Turkey’s intel service to be restructured after failed coup attempt: Report

Turkey’s intel service to be restructured after failed coup attempt: Report

Turkey’s intel service to be restructured after failed coup attempt: Report

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Turkey is planning to restructure its National Intelligence Service (MİT) after the failed July 15 coup attempt, amid criticisms against its shortcomings during the failed takeover, according to a report. 

The move will involve splitting MİT so that foreign espionage and domestic counter-intelligence work are handled by different entities.

“The idea of bringing MİT and the General Staff under the control of the presidency is not new. But the coup attempt made the restructuring of the TSK [Turkish Armed Forces] and the intelligence inevitable,” wrote Hürriyet daily columnist Abdulkadir Selvi on Aug. 2, adding that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had signaled the changes before in a meeting on May 5. 

“After the cabinet meeting on July 1, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş announced that restructuring would be carried out in intelligence. MİT will be separated into two as ‘domestic and foreign intelligence,’” he also said.

Noting that the changes would bring Turkey into line with the system in Britain, where foreign intelligence is handled by MI6 and domestic intelligence by MI5, Selvi said MİT would be directed toward foreign intelligence by being tied to the presidency.

“Broadly speaking, domestic intelligence will be left to the police and gendarmerie. The gendarmerie will provide intelligence in rural areas and the police will provide it in city centers,” he said. 

The police and the gendarmerie will in future report to the Interior Ministry and not the military.

According to the report, a regulation passed under the current state of emergency should be made in order to tie MİT to the presidency rather than the prime minister.

A new unit called the “Coordination of Intelligence” responsible for the coordination between the two units will reportedly be formed under the presidency, which will also conduct intelligence analysis. 

There has been huge pressure on MİT chief Hakan Fidan in the wake of the failed takeover, particularly following reports he found out about the planned putsch hours before the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government was informed.

Selvi also mentioned Fidan’s master’s thesis in his column, saying it involved separating the intelligence services into domestic and foreign units. 

“In both Britain and the United States, two different units are assigned to foreign and domestic intelligence. There’s no institution dedicated to just foreign intelligence in Turkey. Turkey doesn’t have a CIA. MİT is responsible for every field in Turkey. That creates a gap regarding the information obtained. If we had a separate agency taking care of foreign intelligence, we would be carrying out our foreign policy comfortably,” Fidan wrote in his master’s thesis, according to Selvi.

“In Turkey, all of the departments were gathered under MİT’s roof, but in developed countries, the domestic and foreign intelligence are handled separately,” Fidan also wrote. 

Noting that authorities were searching for an answer as to which unit would handle international terrorist organizations, Selvi pointed to the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) formed in the U.S. after the Sept. 11 attacks as an example.

“The U.S. formed the NCTC after the trauma of Sept. 11. Will the struggle against international terror be carried out with a similar unit or MİT counterterror department?” he asked.