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Cold War Politics Back Again?

Cold War Politics Back Again?

It might be assumed that the exchange of prisoners, spies, important sportspeople, political or business personalities can only be seen in films.

A country sending some of its undercover secret service agents to capture and bring home some wanted people might as well appear to most people as “nothing but fiction.” Most people in this country grew up with stories of secret operations in this region by American, German, British or the Israeli intelligence services. Maps drawn at Britain’s Istanbul consulate, Lawrence of Arabia and such stories belong to the past, while the current secret operations of the spy agencies of the U.S., Russia, Israel or some other countries might not yet have been exposed to the societies. How many people were carried on CIA’s secret flights through Turkey from Afghanistan or Middle Eastern countries to some secret questioning and prison centers elsewhere?

Such issues, however, were not at all limited to Hollywood films, thrillers or the Cold Warera. All prisoner swaps do not have to be carried out at the Charlie Checkpoint.

Was it not the American and Israeli “friends” that gave Turkey’s number one enemy, the chieftain of the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) — Abdullah Öcalan — who was at a Kenyan airport at the time, to Turkey in 1999 on a silver platter?

Collaboration and cooperation among secret services, if and when there is a common interest, appears rather probable or at least logical. How many of the recent operations of the Turkish spy agency in allied and non-allied countries were successful, or how many wanted members of Fethullah Gülen’s organization were captured are not yet clear. What is known is that many of our “friendly” and “brotherly” neighbors or allies have expressed discontent about such covert operations on their territories, by Turkey, without their prior consent. Had alleged discussions between some top Turkish personalities and some American senior people went smoothly as Ankara hoped, perhaps Turkey would have achieved bringing home Gülen as well. That plan, however, failed.

Many people, remembering the surprise release of Turkish-German journalist Deniz Yücel in the aftermath of a meeting between then Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, made some farfetched speculations. Accordingly, the release of pastor Andrew Brunson — now under house arrest — might be believed to have been done for the exchange and the release and travel to Turkey of Halkbank’s deputy general manager Hakan Atilla or the Israeli permission for Ebru Özkan, a Turkish citizen who was arrested in Israel, to leave the country. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan openly declared that Turkey never engaged in such a deal. Would Erdoğan concede if there was such a failed deal?

Obviously Turkey is heading toward a very strong confrontation with its longtime ally United States, and the sanctions both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence reiterate at every opportunity might land Turkish-American relations at an unprecedented, devastating confrontation. Congress initiatives to sanction Turkey by suspending the delivery of F-35 fighter jets, if Turkey buys the Russian-made S-400 missile system, and persistent vows by Trump and Pence, which are responded by Ankara with statements like “Turkey cannot succumb to any sort of pressure,” demonstrate a strengthening cold war between two allies. Let’s hope it stays there.

Published in http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/opinion/yusuf-kanli/cold-war-politics-back-again-135208

About The Author

Yusuf Kanli

Born in Cyprus in 1959, Yusuf Kanlı is a graduate of the English Language and Literature Department of the Faculty of Letters of the Ankara University. He started journalism with the Turkish Daily News in 1978. Until he briefly left the paper in 1985 (for military service in Northern Cyprus) he served as diplomatic correspondent, assistant foreign news editor and assistant editor. During this period he was as well one of the two co-authors of an annual reference book on Turkey, “Turkey Almanac”. After completing his military service he returned the Daily News as assistant editor. In 1989 he became executive editor and also started writing daily opinion articles. He continued to be one of the co-authors of the “Turkey Almanac” annual reference book. In February 1993, over differences with the publisher on editorial policy, he quit the paper and joined the Anatolia News Agency (AA) as deputy foreign news chief. He stayed with the Anatolia News Agency until September 1995. In this period, he covered the Armenia-Azerbaijan war over Nogorno-Karabagh, covered developments in the post-independence Central Asian republics. Because of his refusal as the duty editor to run a manipulated news story demanded by the then lady prime minister of the country, he was fired from the AA, a development that Kanlı considers as his “medal of honor” in the profession. On his return to the Daily News for a third time in October 1995, he first became an editor at large but soon assumed the responsibility of electronic publishing and established Turkey’s first daily updated English language news web site, the TDN Online on May 19, 1996 (now www.hurriyetdailynews.com). In January 1997, he became executive editor of the Daily News for a second time and stayed in that post until he was appointed as editor-in-chief in June 2004. In February 2007, he quit all executive duties and became a contract columnist of the newspaper. He has been also writing weekly articles in Turkish for a variety of newspapers and news portals in Northern Cyprus. He is a former chairperson and the honorary chairperson of Diplomacy Correspondents Association (DMD) of Turkey, an active member of Association of Foreign Policy Council, a member of the executive board and vice chairperson of the Association of Journalists and coordinator of the Press for Freedom project, which has been monitoring and reporting on press and freedom of expression issues in Turkey since 2013. He has been a member of several associations and foundations, mostly established by Turkish Cypriots living in Turkey or abroad. He is married to Dr. Aydan Kanlı and has one daughter, Cansu. He has Turkish, Turkish Cypriot and Cypriot triple nationality.

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