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Turkish troops hold exercises in Qatar

Arab Quartet wants Qatar to close Turkish military base, curb its ties with Iran and close Al Jazeera TV channel

Gulf News

Dubai: Qatar held joint military exercises with Turkish troops on Monday, Qatari media reported, showcasing their strategic alliance two months into a boycott by Arab neighbours over Doha’s support to terrorism.

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.

Ankara has said it will deploy 3,000 ground troops at the base.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain cut off diplomatic ties and commercial links with Qatar, and submitted a list of 13 demands for it to comply for normalising ties.

The countries want Qatar to close down the Turkish base, curb relations with Iran and close the Al Jazeera TV channel.

But Turkey and Qatar maintain ideological ties, as Turkey’s ruling party has Islamist roots and Doha is a main backer of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is declared a terrorist organisation by the Arab bloc.

Turkey announced its plans to establish a military base in Qatar in late 2015.

The base was Turkey’s first in the Gulf region.

Turkey and Qatar also agreed to visa-free travel between the two countries.

Erdogan and Qatari Emir Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad signed 15 bilateral agreements in Doha related to several sectors, including education, environment, science and technology, maritime and energy.

Before the implementation of lifting visas, Qatar required visas for Turkish citizens with a standard passport in order to enter the Gulf country.

The visa was obtained at Doha International Airport for 14 days for tourist purposes, reported the Daily Sabah.

Last week, Turkish Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci said that Turkey, Iran and Qatar were discussing using Iran’s land route to facilitate trade between Qatar and Turkey.

Zeybekci said the three countries are discussing about alternatives to land trade routes with Qatar, and the easiest way is passing through Iran.