The nation of Canada is canceling its export permits for drone technology to Turkey
after its Foreign Affairs Minister said that there is ‘credible evidence’ the technology was used by Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Azerbaijan was backed by Turkey in its 2020 civil war over control in the disputed Nagorno-Karakbakh region.
The review found that Canadian-made systems had been used in the drones used in the war, which took place in the Autumn of 2020.
Canada drone technology used in disputed territory in Azerbaijan
In a statement released on Monday, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau stated that the review had “found credible evidence” that Canadian technology had been used in the disputed territory during the six weeks of battles between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
Already as early as last October, Canada had suspended its export permits to Turkey after reports saying that the Azerbaijani military — backed by Ankara — was employing drone imaging and targeting sensor systems which had been manufactured by a Canadian company.
At the time, Garneau had stated “This use was not consistent with Canadian foreign policy, nor end-use assurances given by Turkey.”
The Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister also said that he had spoken with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu in order to open a dialogue which Garneau stated was meant “to build mutual confidence and greater cooperation on export permits.”
Garneau stated “Turkey is an important NATO ally and applications related to NATO cooperation programs will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.”
Azerbaijan conflict involved longtime dispute over control over Nagorno-Karabakh region
Turkish officials had earlier said Cavusoglu had urged Canada to review its defense industry restrictions.
Reuters reported that the Turkish Foreign Ministry had stated “He conveyed concerns about Canada’s stance on defense industry restrictions imposed on Turkey and requested their review.”
Control over the Nagorno-Karabakh region has long been disputed. While it is internationally recognized as belonging to Azerbaijan, it had been under the control of ethnic Armenians who were backed by the Armenian government after the 1994 war there had led to a ceasefire that same year.
However, late last year an ugly conflict broke out between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces, with battles lasting for six full weeks before a Russian-brokered ceasefire was reached in November. By the terms of this agreement, Armenia handed over the disputed territory it had been occupying.
Torture, beheadings occurred during 2020 conflict
There were widespread reports of war crimes, involving torture and beheadings, at the time of the conflict.
Great Britain’s The Guardian newspaper has identified the two men beheaded in Armenia’s Nagorno-Karabakh region in an exclusive report published on Tuesday.
The elderly ethnic Armenian men had refused to leave their villages when the Azerbaijani forces who took control of the area arrived, according to local people.
Videos of the atrocity in the village of Madatashen, committed by men who are wearing the uniforms of Azerbaijani forces, have been circulating widely around the world on social media since it occurred.
The recent flare-up of longstanding unrest in the area between the Armenians who lived in Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijani forces backed by Turkey resulted in thousands of casualties and the forced relocation of ethnic Armenians from the region.
The men who were beheaded were not armed and were noncombatants, according to the people in their villages who knew them well.
“This is how we get revenge”
The videos, posted online on November 22 and December 3, showed men ostensibly in Azerbaijani military uniforms holding down and decapitating a man using a knife, then placing the severed head atop a dead animal. One of the men off camera then says “This is how we get revenge — by cutting off heads.”
Amnesty International accused both sides of attacking residential areas that were not along the warfront, a violation of international humanitarian law, charging in a January report that weapons including cluster bombs were used in the conflict.
Last Autumn, the antiwar group Project Ploughshares had stated that Turkey had used
drone technologies manufactured by Canadian company L3Harris WESCAM, a subsidiary of US defense company L3Harris, in several conflict zones.
Cesar Jaramillo, the executive director of Ploughshares, told Al Jazeera he welcomed the Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister’s announcement, “even,” he stated, “if it has been months since it became clear that Canadian arms exports were being unlawfully diverted to Nagorno-Karabakh.
Project Ploughshares identified disturbing connection to Canadian technology
“Importantly, it was civil society and the media who identified these instances of diversion, not the Canadian government. This raises questions about the effectiveness of post-export verification mechanisms at Ottawa’s disposal,” Jaramillo stated.
“Would Canada still be exporting weapons technology to Turkey had the government not been alerted about its misuse?” he then asked.
After firs bringing up the issue last Autumn, the final report issued by the Canadian government stated that there was “credible evidence that Bayraktar TB2 UAVs – equipped with Canadian sensors – have been used the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.”
In addition, the country also placed a temporary suspension on new arms export permits to Turkey in 2019 after Turkish forces launched a military strike in northeastern Syria.