Turkish troops held joint military exercises with Qatari troops on Monday, Qatari media reported, showcasing their strategic alliance two months into a boycott by Arab neighbors, which caused a region-wide crisis.
The maneuvers are aimed at preparing Qatar’s armed forces to defend “vital economic, strategic and infrastructure facilities,” state-owned newspaper Al-Sharq reported.
The joint military exercises also aim to strengthen coordination and cooperation between Turkey and Qatar, which are members of the anti-Daesh coalition.
Turkey’s parliament fast-tracked legislation on June 7 to allow hundreds of troops to be deployed to a military base in Qatar, set up as part of an agreement signed in 2014, in a show of support for Qatar, which is also home to the biggest U.S. air base in the region.
Ankara has said it will deploy 3,000 ground troops at the base to serve as a venue for joint training exercises and to support anti-terrorism efforts.
Turkey stood by Qatar after Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain called it a supporter of terrorism, which Doha denies, and cut off diplomatic ties and transport links.
The countries want Qatar to close down the Turkish base, curb relations with Iran and close the Al Jazeera TV channel.
Since the beginning of the Qatar row, Ankara has been calling on all sides to solve the issue through dialogue. The crisis began on June 5, when Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Egypt and several other states cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorist groups. Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani strongly rejected the accusations and insisted that Qatar fights against terrorism relentlessly.