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Turkey - Qatar Relations

"Qatar, as a member of the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council], is historically in the Saudi sphere of influence," Jason Ditz writes for AntiWar.com, "but they and Turkey are noteworthy in being among few nations backing the Muslim Brotherhood, a fact which has at times caused a split within the GCC."

Qatar and Turkey are increasingly close allies, and have provided support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. The two countries are accused of providing support for militant groups trying to overthrow Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, and both have condemned Russia's aerial campaign against foreign-sponsored militants in the war-ravaged Arab country.

Qatar and Turkey concluded a basing agreement in late 2014. It was approved by Turkey's parliament in June 2015.

On 17 December 2015 Ankara announced plans to expand its military footprint abroad. As part of a "multi-purpose" mission to confront "common enemies," Turkey will establish its first overseas military installation in Qatar.

"Turkey and Qatar face common problems and we are both very concerned about developments in the region and uncertain policies of other countriesWe confront common enemies," Ahmet Demirok, Turkeys ambassador to Qatar, said on Wednesday, according to Reuters. "At this critical time for the Middle East cooperation between us is vital."

The base will be used to station approximately 3,000 troops, as well as air and naval units, special operations forces, and military trainers. While Demirok did not elaborate on who, exactly, "common enemies" refers to, he did indicate that the base will be used primarily for joint training exercises.

The agreement also paved the way for Qatar to open its own military base in Turkey. "Today we are not building a new alliance but rather rediscovering historic and brotherly ties," Demirok added. Nearly 100 troops are already in the Gulf nation training Qatari forces.

When completed, the new base will be the Turkish militarys second-largest overseas deployment, after the Cyprus Turkish Peace Force Commands, and the motivations for the expansion remained unclear.

The base would house ground troops, air force and naval personnel, as well as instructors and special forces. It would be established in accordance with a 2014 agreement between Ankara and Doha, ratified by Turkey's parliament in June. Under the agreement, Qatar could also build its own base in Turkey in the future. About 100 Turkish military personnel are already in Qatar, alongside the 10,000 US troops stationed at the Al Udeid Air Base, the largest US base in the Middle East.

The appearance of the Turkish military base in Qatar, next door to the American Al Udeid airbase, calls into question the depth of American influence in Doha. Both Turkey and Qatar have areas of friction with the United States.

The announcement on the base, coinciding with reports on the creation of the Saudi coalition, is, on the one hand, a sign of the convergence of the key players on the Syrian crisis. However, on the other, given the serious friction between Qatar and Saudi Arabia in the fight for influence in the Arabian Peninsula and the Arab world in general, active cooperation with Turkey, which has one of the most powerful armies in the region, gives the Qatari emir a serious trump card in furthering its policies. Backed by the Turks, he can afford to listen to the Americans less.

Qatar is already home to the largest US air base in the Middle East, al-Udeid, where around 10,000 military personnel are stationed.

Turkey set up a military base in Qatar, its first such installation in the Middle East, under an agreement signed in 2014. In an interview in late 2015, Ahmet Demirok, Turkey's ambassador to Qatar at the time, said 3,000 ground troops would eventually be deployed at the base, planned to serve primarily as a venue for joint training exercises.

Turkey's Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz said 31 March 2016 a multi-purpose military base for the country's air force and navy in Qatar would be ready within two years as part of a defense agreement signed between the two countries.

Speaking on the sidelines of the three-day Dimdex defense and security fair in the Qatari capital city of Doha on Wednesday, Yilmaz said the base will be the first Turkish military facility in the region, which will allow Turkish troops to participate in military operations in the Red Sea, Northern Africa, and the Persian Gulf.

"It will be completed within two years," he added, noting that the deal with Qatar had been approved by the Turkish parliament. "We want to achieve cooperation in the field of (military) training and exercises, and contribute to stability in the region," Yilmaz claimed. The Turkish defense minister also said that the deal was reciprocal, and that Qatari military personnel and aircraft are currently stationed in Turkey.

Turkeys parliament on 07 June 2017 ratified two deals on deploying troops in Qatar and training the Gulf nation's gendarmerie forces. The votes came just days after five Arab countries cut ties with Qatar. The deal on deploying troops on Qatari soil to improve the country's army and boost military cooperation was signed in April 2016, in the Gulf countrys capital Doha.

Under the bill, the armies of the two countries will also be able to carry out joint exercises. The move aims to contribute to regional and world peace. In addition, the Turkish gendarmerie will be able to train Qatars gendarmerie forces under a deal between the two countries interior ministries signed in December 2015.

A two-stage joint exercise, bringing together militaries of Turkey and Qatar started in the Persian Gulf on 01 August 2017 as part of the 2014 bilateral security agreement. Over 250 Turkish servicemen and more than 30 armored vehicles took part in the on-land stage of the drills, while the second stage was held with the participation of the Turkish frigate TCG Goekova, which had recently arrived in Qatar with a 214-strong crew. On August 7-8, high-rank officials of both countries visited the exercise site within the framework of the so-called "distinguished observer days".

Turkey and Qatar agreed upon Ankara establishing a military base in the emirate in 2014. In June 2017, 23 Turkish servicemen joined the troops already deployed in Qatar. Eventually the number of Ankara's servicemen in the Gulf state could pile up to 1,000, including air force.

Erdogan enjoys close ties with Qatars royal family, which over the year 2018 presented the Turkish president with the gift of an ultra-VIP private jet worth $500 million, as well as helping bail Turkey out with a promise of $15 billion in direct investment when the lira fell dramatically in August 2018.




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