Turkey bolsters military presence in blockaded Qatar with new base
“A new base has been built,” Hurriyet correspondent Hande Fırat confirmed in an article published after visiting Tariq bin Ziyad base outside the Qatari capital, Doha.
“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,” Fırat said at the base, where Qatari and Turkish soldiers have performed joint operations for several years.
Qatar-Turkey relations have significantly improved in recent years, especially after Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed ties with Doha and imposed a land, air and sea blockade on the neighbouring gas-rich nation.
The blockading quartet demanded an end to the military cooperation between Turkey and Qatar in 2017, just one of a list of 13 conditions to lift the blockade. But since then, Turkey has sent more troops to its Gulf ally, and bilateral relations, including trade, have heavily increased.
“When we consider the energy wars in the region, the U.S. agenda oriented at Iran, Iran’s possible manoeuvres using its Shia 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,” Fırat added.
“Gulf countries, especially Saudi Arabia, are uncomfortable with the Turkish-Qatari cooperation,” said Fırat. “In spite of all this, Turkey's is trying to establish a durable security architecture and a military and political domain.”
The “grand” inauguration ceremony in autumn will be attended by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad, the report suggested.
Qatar is also home to the forward headquarters of the US military's Central Command. The sprawling Al Udeid Air Base is home to some 10,000 American troops.
The Saudi-led bloc have demanded Doha accepts a list of 13 conditions, including shutting Al Jazeera and The New Arab, to open a dialogue to resolve the conflict.
Mediation efforts, mainly led by the emir of fellow Gulf state Kuwait, have so far failed to break the deadlock.
While the crisis has shaken the politics of the region, it has also had serious impact on the lives of ordinary civilians on the ground.
A report published last month revealed that the blockade had separated families, disrupted imports, including medical resources and construction materials, among other obstacles for Qatar.
In January, the UN's human rights office accused the four countries of orchestrating a hate campaign against Qatar, which included threats to kill the country's emir.
But more than two years after the blockade,Qatar, which has one of the world’s highest per capita incomes due to its natural resources, has been largely unaffected by the blockade, opening up other avenues of income to offset the blockade’s impact.
Earlier this month, reports confirmed the Maldives is working to restore relations with Qatar after they were severed at the start of a Saudi-led diplomatic and economic blockade of the Gulf state.
Earlier this year, Jordan officially restored relations with Qatar after two years of diplomatic rupture that began at the start of the blockade.
Follow us on Twitter: @The_NewArab