U.S. companies on Friday faced calls to cut ties with Turkish armed drone manufacturer Baykar Makina.
The Turkish Democracy Project (TDP), a U.S.-based campaigns and policy organisation, said Baykar Makina’s Bayraktar TB2 drones had “become a weapon of choice for repressive regimes around the world” and had been used in “attacks on civilians in Armenia while prolonging bloody conflicts in Syria and Libya”.
Turkey was now the fourth-largest drone builder in the world after successfully expanding its domestic programme over the last 20 years, according to TDP.
The organisation also charged Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with assaulting his “country’s democratic infrastructure” and “pursuing a foreign policy which is no longer tethered to NATO values”.
“In Erdoğan ‘s hands, the TB2 drone has become a tool of oppression and violence, while Baykar Makina continues to do deals with regimes that deploy their technology against civilians,” it added.
In letters to companies whose technology is used to manufacture Bayraktar TB2s, TDP CEO Mark D. Wallace pointed to the drones track record of use against Armenian civilians in last year’s Nagorno-Karabakh war and Kurdish-led forces battling the Islamic State in Syria.
U.S. companies doing business with Turkish arm firms risked breaching the Countering American Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), TDP said.
Introduced in 2017, CAATSA legislation mandates sanctions against any country that buys significant quantities of Russian military equipment. CAATSA sanctions were slapped on Turkey in December 2020 over its purchase of Russian S-400 air defence missile systems.
“It should be a matter of serious concern to U.S. and European lawmakers that so many major domestic manufacturing, technology and defence companies have entered into business with Turkey’s military industrial complex,” Wallace said. “It is also worrying that when confronted with direct evidence of the crimes being committed using their products, these same companies have seen fit simply to ignore it.”
Aside from the “moral implications” of supplying drone components to Turkey, “most of these companies should face grave legal consequences for their action”, Wallace added.
“In refusing to cut ties with Turkey in the face of direct evidence of the crimes the Erdoğan regime is committing using their products, these companies are demonstrating that they do not take seriously the moral or legal implications of their actions,” he said.
The TDP listed companies yet to respond to their call to stop working with Baykar Makina, including Northrop Grumman, one of the worlds largest weapons manufacturers. At least five other firms had already cut ties, according to the organisation.