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Qatar - Tariq Bin Ziyad military base

Qatar is home to the largest U.S. military base in the Middle East, with roughly 10,000 personnel. A new Turkish base is expected to house more than 3,000 people, including ground troops, special operations teams and military trainers.

Turkey set up a base at Tariq Bin Ziyad 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.

In April 2016, Turkeys first foreign military base in the Middle East opened in Qatar to counter what officials called the same threats. The threats include increasing isolation for both nations at a time of widespread instability in the region, according to Gulf State Analytics founder Giorgio Cafiero. The base, he said, is also symbolic, demonstrating Turkeys move toward greater influence in the region and Qatars independence from its powerful neighbors. The return of Turkish troops to Qatar a century after Ottoman forces left the peninsula is largely about prestige, Cafiero said during a recent trip to Qatar.

Besides isolation, added Cafiero, Qatar and Turkey are united in their distrust of Iran, with both countries supporting Irans enemies in Syria and Yemen. And since the Iran nuclear deal, the United States is no longer seen as a reliable military counter to Irans considerable strength. Gulf countries think if the U.S. doesnt see Iran as a threat, the U.S. will withdraw, he said.

The security and stability of Qatar is like the security and stability of Turkey, said Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in a speech late last month. We want a stable and secure Gulf. Turkey and Qatar, we have the same destiny." In Egypt, where Qatar and Turkey have supported the now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, locals say the military alliance appears to be a power play in the region. Egypt still has the upper hand in the Gulf region by its relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Turkey found itself becoming more isolated internationally in recent years for other reasons. Turkey angered Russia by shooting down a Russian plane late last year, and its handling of Islamic State upset the United States. Turkey also is wrangling with Europe over free expression issues and is without active diplomatic relations in several Middle East countries.

Besides avoiding hardships that come with relative international isolation, Turkey and Qatar have other reasons for strengthening their military alliance. Turkey, with nearly 75 million people and one of the regions strongest military forces, stands to gain not only influence, but money as it breaks into the Gulfs lucrative defense market.

Officials in Ankara view Qatar as Turkeys most trusted Arab ally. A shared political vision regarding the Middle East has helped bring the Turks and Qataris even closer. Qatari alliances are often with competing powers in order to play them off each other politically. The base, therefore, further diversifies Dohas web of defense partners and provides more states with higher stakes in a stable and prosperous Qatar.

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.

Turkey plans to deploy air and naval forces to Qatar in addition to ground troops that are already stationed in the country, a Turkish diplomat said 301 Janury 2017. Fikret Ozer, Turkish ambassador to Qatar, however, declined to state a timeline for the move. "According to the agreement signed between Qatar and Turkey in 2014, all ground, air, and naval forces will be deployed to Qatar," he told reporters in Doha. Ankara and Doha would determine the "timeline of the construction of the necessary infrastructure and when these forces will be deployed through talks", he said.

The planned deployment is part of an agreement that also saw Turkey set up a military camp in Qatar. The first batch of Turkish troops arrived at the Tariq Bin Ziyad military base in 2015. The camp, located south of Doha, is Turkey's first such installation in the Middle East and can accommodate up to 5,000 soldiers. Ozer also declined to disclose the number of Turkish forces currently stationed in Qatar. "That information would be disclosed if our Qatari brothers agree to share that," he said. "We are guests here; they are the host".

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been a major supporter of Doha since Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt severed diplomatic and trade relations with Qatar on 05 June 2017. The four Arab countries accused Doha of supporting "terrorism" and fostering ties with their regional rival Iran. Qatar denies the accusations. Shortly after the diplomatic crisis erupted, Turkey's parliament fast-tracked the Qatari-Turkish agreement in question along with another agreement that allows the Turkish military to train Qatari security forces.



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