Canada has announced that it is cancelling export permits for drone technology to Turkey.
The reason cited was that Turkish-supplied drones were used during last year’s Karabakh war between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
This will create multiple foreign policy conundrums for Ottawa in West Asia.
Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau justified the cancelation saying “this use was not consistent with Canadian foreign policy, nor end-use assurances given by Turkey.”
Ottawa’s explanation is an implicit disregard for the notion of state sovereignty.
It is also hypocritical because Canada continues to sell weapons to the Saudi regime which is using them, in explicit prohibition of such use, committing war crimes against the Yemeni people.
It should be noted that the war in Karabakh was launched by Azerbaijan to restore its territorial sovereignty.
Karabakh is Azerbaijani territory which Armenian militias have occupied.
The world, including Canada recognizes Karabakh as an integral part of Azerbaijan.
Under international law, countries have the right to use force to restore their territorial sovereignty and confront illegal armed formations.
By imposing trade restrictions on Turkey because it assisted Azerbaijan in the restoration of its territorial integrity, Canada is indirectly undermining the notion of state sovereignty and the fundamentals of contemporary international law.
As reported by the Guardian newspaper, “Canada sold a record amount of military hardware to Saudi Arabia in 2019, despite sharply criticizing its poor human rights record and placing a moratorium on any new exports to the kingdom.”
In January 2021, activists in Ontario staged a protest at the site of a transport company they said is involved in transporting Canadian-made, light armored vehicles (LAVs) to Saudi Arabia.
It is no secret that the Saudi regime continues to murder thousands of innocent Yemeni civilians with weapons supplied by Western regimes.
Despite this, Canada has a workable relation with the unelected and autocratic regime in Riyadh.
Canada’s latest friction with Turkey will also undermine its political standing in the region.
It will do little to promote Canada’s self-crafted image as a neutral entity that Ottawa loves to project.
The Saudi regime is an entity in decline, while Turkey is a prominent regional power.
By spoiling relations with Ankara, Canada will have a hard time adapting to the new geopolitical set-up in West Asia.
Ottawa has undermined its own soft power appeal by increasing pressure on Turkey.
Compared to the Saudi regime and Canada’s other authoritarian regional allies, Turkey is a functional modern state with an electoral system.