A business group close to the Turkish president violated the UN arms embargo against Libya


Abdullah Bozkurt/Stockholm

A business group that owns a shipping company helped the Turkish government breach the UN arms embargo on Libya, prompting UN investigators to flag the shipping company operating out of Turkey.

According to a report submitted to the UN Security Council, a Turkish shipping company identified as Akdeniz Roro Deniz Taşımacılığı, Turizm Sanayi ve Ticaret Limited Şirketi transported military goods to Turkish-backed factions in Libya. The company is owned and operated by the Kalyoncu group of companies, a family business and known to be close to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Commercial registry records show Akdeniz was purchased by Hasan Kalyoncu, one of the group’s top executives, on September 15, 2015 from its original owner, Veysel Kara, also a Turkish national who set up the business on October 4, 2013. with a capital of 100,000 Turkish liras ($50,000). The company had operated in the Turkish Mediterranean province of Mersin but moved its office to Samsun on the Black Sea in northern Turkey on January 12, 2021.

UN report on how Turkey violated the arms embargo against Libya by using a Turkish shipping company:


According to the detailed UN investigation, the MV Amazon, operated by Akdeniz, embarked on a secret mission to transport military goods to Libya in a clandestine operation sanctioned by the Erdoğan government. The shipment was commissioned by the Defense Industry Presidency (Savunma Sanayii Başkanlığı, SSB), Turkey’s procurement agency, which was sanctioned by the US Treasury for Turkey’s purchase of missiles from long-range S-400 to Russia. The SSB is controlled by President Erdoğan.

The ship started its voyage from Samsun on May 9, 2019 with a declared destination of Izmir, transited the Bosphorus two days later and suddenly died out on the night of May 14-15 near the port of Izmir. , where he took Kirpi 4×4 mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles as well as utility trucks that were part of ground terminals for Turkish-made armed drones.

The Kirpi was made by the Turkish company BMC, owned by Ethem Sancak, a close friend of President Erdoğan who grew rich from political favors and unchallenged government tenders, all thanks to Erdoğan. The Amazon also carried vehicles that function as a command, control, computing and communications (C4) system for the Turkish armed drone Bayraktar TB2, manufactured by President Erdoğan’s son-in-law, Selçuk Bayraktar.

The MV Amazon, operated by Turkish shipping company Akdeniz, has been flagged by UN experts for violating arms sanctions.

Sailing under the Moldovan flag, the Amazon activated its Automatic Identification System (AIS) at 12:18 p.m. on May 15, 2019 after cargo was secretly loaded onto the ship and changed its destination to Tripoli. It delivered the vehicles to armed factions aligned with the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) on May 18, 2019. Among the recipients of the vehicles was the Al Somoud Brigade (also known as Fakhr, or the Pride of the Libya, and the Misratan Al Marsa Central Shield Brigade) commanded by Salah Badi, who was designated under the UN Security Council resolution authorizing sanctions against Libya.

Commercial registry records show that Kalyoncu Group acquired Akdeniz in 2015:


It turned out that the Kalyoncu Group registered the Amazon along with two other ships in its fleet, the MV Beril and the MV Mira, in Moldova under a shell company named Maya Roro SA After UN investigators began to scrutinize the Amazon and its operator Akdeniz, the Moldovan authorities removed the Turkish vessels from its flag register. Turkish shipowners rushed to obtain a provisional register for Amazon in Togo in June 2019. However, when Togo was alerted to the ship’s clandestine activities, the registration was also canceled by Togo’s maritime administration in August 2019 .

Akdeniz is part of the Kalyoncu Group of Companies, which includes its main business, Kalyonu Nakliyat Turizm Ticaret ve Sanayi Limited Şirketi, a leading transport and logistics company that handles significant exports of Turkish fresh produce. According to the company’s website, the group controls 22% of Turkey’s fresh produce exports. Company officials have received numerous awards for their performance in Turkish exports from government officials, including the Turkish President.

The Kalyoncu group, which helped Turkey violate the arms embargo on Libya, has been repeatedly recognized by Turkish government officials, including President Erdogan.

The Erdoğan government has been criticized by international and regional organizations for deploying its troops to Libya, shipping military vehicles and weapons, and moving jihadists from Syria’s Idlib region to the country. Turkey has also been accused of committing regular and increasingly flagrant violations of the UN arms embargo on Libya.

A truck belonging to the Kayoncu Group is seen being unloaded from the MV Amazon.

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