By Mehmet Acet –

Five days ago Reuters news agency reported that the Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MIT) captured an agent who had been spying in the name of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). We learned the details of the news from an article published the previous day in the Washington Post by its Istanbul representative Kareem Fahim.

Accordingly, the agent who was caught is Ahmed al-Astal, a Palestine-origin Jordanian citizen. After residing in the UAE for some time, where he moved in 2008, he was hired by the UAE intelligence and sent to Turkey for clandestine operations. Astal lived on the Black Sea coast. He simultaneously worked as a journalist and for the UAE intelligence. His computer was found to have chat programs that allowed him to communicate with his UAE superiors.


So, what was this man, recruited by the UAE, involved with in Turkey, what sort of reports did he send to his superiors, what was he tasked with? Let us quote the Washington Post for a better understanding of Astal’s job description:

“After moving to Turkey, he ‘concentrated on Turkey’s relations with the Muslim world, foreign policy initiatives and domestic politics.’ He was also tasked with establishing whether the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which survived a coup attempt in 2016, was vulnerable to another one. And he ‘passed information to the UAE about Turkey-based Arab journalists and dissidents, who may be vulnerable to recruitment efforts by Emirati intelligence.’”

The three job descriptions in this paragraph also provide an idea about the sort of agenda the UAE has concerning Turkey and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

What sort of idea you ask?

To use the flaws it finds, by following Turkey’s internal/foreign policy, in its own favor, to research conditions that are ripe for the occurence of a coup similar to the July 15, 2016 event, and establish influence over the Arabs living in Turkey who oppose the Gulf regimes.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane.

Previously, two people who were spying for the UAE were caught and arrested by Turkish intelligence, and it was later reported that one of them had committed suicide in prison.

Let us also make a note regarding the communication aspect of the matter.

In this last incident, learning about the UAE agent’s arrest from Reuters and The Washington post has the following significance: the fact that powerful English-language media outlets published such a report, in a sense, is the fastest way for the message, “Look, we caught your guy,” to be delivered from Ankara to Abu Dhabi.


The UAE administration is yet to make any statement about this development. If they do speak, they will most likely deny the report. On the other hand, the Washington Post article states that Astal was spying for the UAE, however, there is no information about what else he spiilled the beans on.

Yet, it is said that Astal revealed absolutely “everything” about his relationship with UAE intelligence, and gave up important information. However, the vast majority of this information is currently being kept confidential. As far as we can ascertain, only the tip of the iceberg has been revealed to make the UAE administration wonder, “What and how much has our guy confessed?”


This story may, at most, be considered a fraction of the destructive operations UAE is carrying out against Turkey. According to the WP article, the Abu Dhabi administration paid a total of $400,000 to this man, whom it used as a spy for more than a decade. Yet, to calculate the money the UAE paid for other anti-Turkey operations, we would have to speak in the millions – as a matter of fact, in the billions.

If you recall, we had discussed with reference to officials’ names in this column the UAE’s role in the coup attempts in Turkey, including July 15, 2016, and that it sacrificed $3 billion to ensure that aim was achieved.

Shall we remember what President Erdoğan had said back then (June 2017) in reference to the Abu Dhabi administration?

President Erdoğan had said the following back then:

“If they have intelligence organizations, so do we. We know very well who did what on that night [July 15]. We are very well aware of who monitored the events Turkey. We know very well the kind of money that has been spent.”

Let us end with a question:

If the president today repeated this statement, which he made three-and-a-half years ago, would its contents be considered outdated?