Turkey appoints top spy as security threats shift

(Reuters) – Turkey has named a foreign policy expert with close knowledge of Iran as its new top spy, as the country linking Europe with the Middle East adapts its security priorities to deal with external threats.

Hakan Fidan’s appointment this week as head of the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) reflects a shift in focus from domestic issues such as Kurdish separatism to transnational threats such as al Qaeda and nuclear proliferation.

“Turkey is an international player, so it is matching its intelligence-gathering activities to its new role,” said Gareth Jenkins, an Istanbul-based security analyst. “Turkey has been generally introspective but as it gets more involved outside its borders, the nature of the threat has changed.”

Jenkins said bombings in Istanbul in 2003 by al Qaeda, in which more than 60 people were killed, were a “wake-up call” for an intelligence community which until then had mostly focused on separatist guerrillas of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).


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