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Report Reveals Morocco Set to Buy Turkish Drones

Turkish drones
A ground control station for operating a drone. Credit: Samworthington Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

A deal for Morocco’s purchase of Turkish drones, worth millions of euros, is set to make relations between the two countries closer and shows how the market for Turkish drones is expanding, according to a new report.

Moroccan media which have sources close to the government reported on Monday that the country will soon acquire thirteen Turkish-made “Bayraktar TB2” drones for the use of its armed forces.

The news outlet TRT World says that the sale is expected to net $70 million and includes four “ground control stations,” which are needed to help operate the drones.

Turkish drones used in Syria, Northern Iraq, Libya — and Azerbaijan

Turkish drones have proven themselves in combat operations in Syria, Northern Iraq, Libya — and most recently in Azerbaijan, where they reportedly changed the outcome of battles  in favor of Baku.

Recently, Canada canceled its export of drone technology to Turkey over its use in Azerbaijan.

Last week, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau stated that there is “credible evidence” the technology was used by Azerbaijan in the 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 last Monday, Garneau stated that the review had “found credible evidence” that Canadian technology had been used in the disputed territory during the six weeks of fierce battles between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

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.”

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 identified the two men beheaded in Armenia’s Nagorno-Karabakh region in an exclusive report published after the ceasefire was called.

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, circulated widely around the world on social media.

It is unclear whether or not the technology already exported from Canada to Turkey may have been used in the drones to be purchased by Morocco.

Turkish drones cheaper than those from the US

Assistant Professor Merve Seren from Ankara’s Yildirim Beyazit University, an expert on Turkish drones, told TRT World “Turkey has entered into the global drone market, so countries are looking at each other’s procurement choices. Since Turkey has started to sell its drones, it’s becoming increasingly more attractive for others.”

She added “Turkey’s drones are cheaper when compared to the US,” noting that “Turkey’s foreign military sales procedures are also less complicated and restrictive than the US and Israel.”

Morocco is already known to be using American and Israeli drones in its campaign against against the Polisario Front, a militia group fighting for a separate state in the south of the country, in an area often called the Western Sahara.

The Moroccan government holds that the Western Sahara belongs to the Moroccan state.

Seren says that not only will the Turkish drones be purchased more easily and at a lower price, the deal will further cement ties between Rabat and Ankara.

Morocco facing armed insurgency

“Morocco is a Muslim country and has better relations with Turkey in comparison to others. So political relations are also decisive in procurement options,” she explained.

The Turkish drone maker Bayraktar TB2 did not deny the sale when asked to confirm it by reporters, but simply stated that they “cannot confirm” the news.

Neighboring Algeria, which Turkey has been strengthening ties with recently, backs the breakaway Polisario Front, causing the relations between the two northern African nations to be in a deep chill at present.

It was also reported that Moroccan authorities have recently killed a Polisario member by the use of a drone.

Two years ago Ukraine, a country which is still in the midst of a tense standoff with Russia and Russian-backed militias in the easternmost part of the country, purchased twelve Bayraktar drones for its own use.

The country has reportedly expressed an intent to buy more of the unmanned aerial vehicles in recent months as tensions stay at a breaking point along the eastern frontier of Ukraine.

The nations of Qatar and Azerbaijan have also bought drones from Turkey in the past.

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