Turkish soldiers take part in military drills in Qatar
Iran Press TV
Mon Jun 19, 2017 2:1PM
Turkish troops have taken part in planned joint military exercises in Qatar amid a widening rift between the Arab country and its neighbors in the Persian Gulf region.
Qatar's Defense Ministry said in a statement on Monday that the first joint drills took place on Sunday at the Tariq bin Ziyad military camp in Doha.
The drills aim to raise "Qatari and Turkish fighting efficiency amid plans for joint operations to fight extremism and terrorism, as well as peacekeeping operations before and after military operations," the statement read.
The exercises had "been planned for some time," it added.
The military exercises come amid a crisis revolving around Qatar and certain Arab countries.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates severed ties with Qatar on June 5, officially accusing Doha of supporting terrorism and destabilizing the region -- charges which Qatar strongly denies.
Turkey had initially stayed neutral in the dispute, but soon became more assertive in its support for Doha. On June 7, Turkey's Parliament approved the deployment of troops to a Turkish military base in Qatar.
Back in 2014, Turkey and Qatar signed an agreement, which allowed the construction of a Turkish base in Qatar. Officials say up to 3,000 Turkish troops could be deployed in Qatar as part of Ankara’s program to increase its military cooperation with Doha.
Meanwhile, relations between Saudi Arabia and Turkey have begun to deteriorate over the Qatar rift.
On Saturday, Saudi Arabia said a Turkish military base would not be welcome on the kingdom's soil after Ankara offered to build such a facility.
The announcement was made in response to remarks made by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who said he had offered to build a base in Saudi Arabia "with the same idea" as Turkey’s military base in Qatar.
Saudi Arabia is also unnerved by Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood movement, which Erdogan has promoted for long.
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