ANKARA — Turkey’s shadowy and low-key intelligence chief Hakan Fidan is set to step into the limelight and take the helm of the country’s diplomacy after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tapped him as the country’s new foreign minister on Saturday.
Fidan, who has headed the Turkish National Intelligence Agency (MIT) since 2010, is no stranger to the diplomatic world. In recent years as a spymaster he has engaged in back-channel diplomacy with the nation’s allies and foes across the globe.
Fidan, 54, has been one of the few confidants of the Turkish president, having continuously served in various positions since Erdogan became prime minister in 2003. Before taking over as intel chief, Fidan was already a subject of curiosity while he was acting as a special envoy of then-Prime Minister Erdogan in the now defunct peace process between the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the Turkish government.
Along with his predecessor at the MIT Emre Taner and other intelligence officials, Fidan, whose father is an ethnic Kurd, took part in the talks with the high-level leaders of the PKK in 2009. The peace talks that lasted from 2008 to 2015 were aimed at finding a negotiated solution to the country’s decadeslong Kurdish problem by disarming the group in its fight against the Turkish state for self-rule.