Turkey allows Qatar to base 36 warplanes, hundreds of troops

The Turkish press on July 1 reported that Ankara has signed an agreement with the Persian Gulf state of Qatar to allow the latter to deploy 36 military aircraft and 250 service members to Turkey.

The Turkish chief of the general staff, General Yaşar Güler, was in the Qatari capital of Doha on March 2 to sign the agreement, though the news of the agreement was only disclosed on July 1 by the Hürriyet newspaper. The agreement in turn is based on a bilateral military cooperation pact signed by the two nations in 2007, three years after the NATO summit in Istanbul, Turkey which established the military bloc’s partnership program for Persian Gulf nations, the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative. Qatar became one of the first four members (with Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates).

The nation of less than three million people supplied NATO with six Mirage multirole combat aircraft for its war against Libya in 2011. It also deployed several hundred troops to assist Western-backed anti-government fighters.

The main recipient of that criminal assault against the North African country appears at the moment to be Turkey, which is the only nation to have regular military forces in Libya and appears to have marked the nation as its western-most military outpost.

Hürriyet’s account of the arrangement says: “With the technical arrangement prepared in accordance with the principle of developing activities based on friendship and cooperation between the two countries, it is aimed that Qatari military pilots can use Turkish airspace and airports temporarily in order to contribute to their training and experience.” Temporary may mean the rotation of military aircraft on an ongoing basis.

The Turkish air force will accompany and guide the Qatari planes during exercises.

Although the two countries haven’t identified which nation or nations Qatari warplanes may next be sent to attack, it’s worth recalling Turkey’s bordering Iran, Iraq and Syria as well as the three countries of the South Caucasus, and Qatar’s proximity to Yemen, Iran and Afghanistan.