Turkey establishing its first overseas military base in Qatar

Turkey establishing its first overseas military base in Qatar
2 min read
17 December, 2015
Turkey will establish a permanent military presence in Qatar, consolidating the alliance between the two countries.
The growing military ties between Turkey and Qatar hark back to the Ottoman period [Getty]

The all-but-official alliance between the Gulf state of Qatar and Turkey has seen a major development with the announcement of a Turkish military base in Qatar, made by Turkey's ambassador to Doha on Wednesday.

The base is part of a defence agreement aimed at helping the two regional powerhouses confront "common enemies", said the ambassador.

An agreement signed in 2014 and ratified by Turkey's parliament in June intensified the partnership with Qatar at a time of rising instability and a perceived waning of US interest in the region.

The two countries are both seen as sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, have both backed rebels fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and have both raised the alarm about purported growing Iranian influence in the region.

Both have also condemned Russia's intervention on the side of Assad's forces fighting in Syria.

The envoy, Ahmet Demirok, told Reuters that 3,000 ground troops would be stationed at the base - Turkey's first overseas military installation in the Middle East - as well as air and naval units, military trainers and special operations forces.

The "multi-purpose" base will primarily serve as a venue for joint training exercises. The agreement also grants Qatar the option of setting up its own base in Turkey.

Demirok said 100 Turkish troops were currently in Qatar training the Gulf state's military. He did not say when the new Turkish base would be completed.

"Today we are not building a new alliance but rather rediscovering historic and brotherly ties," he said, referring to the Muslim Ottoman Empire which, before its collapse in 1920, stretched from eastern Europe to the Gulf.

Qatari officials were not immediately available for comment.

Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan had hinted at the move during a visit to Qatar earlier this month.

"Turkish and Qatari armies conducted their first joint military drill. Some of our soldiers, who will be deployed at a military base to be established in Qatar, have started their duties," Erdogan was cited as saying in the Turkish Daily Sabah in early December.

Erdogan had also said that Turkey viewed positively possible investment in gas storage projects with Qatar, hinting that its troubled relations with Russia could make such deals more attractive.

Turkey, which relies heavily on energy imports, has previously explored the possibility of such storage projects with Moscow. Relations between the two countries have cooled sharply, after Turkey shot down a Russian aircraft last month.

Turkey and Qatar also agreed to visa-free travel between the two countries.