Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Stop Intelligence Sharing with Turkey

Evelyn beat me to the punch this morning highlighting David Ignatius’s bombshell column reporting that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Turkish intelligence chief Hakan Fidan purposely blew an Iranian spy ring to spite Israel. The fact that Turkey would betray to Iran citizens who were working to shed light on a nuclear program that Iranian diplomats claims is transparent and peaceful is outrageous. Most of these Iranians likely died horrendous deaths. And Evelyn is right that the revelation “should also lead to mass resignations from the Congressional Turkey Caucus, if Congress is as serious about stopping Iran’s nuclear program as it has hitherto shown itself to be.”

The implications of Turkey’s actions go far beyond simply Iran’s nuclear program, however. This part of Ignatius’ column is especially scandalous, for it shows the lack of seriousness with which President Obama treats national security:

The Turkish intelligence chief, Hakan Fidan, is also suspect in Israel because of what are seen as friendly links with Tehran; several years ago, Israeli intelligence officers are said to have described him facetiously to CIA officials as “the MOIS station chief in Ankara,” a reference to Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security. The United States continued to deal with Fidan on sensitive matters, however. Though U.S. officials regarded exposure of the Israeli network as an unfortunate intelligence loss, they didn’t protest directly to Turkish officials.

Today, Turkey has become more an enemy than an ally.

COMMENTARY has previously warned about Fidan and his pro-Iranian proclivities. For the United States, however, the fact that Obama has been willing to share state-of-the-art technology and secrets with the Turkish regime so willing to betray them to China and Iran raises questions about his strategic judgment. Under Erdoğan and Fidan, Turkey has been taking U.S. technology and working to reverse engineer it for their own economic benefit. Turkey is a liability. Trusting Turkish officials with intelligence would be about as wise as renewing Edward Snowden’s security clearance.

Given Turkey’s pivot to China, Iran, and Hamas, it may also be time to reconsider Turkey’s position in NATO. The indefatigable David Schenker, a scholar who has unlike so many in Washington never compromised principle for access, had the foresight to call for NATO to reconsider Turkey’s membership years ago. Not only has Turkey held the alliance hostage to its own diplomatic and ideological whims, but it has also threatened NATO defense in an unconscionable way.