Turkey says not authorized arms shipment to Yemen
Turkey has categorically rejected claims that arms shipment to Yemen had been authorized by Ankara and said a Turkish company involved in the shipment declared the cargo as "biscuits" to Yemen's customs authority Today`s Zaman reproted.
A statement released by the Turkish Foreign Ministry on Monday said Turkey contacted the Yemeni authorities and the investigation is under way "with all its dimensions."
Turkey's Customs and Trade Minister Hayati Yazıcı said on Monday that he has ordered an investigation into the arms shipment to Yemen.
Yemeni authorities announced on Saturday that they have seized boxes of arms in the southern Yemeni city of Aden which originated in Turkey.
Officials seized Turkish-made pistols found in biscuit boxes inside a container that came from Turkey, according to the website of the Yemeni Defense Ministry. News reports in the Turkish media said there were 3,000 pistols on the ship.
Turkey said it is out of the question to authorize arms export to a region with high-level risk of conflict that will result in the death of more people. The statement stressed that Turkey will continue lend any kind of support to Yemeni authorities to strengthen stability and security as it is going through a period of national reconciliation.
Ankara said officials will continue showing determined position against all steps that could negatively affect Yemen's transition period.
There was a similar incident in March 2011 when the customs authority of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) seized arms bound for Yemen from Turkey by sea. It remains unclear who ordered the shipment. There were speculations at the time that the guns' intended recipients were Shiite tribesmen, who have been in a struggle against the government for the last six years, or middlemen who planned to sell them individually.
Yemen has been scene of frequent al-Qaeda attacks amid political unrest that led to the resignation of the country's long-time ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2011. Yemeni authorities say the fight against al-Qaeda will continue until the group lays down arms.