Is it only Germany that is spying on Turkey?
German Ambassador to Ankara Eberhard Pohl was summoned to the Turkish Foreign Ministry on Aug. 18 following media reports claiming German secret services have been eavesdropping on Turkey for some time. The Turkish Foreign Ministry asked for an explanation from the ambassador and said in a public statement that it would be “grave” if even only part of the media reports were true.
The claims were first reported by Der Spiegel and then the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Allegedly, electronic espionage on Turkey was disclosed in the documents seized from a German intelligence officer, who had been interrogated by German counter-intelligence upon suspicions of spying for the United States. The interrogation was a part of a wider probe following last year’s scandal about U.S. intelligence eavesdropping on German Chancellor Angela Merkel, which caused a chill between Merkel and U.S. President Barack Obama.
According to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung report, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), the German exterior intelligence service, has been spying on Turkey because of domestic developments in Turkey posing a threat to Germany’s national security.
The report mentions the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the activities of other religious, left-wing and right-wing groups in Germany as a justification for this unacceptable spying on a NATO ally, just as Germany had been – rightfully – complaining about American espionage on itself.
Almost 5 percent of Germany’s population of 82 million is of Turkish origin. Since the 1960s, “guest workers” from Turkey have been contributing to the German economic miracle and living there. Every political and religious grouping in Turkey has branches in Germany and all political debates and antagonisms in Turkey have very amplified echoes in Germany.
Therefore, Berlin could try to justify its illegal activity in Turkey by trying to intercept electronic communications here in order to take precautions against possible actions in Germany by those groups.
That would be a crime in itself, but would it be limited to this? For example, there is the “foreign fighters” issue that bothers not only Germany, but also the U.S. and many other NATO countries. The “foreign fighters” are either native citizens of those countries who have been converted to Islam by radical agitators or Muslim immigrants who become citizens, then join illegal armed organizations – such as al-Qaeda or the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), a side product of the civil wars in Syria and Iraq – to fight before returning to commit acts in their country of citizenship.
But the information telling us that Merkel government had instructed the BND in 2009 to spy on Turkey because of the PKK leads up to certain speculatione. That year Erdoğan had instructed the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MİT) to carry out dialogue with the PKK for a poltitcal settlement for Kurdish poblem. The talks that took place in Norway’s capital Oslo collupsed in 2010 because of a leak which hit the Internet in 2011.
After that Erdoğan decided for direct talks with PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan on the İmralı island prison via MİT chief Hakan Fidan. That process is still going on.
And would it only be Germany that is trying to spy on Turkey, a country that lies in such a critical region? Particularly as major crises are ongoing around Turkey, such as Syria, Iraq, Israel-Palestine, Russia-Ukraine, Armenia-Azerbaijan, Cyprus and the whole Iran nuclear issue, and with all the Afghanistan-Central Asia connections through Turkey and historical links with the Balkan conflicts.
In addition, the internal fight between different factions of the police, the intelligence agency and the judiciary have already scattered all of their dirty laundry around. It would be very easy for the Germans to spy on Turkey overtly by simply indexing media reports. So there must be something other than what has already been revealed behind all of the current scandal.
The motto, “Don’t get caught!” is the rule of thumb of secret activities. The Germans may have been caught, perhaps because of their row with the U.S., and Prime Minister (and now president-elect) Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will surely ask Merkel about this as soon as the story becomes clearer.