Turkey’s defense procurement agency continues to strike deals despite US sanctions


Abdullah Bozkurt / Stockholm

Turkey’s leading defense procurement agency, sanctioned by the United States last year, continues to strike deals with third countries in a bid to defeat U.S. sanctions and show the world that the agency does not will not be condemned as an outcast, an investigation by Nordic Monitor said. find.

Since the United States designated the Presidency of the Defense Industry (Savunma Sanayii Baskanligi, SSB) as a sanctioned entity in December 2020, Turkey has managed to convince several countries to sign cooperation agreements with the SSB. The deals appear to be designed to show that the SSB can still operate under sanctions and that senior SSB officials, also sanctioned by the United States, can negotiate arms and defense deals.

The last agreement signed by the SSB was with Nigeria, where President Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸan led a team of government officials and businessmen on an official visit in October 2021. Ä°smail Demir, president of the SSB, signed the Bilateral Defense Sector Cooperation Agreement with Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama.

The United States has sanctioned the SSB and its senior officials for the purchase of Russian long-range S-400 missiles, a deal worth $ 2.5 billion, from Rosoboronexport (ROE), the main entity export of arms from Russia. The United States has said that Turkey has voluntarily entered into an important transaction with Russia and is therefore subject to sanctions under the Fighting American Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA ).

The Defense Industry Cooperation Agreement between Turkey and Uzbekistan:


As part of the sanctions, the United States also appointed Demir and three other SSB officials: Faruk Yiğit, vice president of the SSB; Serhat Gençoglu, Head of the Air Defense and Space Department of the SSB; and Mustafa Alper Deniz, program director for the SSB Regional Directorate of Air Defense Systems. Turkey had previously been pulled from the global F-35 Joint Strike Fighter consortium in which the Erdoğan government had invested $ 1.4 billion and is expected to generate $ 11 billion in export revenue.

Sanctions imposed on the SSB prohibit the granting of loans, credits, and US export licenses and authorizations for any goods or technology transferred to the Turkish entity, as well as loans or credits from US financial institutions totaling more than $ 10 million over 12 months. The US government would also oppose any third party engagement with SSB and attempt to block any loan that might be granted to SSB by international financial institutions.

The United States began enforcing sanctions against the SSB in April 2021, while President ErdoÄŸan and SSB Chairman Demir ruled them out, saying the restrictions would spur Turkey’s military and defense industry to produce more gas. arms and defense equipment and to export more to the world.

SSB Chairman Ismail Demir (center left) signed a defense industry cooperation agreement with Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama in October 2021.

Nonetheless, concerned about the fallout from US sanctions, the Turkish government rushed to support the SSB. An agreement with Montenegro on cooperation in the defense industry, which was signed on November 17, 2017, was submitted for parliamentary approval after the government had sat there for three years. The agreement was approved during accelerated deliberations in the relevant parliamentary committee and adopted by the general assembly, entering into force on February 20, 2021.

This was followed by another international agreement that the SSB had negotiated with Uzbekistan on March 23, 2020. The agreement was signed by Demir and Oybek Ismailov, head of the State Committee for the Defense Industry of the Republic of Uzbekistan. The deal is currently awaiting approval in the Turkish Parliament. In August 2021, Demir signed a defense industry cooperation agreement in Istanbul with Mohamed Saheb Al-Daraji, chairman of the Iraqi Council for Military Industrialization.

The carrot the ErdoÄŸan government dangles in negotiations to encourage defense industry cooperation deals that involve the sanctioned SSB is the possible sale of Turkish-made armed drones produced by a company owned by President ErdoÄŸan’s son-in-law. Turkish defense technology company Baykar has sold its Bayraktar TB2 armed drones to Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Qatar and Libya.

The Defense Industry Cooperation Agreement between Turkey and Montenegro:


The company, which works closely with SSB, has also been the subject of sanctions from several countries. Canada suspended in 2020 and subsequently blocked military arms exports to Turkey after an investigation found that Canadian drone technology had been hijacked for use in conflict. Bayraktar drones have also affected dozens of US lawmakers who have called on the State Department to suspend licenses to export US drone technology to Turkey in August 2021, pending an official investigation into the destabilizing role of Turkey’s drone programs in many parts of the world.

Turkey has pledged to continue buying weapons from Russia despite sanctions and is reportedly involved in talks to sell the second batch of S-400 missiles. The ErdoÄŸan government has also considered purchasing Russian fighter jets to replace its aging F-16 fleet if talks on the purchase and modernization of the F-16s in the United States fail.

SSB Chairman Ismail Demir (R) is seen with Oybek Ismailov, head of the State Committee for Defense Industry of the Republic of Uzbekistan in February 2020.

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