Turkish spy chief resigns to run in elections

Turkish spy chief resigns to run in elections
Analysis: Hakan Fidan, one of President Erdogan's closest allies, steps down - in a move that could open the way to becoming foreign minister.
3 min read
07 February, 2015
Fidan (right) is said to be one of President Erdogan's closest allies [Getty]

The man at heart of Turkish engagement with Syrian opposition groups is to step down - so he can stand in the upcoming elections, it has emerged.

In his role as head of Turkey's National Intelligence agency (MIT), Hakan Fidan has been a pivotal player in both the Syrian and Kurdish situations.

Working largely behind the scenes, he is reported to be one of President Tayyip Erdogan's closest allies. 

Fidan's resignation has been accepted by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and will take effect on Tuesday.


Turkey's press have in recent days speculated feverishly about the possibility of Fidan becoming an MP in the June legislative elections, saying it could set him up to become foreign minister.

Seen only occasionally in public and rarely making public comments, Fidan has emerged as one of the most powerful men in Turkey under Erdogan.

Turkey's delusion in the great game of Syria: Read Salameh Kaileh's commentary here

As head of the MIT, he has led negotiations with Kurdish opposition groups and has been central to Turkey's policy on the Syria crisis.

There have been numerous reports of tensions between Fidan and his counterparts in the US over alleged support for radical anti-regime groups in Syria and links with the Iranian intelligence.

Fidan's involvement in the Syrian conflict hit international headlines after the leaking of a wire tap believed to have recorded the intelligence chief and then-foreign minister Davutoğlu, Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu, and Deputy Chief of General Staff General Yaşar Gürel.

The recording purports to include the men discussing a possible false flag operation in Syria - and Fidan is reportedly heard saying, "... [i]f legitimacy [of a possible incursion into Syria] is an issue, I can simply send a few men there and have them launch missiles over to us... Legitimacy can be manufactured."

Twitter, Youtube and the DNS servers of Google in Turkey were shut down in response to the leak.

Syria policy

Tensions have risen in recent months between Nato allies Ankara and Washington over the Syria crisis, with the former putting the emphasis on regime change in Damascus and the latter focusing on tackling the rise of the Islamic State group (IS, formerly known as Isis).

The US-led coalition wants access to Turkish air bases for its air campaign - but Turkey is insistent on no-fly zones and security zones in Syria as a precondition.

Fidan has played a central role in the negotiations that have led to some agreement over the training and arming of vetted rebel groups, but large differences still remain.

Under Turkish law, state officials wishing to stand in the elections must resign their posts by February 10.