The exposure of the fact that German intelligence has been spying on Turkey for the last five years has surprised many, sparking heated discussions about this illegal eavesdropping.
According to Der Spiegel magazine, the German government ordered Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the BND, to spy on Turkey in 2009. The BND was asked to access a wide variety of information, and the German government's plans in 2009 made Turkey a BND focus of intelligence gathering.
The reasons for Germany's espionage activities directed at Turkey were covered in the Bild newspaper. One of the reasons concerns recently emerging suspicions about how much Turkey really is a partner of the West. According to the paper, Germany does not believe that Ankara is genuinely involved in close relations with the West. The other reason cited by German government circles for this espionage is Turkey's seemingly duplicitous policy toward Iraq and Syria and the belief that Turkey supports radical groups. A retired German intelligence official who cited Turkey being on the route of the drug trade to Europe and jihadists easily being able to enter Turkey from Syria and move to Europe from there, among other reasons, said, “If we had not spied on Turkey, it would have been foolish.”
The exposure of Germany's spying has shaken politics in Berlin. German government officials have announced that they are preparing an apology to the Turkish government. Germany's ambassador in Ankara was asked by the Turkish Foreign Ministry to come in for a meeting and was given a warning. A statement released by the ministry said: “Regarding allegations in the German press, German authorities are expected to make an official and satisfactory statement and if the allegations are true, to end these [wiretapping] activities immediately.”
The incident is a great scandal for our national security. The account of this activity, which does not befit a relationship between allies, should be examined. The Edward Snowden leak scandal showed the world with great clarity that eavesdropping among allies -- never mind enemies -- has become an ordinary activity. American intelligence spied on allies such as Germany and Turkey and Germany spied on Turkey. The Guardian newspaper once reported that the US had been listening in on the phones of 35 world leaders. Who knows what Russia, Israel, the UK, China, Iran, France and others might be doing?
I have commented before that the sincerity of Turkish administrators who regularly talk about the illegal wiretapping issue in our country is dubious at best. We need to ask the following about the German wiretapping scandal: Does Turkey have access to critical information necessary to protect its national interests in similar ways? Or are we in a situation in which we are always being spied on? Do we have enough security to protect the confidential information of the state against such spying? If many foreign intelligence agencies spy on us and if they discover illegitimate activity within Turkish administrations in addition to national secrets, does this not carry the risk of becoming an issue of blackmail?
If the record of a critical meeting on Syria at the Turkish Foreign Ministry being leaked onto the Internet before the local elections in March was not an act of perception management, we really do have a serious security problem. In addition, while everyone is freely spying on others around the world, it is another scandal entirely to accuse a specific group within the country of wiretapping state officials without providing any concrete evidence. As you may recall, two hours after the records of the Syria meeting were leaked onto the Internet, Prime Minister and President-elect Recep Tayyip Erdoğan put the blame on the so-called “parallel structure,” a term used by the government to refer to the faith-based Hizmet movement, without providing any evidence. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu did the same a day later. At a news conference on April 10, Davutoğlu admitted to having made this serious accusation based on an assumption. In an interview, he talked about three possibilities, supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, elements of the parallel structure and pro-Iranian figures. Now, Germany has also been added to this list.
The only reason Davutoğlu attributes the wiretapping scandal to the Hizmet movement -- although concrete evidence has yet to be put forward over the past five months -- is the fact that the movement itself has not been strident enough in taking sides with the government. However, the Zaman daily, affiliated with the movement, in one of its main stories condemned those who wiretapped the meeting and leaked its records. The lawyer for Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen also made a statement saying, “Just as it is reprehensible to release the records of conversations on national security, it is also reprehensible to associate this incident with my client.” The questions “Is there any evidence or not?”, “Is it Germany, Iran or the US?” and “Why are there not measures in place to prevent such activity?” are meaningless because the goal is to change the agenda of the country with perception management and to proceed on the way to becoming a mukhabarat.
Published on Today's Zaman, 22 August 2014, Friday
- Smear campaign against Gülen fails after new details emerge on eavesdropping
- Beware of the espionage case in Germany
- Pro-gov't dailies report conflicting news on leaked audio on Syria
- Erdoğan again quick to attribute Syria audio link to Hizmet with no proof
- ‘This community even puts cameras in bathrooms,’ so you said
- Welcome to the Mukhabarat state of Turkey
- From republic to al-mukhabarat state
- Turkey to be ruled by intelligence units