Turkey’s Drone Army Inspects African Arms Sales
Turkey–Turkish and African leaders are preparing a new round of meetings and talks to weigh the further development of bilateral relations , with defense relations as the focus. A two-day Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit, will be held immediately following the top business forum focusing on investment and trade in October.
The summit will host leaders and top ministers from 39 countries, including 13 presidents where Erdogan slated to deliver a speech on Saturday. In August Turkey also signed a military cooperation agreement with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Ankara already has a military facility in Somalia, while Morocco and Tunisia received their first deliveries of Turkish combat drones in September, according to reports.
During Erdogan’s first visit to Angola in October, the country became the latest to exhibit interest in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). “Everyone in Africa is asking about UAVs,” Erdogan boasted . The drones are manufactured by the Baykar firm, which is owned by one of Erdogan’s sons-in-law.
According to a Western source, Turkey delivered an unspecified number of combat drones to Abiy’s campaign earlier this year, but the shipments have since been discontinued due to international criticism. In October, a spokesman for Turkey’s foreign ministry said, “Ethiopia can acquire these drones from whoever they want.” He did not confirm or deny the sales.
According to Turkish Exporters Assembly, Turkish defense and aviation shipments to Ethiopia increased to $94.6 million from roughly $235,000 in the same period last year. Similar increases were witnessed in sales to Angola, Chad, and Morocco. Turkey’s drones first grabbed worldwide headlines in 2019, when Ankara signed two maritime and security agreements with the UN-recognized Libyan government.
Last year, Turkey’s drones solidified their reputation by assisting Azerbaijan in reclaiming most of the terrain it lost over three decades ago to rebel ethnic Armenian forces in disputed Nagorno-Karabakh.
“Now that Turkey owns drones, the country has more chances when negotiating with other countries,” said researcher Donelli. The head of Turkey’s Foreign Economic Relations Board said: “We care about the defence sector as well as our relations with Africa , but I would like to stress a point that the defence sector is not limited to weapons, rockets, guns, tanks and rifles.” He thus highlighted Turkish mine-clearing vehicles in Togo which are considered as defense industry sales.
According to reports, Turkey has established a network of 37 military offices across Africa, in keeping with Erdogan’s stated objective of increasing yearly trade volume with the continent to $75 billion in the future.