been. The Turkish prime minister has engendered impressive economic growth, improving the quality of life for the masses. He has also learned the lesson from his predecessors who were vanquished under the boots of the military. Now he — and nobody else — is in control. The generals are either in prison or have gone underground or been tamed and put in their proper place.
Having received the message loud and clear, Israel improved its relations with Greece and Cyprus, preparing other alternatives, despite the fact that in quite a few areas Turkey remains irreplaceable. It shares a long border with Syria, Iraq and Iran. This is a strategic asset of the first order. It also has efficient intelligence services, a huge army and large air and naval forces. Israel was a major supplier of technology, military materiel, weaponry and much more. It upgraded Turkish tanks and other weaponry systems. Most of these collaborations are long gone. What we have is a huge pool of bad blood.
The reported event where an Israeli spy ring operating in Iran was exposed to Iranian authorities probably did take place. Official Israel, notwithstanding, maintains a roaring silence.
Either way, this marks a serious intelligence setback for Israel and the West’s efforts to gather information from deep inside Iran’s nuclear project. According to Western intelligence sources, Fidan and Tehran make a perfect match. Some of them even joke that “Fidan has long been on Iran’s payroll. He is the Iranians’ long-term investment, which now bears many fruits.”
Despite all this, if the report is correct, blowing the cover on an active spy ring and exposing it to Iran, cold-bloodedly, is considered in Israel to be a scathing transgression of a red line. Even the Americans, who were aware of the incident, viewed this as a severe violation of international codes between friendly nations.
Ankara emphatically denies the incident via various spokespersons (chief among them Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.) So who leaked this story precisely at this time? There’s no telling, but we can surmise: It’s either Israel or the United States.
It is against this backdrop that the Israelis who were opposed to conciliation with Turkey find it hard to conceal their broad smirk. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya’alon was one of the opponents to conciliation in his previous capacity. Now, as defense minister, he is all for it. The only one who remains consistent in his objection is former Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman.
“Turkey has proven,” Liberman says in closed forums, “that it had no intention of reaching conciliation. The Turks don’t want conciliation. All they want is to bring Israel down to its knees. They cooperate fully with the Iranians and have an Islamic agenda. We simply played into their hands. We paid dearly and got nothing in return.”
Aug 16, 2019 0
Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei speaks following his election victory. Photo: Reuters/Jose Cabezas.
A prominent Guatemalan supporter of Israel who once said, “He who is Israel’s enemy is Guatemala’s enemy,” won the country’s presidential election with 58.5 percent of the vote, results on Monday confirmed.
Conservative candidate Alejandro Giammattei emerged victorious in the vote in the second round of elections on Sunday, beating his rival Sandra Torres, a former first lady.
Aerial view of containers at a loading terminal in the port of Hamburg, Germany August 1, 2018. Photo: REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer.
German exports to Iran fell by nearly half in the first six months of 2019, data showed on Monday, suggesting companies are scaling back business ties with Tehran to avoid trouble with the United States after Washington reimposed sanctions.
Sales to Iran plunged by 48 percent to 678 million euros ($758.8 million) from January through June year-on-year, data from the Federal Statistics Office reviewed by Reutersshowed. Imports from Iran declined by 43 percent to nearly 110 million euros.
The New York Times logo. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
A New York Times editor is in trouble for what the Times calls repeated poor judgment on social media.
The editor, Jonathan Weisman, works in the Times Washington bureau with the title “deputy Washington editor” and is the author of the 2018 book (((Semitism))): Being Jewish in the Age Of Trump.
Canadian Observer to Post: Canada has niche capabilities to help in such a scenario.
“Mighty Waves,” the Navy’s large-scale multinational exercise simulating the aftermath of a major earthquake. (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON’S UNIT)
The five-day, large-scale multinational exercise, with 10 foreign fleets off the Haifa coast simulating the aftermath of a major earthquake, has brought the Israel Navy to “another level” of preparedness.
Dubbed “Mighty Waves,” the drill saw the participation of hundreds of troops on six ships at sea. Five helicopters also took part in the exercise, which focused on the after-effects of a significant 7.5 earthquake that leaves thousands dead and hundreds of thousands homeless.
A food market in Tel Aviv, Israel. Photo: Dr. Avishai Teicher vis Wikimedia Commons.
CTech – Israel has a reputation for being the Startup Nation, but Marcelle Machluf, dean of biotechnology and food engineering at Technion Israel Institute of Technology, predicts that in coming years Israel will be known as the FoodTech Nation.
“Foodtech and biotech are two fields that are climbing to the top of the tech industry,” Machluf told Calcalist in a recent interview. “This push is happening for a reason.
Aug 16, 2019 0A 2018 demonstration against antisemitism in Berlin. Photo: Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch. Another rabbi has been attacked in the streets of Berlin, the German capital, by male assailants who pushed him to...
Mass shootings are nothing new in the United States, but their sudden rise is ballooning into a shocking nationwide epidemic. Many blame a toxic political culture that is accentuating divisions rather than commonalities between Americans, and the ease in which Americans can access guns, including automatic assault rifles.
If Saturday’s horrifying terrorist attack in an El Paso Walmart had taken place in Jerusalem, leaving 22 Israelis dead, the killer would rot in jail knowing his family would be taken care of, paid every month by his government.
What, one has to ask, does Iran’s Islamic regime have to fear from the country’s Christians, Baha’is, Zoroastrians, Sufis, Sunni Muslims, or Jews? Yet its treatment of these minorities is so repressive that it seems not unreasonable to ask if the clerics might be afraid of what they consider challenges to their fantasy of pure Islamic identity.
The fate of Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s 2017 executive order barring state contractors from participating in the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement is in the hands of a federal judge. The order violates First Amendment rights, a lawsuit filed by a former Maryland state legislator claims. wsuit.
This week my family and I have the privilege of celebrating two significant and interrelated milestones. We celebrate the 15th anniversary of our arrival in Israel, taking on citizenship and planting our roots firmly in our historic homeland. And we celebrate (yes, celebrate) the induction into the IDF of our oldest son.
When our youngest son was born in Jerusalem, we knew that he would serve in the army, an obligation and privilege as an Israeli Jew, pretty much as genetic as his actual DNA. But when our oldest son was born in N.J., we didn’t know this would be his destiny.