Turkey parliament to push through troop deployment to Qatar
Turkish parliament is expected to push through a draft bill to allow troops to be deployed to a Turkish military base in the Gulf state of Qatar as tensions between Doha and other Arab states escalate.
Lawmakers from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's AKP party proposed on Wednesday to discuss two bills that would let troops be deployed to Qatar and green light a deal between the two close allies on military training, officials told Reuters.
Both pieces of legislation, which were in the pipeline before the recent diplomatic crisis between Doha and other Arab states kicked off, are expected to be approved by parliament on Wednesday.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain are among seven states that have cut diplomatic ties and many major transport links with Qatar, a gas-rich emirate on the Saudi border.
The Arab states accuse Qatar of supporting extremist groups, a charge Doha vehemently denies.
Ankara this week has said it was ready to help defuse the diplomatic spat between Qatar and Arab nations in what has become the biggest diplomatic crisis to hit the region in several years.
It urged dialogue between the Gulf States, adding that issues must be resolved "peacefully".
While Turkey enjoys friendly relations with Qatar, it also maintains good ties with other Gulf countries.
Last year, Turkey signed a deal with Qatar to begin deploying soldiers to its base, its first military installation in the Middle East, as part of a security agreement to 'help counter threats to both countries'.
There are currently 150 troops stationed at the base but Turkish officials have said that up to 3,000 ground troops would eventually be stationed at the base as well as air and naval units, military trainers and special operations forces.
Turkey set up the base as part of an agreement signed in 2014.
Qatar is already home to the biggest air base in the Middle East, Al Udeid, where some 10,000 military personnel are stationed, and is the forward headquarters of US Central Command.