No one knows what happened in Hakan Fidan's head hours ago, when Turkish President Erdogan officially announced his name to take over the foreign ministry, announcing that the man who always used to work behind the scenes had come into the spotlight. It is likely that the man scrambled with conflicting ideas about the past, present, and near future, and no doubt evoked the most important and difficult moment not only in his career, but in Turkey's entire political history in the last three decades.
Today was a Friday, a hot and very humid Friday as is usually the summer days in Istanbul, and everyone waits for sunset after a long summer day in the hope that the temperature will drop even a few degrees in the evening, and then enjoy Friday night before the weekend, but no one ever enjoyed this Friday, as it is a hot and long night that lasted every minute of it as if it were a full day, and spoiled everyone to enjoy the usual Saturday and Sunday holiday before returning to work.
While life went normal outside the walls of his office, Hakan Fidan, head of Turkish intelligence, was sitting in his office at noon after he received news of the intention of a number of officers to carry out a coup the next morning, so he decided to meet with a number of senior army leaders at exactly three o'clock in the afternoon to take the necessary measures, measures that spread among all officers by six o'clock: Any military aviation is strictly prohibited until further notice, and the movement of any military equipment from their positions is strictly prohibited.
Hakan Fidan found himself in the midst of an unprecedented controversy after the 2016 coup attempt, sometimes as the decisive figure in breaking the coup, and at other times as a laggard for not informing the president as soon as he learned of the plot at noon. (Anatolia)
The putschists quickly realized that the measures simply meant the exposure of their plan, and their transformation from the plotters of a coup that will take place at dawn the next day and everyone is sleeping, to a pole in conflict with those who revealed their plan and now have almost half a day to manage a counter-movement to stop the coup, which is a relatively long period as they saw, and then they decided that the only way out is to reduce this period, and move early in the evening instead of the dawn of the next day.
I wrote that moment and what followed the facts of the fall of the coup in all its steps one after the other, the tanks that had to move at dawn, drew everyone's attention while they were on the Bosphorus Bridge in the evening, and the officers who were entrusted with besieging Erdogan in his hotel in Marmaris had cut off their contact in the afternoon with their leadership according to the plan, and then they missed all the new news, which reached Erdogan himself after the coup moved, so he boarded his plane and made his famous call via "FaceTime", This call took place only as a result of the failure of the putschists to acquire the headquarters of Turksat, the company responsible for communications.
Decisive hours were written about the victory of the anti-coup movement, followed over the days of the victors' propaganda, as is always the year of politics, as Istanbul was decorated with pictures of those who were victims of the confrontation of the putschists, and their heroism appeared in the newspapers, in addition to clear positions in support of the ruling party from figures who have always drawn attention as incompatible with the president, such as "Abdullah Gul" and "Ahmet Davutoglu", and even the opposition poles themselves, secularists, nationalists and Kurds alike.
The man who played a key role in confronting the coup found himself in the midst of unprecedented controversy, sometimes as the decisive figure in breaking and exposing the coup, and at other times as a laggard for not informing the president as soon as he learned of the plan at noon, and most importantly for not discovering the existence of such a huge scheme earlier, so was his discovery of the coup half a day ago an achievement or recklessness then? Was what happened on the fifteenth of July a sign of his loyalty to the president, or his independence in planning and working alone with the army leadership? Or maybe both?
Hakan: Ambitions Out of Class
Fidan's new political and administrative mission in 2010, coupled with the great confidence Erdogan placed in him, will allow the man to carry out everything his master's thesis planned for restructuring the intelligence service. (Anatolia)
The plane is about to take off for the German city of Monchengladbach, where the British base of the Rhineland, which is used by NATO forces as usual since the days of the Cold War, which just ended. In one seat sat Hakan Fidan, a young Turkish non-commissioned officer, excited about his first trip abroad, after years working as a computer technician in the Turkish army's automated data processing unit.
Hakan spent three years in the intelligence department at the headquarters of the NATO Rapid Intervention Forces in Germany, during which he seized the opportunity to obtain a university degree by enrolling in the University of Maryland College, which has branches in several countries to give American officers the opportunity to study while they are in their military missions abroad, years in which Hakan also discovered his passion for political and administrative science, and his incompatibility with the idea of continuing in the military institution.
Hakan returned to Ankara loaded with many ideas, ambitions and experiences that never suited him as a Turkish non-commissioned officer, and then went on to obtain a master's degree at the prestigious Bilkent University in parallel with his military work, which he obtained in 1999 with a thesis on the role of intelligence in Turkish foreign policy, comparing its then meager foreign role with British and American intelligence, and the lessons learned from these two models.
Hakan has dominated the intelligence and foreign relations worlds since his return from Germany, finally deciding to officially leave the military in 2001 after fifteen years of working there, and went on to work as a political and economic adviser to the Australian embassy in Ankara for two years, a period during which he made various trips abroad, and began academic activities with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations Institute for Disarmament, and the Verification Research, Training and Information Center in London.
In 2010, Hakan was finally appointed head of Turkish intelligence, soon becoming Erdogan's "secret keeper" as the president himself once described it. (Anatolia)
While Hakan took confident steps away from the military, Turkey was also taking steps away from military domination. When Hakan left his job at the Australian embassy in 2003, Erdogan and his comrades had come to power, accompanied by growing talk of a new role for Turkey and dreams of a political return to the East. In 2003, Fidan reached a station that satisfies him and a seat that accommodates his ambitions about Turkey's external role, and sat on the throne of the institution responsible for Turkey's soft economic and cultural role in the world (TIKA), which was established in 1992 after the fall of the Soviet Union, in conjunction with Turkey's desire to pay attention to the countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus and strengthen cultural and religious ties between them and their countries. But Fidan quickly took Tikka further, bringing Turkish activism to various parts of the Arab world and Africa.
At that time, Fidan drew attention among the leaders of the Justice and Development Party, led by Erdogan, especially as he shared their interest in the Middle East and the former Soviet space, as well as their desire to create distance with the United States and Israel, who have close intelligence cooperation with Turkey in the past, and to strengthen intelligence ties with Iran, especially after its growing military role as a result of the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime.
Despite Fidan's successes at Tika, it quickly proved not big enough for his ambitions, and not exactly the most suitable location for his possibilities: the man who worked in the field of military intelligence was not best suited to be Turkey's soft face in the end, despite his interest in its external role, serious features, and monotonous nature, perhaps more in line with his assumption of a high-class political and administrative mission as he always wanted, rather than a diplomatic mission to take him around the various countries of the world.
As Fidan's role grew and exceeded Teka's small seat, and Erdogan and the ruling party's confidence in him increased, the gate he had always wanted and the opportunity he dreamed of opened up to him to implement everything his master's thesis planned for restructuring the intelligence apparatus and crystallizing a clear and effective role for him in foreign policy. In 2010, he was finally appointed head of Turkish intelligence, and in a short time he became the "secret keeper of Erdogan" as the president himself once described it, an appointment that came as miserable news for Israel, which did not hide its concern, as Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak said at the time that Fidan's arrival at the head of Turkish intelligence was a "worrying development" and that the man adopted a pro-Iran stance while working inside the corridors of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Hakan: Here is Ankara
Fidan decided on February 2015, <>, to turn the Turkish political arena upside down, to announce his resignation from his position at the head of the intelligence service, and his candidacy for parliament on the list of the ruling Justice and Development Party in the June elections. (European)
Very bored is the city of Ankara, the Turkish capital, so that the Turks say that the most beautiful thing in it are the highways leading to Istanbul, there is nothing beautiful here except what keeps you away from that gray city as you know, which did not exceed being a small town until the beginning of the twentieth century, when the founders of the republic decided to move the capital to it, and inaugurate all the nascent state institutions there, and then the city grew with the influx of bureaucratic and army employees living in it, a segment of the population that contributed to its monotonous cultural character Capricorn.
Hakan Fidan was born and raised, something his personality clearly reflects: the man rarely appears or speaks, his few conversations are not lively, but he works in silence and discipline, as his university classmates attest to since he was a master's and then doctoral student, something his monotonous language indicates in his diploma theses.
From Ankara, where there is almost no history, where geographical isolation from the world's seas and major events, and where institutions that have worked diligently for nearly a century under a strict republican system determined to sever its connection with its history and geographical neighborhood, Fidan came conscious of the need to change much of that legacy, but he never escaped the spirit of Ankara, as it characterizes his vision, studies, personal nature and ambitions, which did not go beyond the limits of his modern city, the legacy of its institutions and the monotony of its employees.
Perhaps the only exception was his three years at the Rhineland-German base in the nineties after the end of the Cold War, which drew his attention to the two Western intelligence giants, the United States and Britain, the strategies of the major Western countries and the tension between a just-united Germany and Russia. Perhaps it also struck him a little bit at ease with the importance of the big questions about geography, history, identity and ideology. Despite his calm nature, Fidan decided on February 2015, <>, to turn the Turkish political scene upside down, announcing his resignation from his position at the head of the intelligence service, and his candidacy for parliament on the list of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the June elections, an announcement that was followed by speculation that he would be appointed by then-Prime Minister Davutoglu as foreign minister.
As head of the top security apparatus, and because of Erdogan's confidence in him, he had near-absolute powers to redefine the role of the intelligence service to play a central role similar to that of the CIA. (Anatolia)
Despite the different natures and interests between the two men, the relationship between Davutoglu and Fidan has in fact remained close, a relationship that did not fit into Erdogan's mood all along, despite the loyalty of the two men to his leadership. Therefore, it was not long before the "sultan" expressed his indignation at the move, which took place without his consent. At the time, Erdogan openly declared that he did not want to see Fidan outside his position in the intelligence service, especially since he is responsible for pivotal files such as managing the Syrian file, negotiating with the PKK, purging the state apparatus of Fethullah Gülen's followers, and restructuring the intelligence and security system, tasks that he did not think Fidan was more efficient to carry out at the time.
For a month, speculation about Fidan remained the main concern of Turkish politics, but it was Erdogan's will that ultimately triumphed, and the man returned to his original position just a month later, and Davutoglu left a year later. Since then, Fidan has remained in his well-known arena, there in Ankara, immersed in the corridors and maps of Turkish institutions in the capital, and away from the bustle of politics in Istanbul.
Fidan is perhaps the most knowledgeable person in the corridors of the Turkish state today, and by virtue of his position as head of the highest security apparatus, and because of Erdogan's confidence in him, the man enjoyed almost absolute powers to redraw the role of the intelligence service, to play a central role similar to the role of the CIA inside and outside the United States, a model that Fidan aspired to in a world where it seems clear that regular military institutions are as useless as the intelligence and security institutions. After 13 years at the helm of intelligence, Fidan's opportunity to exercise more executive functions and play a more prominent governmental and political role has once again come, this time with the approval and initiative of his president, Erdogan.
Hakan: Out of the Shadows
Erdogan finally gave Fidan the green light to get out of Ankara's bureaucracy and take over the foreign ministry – a position with a recent history of succeeding the president or prime minister. (Anatolia)
Fidan belongs to what we might call the Ankara world, a regular bureaucratic world different from the world of Istanbul in which Ottoman nostalgia and Islamic emotions play a big role, and this may be what made him different and enabled him to play his decisive role behind the scenes to the fullest. Over the years Hakan spent at the helm of intelligence, especially after the July 2016 military coup attempt, Fidan watched from afar the transformations of the Turkish state without necessarily expressing his opinion on them, and it can be argued that it was the man who protected the backs of politicians, first and foremost the president himself, as they went through these transformations.
But things don't stay the same until the end, and as Erdogan steps into his final term, questions are growing about the contours of the state he wants to leave behind, and talk about his potential successor is also growing. At that moment, many of the names that were looked at with interest in past years disappeared, such as Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, who left his post in the new government in favor of Yasar Köhler, and nationalist Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, who left office, and the MHP was reportedly fed up with his dismissal.
Only days will reveal whether Hakan Fidan's appointment was just a shift in the ladder of foreign and intelligence files, or whether he carries the blessing of the president to succeed him at the head of the state. (Reuters)
It seems therefore that the president will become less in need of nationalists in the next five years after he established his party's dominance until 2028, and perhaps he sees that the opportunity has become ripe to redefine many Turkish policies, the most important of which is the economic policy brought to it by "Mehmet Şimşek", Minister of Finance between 2009 and 2015, and may also see in the next stage an opportunity to reduce the influence of nationalists in his government. At that moment, Erdogan finally gave Fidan the green light to get out of the shadow of Ankara's bureaucracy and take over the foreign ministry, a position with a recent history of succeeding the president or prime minister, as Abdullah Gul held it for four years before assuming the presidency, Ahmet Davutoglu held it for five years before becoming prime minister in 2014, and Ali Babacan, a former AKP star and the most prominent defector from the party in recent years.
Not only recent history, but also distant history is full of the names of foreign ministers who quickly reached the head of the executive branch, including Ismet İnönü, a companion of the founder of the republic, Ataturk, who took over the ministry in the two critical years of the founding of the republic (1922-1924). As well as "Mesut Yilmaz" Minister of Foreign Affairs under the leadership of the late President "Turkut Ozal", who held the position between 1987 and 1990 before moving to the premiership more than once in the nineties, and led the "Motherland" party after the departure of Ozal in 1991 and until 2002 when the Justice and Development Party rose and the old conservative parties disappeared to the background of the scene.
Only days will reveal whether Hakan Fidan's appointment is just a shift in the ladder of foreign and intelligence files, or whether he carries the blessing of the president to succeed him at the head of the state, especially since he has been nominated since 2016 to be one of the leaders of the Justice and Development. So far, the man does not seem to have President Erdoğan's presence and influential speeches, but he carries significant weight in terms of perceptions and political ambitions to re-establish the state and its role in its surroundings. Paradoxically, Turkey has not always given its trust to those with an overwhelming presence and charisma as much as it has given it to political tendencies with popularity and heavy administrative and bureaucratic experience, as it did before with Adnan Menderes, Bülent Ecevit and Turkut Özal, and this old tradition may eventually apply to Hakan Fidan.