Türkiye dismantles a Mossad network that spied on Arab political exiles

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Relations between Turkey and Israel have improved considerably, after more than a lost decade. Beneath the surface, however, their respective intelligence agencies are relentless. An MIT operation - the Turkish secret service - has dismantled in recent days a network of agents at the service of Mossad, the legendary Israeli foreign secret service. These arrests would have unmasked 56 agents, in nine cities. It is also the third blow to the Mossad in Turkish territory since last December.

The scoop from the Sabah newspaper, well connected to the Turkish government, reports that the seven detainees have confessed their links to the Mossad. His work, to spy on the many Arab exiles thrown into Istanbul -especially- after the now widespread failure of the so-called Arab Springs. The nine networks in question reported to as many Mossad mentors in Tel Aviv, according to the Turkish newspaper. His job was to find out the whereabouts of individuals targeted by the Mossad in Syria and Lebanon by hacking into their mobile phones and computers. Once their coordinates were established, they became potential targets for drone strikes.

For this, for example, they came to create websites in Arabic likely to arouse their interest, to decipher their IP address. Communication was established through mobile phone cards purchased in Spain, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Malaysia or Indonesia. These were used for a single call. The insiders continued their contacts with their Israeli mentors "in Serbia (Kosovo?), Dubai and Bangkok," according to Sabah.

This dismantling almost overlaps with information spread last week by the Israeli government that indirectly accused Turkey. According to Tel Aviv, an Iranian individual intended to assassinate an Israeli businessman in Cyprus and counted on the complicity of Pakistanis residing in the self-styled Republic of Northern Cyprus, occupied by Turkey.

Always according to the Israeli authorities, said individual, despite having managed to flee to Iran, would have been detained there by the Mossad. Other arrests reportedly occurred in the Republic of Cyprus, an ally of Israel to which many Israelis escape on vacation. Tehran, for its part, denies any veracity to said leak and assures that the Israeli operation actually took place a year ago, resulting in failure.

When the perplexity has not yet died down, Turkey reports its third operation in less than seven months against an alleged Mossad network on its territory. The above operation led to the arrest of eleven suspected Mossad collaborators, in this case hell-bent on boycotting economic transactions between Turkey and Iran, with an Iranian company and several Iranian individuals as main targets. The ringleader of the uncovered network would have been, in this case, according to Turkish sources, a person linked to the network of the cleric Fethullah Güllen, who lives under protection in the US.

Even earlier, in December, fifteen other "Mossad collaborators" were detained in Turkish territory, in this case for spying on the activities of university students of Palestinian origin, especially those who are pursuing scientific or engineering studies, likely to improve certain capacities in the dismasted occupied Palestine.

None of the above, which does not affect the fundamental interests of Turkey or Israel, will cause MIT and Mossad to break their collaboration. Turkish services, for example, dismantled last year, at the behest of Israel, an Iranian plot that allegedly sought to assassinate the Israeli ambassador or Israeli tourists. In the recent case of Cyprus, another possible adjective would be the Chabad House, a Hasidic network that offers kosher food and a social life to passing Jews, often businessmen. A few months ago, Israel circulated the existence of similar plans against the Chabad House in Athens.

The latest operations against the Mossad - which involve preparations of up to a year and a half - matured under the leadership of Hakan Fidan, Turkey's new foreign minister but who, for the last thirteen years, has been in charge of MIT. The description of "super spy" and the political promotion of him, by the hand of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, reminds some of the rise of a certain Vladimir Putin -ex-KGB- by the late Boris Yeltsin.

The complicity of Erdogan and Fidan -who is Kurdish- has been forged in the most difficult moments. The secret conversations that the head of the Turkish government entrusted to the head of espionage with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) were leaked, then boycotted, by the police, journalistic and judicial plot that orbited at the beginning of the last decade around Fethullah Gülen, already then self-exiled in Pennsylvania. The 2016 coup attempt, in which the Gülenists were the main battering ram, was defeated, which strengthened the relationship between Erdogan, Fidan and the head of the army - and later Defense Minister - Hulusi Akar.

This security leadership tried to advance Turkey's strategic interests in Syria, Libya, Azerbaijan or the Eastern Mediterranean with artifice diplomacy and autonomy from the US that Ankara had rarely allowed itself, with the exception of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus. in 1974 or his lack of collaboration in the US invasion of Iraq.

Likewise, an attempt has been made to avert forever the coup scourge that has plagued Turkey periodically since 1960 (despite its integration into NATO since 1952). Not only with the purge of coup elements (probably overstated) but also with a reinforcement of the intelligence services as if Turkey were a great power (something that its economy and finances deny).

The MIT campuses in Ankara and Istanbul, opened in the last three years, are among the most gigantic complexes in Turkey. Although this year they will be surpassed by the so-called "Erdogan Pentagon" (actually larger than the original one in Washington), which will bring together the Army headquarters -away from the center of Ankara- and the Ministry of Defense under one roof . Directly opposite, on the other side of the highway, you will not miss the already inaugurated KALE (castle), the intelligence headquarters.

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