Turkey to sell drones to Ethiopia and Morocco

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Turkey TurkeyEthiopia and Morocco are negotiating the purchase of drones from Turkey. Reuters news agency announced that the leaders of the armed forces of Addis Ababa and Rabat were well impressed by the effectiveness of the crewless aircraft that Ankara produces and has used in various war theatres. They have recently been deployed in combat in Syria, Libya, and the clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, giving a tactical-strategic turn to all conflicts.

Ethiopia and Morocco have stepped up their plans to purchase Bayraktar TB2 drones, the flagship version of Turkish production. According to reports from the Reuters agency, the contracts could also include guarantees for the supply of spare parts and the training of the Ethiopian and Moroccan personnel who will have to operate these drones.

Morocco has reportedly already taken delivery of the first batch of Bayraktar TB2 ordered in May. However, as for Ethiopia, the program is not so clear. Indeed, Addis Ababa intends to procure this technology, but the negotiations are not yet in an advanced state even though they have started.

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However, the Assembly of Turkish Exporters data shows that Turkish exports of unspecified defense and aviation equipment to Ethiopia and Morocco increased significantly in 2021. For example, Morocco has so far spent $ 78.6 million on deals with Turkey for air components this year, including $ 62 million in September, compared to just $ 402,000 in the same period in 2020.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s sales to Ethiopia rose to $ 51 million in the first three months of 2021, up from $ 203,000 the previous year. These purchases risk irritating Egypt, with which Ethiopia has very tense relations linked to the dossier of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance dam that Addis Ababa is building on the Blue Nile. Thus, arms sales to Ethiopia could prove to be a hindrance in Ankara and Cairo’s efforts to normalize their ties which have been particularly strained since 2013 when the then Muslim Brotherhood-led Egyptian government was overthrown by the current president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Egypt has asked the United States and European countries for help to freeze any Turkish drone deal in Ethiopia, Reuters said, citing two Egyptian security sources. A third Egyptian source told the news agency that the two countries need to clarify the drone issue in their ongoing talks. Turkish exports in the aviation and defense sectors brought $ 2.1 billion this year, up 39% from last year’s $ 1.5 billion.

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