Ankara, Turkey. Turkish leader Erdogan is taking no prisoners and seemingly has no problem telling Saudi Arabia where to go as he doubles down on cementing Turkey’s ties with Qatar.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday dismissed calls for Turkey to close a military base in Qatar and said a wider list of demands issued by four Arab states was an unlawful intervention against the Gulf emirate’s sovereignty. Erdogan said the call to withdraw Turkish forces was disrespectful and that Doha – which described the demands as unreasonable – was taking the right approach.
A number of Arab nations-Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain imposed a boycott on June 5 on Qatar and issued 13 demands including closing Al Jazeera television, curbing relations with Iran, shutting the Turkish base and paying reparations.
Qatari administration in Doha said it was reviewing the list, but said it was not reasonable or even actionable, given the situation. Saudi demands are apparently aimed at dismantling Qatar’s interventionist foreign policy which has incensed conservative Arab peers over its alleged support for Islamists they regard as threats to their dynastic rule.
News Front on Sunday confirmed the demands set out by un-named Gulf officials on Friday, including that Qatar close the Turkish base, end military cooperation with Ankara inside Qatar and stop supporting militant groups.
Meanwhile back in Turkey, the most powerful regional country to stand by Qatar, has sent 100 cargo planes with supplies since its neighbours cut air and sea links. It has also rushed through legislation to send more troops to its base in Doha.
There are now two contingents of Turkish troops with columns of armoured vehicles that have arrived since the crisis erupted on June 5, and Defence Minister Fikri Isik said on Friday that further reinforcements would be beneficial. “The strengthening of the Turkish base would be a positive step in terms of the Gulf’s security,” he said. “Re-evaluating the base agreement with Qatar is not on our agenda.”