Doha, Qatar. In moves obviously planned in advance, Turkish troops are now in Qatar along with American forces who operate a troop hub and airbase inside the Gulf nation at the center of recent controversey.
Erdogan’s Turkish troops have arrived in Qatar to provide additional security for the Gulf ally of Turkey. In the deepening crisis between Qatar and a Saudi-led coalition, Ankara faces yet another test of its rhetoric versus its actual abilities. The troops are a welcome sight to Qataris,especially since the parliament authorized Turkey to send 3,000-5,000 soldiers to Qatar, which allows them to assist with internal security should there be mass popular movements against the rule of Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain severed ties with Qatar a week ago, accusing it of supporting terrorism, which Doha denies. All of it coming in the wake of an email dump, American press tried to blame on “Russian hackers.”
The basis of military cooperation between Qatar and Turkey had been waiting for parliamentary approval for more than a year. One of them was the protocol signed in Doha in December 2015 that calls for deployment of Turkish troops in Qatar. The protocol cites as its objective modernization of Qatari military institutions, diversifying military training, and supporting defense capabilities and facilities of the Qatari armed forces through training and exercises.
There are about 90 Turkish military personnel currently stationed temporarily at a former British base 15 miles from Doha. That number now can be boosted to a brigade-level task force of 5,000 troops made up of a joint headquarters staff, coordination council, support units, infantry, and air and naval components. The protocol also authorizes the parties to exchange training programs, experiences and knowledge, and provide each other with advisory services.
News Front consulted a parliamentary source in Ankara who didn’t want to be identified, who said the project for a Turkish military base was held up in the Turkish parliament because of complacency and foot-dragging of Qatari authorities in allotting a permanent base for the Turkish troops. The source said Ankara was truly annoyed by the Qatari attitude, but since the crisis erupted, Qatar has sped up the process.