Turkey troops arrive in Qatar for long-planned drills- Al Jazeera

Claudine Rigal
Juin 19, 2017

The three Gulf states and Egypt blocked access to Qatar's Al-Jazeera satellite news channel and other Qatari news websites.

Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, who is leading mediation efforts after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain severed ties with Qatar two weeks ago, said he hoped the crisis could be solved through dialogue.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan raised eyebrows over the weekend when he said King Salman agreed to consider an offer to establish a Turkish military base in the kingdom alongside a Turkish base in Qatar. They have accused Qatar of backing terror groups, charges denied by Qatar, which says the allegations are politically motivated.

"It is unfortunate that our neighbours have chosen to invest their time and resources in a baseless propaganda campaign", he said, calling the terrorism accusations a "publicity stunt".

The first wave of soldiers from Turkey have arrived in Qatar and participated in joint exercises with local troops yesterday, the Ministry of Defense said.

Turkey, which is a strong backer of Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, has criticized the measures against Qatar and authorized the deployment of additional troops to Qatar in a show of support.

Media across much of the Gulf has been critical of Qatar over the past month, carrying articles alleging it has conspired with dissidents to destabilize neighboring governments.

Qatar has only 300,000 citizens enjoying the wealth produced by the world's largest exports of liquefied natural gas.

Relations between the two countries are at their worst in years.

Thousands of Qataris have been unable to board flights to the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, and cut off from relatives in those countries, in a region where cross-border marriages are common and rulers refer to each other as "brothers".

"The humanitarian impact of the blockade is real", he said.

The exercises convey USA support for Qatar amid the Gulf dispute.

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