Turkey is blaming Israel for a report in the Washington Post this week which said that Turkey handed over to Tehran a list of Israeli agents in Iran.
“We see this media campaign as an attack and there might be an Israeli effort behind it,” a Turkish intelligence source said told the Turkish daily Hurriyet.
The Washington Post report was written by David Ignatius who, the Turkish newspaper noted, was the moderator at the World Economic Forum panel in Davos in 2009 when Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan walked out when Israeli President Shimon Peres walked in. This incident is widely viewed as the start of the deterioration of Israel-Turkey relations, the climax of which was the incident during the 2010 Gaza flotilla.
According to the Hurriyet, Ankara thinks the Washington Post story is part of a campaign that started with a Wall Street Journal story printed on October 9 and which said that Hakan Fidan, Turkey’s intelligence chief, was acting “independently” on Syria operations, jeopardizing Western interests there.
Sources in Ankara told the Hurriyet that besides trying to defame Turkey in U.S. eyes as a country tolerating terrorists like Iran, Israel might be attempting to avoid paying compensation for the nine Turks killed on the Mavi Marmara.
Under pressure from U.S. President Barack Obama, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu apologized in March to Erdogan for the Marmara incident.
Netanyahu, in addition to the apology, agreed to compensate the families of the nine Turks, while Erdogan promised to cancel the legal proceedings his country launched against IDF officials.
Reports have indicated that Israeli and Turkish officials have made progress in talks on compensation for the Marmara incident, but a deal is yet to be finalized.
Meanwhile on Saturday, after having originally denied that his country’s intelligence chief exposed Israeli spies, Turkey’s Foreign Minister seemed to confirm the Washington Post report.
“When you read these articles, Hakan Fidan is accused of establishing an independent intelligence structure and not letting other intelligence agencies operate in Turkey. Therefore, he is being blamed for doing his job,” Ahmet Davutoglu was quoted by Hurriyet as having said in an interview on private broadcaster Kanal 7.