Who Is Shipping Weapons From Turkey to Yemen?

With the discovery of another shipment of weapons being transported from Turkey to Yemen, Radikal’s Deniz Zeyrek reports that officials deny that arms are being regularly smuggled from Ankara to Sanaa.

al-monitor A man gestures while holding a gun at a weapons store in a market in Arhab, north of Sanaa July 15, 2012. Photo by REUTERS/Mohamed Al-Sayaghi.

Topics covered

yemen revolution, yemen, weapons, arms

Nov 13, 2012

Turkish weapons were seized in Yemen for the second time. If the Turkish government is not sending these weapons, who is?

A fancy dagger is an integral part any Yemeni man’s appearance. Nowadays, daggers are often replaced by elegant pistols. Turkish entrepreneurs, aware of the trend, didn’t miss the opportunity and shipped guns to Yemen concealed in biscuit boxes. According to diplomats, given the prevalence of guns in the country, these two seized shipments are only the tip of the iceberg.

The first report of gun shipments from Turkey to Yemen was in March, when UAE police said it seized 16,000 Turkish-made guns destined for Yemen. Immediately, there was talk that Turkey was supporting the rebels in Yemen, and our foreign ministry had to ban weapons exports to Yemen.

But history repeated itself and eight months later, another shipment of weapons has arrived in Yemen from Turkey. The ship carrying the container with biscuit crates full of guns made a stopover in the Saudi port of Jeddah. Turkish officials suggested the guns might have been loaded there. But documents showed that the container wasn’t opened at Jeddah, which means they were loaded at the Turkish port of Mersin.

With the load seized in March, it appears that there is a serious flow of weapons from Turkey to Yemen. There is another clue: Of the weapons seized this time, only 350 were ready for use. The other 3,000 guns were not complete. There were 3,000 barrels, but fewer grips . This indicates that the grips for these barrels were sent in another shipment.

The biscuit crates containing the weapons made up 20% of the total load of that container. The crates were at the bottom of the load, requiring the opening of all the crates on top before the weapons were found.

How did the Yemeni customs authorities find them? Simple — the container was heavier than indicated on the consignment bill. That is why it was x-rayed.

The interesting part is that in Yemen — where personal weapons are part of life and where gun smuggling has become a serious issue — the government doesn’t believe that the Turkish government sent the weapons to the rebels.

This was the message the President of Yemen sent to Turkey via the Turkish Ambassador in Sanaa, Fazli Corman. According to information provided by Yemeni authorities, those involved in the affair in Yemen have been identified.

If the Yemeni government sees the affair as gun smuggling and is probing deeper about the buyers, then Turkey, which had banned weapons exports to Yemen, is duty bound to look seriously into the exporters. It is now up to the Turkish police to identify the exporters as soon as possible.

If not, those who believe that Turkey is sending weapons to rebels will multiply, along with those who ask if there is no fire, then why the smoke?

Continue reading this article by registering at no cost and get unlimited access to:
  • Al-Monitor Archives
  • The Week in Review
  • Exclusive Events
  • Invitation-only Briefings

More from  Deniz Zeyrek