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Turkey’s troop deployment in Qatar is support for Qatar: analyst

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Updated: 09:34 GMT, Jun 10, 2017 | Published: 09:34 GMT, Jun 10, 2017 |
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Turkey’s troop deployment in Qatar is an apparent message of support for Qatar, said a Turkish political analyst on Thursday in Istanbul. Turkey’s Grand National Assembly on Wednesday approved draft bills allowing its deployment of troops to a Turkish military base in Qatar.

The bill includes two pieces of legislation, which were part of a military agreement signed by Turkey and Qatar in 2014: allowing Turkish troops to be deployed in Qatar for joint drills and approving an accord between the two countries on military officer training cooperation.

The Qatar government said on Thursday that Turkish troops were on their way to Qatar. Turkish media reported that Turkey sent about 500 to 600 troops to the military base and the general commander of the base will be Qatari and the deputy general commander will be a Turkish officer.

Turkish analysts thought that as the United States has 10,000 troops in Qatar, hundreds of Turkish troops serves no purpose if an emergency occurs. However, as Turkey’s parliamentary approval came only two days after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, Yemen, Libya and the Maldives cut diplomatic ties with Qatar for its alleged “terrorism support”, it can be interpreted as an apparent message of support for Qatar.

“When these contracts were signed, Turkey had openly said that we are there for common threats. So for common threats, if Qatar has a threat, and then it is a threat also there for Turkey. But still, as you see, Qatar didn’t describe Emirates or other countries as a threat to its security. They are still saying that they want normalized relations with its neighbors.”said Ozcan Tikit, a Turkish political analyst said during an interview with China Central Television (CCTV).

Turkey is regarded as a key ally of Qatar. Qatar timely expressed its support for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan soon after Turkey’s coup attempt in July, 2016. Subsequently, Turkish media reported that information showed countries including United Arab Emirates (UAE) were involved in this coup attempt. Therefore, some experts believe it is possible that Turkey is also spearheaded in Qatar’s diplomatic and trade isolation from some of the biggest Middle Eastern powers this time.

For the future role of the Turkish military base in Qatar, Tikit said the Turkish government announced that it was to deal with common threats.

The parliamentary approval comes after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Tuesday expressed disapproval of the sanctions imposed on Qatar by several Arab countries.

“This is an important decision taken by time, very critical time, and it carries a very important message about what these countries are trying to impose on Qatar. Turkey’s president had already clearly said he would not accept this kind of sanction against Qatar, and he was also trying to play a mediator role. Turkey will not leave actually if Qatar comes under attack,” said Tikit.

As Turkey is deeply involved in the crisis, the relations between Turkey and Gulf states will be fractious. Tikit said Saudi Arabia and UAE misjudged the situation.

“There is a miscalculation of Saudi Arabia and Emirates here. They thought that maybe after just imposing this kind of sanctions, and Qatar will totally obey them and do whatever they want. Maybe they will do some things but it’s impossible to Qatar give all of its independence to these countries,” said Tikit.