Turkey dismisses demand to close Qatar military base

Claudine Rigal
Juin 26, 2017

Turkey will not close its military base in Qatar, Turkish Defense Minister said on Friday in reply to a demand by four Arab countries to end boycott against Doha.

The Iran provisions in the document say Qatar must shut down diplomatic posts in Iran, expel any members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, and only conduct trade and commerce with Iran that complies with United States sanctions. Qatar - which shares its only land border with Saudi Arabia - has rejected the accusations, calling them "unjustified" and "baseless". U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson earlier this month said he hoped the demands "will be reasonable and actionable" amid frustrations at delays in formulating the list.

"The strengthening of the Turkish base would be a positive step in terms of the Gulf's security", Isik said.

Qatar has slammed the blockade as an "illegal siege" based on "false allegations on financing of terrorism". They have also insisted on imposing a monitoring mechanism which would report regularly on Qatar's compliance with the demands.

According to AP, the list commands Qatar to halt funding to other news publications, including Middle East Eye. Qatar repeatedly came under criticism in many capitals for allegedly backing the al Qaeda-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which was previously known as al-Nusra Front and is one of the most formidable jihadist groups battling President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

These Gulf nations were later joined by Libya, Yemen, the Maldives, Mauritius and Mauritania, with Jordan and Djibouti announcing they would lower the level of diplomatic contacts with Qatar.

Al-Jazeera, one of the largest news organisations in the world, said that it "deplores" calls for it to be taken off air.

The demands include an insistence that Qatar - long considered by its neighbours to be a maverick - align itself "militarily, politically, socially, economically" with other Gulf and Arab states.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Emirates and Bahrain have required Qatar to close the Al Jazeera headquarters.

The countries delivered a list of demands to end the embargo Thursday and gave Qatar 10 days to comply with the ultimatum.

Meanwhile, Turkish Defence Minister Fikri Isik attacked the demands presented to Qatar, which reportedly includes shutting down a Turkish military base in the small Gulf country.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE and Egypt imposed a blockade on Doha late last month, closing their airspace and territorial waters to Qatari planes and ships.

The Qatari minister also said that the residents of the country were united behind their emir, and added that Al-Jazeera and foreign policy are included in its internal affairs, and are not open to negotiation.

As well as shutting down Al Jazeera, which Qatar has previously said it would not do, the boycotting five Arab countries also want it to cut diplomatic ties with Iran.

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