ANKARA: Turkey has sent a team of military experts to Qatar to evaluate troop deployments, as several Arab countries continue to isolate the Gulf country.
In a statement Tuesday, the Turkish military said the country sent a three-person team Monday to scout and coordinate preparations for deployment.
The military said such military visits have been ongoing since 2015. Turkey and Qatar have developed close ties over the years and reached agreement in 2014 to set up a Turkish military base there.
In a show of support for Qatar, the Turkish Parliament and the president rapidly passed legislation for increased military cooperation last week, which foresees troop deployment and military training.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced the isolation of Qatar as a violation of Islamic values and tantamount to a “death penalty” against Doha.
Erdogan’s comments marked the strongest intervention yet by a powerful regional ally of Doha.
The measures against Qatar have disrupted imports of food and other materials and caused some foreign banks to scale back business.
Qatar, which imported 80 percent of its food from bigger Gulf Arab neighbors before the diplomatic shutdown, has also been talking to Iran and Turkey to secure food and water.
“A very grave mistake is being made in Qatar, isolating a nation in all areas is inhumane and against Islamic values. It’s as if a death penalty decision has been taken for Qatar,” Erdogan told members of his ruling AKP party in Ankara.
“Qatar has showed the most decisive stance against terrorist organization Islamic State (Daesh) alongside Turkey. Victimizing Qatar through smear campaigns serves no purpose.”
In Moscow, the Kremlin said President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman discussed the crisis in a phone call on Tuesday. The Kremlin said that the row was not helping to unite efforts to try to find a Syria settlement or fight terrorism.
Morocco has also waded into the crisis, announcing it was sending planeloads of food supplies to Doha as part of its Islamic duty during Ramadan.
Morocco’s Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita was also in the Gulf on a mission by King Mohammed to try to mediate.
A diplomatic source in the region said Bourita had met with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan in Abu Dhabi on Monday and was due in Kuwait on Tuesday. He was also expected to fly to Jeddah for talks with Saudi officials on the crisis.
Meanwhile, a UAE newspaper is saying that a fake website attempted to impersonate it and publish fake comments attributed to Abu Dhabi’s crown prince.
Al-Ittihad newspaper’s editor-in-chief Mohammed Al-Hammadi told The National newspaper of Abu Dhabi that the fake comments had Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan disparaging Kuwait and Oman for having “double standards.”