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04/09/2012 | Will the CIA provide enough support for Turkey?

Aydoğan Vatandaş

CIA chief David Petraeus was in Turkey on Sunday reportedly for a meeting with his counterpart, Hakan Fidan, the head of National Intelligence Organization (MİT) and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.


Yet there has not been any official announcement about the reason for this highly sensitive visit. But looking at the recent developments in the region, we can definitely consider this visit to be actually very timely.

It was only two weeks ago that President Abdullah Gül expressed his disappointment with the insufficient US intelligence assistance regarding the fight against Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) terrorism.

Turkey has still not obtained the Predator drones from the US that Ankara has been expecting for a long time. Hence, Turkey is still that much more vulnerable to PKK attacks in its southeastern region. Besides that, the Predators, under American command but based in Turkey since being transferred from Iraq, are not as effective as before.

It is known that some in the American intelligence community became suspicious of whether Turkish intelligence units were sharing intelligence gathered by these Predators after Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç announced that Turkey was sharing intelligence with Iran.

Another reason why the Predators are not considered as effective as before is the Uludere incident on Dec. 28, 2011, in which 34 civilians were killed by an air strike with intelligence obtained by the Predators.

Besides the issues related to PKK terrorism, a second important subject between the CIA and MİT is the Syrian conflict. The problems that Turkey has been confronting in Syria have expanded dramatically over the last several months. Many in the Turkish intelligence community believe that Turkey has not received sufficient aid and intelligence regarding the Syrian conflict.

The opposition groups in Syria are still disorganized and scattered. Beyond that, they are very vulnerable to the powerful Syrian army. The opposition groups have not acquired heavy weapons systems such as anti-aircraft systems and anti-tank projectiles yet. Many believe that if the opposition groups are not supplied with these systems, the collapse of the Assad regime may take a very long time.

So arming the opposition groups in Syria is still a very challenging topic for the CIA and MİT. 

A New York Times story indicated last week that if the CIA or MİT does not arm the opposition groups, they could make bombs by themselves and buy weapons from Iraqi security forces.

But many believe that it will be very difficult to win a civil war against a sectarian army which solidified its power over two generations with a full supply of heavy weapons. Beyond that, it is not a secret that the Syrian army has the full support of the Russians and Iranians.

What the CIA is doing for the opposition groups in Syria is still not very clear.

Is the CIA providing sufficient intelligence for the Syrian opposition groups?

Is the CIA helping the Syrian opposition groups to find and purchase effective heavy weapon systems?

We don't know the answers yet.

A third important issue between the CIA and MİT is the north of Syria where the PKK-affiliated Democratic Union Party (PYD) has gained significant control. Turkey has expressed its concerns about the recent developments in northern Syria many times but Ankara seems very disappointed that these concerns are not shared and taken seriously by its counterparts.

Therefore, Turkey is demanding the full support of the US and its intelligence service to fight against PKK terrorism and a prospective greater Kurdish state in the region and to help the Syrian opposition groups in a more effective way.

A fourth important topic between the CIA and MİT is Iranian efforts to instigate a civil war in Turkey.

It was only a few days ago that Turkish security forces caught one hundred Iranian spies in Iğdır, an eastern province of Turkey, trying to provide sensitive intelligence to the PKK.

Turkey took a lot of risks in Syria but feels isolated in overcoming all these issues.

Will the US and its powerful intelligence service, the CIA, provide enough support for Turkey and the opposition groups in Syria?

This is the question many in Turkey have been asking for a long time.

Today´s Zaman (Turquia)


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