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Turkey sends military team to assess deployment in Qatar amid embargo

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 President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkey has dispatched a team of military experts to Qatar to evaluate troop deployment, as several Arab states have imposed an all-out embargo against the peninsula over allegations of supporting terrorism.

The country sent a three-member team to Qatar on Monday to assess the situation and coordinate preparations for likely deployment of forces, the Turkish military announced in a Thursday statement.

According to the statement, the Turkish military teams have been making similar visits to Qatar since 2015, following a 2014 agreement to set up a Turkish military base in the Persian Gulf kingdom.

Last week, the Turkish parliament and the president passed legislation for increased military cooperation with Qatar, which foresees troop deployment and military training.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, the Maldives, and Egypt recently broke off ties with Qatar. In their apparent bid to secure US support and that of Israel, the four countries cited Qatar's links with Hamas and accused it of supporting terrorism, an accusation that the Qatari government denies.

The regional countries also blocked their transit routes to Qatar and ordered most of Qatari nationals to leave. The measures have also made family visits difficult. Qatari airways have also been banned from using the airspace of the Saudi-led bloc of countries.

‘Death sentence’ against Qatar

On Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at the Arab countries which severed ties with Doha, slamming the measure as a “death sentence” against the Qatari nation. “A very grave mistake is being made in Qatar.

Isolating a nation in all areas is inhumane and against Islamic values. It is as if a death penalty decision has been taken for Qatar," Erdogan said in a parliamentary speech to members of his ruling AK Party.

Erdogan praised Qatar for taking what he called “the most decisive stance” against Daesh Takfiri terrorists alongside Turkey and noted, “Victimizing Qatar through smear campaigns serves no purpose."

Erdogan said he will discuss the current circumstances with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron and the Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani through a conference call on Tuesday.

The Turkish president called on Saudi King Salman to take a leading role in resolving the crisis.

Erdogan also plans to discuss the Qatari crisis with US President Donald Trump in the coming days.

The Turkish president has pledged to continue support for Qatar and help resolve the dispute by the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

People in Qatar rushed to shops after Saudi Arabia and the UAE - its two biggest food suppliers - cut trade and diplomatic ties with the country.

On Tuesday, Amnesty International criticized the punitive measures against Qatar, saying the restrictions violate the human rights of the Qatari people.

Some analysts say the diplomatic war on Qatar is because Doha acts more independently of Riyadh in its foreign policy, including in its relations with Iran.

On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly met with members of the foreign ministry, ministry of military affairs, and other institutions to discuss preliminary steps to shut down the Jerusalem al-Quds bureau of the Qatar-based Al Jazeera broadcaster, as the diplomatic rift escalates between a Saudi-led bloc of countries with Qatar.

Israel has on several occasions alluded to its efforts to develop its ties with certain Arab countries. Back in January 2016, Netanyahu said during an interview with CNN that Saudi Arabia now saw Tel Aviv “as an ally rather as an enemy.”

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Meanwhile, Kuwait has been playing the role of mediator between Qatar and the four Arab states. Last week, Kuwait’s emir traveled to Qatar after his visits to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as part of his efforts to help mediate a solution to the diplomatic row among Arab countries.

Iran and Turkey have also started shipping food to Qatar in a bid to help the country to overcome its food shortage caused by the embargo.

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