Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Those Plans to Attack Iran?

Thanks to J.S., who reminded me that this specific item, and the Turkish newspaper reports that prompted it, caused quite a stir last month. Since then, what Cumhuriyet “reported that Goss allegedly asked” of the Turks – “warning Ankara to be ready for a possible U.S. aerial operation against Iran and Syria” – has been accepted in some circles as straightforward fact:

UPI Intelligence Watch
UPI International Correspondent

WASHINGTON, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- The heads of both the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have recently visited Turkey, leading to intense speculation in the Turkish media about the topics discussed with Turkish officials.

On Monday CIA Director Porter Goss met with Milli Istihbarat Teskilati, or MIT, intelligence service officials for four-and-a-half hours in Ankara. Goss reportedly brought three dossiers on Iran with him. Accompanied by a large delegation Goss met with MIT Undersecretary Emre Taner and General Staff Intelligence Director Lt. Gen. Arslan Guner. Goss also visited Turkish Security Director General Gokhan Aydiner and Security Intelligence Director Sabri Uzun.

Topics discussed at the meetings included the fight against the Kurdish Worker's Party, or PKK in northern Iraq, al-Qaida and possibilities for exchanging intelligence on Iraqi insurgents. Cumhuriyet reported that Goss allegedly asked for Turkish support for the Bush administration's policies on Iran's nuclear activities, telling Turkish officials that Iran has nuclear weapons, a situation that created a huge threat to Turkey and other countries in the region.

Goss said that Iran sees Turkey as an enemy and will "export its regime,"

warning Ankara to be ready for a possible U.S. aerial operation against Iran and Syria.

On Tuesday Goss was driven in his armored BMW escorted by vehicles equipped with electronic jamming equipment to a meeting with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkish officials reportedly told Goss of three topics of concern. First, that European tolerance for terrorist groups linked to Turkey must be stopped. The officials also requested that the United States pressure Belgium to extradite Fehriye Erdal, suspected of the 1996 assassination of Ozdemir Sabanci and two colleagues. The final Turkish request was U.S. assistance in halting broadcasts of the Kurdish Roj TV station from Europe.

Accepted in some circles, as I say, but not in mine. I think the closer we look at the Bush administration policy toward Iran, the more we see the shadows of a rather more complicated initiative including covert action and disinformation – of which the Turkish reports might well be an element. On the other hand, this is something to follow closely. The Der Spiegel version is useful for that. -- CD

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