Turkish soldiers coming for sake of region: Qatar
DOHA / ANKARA
Qatar’s top diplomat has said Turkish troops are en route to the embattled Gulf country “for the security of the entire region.
“Turkish troops are coming to Qatar for the sake of the securıty of the entire region,” Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said in Doha while briefing the press on June 8 on the recent crisis with a group of Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Turkey’s parliament on June 7 ratified two deals on deploying troops in Qatar and training the country’s gendarmerie forces, amid criticism from the opposition ranks.
The votes came just days after five Arab countries cut ties with the gas-rich Gulf nation.
The deal on deploying troops on Qatari soil to improve the country’s army and boost military cooperation was signed back in April 2016 in the Qatari capital Doha.
Under the bill, the armies of the two countries will also be able to carry out joint exercises, with the two sides saying it “aims to contribute to regional and world peace.”
In addition, the Turkish gendarmerie will be able to train Qatar’s gendarmerie forces under a deal between the two countries’ interior ministries signed in December 2015.
Turkey had set up a temporary military base in Qatar, its first such installation in the Middle East. In 2016, then Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu visited the base where nearly 100 personnel are already stationed.
Lawmakers from ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) were the main backers of the bill that allows troops to be deployed to Turkey’s base in Qatar, but the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) said the timing sent the “wrong message.”
"With these agreements, Turkey is making a choice. By standing with Qatar it is standing against the other countries. This is a wrong policy,” Reuters quoted CHP deputy head and lawmaker Öztürk Yılmaz as saying on June 7. “How will you be a mediator if you are taking sides?” Yılmaz added.
“Ankara has now become squeezed between the Gulf states after the stalemate between Russia and the United States. Turkey should develop policies that serve regional peace rather than taking sides. Turkey should not be a human resource floor of ISIL [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant]. It should be released from being the logistics supply base of terrorist organizations,” CHP Deputy Group Chair Engin Altay said on June 8.
Kurdish issue-focused Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Filiz Kerestecioğlu also criticized the timing of the ratification of deals.
“Who would think of bringing international bilateral agreements with Qatar to the agenda at this moment? Who would insist on discussing it today when the eyes of the whole world are watching? The Foreign Ministry of Turkey would,” Kerestecioğlu told reporters on June 7.