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German arms exports to Turkey in precipitous fall since Afrin invasion

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Germany’s arms exports to Turkey have decreased from nearly 10 million euros to less than 1 million euros in the aftermath of a Turkish assault and occupation of the Afrin region in Syria this year, according to data provided by the German Ministry of Economy, the Kurdistan 24 news website reported.

Since March 14, the newly sworn-in federal German government has approved 16 permits for weapons exports with a total value of almost 917,000 euros, the German Press Agency (DPA) reported on Sunday.

By comparison, the value of 34 weapons export permits Germany approved for Turkey in the period between Jan. 1, 2018, to March 13, 2018, was around 9.7 million euros.

Ankara launched an attack on Afrin in late January on the grounds that the Kurdish self-rule there posed an existential threat to Turkey, with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and regime officials employing highly nationalistic and religious rhetoric in the process.

Last year, the exports totaled 34.2 million euros, the ministry revealed in response to a question by Greens member of the Bundestag Omid Nouripour.

The Turkish invasion that killed over 1,000 Kurdish civilians and fighters ended in March, though a guerrilla war by the Kurds targeting Ankara-backed Islamist groups continues.

Kurdish opposition in Turkey and German opposition condemned Berlin’s strong military ties with Ankara.

Turkey has bought over 750 German tanks since the 1980s, German state-funded Deutsche Welle reported during Ankara’s attack on Afrin.

German tanks along with other weapons from allied NATO countries to Turkey in the 1990s proved decisive in quashing the second phase of a still ongoing armed Kurdish rebellion for self-rule led by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) at its height.

In 2016, Turkey was among the top 20 recipient countries of the German defense industry with 213 arms export authorizations valued at 83.9 million euros.

The new numbers on German-Turkish military commerce came after Erdoğan’s visit this week to Germany at the invitation of German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. He also sat down with Chancellor Angela Merkel to boost weak ties amid fears of a looming economic crisis in Turkey.

In the city of Cologne, he opened the Central Mosque, one of the largest in Europe, built and funded by an Islamic organization tied to the Turkish state.

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