In the deepening crisis between Qatar and a Saudi-led coalition, Ankara faces yet another test of its rhetoric versus its actual abilities. Ankara tried to give the impression of being a mediator in the first two days of the crisis but suddenly made a dramatic reversal and adopted a pro-Qatar position. Ankara cannot easily resume its mediator role, especially since the parliament authorized Turkey to send 3,000-5,000 soldiers to Qatar, which allows them to assist with internal security should there be mass popular movements against the rule of Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain severed ties with Qatar a week ago, accusing it of supporting terrorism, which Doha denies.
Two legislative documents constituting the basis of military cooperation between Qatar and Turkey had been waiting for parliamentary approval for more than a year. One of them was the protocol signed in Doha in December 2015 that calls for deployment of Turkish troops in Qatar. The protocol cites as its objective “modernization of Qatari military institutions, diversifying military training, [and supporting] defense capabilities and facilities of the Qatari armed forces through training and exercises.”
About 90 Turkish military personnel currently are stationed temporarily at a former British base 15 miles from Doha. That number now can be boosted to a brigade-level task force of 5,000 troops made up of a joint headquarters staff, coordination council, support units, infantry, and air and naval components. The protocol also authorizes the parties to exchange training programs, experiences and knowledge, and provide each other with advisory services.