U.S. officials have confirmed to the Daily Beast the details of a Washington Post report revealing that Turkey last year deliberately burned roughly 10 Israeli spies who were working in Iran on the country’s nuclear program. The Daily Beast quotes former Israeli Mossad chief Danny Yatom describing the move as “an act that brings the Turkish intelligence organization to a position where I assume no one will ever trust it again,” while a CIA officer compared the incident to the betrayal of the Cambridge Five, the network of Soviet moles who provided highly sensitive intelligence to Moscow at the dawn of the Cold War. Ankara has categorically denied that it shopped the Iranians to Tehran, but over the weekend Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu lashed out at critics and declared that – if the story is true – then Turkey’s intelligence chief Hakan Fidan would have been just “doing his job.
“When you read these articles, Hakan Fidan is accused of establishing an independent intelligence structure and not letting other intelligence agencies operate in Turkey. Therefore, he is being blamed for doing his job,” Davutoğlu said in a live interview on private broadcaster Kanal 7 aired on the night of Oct. 18.
“If this privacy is not used by the state’s units to serve only that people, your strategy can’t succeed … Turkey is not a country where other intelligence units can comfortably perform operations. This is a requirement of independence,” Davutoğlu said. “I am not saying that the claims are true, but after all, every intelligence agency works for the interest of its own country,” he said.
It is unlikely that Turkish allies will gladly greet the announcement that Turkish soil is closed to friendly intelligence operations targeting rogue regimes. Meanwhile Turkish diplomatic correspondent Cumali Onal slammed the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for economic and geopolitical misteps which have resulted in Ankara’s prestige and influence sliding precipitously. Onal warned that Erdogan’s Islamist government was risking diplomatic isolation, and specifically cited Erdogan’s continuing hostility toward Israel.
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