July 10, 2015

Beware of the espionage case in Germany

Cafer Solgun

The German magazine Focus ran a shocking story about the lawsuit launched against three Turkish citizens who have been arrested on charges of espionage.

The magazine's story was very detailed and it argued that a voice recording posted online in which National Intelligence Organization (MİT) head Hakan Fidan explained his plan to trigger a war with Syria had been recorded by the US electronic espionage service, the National Security Agency (NSA). The pro-government media outlets are turning a blind eye to this piece of information because it undermines the witch hunt President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been waging against the community inspired by Fethullah Gülen.

The voice recording of this high-profile meeting held at the Foreign Ministry was posted on the Internet last year, shocking everyone. At that meeting, Fidan said he could make MİT agents bomb the tomb of Süleyman Şah, located in Syrian territory, in order to start a war with Syria.

Everyone wondered who had recorded this extremely confidential meeting and how. Then-Prime Minister Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party's (AKP) senior figures rushed to market the incident as "proof of the ‘parallel state'," hurling serious charges at the Gülen community. They called the incident "treason" and "espionage." They used it as an arsenal for their perception-engineering campaigns. Since then, no answer has been given to the question, "Who recorded the meeting and leaked it, and how?"

What is more scandalous is that Fidan hasn't been called to account for the remarks he made during that meeting. "I'll send four of my men and they will blow up the tomb of Süleyman Şah and this will be an excuse for entering Syria," Fidan allegedly said during that meeting, and neither Fidan nor the government has had to account for those remarks in court.

"Every state has such secret affairs," they say, but this doesn't allay the seriousness of the matter. Indeed, what's at stake is war, and war concerns all of us. We cannot just gloss this over by saying, "That doesn't concern us; they are affairs of state that we cannot understand."

When it was found out that that meeting had been wiretapped and leaked by the US, did those who rushed to accuse the Gülen community of treason or espionage feel ashamed? Given the fact that the pro-government media outlets didn't report this news story, we can say that there isn't any sign of embarrassment or guilt. If President Erdoğan, the AKP government or Erdoğan's media trolls had made any "apology," this would really be shocking news.

As you will remember, when it became clear that the British and German secret services were wiretapping the communication of Turkey's senior leaders, then-Prime Minister Erdoğan said, "Powerful governments spy [on others]; this is normal." This remark only sought to drop the matter from the agenda. Probably, he was panicked to think about what those spies learned about him and his government.

"As you see, they have spied on all of us," he frequently boomed in election rallies to lay the blame on the Gülen community, but it wasn't easy to bully powerful countries. This is particularly true if you have indulged in secret, unlawful affairs...

The lawsuit Germany brought against three Turkish citizens, including Erdoğan's former adviser and Fidan's close colleague Muhammet Taha Gergerlioğlu, is not a simple espionage case. The extensions in Europe of those unlawful affairs will, it seems, come to the agenda as the trial progresses. Therefore, we need to pay attention to this trial.

Why Erdoğan is seeking to keep the AKP in power and take the country to a snap election while the AKP is in power is closely associated with these developments. Next week I will take a break due to health problems. I hope to see you again...

Published on Today's Zaman, 09 July 2015, Thursday