Incoming MI6 chief Richard Moore, along with CIA director Gina Haspel and DGSE head Bernard Emie, have all professionally served in Turkey and speak Turkish.

Former British Ambassador to Turkey Richard Moore has been appointed chief of the UK government’s foreign intelligence service, or MI6.

Moore, who currently serves as political director at the British Foreign Office, will replace Alex Younger, who has been MI6 chairman for nearly six years.

In a statement on Wednesday, Moore acknowledged that he was “pleased and honoured” with the appointment.

“I look forward to continuing that work alongside the brave and dedicated team at SIS,” he said.

Born in Libya, Moore was well liked in Turkey during his tenure as the UK’s diplomatic envoy to Ankara, where he served from January 2014 to December 2017.

Moore was in Istanbul on the night of the failed coup attempt in 2016 and advocated for Britain to take a strong stance against the coup plotters.

Fluent in Turkish, Moore was popular for his humorous Twitter posts and support for the Besiktas football club.

It was something which Turkish diplomat and former Consul General to Chicago, Umat Acar, pointed out when praising Moore’s appointment.

“Richard Moore the old UK ambassador to Turkey and avid Besiktas fan is now the head of Mi6. Now I wanna see the refs try to screw us over,” said another Twitter user.

The 57-year-old MI6 chief is now part of a triumvirate of spymasters that run the world’s top intelligence agencies – along with the CIA and DGSE – who have at some point served in Turkey and speak Turkish.

In 2018 US President Donald Trump appointed Gina Haspel as director of the CIA, who speaks Turkish in addition to several other languages. She reportedly learned Turkish in 2000 while working for three years as a case officer in Ankara for the agency.

Shortly after her appointment came the murder of Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Haspel flew to Ankara and listened to an audio recording of the murder obtained from a Turkish listening device.

In November, the CIA concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had likely ordered Khashoggi’s killing.

In April 2019, Haspel’s original CIA badge photo was featured in the CIA’s first-ever Instagram post, along with a Turkish evil-eye talisman that was said to have come from her office.

Bernard Emie was nominated to head the DGSE, the French foreign intelligence agency, in 2017. He served as France’s Ambassador to Turkey from 2007 until 2011, and also speaks Turkish.

During his ambassadorship, he gave a presentation to Middle East Technical University in Ankara where he highlighted how the French-Turkish relationship was the “longest standing in our two diplomatic histories” and that France and Turkey have “always enjoyed important intellectual ties”.

One journalist drew a comparison between Moore, Haspel and Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, a former official at the Soviet embassy in Ankara, who is also fluent in Turkish.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies