Turkey violates UN arms embargo on Somalia: Report

New York (Caasimada Online) – A United Nations (UN) investigation has determined that Turkey may have infringed upon international sanctions imposed on Somalia.

The Panel of Experts on Somalia, responsible for overseeing the conflict under the relevant UN Security Council resolution, found evidence suggesting that Turkey transgressed the embargo by providing Bayraktar drones produced by a family-owned firm of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Confidential intelligence acquired by the UN investigators revealed that the Turkish Air Force transported Bayraktar TB2 drones to Mogadishu on December 6, 2021, using two Airbus A400M military cargo planes.

Despite the UN Security Council resolution’s explicit requirement for such clearance, the Turkish government failed to request an exemption from the UN before dispatching the drones.

Turkey responded to the UN’s inquiries by stating that the drones were delivered to a Turkish base in Mogadishu to support counter-terrorism efforts.

The official report from the UN experts, released on September 1, 2022, noted, “Türkiye informed the Panel that it has not delivered any type of unmanned combat aerial vehicles to the Somali authorities and that the systems in question are assigned to be used by Türkiye in the fight against terrorism in Somalia.”

Conflicting reports question Turkish explanation

However, reports from Turkish media contradict the government’s account, indicating that Somali officers had received training on drone usage in Turkey since March 2021 and had acquired five drones.

These findings challenge the Turkish government’s assertion that the drones in Somalia were intended exclusively for Turkish troops stationed there.

Following the partial lifting of the arms embargo in 2013, UN teams have been tracking and registering weapons and ammunition officially imported by the Somali government.

Countries providing arms and weapons must inform the UN and obtain approval for such deliveries.

Since 2013, Somalia has acquired approximately 27,000 weapons and 80.1 million rounds of ammunition, including 70,000 RPG-7 rounds.

According to UN Security Council Resolution 2607 (2021), the arms embargo does not cover weapons or military equipment supplies for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) and the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM), a peacekeeping mission authorized by the African Union in Somalia with UN approval.

Nevertheless, all other foreign troops in Somalia, including Turkish forces, must secure UN clearance to receive arms and ammunition.

Turkey’s history of arms violations in Somalia

In recent years, the UN has repeatedly identified Turkey for arms violations in Somalia. In April 2021, a Turkish maritime company transported military trucks to Somalia without notifying the UN of their compliance with the sanctions requirements, prompting UN investigators to examine the shipment.

UN experts obtained intelligence showing that İstanbullines Lojistik ve Denizcilik Limited Şirketi offloaded 44 “Kamaz” military trucks at the port of Mogadishu on April 30, 2021.

The vessel that carried the trucks to Somalia departed Turkey on April 15, 2021, traveled through the Suez Canal, anchored in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and eventually docked in Mogadishu.

The UN was not informed of the shipment by the company or the Turkish government.

Istanbul-based defense contractor Baykar Makina Sanayi creates bayraktar drones ve Ticaret Anonim Şirketi (Baykar), managed by Erdogan’s son-in-law, Selçuk Bayraktar.

Due to the substantial support, it receives from Erdogan, the company has secured major contracts with the Turkish government and foreign countries.

Erdogan actively promotes the sale of drones to the Turkish Armed Forces and other nations.

Erdogan’s Islamist government has made significant military and economic investments in Somalia, constructing a military base in Mogadishu and facilitating controversial Turkish business deals involving ports and airports.

In 2014, with Erdogan’s assistance, the management of the Mogadishu harbor facilities was handed over to the Islamist Albayrak Group, a Turkish conglomerate accused of corrupt practices in Turkey and abroad.