Turkish prime minister Tayyip Recep Erdogan has engineered a fresh assault on the already crisis-laden relationship between Turkey and Israel by putting up members of his ruling AK Islamic party to accuse the Israel military of planting bugs at Turkish military headquarters in Ankara for covert surveillance on Iran and Syria.
Erdogan is determined to stamp out the last remnants of the once-warm ties between Turkish and Israeli generals.
Wednesday, Jan. 27, AK party sources began leaking longstanding features of the military relations, including highly confidential materials. The Turkish WAQAT web site ran a long report claiming that for many years Israel kept watch on Syria and Iran from an advanced electronic surveillance station installed at Turkish military headquarters. It was allegedly manned by Israeli intelligence personnel and off-limits to Turks. According to this report, the Signals Intelligence (SIGNIT) station eavesdropped on Iranian and Syrian communications networks.
Without confirming this report, Israeli military sources pointed out to debkafile that if the Israeli Signit station did exist, it would have shared data of common interest with Turkish intelligence in the spirit of the trust and friendship governing their relations.
The Turkish military has not reacted to the allegations, which are clearly sourced to the Turkish prime minister with deliberate intent to undermine that trust. Its high command has so far not challenged Erdogan's drive to eradicate every vestige of cooperation with Israel (or even his sidelining of the military's constitutional role in upholding Turkey's secular character against its Islamization.) One likely consequence would be the shutdown of the purported listening station in Ankara.
debkafile's sources are gloomy about the future of Israel-Turkish security relations and fully expect more damage disclosures. They estimate that the latest leak was a hostile response to Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak's comments after his talks in Ankara on Jan. 17 that the differences had been smoothed over and bilateral relations were back to normal.