Alwaght– Turkey has gone full-out to back Qatar in its dispute with Saudi-led Arab regime in a move that widens the rift between Riyadh and Ankara.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday demands by Saudi Arabia and three other nations are “an attack to Qatar’s sovereignty right”.
He said Turkey can “appreciate and embrace’ Qatar’s stance against the 13-article demand by Saudi Arabia the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt.
“We consider these demands are against international law,” Erdogan told journalists after Eid al-Fitr prayers in Istanbul. “It is a breach of Qatar’s sovereignty rights.”
The remarks by Erdogan come after Qatar said early Saturday it received the list of demands to be met to end a blockade against the Persian Gulf state but they were “not reasonable” and “actionable”.
The demands include the closure of Al Jazeera television network, downgrading ties with Iran and extraditing “terrorists”, according to reports. The four countries have given Doha a 10-day deadline to meet the demands.
Erdogan says Saudis disrespectful
Erdogan also rejected a demand from Arab states to shut down its military base in Qatar, saying demanding Turkey’s military withdrawal is also “a disrespect” towards the country.
“Should we get permission when we make a defense cooperation agreement with any country? No offense but Turkey is not such an ordinary country [that will ask for permission],” Turkish President said.
Erdoğan said Turkey had offered to set up a military base in Saudi Arabia as well as Qatar, but Riyadh had not responded.
“Even though they still didn’t come back to us on this, asking Turkey to pull back its troops (from Qatar) is disrespectful against Turkey,” he said.
The president also called on news outlets not to be hypocritical and not to ignore efforts to censor an international news organization, referring to Al Jazeera.
Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik said on Friday that the Turkish base aims to train Qatari soldiers and increase the tiny Persian Gulf nation’s security. According to the Milliyet newspaper’s online edition, he also said that “no one should be disturbed by” the Turkish presence in Qatar.
He had earlier said that the base in Qatar supporting the security and stability of Persian Gulf countries, and any call to shut the base acts as interference in Turkey’s ties with Qatar.
Earlier in June, Turkey’s parliament voted to deploy more troops to the base and approved the training of Qatari forces by Turkish gendarmeries following the cutting of ties with Qatar by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt and Yemen.
The five Arab countries accused it of supporting terrorism. Qatar has categorically denied the charges, describing the attempts to isolate it as “unjustified”.
Turkey projecting its power
Qatar’s decision to side with Qatar in the ongoing spat with Saudi-led regimes is a pointer of Qatar’s determination to project its power in the region especially through its military base in Doha.
Turkey and Qatar share similar stances in regional conflicts and developments as they have both backed the Egyptian revolution that resulted in Muslim Brotherhood member Mohammad Morsi rising to power to become the country’s first democratically elected president. Both Doha and Ankara also and condemned the military coup that ousted Morsi and brought the country’s current leader, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, in to power. The decision by both countries to back the Muslim Brotherhood has put them at odds with Saudi Arabia, UAE and Egypt which consider the movement a terrorist organization.
Both Qatar and Turkey have also rejected Saudi-led efforts to isolate the Islamic Republic of Iran. Doha and Ankara pursue a similar strategy “of balance” in their relations with Tehran unlike Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which with Donald Trump’s support and encouragement, are trying to form a unified front to isolate Iran completely.
Qatar’s categorical refusal to follow a hardline strategy against the Islamic Republic, is being perceived as dissent in this Saudi-led anti-Iran Persian Gulf alliance.