Turkey: We won't close military base except at Qatar’s request

Turkey: We won't close military base except at Qatar’s request
2 min read
06 July, 2017
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he remained loyal to Qatar amid an ongoing Saudi-led blockade, and would only close a military base in the country at Qatar's request.
Turkey has strongly backed Qatar in the diplomatic crisis. [Getty]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that he remained loyal to Qatar amid an ongoing Saudi-led blockade and would only close a military base in the country at the Gulf state's request.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain cut diplomatic ties with Qatar in June, later issuing a list of demands which included shutting down Turkey's military base in the Gulf state.

Erdogan has long criticised the Saudi-led coalition's demand to close the military base, pointing to the presence of both US and French troops in the country.

In an interview with France 24, he said Turkey remained open to the possibility of closing the base but only if Qatari authorities were to make such a request.

"We remain loyal to our agreement with Qatar. If it requests us to leave, we will not stay where we are not wanted," he said through an interpreter, adding there had been no such request.

Turkey has strongly backed Qatar in the diplomatic crisis, sending 100 cargo planes with supplies since a Saudi-led bloc cut air, land, and sea links.

"When it comes to this list of 13 items ... it's not acceptable under any circumstances," he told France 24 television.

Some of the terms were tantamount to "stripping" Qatar of its statehood, he added.

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'.

In late June, Turkish reinforcements arrived at the Al Udeid air base in Qatar, joining two batches already deployed to take part in training exercises amid the ongoing blockade.