UN says Turkey violated arms embargo by sending drones to Somalia: report

Turkey's armed drone Bayraktar TB2

UN investigators have concluded that Turkey violated international sanctions on Somalia by supplying armed drones without notification to and approval of the UN, Nordic Monitor reported.

According to the Panel of Experts on Somalia, which monitors the conflict in Somalia pursuant to the relevant UN Security Council resolution, Turkey violated the UN arms embargo by delivering armed Bayraktar drones, which are manufactured by a company owned by the family of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The confidential intelligence obtained by the UN investigators indicated that Turkey delivered Bayraktar TB2 drones to Mogadishu on December 6, 2021 via two Airbus A400M military cargo planes operated by the Turkish Air Force. Yet the Turkish government failed to file for an exemption with the UN before sending the drones despite the fact that the UN Security Council resolution explicitly specifies such clearance before the delivery of any arms to Somalia.

In response to letters of inquiry from the UN, Turkey claimed it had delivered the drones to a Turkish base in Mogadishu and that the goal was to contribute to the fight against terrorism. “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,” the report issued by the UN experts on September 1, 2022 stated.

However, Turkish media reported that Somali officers were undergoing training in Turkey on how to use the drones as early as March 2021 and reportedly took possession of five drones, challenging the official narrative of the Turkish government that the drones in Somalia were intended for the use of Turkish troops stationed there.

UN teams have monitored and registered weapons and ammunition officially imported by the Somali government since the partial lifting of the arms embargo in 2013. Countries that send arms and weapons need to notify the UN and secure approval for such shipments. Somalia has received approximately 27,000 weapons and 80.1 million rounds of ammunition, including some 70,000 RPG-7 rounds, since 2013.

According to UN Security Council Resolution 2607 (2021), the arms embargo does not apply to supplies of weapons or military equipment for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) and the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM), a peacekeeping mission operated by the African Union in Somalia with the approval of the UN. All other foreign troops in Somalia including Turkish forces must have clearance from the UN to receive arms and ammunition.


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