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Can we trust Turkey?

Posted by Charles II on January 26, 2016

Der Spiegel

Can Turkey Be Trusted?

This puts Western intelligence services in a difficult position: Can the Turks be trusted?

Still, European diplomats in Turkey take information provided by MIT about potential IS terrorists seriously. For example, MIT has provided concrete information about possible terrorist attackers who are making their way to Europe or are already there. One diplomat, an expert on security issues, notes that Turkey maintains a “network of informants in Syria and Iraq that should not be underestimated.” Few other intelligence agencies have such good sources in the region. The source says the Turkish government has in fact “perceptibly increased” its efforts to combat IS during the last six months. Still, the source adds, doubts persist when it comes to Ankara’s political agenda.

“There’s always a residual risk about whether Ankara is truly interested in fighting IS, or if it actually has secret sympathies — either because it wants to use it as a means to weaken Assad or because, they feel closer to their fellow believers for religious reasons (as predominantly Sunni Muslims),” the source says.

Other experts draw a less flattering comparison to Pakistan’s ISI intelligence service. With ISI, too, they say, you never know which side it is actually on — whether it is combatting or supporting the Taliban or doing both at the same time.

European diplomats also find it problematic that MIT was given additional responsibilities in 2014 such that it can now be used as a “domestic policy instrument.” The secret service now has much greater access to data from companies, banks and their customers. “It is making life difficult for all people who are unpopular with the government,” the diplomat says. He says this has also resulted in further incursions into press freedoms. Journalists who report on the intelligence agency’s activities can now be subject to prosecution and stiff prison sentences because it can be claimed that they threaten security.

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