Campaigners push for UK arms embargo against Turkey

The Turkish assault on Syria, which began yesterday (9 October), has put thousands of civilians at risk of indiscriminate attack. As the military offensive continues into a second day, the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) has called for the UK Government to halt all arms sales to the Turkish forces.

Protesters campaigning against the DSEI arms fair
Protesters campaigning against the DSEI arms fair

Image: Darren Johnson

Imogen Benson

Yesterday (9 October), Turkey launched a military intervention against Kurdish forces in northern Syria, shortly after President Trump’s decision to withdraw US presence in the area. 

As the attacks enter into a second day, campaigners from the Campaign Against Arms Trade are calling for an arms embargo against the Turkish Erdogan regime, which, despite its aggressive foreign policy, remains one of the largest recipients of UK weapons. 

Since President Erdogan first came to power in 2014, the UK has licensed £1.1 billion worth of arms to the country, including £206 million worth of ML10 licenses, which includes aircraft, helicopters and drones.

Andrew Smith of CAAT said: “This war could have far-reaching and devastating consequences for Kurdish people and the wider region. Since coming to power, President Erdogan has shown a total disregard for human rights, both in terms of his authoritarian domestic policies and his continued aggression on the world stage.

“The UK Government must condemn the invasion and act to ensure that UK-made weapons are not contributing to the violence. It must take action by immediately stopping the arms sales and ending its political and military support for Turkish forces.”

Last month the UK Government invited the Turkish military to Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI), one of the largest arms fairs. Green MEPs Ellie Chowns and Catherine Rowett joined CAAT in protesting against DSEI, condemning the UK Government for its complicity in war crimes against civilians. 

Saudi Arabia was also on the DSEI guest list, despite the Court of Appeals ruling that the government had acted unlawfully in supplying arms to Saudi forces. As the largest buyer of UK weapons, it was revealed in August that the UK Government has approved the sale of £6.3 billion worth of arms to the Saudi military since the start of its bombing campaign in Yemen in 2015. 

You can find more information on the Campaign Against Arms Trade website