Wednesday, May 15, 2013


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Since May of last year, Turkey has established a no-fly zone, which is indirectly aiding the Syrian Free Army. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated in June that any Syrian aircraft approaching Turkish airspace would be shot down. In essence, a no-fly zone was established along the 566-mile long border between the two countries. Turkish air defence systems are hi-tech and will bar further incursions into Turkish airspace by Syrian attack and armed Mi17 helicopters, which violated Turkish airspace no less than five times this year. Turkey's air defense will also deny the Syrian aircraft their own airspace thus creating a buffer zone for the Free Syrian Army to stage their troops without fear of Syrian air strikes.

I believe that this Turkish buffer zone will be the avenue for U.S. and NATO countries to arm the Syrian Free Army with hi-tech weaponry. Interestingly, light weapons have already been financed by Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The
 weapons deliveries are coordinated by the Milli Istih-barat Teskilate (MIT), Turkey’s intelligence service, with the CIA's help. The MIT is also referred to as the National Intelligence Organization and was created in 1965 to replace Turkey's National Security Service. 
The MIT has transformed dramatically. According to the former director of Foreign Operations, Yavuz Ataç, the military presence in the MIT in now negligible. This is a recent development, as the agency has a military heritage. In 1990, the fraction of military personnel was 35%. Today it has dropped to 4.5% in the lower echelons. A former deputy undersecretary Cevat Öneş said that the MİT suffered with each coup, as the military junta that took over the organization had its own set of priorities.

In order to ensure reliability, the agency has historically recruited from relatives of existing employees, but now, this is no longer the case. The former undersecretary, Emre Taner, is credited with reducing the turf war between the MİT and the police intelligence, as well as infighting inside the MİT itself. In 2009, Taner announced the restructuring of the MIT.

This latest cooperation between the MIT and CIA to establish the no-fly zone is not a surprise, since the MİT has cooperated with U.S. intelligence agencies in the past. Since the MIT has capabilities like a police agency, it may be viewed as a state secret police. 

Turkey has long floated the idea of a buffer zone to protect displaced Syrians from attacks by Syrian regime forces, but the issue is more pressing because the number of refugees in Turkey has exceeded 80,000 — an amount it says approaches its limits. The U.N. refugee agency has said up to 200,000 refugees could eventually flee to Turkey, which shares a 566-mile frontier with Syria. Tens of thousands of Syrians have also fled to Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan.

The CIA is involved in this venture for a number of reasons, one being the hi-tech nature of Turkey's radar network, which is enforcing the no-fly zone. The network consists of American equipment, including the Lockheed Martin AN/FPS-88, Hughes HR-3000 and General Electric AN/FPS-17 radars as well as Thales TRS 22XX mobile 3D long range radars. In short, the Turkish air force can monitor Syrian air space over a distance of 500 km, as far as Damascus.

The Lockheed Martin AN/FPS-88 has enhanced range performance and upgraded signal processing with dual channel operation, a parametric amplifier receiver and a radar signal processor with ECCM capability. The U.S. also has the FPS-88 system operating in Lefkas (Greece) and in some sites in Portugal.

It is my belief that the U.S. will, indeed, arm the Syrian freedom fighters with advanced weapons, and the avenue will be via the long Turkey-Syrian border which is protected from Syrian air attacks. We shall see.

Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. is a member of the Association Of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO) and writes the online spy thriller "Corey Pearson- CIA Spymaster in the Caribbean."  The views expressed on this site do not represent those of any organization he is a member of. Got a thought, article or comment you'd like to submit? Contact him on the Secure Contact Form

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