Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyep Erdogan has pledged Iran air force and intelligence back-up against a possible Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities. It is incorporated in a secret understanding Erdogan finalized with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran Wednesday, Oct. 28, DEBKA-Net-Weekly's military and intelligence sources reveal.
He also guaranteed a Turkish intelligence tip-off to Tehran on US military movements in the Middle East in support of an Israeli attack, under an accord drafted three days earlier by intelligence and air force delegations representing the two countries.
Erdogan has thus laid down four historical precedents:
1. Turkey became the first NATO member to volunteer sensitive Western intelligence to a radical Islamic regime in a war contingency.
2. Not only did the Turkish leader trash his country's longstanding friendly ties with Israel, but he agreed to add a northwestern front to the northeastern lineup threatening the Jewish state. Israel will now find itself under the eagle eye of four hostile forward intelligence outposts, Syria and Lebanon in the north, the Palestinian Hamas in the south and now Turkey in the northwest.
The Iranians trust this reinforced intelligence loop around Israel for early warning of an impending Israeli attack and also for tracking Israel Defense Forces and US wartime troop movements. This real-time information from four directions will be invaluable for aiding Iran to calibrate its missile attacks.
3. Turkish-Iranian military cooperation has raised the anxiety level across the Middle East, flashing ominous signals to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the Persian Gulf emirates.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly's Ankara sources add that Erdogan feels Egypt and Saudi Arabia deserve no better for the crime of spurning his role as mediator-in-chief for the region and Muslim world.
Turkey holds many Israeli intelligence and tactical secrets
4. Turkish armed forces will be forced to enter into operational relations with an anti-Western Middle East nation for the first time ever.
Our sources further report that Thursday. October 29, four Turkish intelligence and air force officers were due in the Iranian capital to open a liaison office for detailed operational planning of the new accords with Iran. One is a specialist in air defenses.
The Turks went to a lot of trouble to keep their new pact with Iran dark, but the Iranians could not resist letting the cat out of the bag with broad hints trumpeting their biggest strategic coup in years. Tuesday, Oct. 27, Ahmadinejad said “the two friendly countries of Iran and Turkey share common interests and threats.” He stressed that the two countries, through joint efforts “can conquer all threats and take advantage of all existing opportunities.”
The next day, parliament speaker Ali Larijani was more outspoken: “Cooperation between Iran and Turkey can strengthen security in the region,” he said. “Iran and Turkey's roles complete each other,” he said pointing to regional developments in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine.
The news of Turkey's military collaboration with Iran was a bolt from the blue for Israel because, DEBKA-Net–Weekly's sources disclose, its intelligence experts had not anticipated Erdogan taking ties with Tehran that far.
They confront its war planners with immense military complications. An important Middle East power has just joined the list of countries willing to actively line up behind Iran in war. Furthermore, from their long years as Israel's close ally, Turkish intelligence and air force officers are thoroughly familiar with all the IDF branches' methods of operation and tactics. Even a part of this knowledge imparted to Iran would profoundly impair Israeli planning for striking Iran. Finally, any thought of reaching its nuclear facilities through Turkish air space will have to be forgotten.
Turkey is awarded an Iranian business bonanza
DEBKA-Net-Weekly Iranian sources report that at their first encounter Tuesday, Oct. 27, Ahmadinejad bluntly laid down terms for the expanded trade sought by Erdogan: First, Ankara must throw in its lot with Tehran and make a military contribution toward preventing or blunting an Israel attack on Iran's nuclear installations. The Turkish prime minister readily agreed for the sake of his most important object which was to double Turkish trade with Iran from this year's $10 billion to $20 billion in 2011.
As a gesture of good faith, the Iranian president gave Turkish firms another year on their option to sign agreements for taking up concessions in the Pars Southern gas fields, offering Turkey development rights in stages 22, 23 and 24. Erdogan is keen on the project, which has been held up for two years, but asked for an extra year because Turkey lacks the technical qualifications for taking up the concession and has so far not found a willing European partner.
Turkey's military contribution to the Iranian war effort has given the Islamic republic time to finish setting up its missile deployments, air defenses and civil defense in readiness for an Israeli attack on its nuclear and strategic installations. The Iranians were in a hurry, expecting a strike to take place between late December and early 2010. They have also allowed for possible US intervention based on their perception of the US-Israeli joint Juniper Cobra exercise now ending the first of its two weeks.
Tuesday, the day Erdogan clinched his military partnership with Ahmadinejad, the US units taking part in the exercise deployed around Tel Aviv and joint deputy commander US Army Colonel Anthony English informed the press: In addition to honing our relations with Israel, he said, “we are trying to integrate that (Aegis) capability here with the X-band radar and the THAAD weapon system, along with the Patriot system.”
As the US missile shield for Europe took shape, Tehran had its responses lined up.
Tehran may be hitting out in advance in several directions
That night, Iran's Lebanese proxy Hizballah fired rockets into northern Israel's Galilee, transmitting the message that Tehran' did not propose to stand idle in the face of US or Israel military preparations, which it interprets as directed against itself. In the event, only one of the five rockets fired exploded outside the Israeli town of Kiryat Shemona, causing no damage.
But that may not have been all. DEBKA-Net-Weekly's intelligence sources quote some Middle East informants as placing Iran's hand behind the multiple bombing attacks on three Iraqi government offices in Baghdad's Green Zone Sunday, October 25, in which 155 people died and over 700 were wounded.
The operation was unusually professional and precise, hallmarks of Iranian intelligence terror operations which may have been carried out by agents it hired in Iraq or outside the country.
In that case, it would have been an object lesson to show Washington the horrific scale of widespread violence awaiting the Middle East and Afghanistan if an Israeli attack on Iran is allowed to go through.
Wednesday, Oct. 29, more than 60 members of Iraq's security agencies, including 11 high officers, were arrested in connection with the attack, the largest and deadliest the country has seen in two years.
They were apparently held for collaborating with the unnamed force which orchestrated it.