Amid the strained relations between Ankara and Jerusalem, Turkish intelligence has severed its working relations with the Mossad, the Turkish newspaper Sabah reported on Monday.
The report stated that the two agencies, which once enjoyed tight cooperation, had stopped exchanging intelligence and conducting joint operations following a Turkish government decision on the matter.
The report’s credibility remains unclear, but high-ranking Israeli officials privy to the matter neither confirmed nor denied it on Monday, and the prime minister’s bureau declined to comment.
In June, Amir Oren reported in Haaretz that Israeli security officials were deeply concerned by the appointment of Hakan Fidan to lead Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization. Fidan, a close associate of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is viewed as a proponent of closer relations between Turkey and Iran.
Meanwhile, Turkey has conditioned its consent to stationing a NATO missile-defense system on its territory on a guarantee that no information collected by the system be transferred to Israel.
Since the American-sponsored plan’s original purpose was to defend NATO countries against the possibility of an Iranian attack, this means Turkey is essentially demanding that Israel not be given vital information about Iranian missiles.
The previous U.S. administration had planned to station the system in eastern Europe. But due to fierce opposition from Russia, the Obama administration decided to relocate and scale back the system, which will now focus mainly on deterrence and on monitoring Iran’s missile program.
Turkey was initially reluctant to host the system at all, lest it damage Ankara’s relationship with Tehran. But since it is a NATO member, and since it faces growing criticism in the United States for its seeming turn away from the West, it said it would agree under certain conditions.
One was that the system officially be designated as aimed not against threats from Iran (or from Syria or Russia ), but against missile threats to Turkey and Europe in general. Another was direct Turkish access to any information gathered by the system. A third was full Turkish participation in any and all decisions stemming from information gathered by the system – which would enable it to work against any NATO move to attack Iran. And the fourth was that information gathered by the system not be given to any non-NATO member, and especially not to Israel.
Turkish sources said Washington has agreed to the demand that Iran not be designated as one of the system’s targets. They said it has also agreed that no information from the system will be shared with Israel, on the grounds that Israel has its own advanced missile-detection systems for tracking Iranian threats.
Washington, they noted, has little choice but to agree, since Turkey’s opposition would kill the plan: Aside from the fact that Washington needs Ankara’s consent to put the system on Turkish soil, the decision to establish the system requires unanimous consent by all NATO members. Moreover, Washington is under severe time pressure, as it hopes to get the project approved at the upcoming NATO summit on November 19.