International News

    German politicians decry arms sales to Turkey amid ongoing operation against Syrian Kurds

    German politicians have widely opposed plans to provide Turkey with tank modernization upgrades after Leopard 2 combat vehicles were spotted taking part in the military operation against the Kurds in Syria’s Afrin.
    Amid rumors of potential resumption of arms sales to Turkey, German opposition parties, the Greens and the Left, urged the government to reconsider such deals with Ankara, pointing out that German weapons are now killing innocent people in Syria.
    “An immediate halt to all arms exports to Turkey is long overdue,” Agnieszka Brugger, a Greens lawmaker told the Heilbronner Stimme newspaper. “This intense situation should be a wake-up call for the German government.”
    Since the 1980s Germany has sold Turkey some 751 Leopard tanks, including 354 modern Leopard 2 type, which has been previously used by Turkey an a cross border operation against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists and US-supported Kurdish militias in Syria.
    Throughout its military campaign in the neighboring country, Turkey lost a number of 60-ton Leopard 2 tanks, built by Bavaria’s Krauss-Maffei, due to mine explosions. Ankara has recently pressed Berlin and German arms companies to retrofit the hardware to offer better protection against enemy mines.
    The tanks used by Turkey come from decommissioned stocks of the Bundeswehr. The frontal armor on the hull and turret on the Leopard 2 is much thicker than on the sides and rear of the tracked vehicle. Potential German arms sales to Ankara, including the upgrades of Turkey’s Leopard battle tanks, were allegedly discussed earlier this month when Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu met with his German counterpart Sigmar Gabriel in Goslar, Germany, Der Spiegel reported last week.
    “There must be no retrofitting of Turkish tanks by Rheinmetall [armor manufacturer],” added Green Party chief Simone Peter. “Other cooperation at the military level, on defense level, should be immediately stopped.”
    Even a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party and chairman of the parliamentary foreign affairs committee, Norbert Röttgen, noted that it is “completely obvious” that Germany should not provide the tank upgrades to Turkey, and described the Turkish intervention in Syria as “clearly contrary to international law.”