August 26, 2014

Who is a national security threat for Turkey?

Oğuzhan Tekin

I think Prime Minister and President-elect Recep Tayyip Erdoğan may become a national security threat for Turkey in the coming years.

National security is the top priority for a state. If a state feels uncertain about its security, it may adopt extra security measures, which often take the form of restrictions on the freedom of individuals and the media.

The National Security Council, which includes cabinet members and military officials, determines national security priorities. In Turkey, the council meets every month under the leadership of the prime minister.

On Aug. 13, 2014, a meeting of the National Security Council was held under the leadership of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. It was the last time that he will preside over one of these meetings, as he was elected president on Aug. 10 with 51.8 percent of the vote. At the last meeting, the Hizmet movement, a peaceful, worldwide organization, was added to Turkey's list of terrorist groups, next to many dangerous groups who commit acts of murder and mayhem.

This is Erdoğan's new Turkey. If you are against him, you will be accused of treason and classified as a terrorist.

The movement is not a threat to Turkey. However, Erdoğan himself may be a serious threat to the country. Why?

On Aug. 18, it was revealed that the German Intelligence Agency (BND) has been spying on Turkey since 2009. Right after the leak, Germany's ambassador in Ankara was summoned to the foreign ministry. German officials admitted that they had been conducting surveillance on the country, explaining that they had been eavesdropping because Turkey supports some terrorist groups in the Middle East, tolerates drug smuggling through the country to Europe and some illegal organizations here collaborate with the Turkish community in Germany, in which around four million Turkish-Germans live. They did not apologize.

On Aug. 24, Focus Magazine said that the BND had been spying on Turkey for the last 38 years. A government working group that included representatives of the chancellor's office and the defense, foreign and economy ministries approved the monitoring of Turkish political and state institutions.

As an aside, during the last month the United States admitted that it has been spying on Germany's prime minister, listening in on her phone conversations among other things.

Germany is angry that US intelligence agencies have put Germany in such an awkward situation, damaging its trust in such an important ally.

The US had been financing Turkish intelligence for many decades until 1980. As a NATO ally, it provided a wide variety of hardware for its infrastructure.

It is easy to conclude that both Germany and the US have been spying on Turkey for decades.

In the world of espionage, Israel's advanced monitoring and intelligence capability -- in addition to its military power -- is also generally accepted. So, it is not a big deal to think Israel spying on Turkey.

Of course, if Germany is able to listen in on Turkey's officials, the US and Israel can also easily listen to both Germany and Turkey.

Thus, I think Germany, Israel and the US have been spying on Turkish officials for several years.

Since the Dec. 17 and 25 graft probes, we have heard many of Erdoğan's recorded conversations with family members, business people and media owners. Some of them show that he, his family and some cabinet members were involved in illegal activity. Perhaps one of these countries leaked the recordings. They could have done so for their own national interest. We don't know; but they are major suspects now.

Erdoğan has been challenging the law, the Constitution and the judiciary since the probes were brought to light. He has begun committing reckless crimes against the constitution. It is as if no one has the power to judge him.

These leaks gave me the impression that Erdoğan could have committed crimes which could have international repercussions. There are allegations concerning these crimes, such as that of financial assistance and ammunition having been provided to Islamist terror groups, the breaking of international law and violation of international sanctions levied by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

My concern is how serious these allegations are. If they are true and known by the third parties, we do not need to look outward for any national security treat. We have one, severe and untouchable. He can only be judged for treason.

What happens if third parties blackmail Erdoğan into doing something that runs contrary to Turkey's national security? Will he resist or give in to such blackmail? As a citizen, how can I trust him in this situation?

We have already shown many times that Erdoğan breaks the law without hesitation. This is not a new thing for him. His potential for lawlessness and secrets, known by outside parties, are the greatest national threat to the citizens of this country. We will one day see how much danger we have been exposed to.

Published on Today's Zaman, 25 August 2014, Monday