Turkish troops arrived in Qatar for long-planned joint military exercises, al Jazeera reported on Monday, a deployment made possible by legislation fast-tracked by Turkey following a diplomatic rift between Doha and four other Arab states.
The channel posted a video on its website of a column of armored personnel carriers moving through streets. It said the troops had arrived on Sunday.
Turkey’s parliament on June 7 fast-tracked legislation to allow troops to be deployed to a military base in Qatar, two days after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with Doha in the worst diplomatic crisis in the region in years.
Turkey has a military base in Qatar that currently houses about 90 Turkish soldiers.
The Turkish forces conducted their first training at Tariq bin Ziyad military base on Sunday, Al Jazeera said, citing the ministry, saying the drills had been long planned.
Saudi Arabia on Saturday said that it would not allow Turkey to set up military bases on its territory in an apparent rejection of an offer from Ankara.
Saudi official said without elaborating, that the “kingdom cannot allow Turkey to establish military bases on its land and does not need this.”
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying in an interview with Portuguese broadcaster RTP that he had offered Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz to set up a Turkish military base in the kingdom.
Erdogan, as quoted by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency, also said that, so far, nothing had come of the offer to Riyadh.
Turkey has staunchly backed its ally Qatar in an ongoing diplomatic row with Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries.
Erdogan said work on a Turkish military base in Qatar started in 2014 and that the facility was aimed at maintaining regional security.