Two weeks ago I wrote in an editorial that those in Washington who were expecting big things from AK, the Justice and Development Party in Turkey, were in a state of disillusionment. The reason for this was obvious: The normalization process between Israel and Turkey came up empty despite massive efforts. In addition, because of Turkey's unorthodox approach to the events in Gezi Park, tying the coup d'état in Egypt to Israel and, finally, the probable agreement it has made with China on a missile defense system, the Obama administration is generally disappointed in Turkey.
If expectations are not managed better, it seems as if relations between Ankara and Washington may be headed toward a crisis. In the last 10 days, first The Wall Street Journal and then The Washington Post printed articles taking aim at Hakan Fidan.* Even if these articles don't cause a crisis between Turkey and the United States, they are likely to create a disturbance. According to the articles, three years ago, Hakan Fidan gave sensitive intelligence, gathered by the U.S. and Israel, to Iran. Washington Post writer David Ignatius went further in asserting that the identities of Iranian agents working for Mossad** in Turkey were given up. In both articles it is claimed that Turkey, by way of Milli İstihbarat Teşkilatı, Turkey’s national intelligence organization, has been in contact with groups affiliated with al-Qaida in Syria.
These claims, in fact, are not new. It has been a long time since these accusations went into circulation in 2010 and 2011. Today, relations between Turkey and Iran, because of the Syrian conflict and the placement of NATO radars, are much more negative. It makes one wonder why these issues are coming up in articles now. In short, it was timed. Without creating conspiracy theories, it is important to ask a simple question: If Turkey's relations with Israel at the present time were normal, would these articles have any value? It is important to note that these pieces have been published when Turkey and Israel have been unable to work out the last sticking point in their relationship, namely compensation for the Mavi Marmara incident. Normally these types of news reports and articles have a large effect on the U.S. Congress.
For this reason it is necessary to dwell on the issue of groups in Congress that are uncomfortable about Turkey. Apart from the Israel lobby, it is important to note the American weapons lobby's worries about Turkey's purchase of missiles from China.
Today, in my opinion, there are groups that don't want to see a normalization of relations between Turkey and Israel. These groups fear the influence that Turkey has over Hamas. Hamas' biggest supporter in Cairo, Morsi, is no longer the leader of the government as a result of a coup d'état.
Developments in Syria also upset Hamas' calculations. Hamas, which has burned its bridges with Damascus and Tehran, now has only one firm supporter in the region: Turkey. For this reason Turkey has a great opportunity when it comes to Hamas. Turkey, which for a while has been alone in the region, has a chance to become an actor in the Middle East peace process once again. That chance comes in the form of Gaza. By bringing Hamas to the table in the peace process, Turkey could increase its prestige in the region and have a positive effect on its relationship with the U.S. Therefore, Turkey, rather than paying attention to the recent articles in the press, should work to normalize relations with Israel.
* Translator’s Note: Hakan Fidan is the head of Turkey’s national intelligence organization.
** Editor’s Note: Mossad is Israel’s national intelligence agency.