Intelligence chief accused by US newspapers for doing duty: Turkish FM Davutoğlu
ANKARA – Anadolu Agency
Ahmet Davutoğlu, who spent the Feast of Sacrifice in his hometown of Konya, gave a live interview to private broadcaster Kanal 7 aired on the night of Oct. 18. AA photo
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has taken a vigorous defense of Turkish intelligence chief Hakan Fidan, saying articles published in U.S. newspapers blasting his role in Ankara’s Syria and Iran policies were besmirching his name merely because he was performing his duty.
“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.
Davutoğlu’s remarks came a day after veteran Washington Post columnist David Ignatius claimed that Turkey blew the cover on a group of Israeli spies, disclosing their names to Iranian intelligence, while noting that Fidan was considered “suspect” by Israeli authorities due to his “close” ties to Tehran.
Another article published in the Wall Street Journal last week claimed that Fidan championed the idea of sending weapons to the Syrian opposition without any discrimination.
Referring in particular to Ignatius’ article, Davutoğlu said the accusations against Fidan were contradictory. “These [claims] are so inconsistent that on the one hand it is said Fidan is close to Iran, but in the same article, he is accused of supporting groups who fight against Iran’s influence. This is a very serious accusation. None of our officials act on behalf of any other country,” Davutoğlu said, adding that intelligence represented the state’s “privacy.”
“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.
Davutoğlu also said Fidan had become the head of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) after gaining “everyone’s credit” after taking part in negotiations with Israel and authorities in Gaza.
He also said there were “open threats” targeting Fidan. “This is the day to stand for Fidan, who has been the target of these accusations. Fidan is not doing this work for his personal interests but for Turkey,” Davutoğlu said.
Davutoğlu described the claims against the intelligence chief as an attempt to alter the course of Turkish foreign policy. “They are aiming to drive [Turkey] from its specific line by exerting constant psychological pressure,” he said.
The minister also rejected reports that U.S. President Barack Obama had criticized Turkey for helping radical Syrian rebel groups during Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Washington visit in May.
Noting that Turkey was presiding over the Global Counterterrorism Forum together with the U.S., Davutoğlu said the more the Syria crisis lingers on, the more radicalization will increase.
“How and why would Turkey let this sort of organization operate across its border? We would be the first to be damaged by it,” he said.
Davutoğlu is set to begin a three-day tour in Syria after the Friends of the Syrian People meeting in London on Oct. 22. His visits will also include Oman and Kuwait.