Turkish and Pakistani media 'mercenaries' wage war on Philia Forum countries

Pakistani PM Imran Khan and Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The Athens-based Research Institute for European and American Studies (RIEAS) revealed in a strategic report the strong relationship between Turkish and Pakistani intelligence agencies to control Turkish media and efforts to discredit the Philia Forum and its respective member countries among other things.

RIEAS Research Institute for European and American Studies

The report, entitled Turkey-Pakistan: Secret Army of Mercenary Journalists, found Turkey  shifted its recruitment of Western journalists, who are increasingly becoming embarrassed of working for TRT World, in favour of Pakistani and Indian Kashmiris.

However, this emphasis on recruiting Pakistanis and Indian Kashmiris is not only limited to state-financed TRT World, but also to fellow state-financed Anadolu Agency.

"It was found that Turkish intelligence agency MIT was aggressively working with Pakistani [intelligence] agency ISI to build up a new propaganda network, with TRT World and Anadolu Agency as the focal points," RIEAS said in their report.

The report also found that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan brought his country's electronic communications centre directly under the control of Turkey's MIT intelligence agency.

RIEAS found that TRT World employed at least 50 Pakistanis and more than a dozen Kashmiri Indians out of 300 odd staff. These include:

Shaheryar Mirza, Faisal Aziz Khan, Usman Mir, Ravale Mohydin, Mehboob Geelani, Baba Umar, Riyaz ul Khaliq, Iftikhar Gilani, Ruwa Shah, Mehnaaz Yaseen, Mohsin Mughal, Imran Garda, Faisal, and Ahmed Bin Qasim.

This also partially explains why Pakistan has been adopting an increasingly hostile position against Greece and Cyprus.

The think tank, using a source working at TRT World, affirmed that in order to evade scrutiny by the foreign ministries of Philia Forum countries, journalists from the Turkish media outlet visited and reported from these countries using tourist visas - something not permitted.

Most interestingly, RIEAS found that "these journalists are fighting various cases against media houses in at least three continents" to pressure them to delete content about their connections with Turkish and Pakistani intelligence agencies.

Greek City Times has recently experienced such pressure to delete an article that made several revelations about disinformation campaigns emanating from Pakistan and TRT World.

"TRT World and Anadolu Agency have deployed a strong team of attorneys to [...] threaten journalists across the world for filing stories against the gang," the report found.

"Yildrim Attorney and Advocacy is one of similar law firms deployed by Erdogan to defend the gang," the report added.

It was also found that TRT World made at least 31 articles praising the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque and 65 news pieces promoting propaganda about the Turkish-sponsored invasion of Nagorno-Karabakh.

TRT World | Where news inspires change

In addition, 30 long stories about India abrogating Article 370 and 35A of the Indian constitution related to Jammu and Kashmir were made by the Turkish outlet.

The largest number of article, as well as TV productions on the above topics, were by the Pakistani and Kashmiri Indian journalists mentioned in the above list.

Although this team of journalists focussed their efforts on hot topics, RIEAS reported that a source revealed that "the new task assigned to the team is attacking the ‘Philia Forum’ countries."

Philia Forum. greece

The plan on attacking the Philia Forum is to project it as "an utter failure and an ‘anti-peace’ initiative. The campaign to attack the Forum began with the statement by the Spokesperson of Turkish Foreign Ministry."

"However, the larger goal is to ensure the failure of the group through efficient use of propaganda armies of both the countries. It is a notable fact that the members of the forum have always been targeted by the Turkey-Pakistan nexus," the report continued.

Ankara has been increasingly frustrated because of the success of the Philia Forum as it strengthened relations between East Mediterranean and Persian Gulf countries, while sidelining and isolating Turkey.

The Forum successfully strengthened the ties of Greece, Cyprus, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, rendering Turkey as a geopolitically isolated and unimportant country in their success in building trade and security relations.

More strikingly, RIEAS advises that the intelligence agencies of Philia Forum countries, along with France and India, to collaborate on a joint investigation into the influence of the propaganda army created by Turkey and Pakistan.

They also suggest that "the Philia Forum should also set up a counter disinformation centre to counter the impact of this team and other possible groups waging an
information war against the geopolitical interests of the group."

RIEAS concludes by suggesting that Philia Forum countries, with India and France, should set-up a news channel to counter propaganda from Turkey and to present authentic information.

Read the full report here.