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FACTDROP: Ankara restructuring intelligence service


Ankara restructuring intelligence service

Πηγή: Turkish Weekly
By Serkan Demirtaş
Sep. 19 2011

Turkey’s secret service is undergoing a silent but significant administrative and strategic transformation by focusing more on foreign intelligence under its new chief, Hakan Fidan, who hit the headlines over his controversial meetings with terrorists.

Formerly deputy undersecretary of the office of the Prime Ministry, Fidan was appointed as the chief of the National Intelligence Organization, or MİT, a year ago, with plans to sharply split domestic and foreign intelligence. Within this plan, MİT’s administrative body was amended last year to allow the intelligence organization to modify its structure.

The Hürriyet Daily News has learned that a senior on-duty ambassador has been appointed as the deputy undersecretary at MİT to deal with foreign intelligence and to provide coordination between the organization and the Foreign Ministry. Sources said the decision to appoint an ambassador was made before voice recordings were leaked of Fidan with senior members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. General directorates on strategic and open source intelligence will be subordinated to the diplomat-turned-intelligence officer. As part of the plan, MİT has begun to recruit new personnel able to speak regional languages. The plan also envisions intensified coordination between Turkey’s embassies and intelligence organization.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu confirmed the plan Sunday in an interview with the private channel CNNTürk. “We are living in a dynamic conjuncture. There are changes in our region. Why do we have to be dependent on other countries’ intelligence organizations on these issues? Our intelligence can do it better,” Davutoğlu said.

Praising Fidan’s year-long performance and decision to give more weight to foreign intelligence, Davutoğlu said he widened the scope of intelligence by improving the organization’s capabilities. The minister emphasized that he was backing Fidan in the change and giving it his full support. “Hereafter, Turkey’s intelligence will be able to have its finger on the pulse in every corner of the world,” he added.

According to Davutoğlu, the transformation at MİT is not different from other institutions like the General Staff and is the result of the growing influence of Turkey’s foreign policy on the global level. He said the leak of a top-secret recording is part of a smear campaign against Fidan, hinting at the involvement of Israel, which did not hide its unease at the appointment of Fidan to head MİT, once a good ally of its intelligence service Mossad.

Following Fidan’s appointment and Israel’s raid last year of the Gaza-bound aid ship Mavi Marmara, killing nine Turkish activists, Mossad cut intelligence-sharing with MİT out of concerns that information could be passed on Iran, Israel’s regional foe. That move was followed by intelligence organizations of some European countries that were mainly dependent on Mossad’s capabilities. Sources described this as a turning point in Turkey’s shift to improving its foreign intelligence capacity.

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