Turkish base to remain open as long as Qatar wants: President Erdoğan
ANKARA - Anadolu Agency
REUTERS photoTurkey will not close its military base in Qatar unless Doha requests it, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told French media on July 5.
“Unless Qatar wants it, we will not do it,” Erdoğan told the France 24 television network.
A defense agreement in 2014 between Ankara and Doha required Turkey to establish a base in Qatar, at the request of the Qatari government.
Erdoğan said the same terms were presented to Saudi Arabia for Turkey to build a base in the kingdom, but Riyadh “wanted time to think it through.”
The Turkish base was built in Qatar after getting the go ahead but now Saudi Arabia wants it to be closed as part of demands directed to Doha in the ongoing crisis in the Arab Gulf.
“If Qatar requests [us to leave], we would certainly no longer stay in a place where we are not wanted,” Erdoğan said.
“But why don’t they make the same demand about CENTCOM? Because the Americans and the French also have a base there,” Erdoğan said of the American command responsible for the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia.
“We remain loyal to our agreement with Qatar and we will see it through until the end.”
A list of demands by Saudi Arabia and its allies, which included the closure of the Turkish base in Qatar, to restore diplomatic ties with Qatar are “unrealistic in terms of Doha’s sovereignty,” he added.
“When it comes to this list of 13 items, they will simply strip the state of its qualities and are not acceptable under any circumstances because they are challenging its state functions,” Erdoğan said.
Turkey does not want the Qatar situation to widen into a regional Gulf crisis and has asked Saudi Arabia not to allow it to develop into an even bigger crisis, the Turkish president stated, adding that he has “not lost hope” for a solution to the issue.
On June 5, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, Bahrain and Yemen abruptly cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing Doha of meddling in their domestic affairs and supporting terror groups.
Mauritania followed suit shortly afterward, while Jordan downgraded its diplomatic representation in Doha.
Saudi Arabia has also sealed its land border with Qatar, geographically isolating the tiny Gulf state.
Doha has denied the allegations and described the moves to isolate it as “unjustified.”