ANKARA, June 23 (Xinhua) — 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.
“Re-evaluating the base agreement with Qatar is not on our agenda,” Fikri Isik said speaking in a interview with NTV news broadcaster.
The minister said he has yet to see the list of demands by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Bahrain, who reportedly asked Doha to “immediately terminate the Turkish military presence currently in Qatar and end any joint military cooperation with Turkey inside of Qatar.”
“If there is such a demand, it will mean interference in bilateral ties” between Ankara and Doha, Isik said stressing that Turkey’s military presence in Qatar should be seen as a benefit for the whole Gulf since it is a value for “security of Qatar and the region.”
On June 7, the Turkish parliament approved two agreements for the deployment of Turkish troops in a Qatari base, as well as offering military training to the nation’s gendarmerie forces.
The move came amid a diplomatic crisis between Qatar and some other Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia, which cut diplomatic ties with Doha and imposed economic sanctions.
Turkish Armed Forces sent five armored vehicles and 23 military personnel to Doha on Thursday as part of Turkey’s military deployment, a symbolic move aiming to show the continuation of support to Qatar.
Meanwhile, Isik said he will meet with his U.S. counterpart James Mattis next week on the sidelines of a NATO meeting in Brussels and discuss Pentagon’s arming Syrian Kurdish militia.
They will discuss establishing a joint mechanism for collecting arms delivered to the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the minister said.
He will also discuss figures of weapons delivered to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurdish-Syrian Arab alliance dominated by the YPG forces, as the number the U.S. informed Turkey and those reported in media are different, Isik noted.
The Pentagon has begun to transfer small arms and vehicles to the YPG which Ankara sees as linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).