Who is the new MiT director and what his resume could tell about the Turkish policy?

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Appointing İbrahim Kalın as head of Turkish intelligence (MiT) attracted attention from observers and researchers, since his career was overshadowed by a political hue with distinction over the years, and during his work as a spokesman for the Turkish presidency.

However, his biography, which posted on the official website of the Turkish intelligence (MiT), on Friday, gave a different view to this politician, who known as one of the most prominent close associates of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Kalın took over the head of intelligence, succeeding Hakan Fidan, after Erdoğan appointed the latter to the position of foreign minister, ending a 13-year shadow career.

The official intelligence website posted a new picture for Kalın, and changed the section related to the leadership of the agency, posting the biography of the new president.

İbrahim Kalın who was born in 1971 in Istanbul, graduated from the Department of History at its university in 1992.

He completed his master’s degree at the International Islamic University of Malaysia in 1994.

In 2002, Kalın completed his PhD with a dissertation in the humanities and comparative philosophy at George Washington University.

His biography states that he gave lectures on Islamic thought and relations between Islam and the West at the College of the Holy Cross, Georgetown University and Bilkent University.

In 2005-2009, he was the founding president of the SITA Foundation, one of the important research centers in Türkiye, close to the government.

Kalın has assumed important duties in foreign and security policy, having been appointed as Senior Adviser to the Prime Minister in charge of foreign policy in 2009.

In 2010, he founded and directed the Public Diplomacy Coordinator at the Prime Ministry.

In 2011, he appointed as a member of the Board of Trustees of Ahmet Yesevi University in Kazakhstan.

A year later, he served as Deputy Undersecretary of the Prime Minister’s Office for Foreign Relations and Public Diplomacy.

After being awarded the title of Associate Professor in 2013, Kalın was appointed to the position of Deputy Secretary General of the Presidency in 2014, to which the Head of Strategy and the Department of International Relations reports.

During that period, he gave lectures to graduate students in the field of Islamic philosophy at Ibn Khaldun University in 2019-2022, and he obtained the title of professor in 2020.

In addition to the above, Kalın held the position of Vice Chairman of the Security and Foreign Policy Committee in the Presidency and the Principal Adviser to the Presidency in charge of Security and Foreign Policy in 2018-2023.

During his tenure at various levels of the state, Kalın assumed important responsibilities in the areas of foreign policy and security, the most prominent of which was dispelling the spark of conflict between Ankara and Moscow in 2015.

Eight years ago, Türkiye shot down a Russian aircraft over the Syrian airspace, in an incident that almost reached the point of confrontation between the two sides, especially since it occurred two months after the Russian intervention to support the Syrian army.

Turkish media reported that Kalın assumed the task of dispelling the incident during that period, as President Erdoğan appointed him as the special representative to overcome the crisis.

The first official statement made by Russian President Vladimir Putin regarding shooting down the Russian aircraft sparked a political bone-breaking battle with the Turkish government, as he accused Türkiye of being supportive of terrorism, and it stabbed Russia in the back.

Putin, at the time, justified what he went to by accusing the Turkish authorities of practicing “an internal policy directed towards the Islamization of the entire country”.

“It’s about supporting extremist tendencies in Islam,” Putin added.

In turn, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, at that time, considered that Ankara’s actions have become evidence of its support for extremists from the Islamic State, and undermining the long-standing good-neighborly relations between Russia and Türkiye, especially in the economy and the humanitarian field”.

On the other hand, the Turkish official statements maintained that the Russian aircraft violated Turkish airspace for a period of time, and that it was warned before being shot at.

Three days after the incident, Russia announced a package of economic sanctions against Türkiye, after the Russian president signed a presidential decree dealing with materials that are prohibited from being imported from Türkiye, the activity of Turkish companies in Russia, and Turks working for Russian companies inside the country.

The decree also called for the cessation of commercial tourist flights between the two countries, and the imposition of a wide range of economic sanctions on Türkiye.

Moscow also decided to suspend the entry system for citizens without a visa, which followed between it and Ankara.

In addition to the economic sanctions, Russia decided to strengthen its anti-aircraft defenses in Syria by sending a war cruiser off the Syrian coast and deploying new missiles at its military base there.

For its part, the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs advised Turkish citizens to avoid traveling to Russia except for urgent necessity, as it took this decision after Turkish visitors and residents in Russia subjected to harassment.

At the time, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warned Russia against playing with fire by using its forces in Syria.

After these mutual statements, and the sanctions imposed by Moscow on Ankara, the two countries entered the tunnel of severing relations and stagnation in dealings, until that dissipated in 2016, after the Kremlin announced that “Erdoğan apologized to Putin for shooting down the fighter jet, and called for repairing relations”.

Kalın took diplomatic initiatives as a special representative of President Erdoğan to find a solution to the tension between Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, in 2017.

After playing an active role in the process of bringing together the parties to negotiate the Ukraine war, the Black Sea grain shipping agreement and the prisoner exchange agreement, Kalın headed the Turkish delegation in the meetings of the permanent joint mechanism during Sweden and Finland’s membership process in NATO.

Kalın served in the Turkish delegation during the diplomatic negotiations for a cease-fire and a political solution to the wars in Syria and Libya.

He participated in diplomatic negotiations with Greece to resolve disputes in the eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea.

Having played an active role in the processes of normalizing Türkiye’s relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Armenia, Syria and Egypt, Kalın made diplomatic contributions to the development of bilateral relations with global and regional actors such as the United States, European Union countries, Russia, China and India.

Kalın wrote international articles on Turkish foreign policy; In addition, he published books on politics, philosophy, and the history of civilization.

According to his biography, Kalın speaks English, Farsi, Arabic and French.

He is married and has three children.

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