Turkey’s parliament is today expected to fast-track a draft bill allowing its troops to be deployed to a Turkish military base in Qatar, officials from the ruling AK Party and the nationalist opposition said.
The move appears to support the Gulf Arab country as it faces diplomatic and trade isolation from some of the biggest Middle Eastern powers. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain severed relations with Qatar and closed their airspace to commercial flights on Monday, charging it with financing militant groups.
Qatar vehemently denies the accusations.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criticised the Arab states’ move, saying isolating Qatar and imposing sanctions will not resolve any problems and adding that Ankara will do everything in its power to help end the crisis.
Lawmakers from Erdogan’s AK Party have proposed debating two pieces of legislation: allowing Turkish troops to be deployed in Qatar and approving an accord between the two countries on military training cooperation, AKP and nationalist opposition officials said.
Both draft bills, which were drawn up before the spat between Qatar and its Arab neighbours erupted, are expected to be approved by the Ankara parliament later today.
Turkey set up a military base in Qatar, its first such installation in the Middle East, as part of an agreement signed in 2014. In 2016 Ahmet Davutoglu, then Turkish prime minister, visited the base where 150 troops have already been stationed, the Turkish daily Hurriyet reported.
In an interview with Reuters in late 2015, Ahmet Demirok, Turkey’s ambassador to Qatar at the time, said 3,000 ground troops would eventually be deployed at the base.