German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has stated that due to German “concerns” over Turkey’s anti-YPG/PKK Operation Olive Branch in northern Syria, Berlin will suspend the delivery of Leopard tanks to Turkey.
Over the last month, Turkish officials have attempted to conduct a rapprochement with Germany after Ankara-Berlin relations hit new lows in 2017. Turkey’s President Erdogan accused German leaders of being “Nazis” after protracted rows over Ankara’s relations with the EU, as well as the rows stemming from Germany prohibiting Erdogan and his ministers from addressing Turkish citizens living in Germany. A similar row escalated between the Dutch and Turkish governments in 2017. Later in 2017, Germany withdrew its forces from Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base over protracted disputes over Turkey allegedly not allowing German officials full access to the base.
While Turkish officials have recently tried to mend previously strong ties, today’s announcement from Berlin will almost certainly stall any possible rapprochement.
Germany is home to a large population of Turks as well as Kurds. Therefore, it cannot be ruled out that at a time when Germany still does not have a governing coalition due to deadlock following the 2017 general election, that the move was made for domestic electoral considerations.
Last week, amateur footage showed Turks and Kurds shouting at one another at an airport in Hanover, after the commencing of Operation Olive Branch.