A Saudi Arabian business and a Turkish military company have teamed up to cooperate on enhancing military technology at a time both countries are increasingly entangled in regional conflicts. Turkey’s state-controlled Aselsan signed the joint venture deal with Taqnia Defense and Security Technologies of Saudi Arabia, with plans to build a factory in the latter country, Defense News reported Monday.
“This agreement will contribute significantly to the strategic cooperation the two countries are conducting in the fields of defense, economics and investment,” said İsmail Demir, head of Turkey's Undersecretariat for Defense Industries, Hurriyet Daily News reported. “The important partnership established between Turkey and Saudi Arabia will play a serious role in enhancing the region’s security, stability and peace.”
The venture will focus on radars, electronic warfare suites and electro-optical technology. The move is expected to help bolster defense capabilities among allies in the region and expand military relations between Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Each company will hold 50 percent stake in the deal.
— Patrick van den Ende (@pvandenende_FRS) February 21, 2016
Saudi Arabia and Turkey, both regional powerhouses, signed a military training cooperation agreement in 2012. While the countries have not seen eye to eye on several political conflicts in the Middle East in recent years, both have backed rebels fighting the Syrian dictator, President Bashar Assad, and both are involved in the U.S.-led campaign against the Islamic State group.
Last week, Saudi Arabia sent warplanes to Turkey's southern Incirlik airbase, a move seen as preparation for a possible ground offensive against the extremist group, also known as ISIS. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the potential exists for Riyadh and Ankara to send in troops.
Both Saudi Arabia and Turkey have sought to diversify their economies in recent years. Saudi Arabia has suffered from a major budget deficit as oil prices have dropped and stagnated over the past year, and Turkey has experienced a waning economy as political stability has grown tenuous. Industry experts said additional defense deals could advance exports of Turkish naval vessels, assault boats, armored vehicles and unmanned aerial vehicles to Saudi Arabia, Defense News reported.