No timeline set for further Turkish forces in Qatar

Turkey-Qatar deal signed in 2014 enables deployment of Turkish air, naval forces in the Gulf state, Turkish envoy says.

Qatar Turkey troops
The Tariq bin Ziyad military base in southern Doha is Turkey's first such installation in the Middle East [File: AP]

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 on Wednesday.

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… ground, air, and naval forces will be deployed to Qatar,” he told reporters at a press conference in Doha on Turkey’s recent so-called “Olive Branch” military operation in northwestern Syria.

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 June 5.

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 a bill for troop deployment to the Turkish base in Qatar and another on military training cooperation with the Gulf Arab state.

Ankara has also been trying to mediate between the opposing sides to find a solution to the crisis.

Source: Al Jazeera