Erdogan Unhappy With Turkish Spy Chief’s Resignation
“I do not view Hakan Fidan’s candidacy positively,” Erdogan said in televised comments at Istanbul airport before heading on a visit to Latin America.
Erdogan said he had made his opinion on the matter clear to Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu but that the premier had the final say.
“I cannot interfere,” Erdogan added.
Erdogan’s comments stunned Turkish media which had assumed Fidan’s departure was part of a masterplan by the Turkish strongman ahead of the June 7 legislative poll.
It also raised the prospect of a public split between Erdogan and Davutoglu, who have shown tight unity since Erdogan moved to the presidency in August after more than a decade as prime minister.
Widely seen as one of Turkey’s most powerful figures, Fidan served as head of the National Intelligence Agency (MIT) since 2010 and has always been regarded as one of Erdogan’s closest allies.
Fidan, who rarely speaks in public, has made no comment on the matter since his resignation was first reported Friday.
Davutoglu made no comment on the resignation during a political speech to a mass rally of AKP supporters in Istanbul.
Erdogan however also criticised the opposition for saying that Fidan had no right to stand as an MP as a former head of the MIT.
“Any civil servant has the right to run for parliament and so does the head of the MIT. If the party fields him, then he can run,” said Erdogan.
Turkish state officials have until February 10 to resign from their posts if they were to stand for parliament.
As head of the MIT, Fidan led negotiations with Kurdish rebels for an end to a decades-long insurgency and has been a key player in Turkey’s policy on the Syria conflict.
He was also instrumental in controversial talks that secured the release in September of almost 50 Turkish diplomats, staff and their families who were kidnapped by Islamic State (IS) jihadists at the Turkish consulate in Mosul in Iraq.