The head of Mossad, Tamir Pardo, earlier this week met secretly with his Turkish counterpart, according to a report published in the Turkish daily Hurriyet. The meeting between Pardo and Hakan Fidan, the head of MIT, the Turkish intelligence agency, took place Monday in Ankara according to the report.
The meeting underscores efforts by both countries to open a new chapter regarding defense and security ties. Both Pardo and Fidan are close confidants of their respective prime ministers, Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
It was reported that Pardo raised the possibility that Netanyahu and Erdogan may meet, after Israel pays compensation to the families of nine Turkish citizens killed three years ago by Israeli naval commandos who boarded the Turkish boat Mavi Marmara, which was trying to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. The commandos were met with resistance by the the pro-Hamas activists aboard the boat. Even before that incident, Erdogan had shifted Turkish foreign policy and distanced himself from Israel.
Recently relations between the two countries began to thaw. During his visit to Israel in March, American president Barack Obama brokered a phone conversation between Netanyahu and Erdogan. Netanyahu partially apologized for the incident and subsequent compensation negotiations are now on the verge of completion.
Reconciliation was hastened by the Syrian situation. Both countries are concerned about the violence share a common interest in seeing the Assad regime weakened.
The two heads of intelligence discussed the situation in Syria, where the Syrian army – supported by Hezbollah and Iran – has recently made military gains.
The Mossad and MIT, with the backing and encouragement by the CIA, were strong allies until a few years and exchanged information and estimates. Israeli security officials also conducted joint operations against common enemies such as Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah.
Turkey also an important market for Israel’s security industry.