Mossad chief Tamir Pardo met secretly with top Turkish intelligence officials to discuss Iran, Syria and the domestic protests in Turkey, the Turkish paper Hurriyet reported Wednesday.
According to the report, Pardo met Hakan Fidan, the undersecretary of Turkey’s intelligence agency, on Monday in Ankara. The two discussed the ongoing civil war in Syria and the Iranian presence in that country, which borders both Israel and Turkey, the report said.
Pardo gave Fidan information, from the Mossad and other Israeli intelligence hierarchies, concerning anti-Turkish activity by Syria and Iran, Israeli sources said later Wednesday. This included intelligence on Iranian Revolutionary Guards activity inside Turkey, the sources said, noting that Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier this week charged that foreign elements were involved in the Taksim Square protests in Istanbul.
The meeting of the intelligence chiefs was the first such top-level contact since the Mavi Marmara flotilla affair in May 2010 ruptured Israeli-Turkish ties. It appeared to reflect a warming relationship in the wake of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s apology phone call to Erdogan in March for the deaths of nine Turks on the Marmara.
Turkish media said Pardo had sought to meet with Erdogan but was rebuffed — an assertion the Israeli sources dismissed.
Some Israeli commentators said the leak about the intelligence meeting may have been orchestrated on Erdogan’s behalf, in an effort to implicate Israel in the Istanbul protests. News that Israel’s Mossad chief was in Turkey, a Channel 2 report said Wednesday night, may have been deliberately spread in Turkey to ostensibly give backing to Erdogan’s talk of foreign elements with economic interests, who are opposed to his government, being behind the anti-government protests.
Over 80,000 people have been killed in the ongoing fighting in Syria between President Bashar Assad’s forces and opposition fighters. Both Turkey and Israel have experienced spillovers from the civil war, as mortar shells and stray bullets crossed the border from Syria. Turkey has also taken in over 300,000 Syrian refugees.
Pardo was reportedly also updated about the Turkish protests. Sources told the Turkish newspaper that both Syrian and Iranian units were believed to be acting in Turkey against the government.
The protests, which were sparked during a rally against the planned demolition of a park in favor of a shopping center, have been ongoing for almost two weeks. Police stormed Taksim square, the protestors’ stronghold, early Wednesday morning as the government announced it was determined to disperse those gathered.
Four people have been killed, including a policeman, and about 5,000 have been treated for injuries or the effects of tear gas, according to the Turkish Human Rights Foundation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.