The Mossad isn’t officially confirming a story leaked by someone in Turkey, but it seems that Tamir Pardo — head of Israel’s foreign espionage and special operations agency — made a secret visit to Turkey this past Monday.
The Mossad chief was bringing information that could help Prime Minister Erdogan. So says the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet. Of course, the files Pardo reportedly carried would also feed into Israel’s interests in the region.
For many months now, and certainly since President Obama’s visit to Israel in March — when he got Erdogan and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on the phone with each other — there have been efforts by senior Turkish and Israeli officials to restore the friendship that was shattered years ago. If the goal isn’t quite friendship, it certainly is a restoration of cooperation.
The “peripheral strategy” that goes back to the origins of the Mossad in the early 1950s stresses the benefits of Israeli cooperation — and alliances — with non-Arab Muslims, as well as non-Muslim minorities in Arab countries. Friendship with Turkey, sometimes secretive and sometimes less so, was very important.
Yossi Melman, co-author of Spies Against Armageddon: Inside Israel’s Secret Wars, is quoted today as saying — when asked about the report that Pardo went to Turkey to confer with that country’s intelligence chief, at such a tense time for the Turks: “The meeting signifies the strong will of the countries to open a new chapter in their special relations in the fields of defense and security.”
Hurriyet reports that Pardo and his Turkish counterpart talked about possible involvement by other countries — referring, it seems to Iran and Syria — in stirring up the current protests inside Turkey. The Mossad director is also said to have brought evidence of deep Iranian involvement in Syria’s civil war, on behalf of President Assad’s regime.
When Iran flexes its muscle and influence in the Middle East, especially in Turkey’s backyard, the Turks are interested in flexing back.