New military base in Qatar to inaugurate in autumn
Hande Fırat - DOHA
"Behind you is the sea, before you, the enemy. There is no turning back anymore.”
This is a quote by General Tariq ibn Ziyad, who ordered his ships to be burned to hinder fear in his soldiers, to avoid them fleeing, in 711 CE. His name was given to a military base in the Qatari capital of Doha. In that military base, there are Turkish soldiers as well. I, too, travelled to Doha and visited the Tariq ibn Ziyad base. Colonel Mustafa Aydın, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) commander of ground elements, told me about ibn Ziyad.
Turkish soldiers continue to perform their duties in Doha, under the Qatar-Turkey Combined Joint Force Command. Their numbers will increase in near future. Details will follow but first, I will tell you about the military base your soldiers have been fulfilling their duties, under 47 degrees Celsius.
Turkish soldiers were deployed to the said military base in October 2015, in a bid to contribute to the regional peace in scope of bilateral military relations of Turkey and Qatar. In December 2017, it was named the Qatar-Turkey Combined Joint Force Command.
Turkish and Qatari soldiers prepare joint training programs and conduct military drills. The warmness in the countries’ political relations remain the same in their military relations as well. In this Eid al-Adha holiday, soldiers from both countries met on the military post and exchanged greetings, as they do every holiday season. Turkish soldiers presented chocolates where Qatari soldiers offered breakfast. Qataris show their love for Turks at the military base as well. The soldiers greet each other in each other’s languages.
Turkey’s permanent military base in Qatar has a significance far beyond the bilateral relations of the countries.
Turkey has owned a military base at such location that is critical in Gulf and Middle East politics and strategic in energy matters. It also became a counterbalancing power concerning Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Qatar, which owns massive financial power, has the third largest natural gas reserves in the world. It is only neighbor in the land is Saudi Arabia.
It’s strategically significant
A crisis had risen in the Gulf when Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut their ties with Qatar and imposed economic blockade on June 5, 2017. When the Saudi-led states posted a 13-point demand list on June 23, 2017, they also wanted Qatar to terminate its military cooperation with Turkey and the closure of the Turkish military base.
When we consider the energy wars in the region, U.S.’s agenda oriented at Iran, Iran’s possible maneuvers using its Shi’s population and the Gulf countries’ -especially Saudi Arabia’s- covert or overt operations towards Turkey, we can comprehend the importance of the Turkish military base in Qatar, much better.
I do not know if a “superior mind” have advised the Saudi-led Gulf states to add the “Shut down the Turkish military base and halt military cooperation with Turkey inside of Qatar. But I would like to underline the fact that U.S. has about 14,000 soldiers at the Al Udeid Air Base.
All in all, the Gulf countries, especially Saudi Arabia, are uncomfortable with the Turkish-Qatari cooperation. In spite of all this, Turkey is trying to establish a durable security architecture and a military and political domain.
The number of Turkish soldiers in Qatar are rising
The military base in Qatar is getting bigger. A new base has been built near the Tariq ibn Ziyad military base. The grand base’s, in which a myriad of social facilities exist, construction is completed. The number of soldiers will increase. I am not giving numbers considering Turkey’s interests and security, but I can say that it will reach a drastic figure. Qatar also attaches a great deal of importance to this military base. They are talking about a “grand opening” ceremony in autumn. The inauguration ceremony is expected to be unveiled by the Qatari Emir and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.