Arrest of 33 alleged Mossad agents; No permission to British minesweepers to pass through the Straits; Cancellation of Turkish Super Cup in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Arrest of 33 alleged Mossad agents; No permission to British minesweepers to pass through the Straits; Cancellation of Turkish Super Cup in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Parallel to the developments in the world, last week in Türkiye was marked by heated discussions.

The arrest of 34 people allegedly working for the Mossad in Türkiye was at the top of the agenda.

Türkiye’s refusal to allow the passage of minelayers that the United Kingdom wanted to send to Ukraine via the Black Sea through the Straits was of great importance.

Another issue that was discussed intensely both in the political world and in society was the cancellation of the Turkish Super Cup final between Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, due to the dispute between the Saudi authorities and the two Turkish clubs.

Arrest of 33 alleged Mossad agents

Last week, 34 people, mostly of foreign nationality, allegedly operating for Mossad were arrested in Türkiye.

An investigation was initiated by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office for Terrorism and Organized Crime Investigation Bureau, following the inquiry of the Istanbul Counter-Terrorism Branch Directorate, the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) and the Intelligence Branch Directorate. During the investigation, information was uncovered indicating that Mossad aimed to conduct activities such as reconnaissance, surveillance, assault and abduction in Türkiye against Palestinians and Israeli citizens who are critical of Israel’s actions.

Law enforcement carried out simultaneous operations in 15 districts in Istanbul, as well as in Ankara, Kocaeli, Hatay, Mersin, İzmir, Van, and Diyarbakır and captured 34 suspects. Another 13 suspects remain at large, and authorities found 143,830 euros, $23,680, an unlicensed gun and digital files according to Turkish media reports.

The sources of the National Intelligence Organization shared information with the press stating the operations against individuals affiliated with Israeli Intelligence initiated in 2021 continue:

“In 2021, operations against foreign individuals handled by the Israeli Intelligence Service and the operation against private detectives and tactical personnel in 2022 resulted in actions against a total of 97 individuals, including 58 foreigners and 39 Turkish citizens. Initially, 51 of them were arrested. The legal process for these individuals is ongoing. In addition, Selçuk Küçükkaya and his network, consisting of 16 individuals, who regularly met with Israeli agents abroad and carried out tasks assigned by Israeli Intelligence, were dismantled in April 2023.

Lastly, attempts by the Israeli Intelligence Service to kidnap Palestinian engineer Omer Al Belbaisy previously in Malaysia were thwarted by initiatives in our country.

In coordination between the National Intelligence Organization and the Directorate of Security Intelligence, a new operation against individuals connected to the Israeli Intelligence Service was initiated in January 2024.

On the morning of January 2, 2024, in a joint effort by the Istanbul Provincial Police Intelligence Branch and Counter-Terrorism Unit, a total of 34 individuals, mostly of foreign nationality, were detained in eight cities with Istanbul as the center. (…)

The individuals are assessed to be used in tactical tasks in short-term actions.

The Israeli Intelligence Service is recruiting personnel to be used in actions against Palestinians and their families in our country.”

The statement concludes with the words, “The operations against individuals linked to the Israel Service will continue in the coming period.”

Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya also made a statement. He shared that the Mossad intelligence service planned to surveil and kidnap foreigners on Turkish soil and said “We will never allow espionage activities against the national unity and solidarity of our country!”

President Erdoğan said “There is an insidious operation and sabotage attempts being made against Türkiye and its interests” after the raids were announced.

Türkiye did not allow British minesweepers to pass through the Straits

Ministry of National Defense sources denied the claim in the press that Turkish authorities permitted the passage of minesweepers sent to Ukraine by the United Kingdom through the Istanbul Straits. The sources said, “The allegation that Türkiye acted contrary to the Montreux Accord by allowing the passage of minesweepers sent to Ukraine by the United Kingdom through the Straits is not true.”

In the statement, it was emphasized that Türkiye was the first country that defined the ongoing situation in Ukraine as a war since the beginning of the conflict and took measures, that is, the passage of warships belonging to the warring parties through the Straits was halted in accordance with the Montreux Straits Agreement dated 1936.

The sources also stated that Türkiye has maintained a neutral position since the beginning of the conflict and highlighted Türkiye’s “commitment to the peace, dialogue and prosperity of coastal countries in the Black Sea, the: ”We believe that the existing security balance should be maintained within the framework of the principle of ‘regional ownership,’ and the status quo established by the Montreux Agreement, which we have applied neutrally, fairly and prudently until now, must be preserved.”

In this context, sources announced that a signing ceremony for the MCM BLACK SEA will be held in Istanbul on January 10-11, hosted by Türkiye with the participation of Romania and Bulgaria. This event aims to facilitate the commencement of navigation and training activities for minesweepers under the MCM BLACKSEA umbrella.

There has been no official statement from British authorities on the matter. The Telegraph, a British newspaper, reported Türkiye’s decision as a “serious setback for Ukraine.”

Cancellation of Turkish Super Cup in Riyadh

The Super Cup match between Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe, two of the biggest sports clubs with a total of around 50 million fans, scheduled to take place on December 29th in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, has been cancelled. The cancellation of the match immediately sparked a great debate in Türkiye.

Although some of the reasons and the details of the process leading to the cancellation are not yet clear, it is known that the clubs decided not to take the field as their demands for t-shirts with Atatürk’s picture and banners related to the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Türkiye were not met.

Hours before the Super Cup match in Riyadh, it was claimed that the Saudi authorities would not permit Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe to display Atatürk banners and wear Atatürk t-shirts.

The Turkish Football Federation and the officials of the two clubs made a joint statement and announced the cancellation of the match.

Crowds of fans flocked to the airports to welcome their teams and congratulate them on their decision.

The opposition criticized the government for its decision to play the Super Cup in Saudi Arabia on the centenary of the Republic. The government denied the allegations and emphasized that Mustafa Kemal Atatürk is a common value of the whole society.

Columnists close to the government mostly blamed the President of the Turkish Football Federation for the scandal.

Leader of the Vatan Party, Doğu Perinçek, made a statement emphasizing that those who want to damage Türkiye-Saudi Arabia and Turk-Arab relations are behind the scandal in Saudi Arabia.

United World International

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June 2024