No new Turkish troop deployment to Qatar yet: Sources
Uğur Ergan – ANKARA
REUTERS photoAs yet there is no new military troop deployment from Turkey to Qatar, Turkish military sources have said, amid reports of “long-planned” joint military exercises in the country and an ongoing diplomatic row between Doha and four other Gulf Arab states.
The Doha-based Al Jazeera posted a video of armored personnel carriers moving through streets on July 19, saying Turkish troops had arrived in Qatar a day before and were taking part in the drills.
The Qatari Defense Ministry also stated on June 19 that the Turkish troops had arrived to take part in joint training exercises, adding that the first joint drills took place on June 18 at the Tariq bin Ziyad military camp in Doha.
However, Turkish military sources said the deployment exercise of troops already stationed at the base may have been falsely interpreted as the arrival of new troops.
Turkey’s parliament on June 7 ratified legislation to allow more troops to be deployed to the military base in Qatar set up as part of an agreement signed in 2014. The base currently hosts around 90 Turkish soldiers.
A three-member delegation from the Turkish Armed Forces was earlier dispatched to the country on June 12 and returned to Ankara following the first inspections and a deployment exercise.
Around 250 soldiers are planned to be deployed at the base in the first stage of the new initiative, but how may warplanes will be deployed and when they will be transferred to the base will be determined after a report from the Turkish military delegation.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt and a number of other countries recently cut ties with Qatar, accusing the emirate of supporting terrorism.
Doha denies the accusations and says measures imposed by its Gulf neighbors amount to a “blockade.”
Ankara has been engaging in intense diplomatic traffic with both sides in a bid to help resolve the crisis.