Amid diplomatic spat, Turkey debates deploying troops to Qatar in a show of support

Agence France-Presse
Turkish soldiers stand at attention

Turkish soldiers stand at attention during a ceremony marking the 102nd anniversary of Battle of Canakkale, also known as the Gallipoli Campaign, at the Turkish memorial in Canakkale, Turkey, March 18, 2017.

Osman Orsal/Reuters

Turkey's parliament will debate on Wednesday a bill that would allow its troops to be deployed to a Turkish base in Qatar, following a bitter feud between Doha and its neighbours in the Gulf.

The move appears to be a signal of support from Turkey to Qatar after Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain, among other states, cut diplomatic ties and major transport links with the gas-rich emirate.

The Arab states accuse Qatar of supporting extremism, a charge Doha firmly denies.

Turkey has called for dialogue and said it is ready to help defuse the row. 

Lawmakers told AFP that parliament would discuss implementing a Qatar-Turkey defense deal that was agreed in late 2014.

Part of that deal saw the opening of a Turkish military base in Qatar also allowed joint training exercises and the possibility of Turkish armed forces being deployed on Qatar's territory.

Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lawmaker Taha Ozhan said the agreement had passed through the committee stage and would now be discussed by the main parliament.

Sezgin Tanrikulu, an MP from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), said 80 soldiers have been sent to the base to prepare what will be Turkey's first military facility in the Gulf region.

The Turkish ambassador to Qatar Ahmet Demirok told AFP last year the base would eventually be home to up to 3,000 troops or possibly more "depending on the needs".

Turkey has close ties with Qatar including in the energy sector, but also maintains good relations with other Gulf countries.

During the six-year Syrian conflict, Doha and Ankara have backed rebels trying to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.

Qatar is also home to the largest US airbase in the Middle East.

As the forward headquarters of US Central Command, it is seen as crucial to the US-led campaign against the Islamic State group.