Saudi Arabia looking to purchase armed drones, says Erdoğan

(This story has been updated with Erdoğan's remarks on Egyptian government and eastern mediterranean in the last three paragraphs)

Long-time regional rival Saudi Arabia has requested to buy armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from Ankara, Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan said on Monday.

Erdoğan made the remarks as he addressed relations with Egypt, with whom Ankara’s relations have been fractured since Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi came to power in a 2013 military coup and launched a crackdown on Ankara-backed Muslim Brotherhood.

"A joint (military) drill between Saudi Arabia and Greece is in question,’’Gazete Manifesto news site cited Erdoğan as saying. "Saudi Arabia has requested UAVs (from Turkey). This is the latest development.’’

Relations between Riyadh and Ankara have also been strained since the 2018 death of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate building in Istanbul.

Turkish drone warfare capabilities have made a significant impression in operations against Russian-supported Syrian forces in Idlib, Syria in February and March, 2020, and more recently through the ongoing Azerbaijan-Armenia conflict in Karabakh.

Commenting on relations between Ankara and Cairo, Erdoğan said, "I don't think that the Egyptian people are contradicting us. Egyptian people would not go against us. The steps which have been recently taken appear to me as a reflection of a temporary error."

Senior Turkish government officials, including Erdoğan, Turkey's foreign and defence ministers, all have expressed Ankara's desire to mend the ties with the Sisi government. However, Egyptian officials have so far conditioned restoring relations with Turkey on the withdrawal of Turkish troops from Libya, Syria and Iraq. 

Erdogan also repeated that Turkey's decisiveness in the eastern mediterranean continues without a change and "giving a concession there not a matter of discussion."

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