Intelligence Diplomacy and the Engineering of Turkish Transformation

Intelligence Diplomacy and the Engineering of Turkish Transformation

After the failed coup attempt in Turkey in July 2016, the role of the Turkish intelligence Agency headed by Hakan Fidan escalated in the management of many Turkish foreign policy files, especially with the multiplicity, diversity and complexity of these files and the interference of many regional and international parties.

The year 2022 and January 2023 witnessed a further escalation in this role in three of the most important of these files, namely the Syrian file, the Sudanese file and the Libyan file.

In August and September 2022, the head of Turkish intelligence held several meetings with the Director of the National Security Office Ali Mamlouk in Damascus, and these meetings were linked in part to pressure by Russia on Turkey to normalize its relations with the Syrian regime, so that Russia would secure its front in Syria in light of the developments in the situation in Ukraine, in an attempt to prevent the regime's economic collapse.

On 16 January 2023, Hakan visited the Sudan, where he met the Chairman of the Sovereign Council of the Sudan, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, his deputy, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (Hemeti), and the Director of General Intelligence of the Sudan, Lieutenant General Ahmed Ibrahim Mufzal. This visit came after the visit of the head of the Egyptian intelligence service, Abbas Kamel, to the Sudan on 2 January, as well as after the Sudan renewed its complaint against Egypt before the Security Council regarding sovereignty over the Halayeb Triangle on the fourth of the same month, as well as the visit of the Director of General Intelligence of the Sudan to the United States of America on 6 January 2023.

On January 17, Hakan visited Libya, where he held several meetings with the Head of the Supreme State Council, Khalid al-Mishri, the Head of the Presidential Council, Mohamed al-Manfi, the head of the Libyan Intelligence Service, Lieutenant General Hussein al-A 'ib, and the head of the National Unity Government, Abdelhamid al-Dabiba, in the presence of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Najla al-Mangoush, and the Ministers of State for Cabinet Affairs and the Prime Minister, Adel Jumaa, and Communication and Political Affairs, Walid al-Lafi.

The visit of the head of Turkish intelligence came after several meetings between Libyan officials and Egyptian officials, and after the visit of the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) William Burns to Tripoli and Benghazi on January 12, 2023, during which he met with both Dabaiba and the commander of the forces of the General Command, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar. During that visit, he discussed the issues of combating terrorism, oil and gas production, as well as relations with Russia, and the activities of "Wagner" in Libya. Washington focuses on Libya within a broader vision in its conflict with Russia, especially in the Ukrainian war and its repercussions on global energy security, given the presence of "Wagner" in it. What matters to Washington is Libya's possession of one of the largest oil and gas reserves in Africa. and the fear that Russia will use "Wagner" to close Libyan oil fields and ports to increase pressure on Europe, as well as to recruit Libyan fighters in its ranks to fight in Ukraine.

Hakan's visit to Tripoli was also linked to an attempt to remove differences and remove the causes of tension between Ankara's allies in the Libyan West, especially between the President of the Supreme Council of State and the Prime Minister. Such a dispute could lead to divisions and conflicts that could have negative repercussions on Turkish interests and agreements in Libya.

The Turkish dealings with the Syrian, Libyan and Sudanese files came at the intelligence level, given that it was under this banner internationally, in the complete absence of the political level of the various parties.

It is noteworthy that the recent moves of Turkish security diplomacy are connected with movements and roles of external parties on the same files. On the Syrian file, the movements were linked to the Russian role, in Sudan they were linked to the Egyptian and American roles, and in Libya they were linked to the Egyptian and American roles, although this link increases the degree of complexity and interconnection in these files, but it also reflects the importance of the Turkish role in them.

In these files, Turkey seeks to achieve two main goals, the first is to preserve and consolidate the previous gains; and the second is to search for new opportunities of influence. Ankara which is heading to an important political entitlement after several months primarily wants to maximize the external gains that can be used at the internal level, and maximize the negotiating papers with actors influencing the Turkish scene politically or economically.