A new batch of Turkish soldiers have arrived in Qatar to continue the joint defence agreement between the two countries. The arrival at the Al Ubeid airbase in Doha was announced by the Qatar’s defence ministry.
The new group, which includes soldiers from the Turkish Joint forced command, will be joining the current troops at the Tariq bin Ziyad military base.
The new batch will undergo training with Qatar’s armed forces to enhance joint military capabilities. The first deployment came in the year 2015. The Turkish military camp in Qatar is its first such installation in the Middle East.
The army base has a capacity to hold nearly 5000 troops. Turkey intends to gradually increase the number to 3000, according to the agreement between them, and keep a brigade in the Gulf country.
Turkey’s parliament had earlier fast tracked the approval to deploy the troops in Qatar. It also approved a December 2015 agreement that allows the Turkish military to train Qatari security forces.
Turkey has also supported Doha in the ongoing crisis and even supplied essentials to the country. Turkey sent cargo ships and hundreds of planes loaded with food to help Qatar offset the blockade.
The closure of Turkish base was one of the 13 demands of the Saudi-led group. However, Yasin Aktay, a senior member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), told in an interview that the presence of Turkish military troops in Qatar “creates a balance in the region” that prevents potential clashes.
“Turkey is protecting its own interests through the base in Qatar, rather than taking sides between the parties at odds,” he said.
“And Ankara’s interests require stability in the region. Therefore, Turkey would be against an attack on Saudi Arabia as much as Qatar.”
Turkey and Qatar are close allies on foreign policy, including issues in Palestine, Syria and Egypt.