By Bryan Yeoh Quan Jin, International News Writer
Germany has halted plans to upgrade tanks used by the Turkish military forces in Syria. This decision stems from the outcry that occurred after photos of German-built Leopard tanks used in Turkey’s offensive against Kurdish forces circulated in German media.
On Wednesday, politicians from the Greens Party and the Left made statements urging the German government to reconsider its arms deal with Turkey. In a statement to Deutsche Welle, Agnieszka Brugger, a lawmaker and defense expert for Germany’s Green Party, said, “the German government must not look away again and needs to clearly state its position on the Turkish military offensive against Kurds in Syria”. Similarly, Stefan Liebich from the Left Party told his Deutsche Welle interviewer that “with Turkey’s actions [in Syria], we are at the point where we have to say ‘stop’ — this is no longer a war we should play any part in”.
This decision comes as another blow to the already deteriorating relationship between Berlin and Ankara. The foreign ministers of both countries had just reaffirmed the commitment to improve bilateral relations. However, it seems that the German decision has been met by a modicum of understanding from the Turkish end. In a statement to BBC, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavuusoglu said, “While we fight with terrorists, we expect support and solidarity from Germany. We expect them to not support terrorists, but I know they are also under pressure”.
The planned upgrades to the Leopard tanks involved upgrading its defensive capabilities, which would have made them less vulnerable to mines.
There is much controversy over Turkey’s involvement in Syria. While Turkey has been active in its fight against the Islamic State, Turkey has been accused of having an agenda against the Kurds. In particular, Turkey is targeting the Kurdish YPG militia which is suspected of having ties with the banned Kurdistan Worker’s Party.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, January 30th print edition.
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