Turkish officials, including the country’s prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and its intelligence chief Hakan Fidan, deliberately burned “up to 10 Iranians who had been meeting inside Turkey with their [Israeli] Mossad case officers” by alerting Iran of their existence, according to an expose published late last night by the Washington Post‘s David Ignatius. The Washington Post cited “knowledgeable sources” as describing “significant” damage to Israeli intelligence.
Former Mossad head Maj. Gen. (res) Danny Yatom, speaking on an afternoon conference call organized by The Israel Project, predicted that friendly intelligence agencies would limit their cooperation with Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization in the future, saying that the betrayal of trust was “unheard of” in the intelligence community:
“Who is going now to trust them? Who is going now to cooperate with them? Who is going now to share sensitive information with them?” Yatom said on a conference call organized by the Israel Project on Thursday. “I think what we will see in the very near future is the deterioration in intelligence relations between the MIT and all its, until today, friendly parallel organizations.”
The incident is at least the second reported time that Ankara leaked sensitive Western intelligence to Iran within three years. The Wall Street Journal last week disclosed that Fidan had “pass[ed] to Iran sensitive intelligence collected by the US and Israel”:
The tension was aggravated in 2010 when the CIA began to suspect the MIT under Mr. Fidan of passing intelligence to Iran.
At the time, Mr. Erdogan was trying to improve ties with Tehran, a central plank of Ankara’s “zero problems with neighbors” policy. U.S. officials believe the MIT under Mr. Fidan passed several pieces of intelligence to Iran, including classified U.S. assessments about the Iranian government, say current and former senior U.S. and Middle Eastern officials.
The revelations come at a time of heightened concern regarding Turkish plans – which Ankara doubled down on earlier this month – to pursue a $3.4 billion deal that would see Turkey purchase missile systems from a Chinese firm currently under U.S. sanctions. The Chinese system would require integration with existing NATO systems stationed in Turkey, and according to NATO sources would functionally implant a “virus” in NATO’s command and control infrastructure.
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