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AFP
October 16, 2019

Qatar defends Turkey: UK suspends arms exports to Ankara

World

AFP
October 16, 2019

LONDON/DOHA: Britain on Tuesday said it was suspending military exports to Turkey following its incursion into northeastern Syria, as it carries out a review of arms sales to its Nato ally.

"We will keep our defence exports to Turkey under very careful and continual review," Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement to parliament. "No further export licences to Turkey for items which might be used in military operations in Syria will be granted while we conduct that review."

Ankara’s assault against Kurdish forces launched last week has prompted a chorus of international condemnation. Raab said it had "seriously undermined the security and stability of the region".

"This is not the action we expected from an ally, it is reckless, counterproductive, it plays straight into the hands of Russia and the Assad regime," he told lawmakers. Britain’s arms sales suspension follows similar moves by key European and Nato allies, including Germany -- one of Turkey’s main arms suppliers -- and France.

Meanwhile, Qatar defended its close ally Turkey’s controversial operation against Kurdish forces in northern Syria on Tuesday, saying Ankara had acted against an "imminent threat". Turkey has helped Qatar weather the effects of a two-year regional economic embargo led by Riyadh over claims of support for Iran and Islamist extremism, denied by Doha.

But Ankara has faced widespread condemnation for its deadly incursion, with the US imposing sanctions on prominent Turkish leaders while France and Germany have halted arms sales. "We can’t put all the blame on Turkey," Qatar’s Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani said at a Global Security Forum meeting in Doha, adding that Ankara had been forced to respond to an "imminent threat for Turkish security".

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