Turkey Seeks to Purchase Armed Predator Drones From US

Fatih Altayli reports that Turkish General Necdet Ozel recently visited Washington to discuss the acquisition of armed Predator drones. Turkey's military believes that the drones will be as successful against mountainous PKK bases as they were in Afghanistan. However, Obama faces obstacles in Congress before a deal can be made.   

al-monitor US Air Force handout image of a Predator drone 24/09/2011. Photo by REUTERS.

Topics covered

weapons, us sanctions on iran, us, uavs, turkish foreign policy, turkish-iranian relations, predator drones, pkk, military, iran, general ozel

May 19, 2012

Some inside information has come to light from Washington about the visit of Turkish Chief of General Staff General Necdet Ozel to the US capital. For both countries, this trip was the first of its kind because of its “completely technical" nature. There were no references whatsoever to any political issues, as only military affairs were discussed.

Turkey’s desire to acquire unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or drones) from the US was a main issue in the meeting. There are Predator drones in Turkey, taking off from Incirlik and transmitting back data, but these are not the type of drones that were discussed. Turkey wants armed Predators, the kind that can both survey and fire.

The problem is that the US only gives these weapons to countries that carry out joint operations with it. Obama wants to help Turkey in this matter, but it will not be easy to get it past Congress. Turkey wants them badly, thinking that they will make all PKK camps — notably those in the Qandil Mountain region in northern Iraq — untenable. Turkey is aware of the success that these drones are having against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, which shares similar geographical conditions.

Obama has a different formula for giving the Predators to Turkey. Soon, the US will issue a list of countries that are and are not cooperating with them on the Iran issue. Countries that “fully comply with the sanctions” will be listed as full allies of the US, and they will receive a privileged status. This is why Obama asked Turkey to minimize its relations with Iran. In line with this request, Turkey quickly reduced its trade relations with Iran by 20%. The US president regarded that as a very important gesture, and will put Turkey on the list of countries that are fully complying with sanctions on Iran, thus making us a privileged one.

Obama is thinking that this could allow him to temporarily give armed drones to Turkey.

If this happens, life on Qandil Mountain (for PKK militants) will become unbearable.  

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