Turkey, Qatar agree on details of headquarters in Qatar
Turan YILMAZ/ANKARAA Turkish military base to be deployed in Qatar will be headquartered in Doha and lead by Qatari-Turkish generals, top official has said after sessions at parliament’s Foreign Affairs Commission.
“Within the framework of the agreement, it is envisaged that a joint Turkish-Qatar divisional tactical headquarters should be established, that its place should be in Doha, that the commander of the unit is to be a major general and a Qatari, and that the commander assistant is to be a brigadier and Turkish,” said Defense Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Major Ihsan Bülbül.
Stating that the number of troops to be deployed will be 500 to 600, Bülbül said Qatar also requests the sending of units in Turkey with a flexible structure to allow them to be transferred to Qatar if needed.
“There was also a meeting on April 19 about where this unit would be deployed and what would be the breadth of the area, but there was no response from the other side. There is a demand for further expansion due to the narrowness of the proposed area,” he added.
“There is also a request for a course to be given to the deployed unit on explosive substance disposal. It is therefore planned that a training staff with 25 to 30 people will be established and training will be provided there,” Bülbül said.
Criticism from the main opposition
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Istanbul deputy Oğuz Kaan Salıcı criticized the plan, saying the agreement is “arbitrary in nature.”
“We are sending troops to Qatar and setting up bases and Qatar pays for it. What is Turkey’s interest in this business? What is Qatar’s interest in it? We need to further investigate Turkey’s relations with Qatar, which we cannot pinpoint the strategic meaning of,” Salıcı said.
“In the introduction of the agreement, it refers to ‘other duties found appropriate.’ This expression within such an agreement is open-ended, as there is a transfer of soldiers and base development that will be paid for by the host country,” he added.
Salıcı also noted that Qatar’s current army presence is made up of 11,800 individuals.
However, Turkish Deputy Undersecretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ümit Yardım said the Gulf region has a strategic importance for Turkey’s missions.
“The Gulf region, where Qatar is located, faces very serious issues and troubles. All terrorist organizations operating at the global level - especially organizations such as the PKK [outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party], the PYD [Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party], DEASH [an Arabic acronym of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] and Al-Qaeda - pose a great threat to regional stability. In this sense, we think we have common interests with Qatar, having shared views on our foreign political vision, and we think this creates the need for strategic relations,” Yardım added.