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Turkey, Qatar agree on terms of joint military base deal: Official

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Turkish army soldiers run to their fighting positions during exercises, at a military outpost near the town of Kilis on March 2, 2017. (Photo by AP)

Turkey and Qatar have agreed on the terms of a deal to set up a joint military base in Doha and deploy hundreds of Turkish forces to the camp, an official in Ankara says.

“Within the framework of the agreement, it is envisaged that a joint Turkish-Qatar divisional tactical headquarters should be established … in Doha,” Turkey’s Defense Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Major Ihsan Bulbul said on Monday.

A Qatari major general would be the commander of the base and a Turkish brigadier would be his assistant, Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News quoted Bulbul as saying.

The official also put the number of the Turkish troops to be deployed to the Doha base at 500-600.

He further announced plans to train the Turkish forces concerning the disposal of explosives, saying, “A training staff with 25 to 30 people will be established and training will be provided there.”

However, Turkey's main opposition, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), criticized the agreement as “arbitrary in nature” and questioned Ankara’s interests in setting up the military base in Doha.

“We are sending troops to Qatar and setting up bases and Qatar pays for it. What is Turkey’s interest in this business? What is Qatar’s interest in it? We need to further investigate Turkey’s relations with Qatar,” said Oguz Kaan Salici, a CHP lawmaker.

The establishment of the Doha base is part of an agreement signed by Turkey and Qatar back in 2014.

In April 2016, Turkey’s then Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said at Qatar University that Turkey’s first overseas military installation in the Middle East would be established in Qatar.

He claimed that the base would help counter threats to both countries, adding, “The security and stability of Qatar is like the security and stability of Turkey.”

Turkey’s ex-ambassador to Qatar Ahmet Demirok said some 3,000 ground troops would be stationed at the Doha base as well as air and naval units, military trainers and special operations forces.

Qatar and Turkey are viewed as strong supporters of militant groups that are wreaking havoc in Syria.

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