Turkey 'probes' arms shipment to Yemen

Turkey 'probes' arms shipment to Yemen

Turkey probes arms shipment to Yemen

A Shi’ite man carries his weapon as he attends a celebration in Sanaa. REUTERS Photo

An investigation has been launched into reports that a cargo of weapons originating in Turkey was seized by Yemeni authorities Nov. 3 at the southern port of Aden, Turkish Customs Minister Hayati Yazıcı said Nov. 5.

The customs procedure for the ship was conducted at Turkey’s Mersin Port, and the declaration by the carrier company said the content was food, Yazıcı told reporters, adding that he had given orders for an investigation of the customs procedure.

“To be able to say whether it is Turkish-made or not, it should be a product subject to normal export procedure being declared at customs. It is not such a product. … It was declared as containing food products,” Yazıcı said, adding that the cargo was physically examined before being shipped. The customs official who physically examined the cargo in Turkey before it was shipped is being investigated, the minister said. The Turkish-owned carrier company will also be subject to a detailed investigation, Yazıcı said. Turkey’s investigation was based on Yemeni officials’ claims about the cargo but he hasn’t talked to Yemeni authorities, Yazıcı said.

Yazıcı’s remark came after Agence France-Presse cited the Yemeni defense ministry website 26sep.net as saying that arms had been found in boxes used for biscuits in a container dispatched from Turkey.

Turkish Foreign Ministry officials said earlier that Yemeni authorities had not officially notified Turkish authorities.

The impoverished southern Arabian Peninsula nation is already awash with weapons.

It is prey to attacks in the east and south blamed on al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, that have become more frequent in the wake of the 2011 popular uprising that forced out veteran strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh.