Alwaght- Turkish troops have arrived in Qatar for a military drill as tensions between Persian Gulf sheikhdoms continue to rise with no end in sight.
The Qatari Defense Ministry has said Qatari has said Turkish troops have arrived in the country for a ‘long-planned’ Turkish-Qatari military drill.
The drills come as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Egypt and a number of other Saudi allies severed relations with Qatar several days ago, accusing Doha of supporting "terrorism" and Iran. Qatar rejects the accusations.
According to Qatari daily newspaper, the Peninsula, the drills aim to raise the Qatari and Turkish fighting efficiency to develop a joint plan in order to fight extremism and terrorism, as well as peacekeeping operations before and after military operation.
Last week, Turkey’s parliament ratified two deals on deploying troops in Qatar and training the nation's gendarmerie forces immediately after the Saudi-led move to isolate Doha.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told members of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Ankara last week that, "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."
A key ally of Qatar, Turkey is setting up a military base in the country - the first Turkish overseas military installation in the Persian Gulf region. Qatar also hosts the largest US airbase in the West Asia region, Al-Udeid, where around 10,000 military personnel are stationed.
Experts believe that Turkey's involvement in the recent spat between Qatar and its neighbors marks the latest demonstration of the country's increased desire to spread its influence as a powerful player in the regional and global arena.
Qatar, UAE hardening positions
Meanwhile, in a sign of failure of mediation efforts by Kuwait, Qatar says it will not negotiate with Arab states that have cut economic and travel ties with it unless they reverse their measures and lift the blockade.
"Qatar is under blockade, there is no negotiation. They have to lift the blockade to start negotiations," Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani told reporters in Doha on Monday.
"Until now we didn't see any progress about lifting the blockade, which is the precondition for anything to move forward."
Sheikh Mohammed said Qatar had still not received any demands from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, who severed relations two weeks ago, triggering the worst crisis among Persian Gulf sheikhdoms in recent years.
"Anything not related to them is not subject to negotiation. No one has the right to interfere in my affairs. Al Jazeera is Qatar's affairs, Qatari foreign policy on regional issues is Qatar's affairs. And we are not going to negotiate on our own affairs," he said.
He said Kuwait's ruler was the sole mediator in the crisis and that he was waiting for specific demands from Persian Gulf states in order to take resolution efforts forward.
This is while, a senior Emirati official has said some Arab monarchies of the Persian Gulf region could continue to isolate Qatar "for years” if Doha did not alter its foreign policy.
"Qatar will realize that this is a new state of affairs and isolation can last years,” Anwar Gargash, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) state minister for foreign affairs, said
Qatari Envoy calls Saudis, Emiratis are terrorists
Meanwhile, Qatar’s ambassador to the US accused the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia of committing the same sins they’re boycotting his country for.
“Emiratis, not Qataris, were among the hijackers who flew planes into the Twin Towers,’’ Sheikh Meshal bin Hamad Al Thani wrote in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal on Sunday.
“The UAE was singled out in the 9/11 Commission’s report for its role in laundering money to terrorists,” he pointed out.