Turkey Defies Saudi Bloc, Builds Up Military Presence in Qatar

By deploying commandos and artillery in Qatar, Erdogan further entrenches its position in the Saudi-Qatar diplomatic rift

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shaking hands with Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani at the presidential palace in Ankara on July 14, 2017.

Turkey is building up its military presence in Qatar in defiance of the Saudi-led bloc's demand to pull out of the emirate, an adviser to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, as reported by Bloomberg. Turkey has deployed dozens of commandos and some artillery units in Qatar, the Hurriyet newspaper reported.

By increasing troops and artillery in Qatar, Turkey further entrenches its position in the recent Saudi-Qatar diplomatic rift. Ankara backed Qatar after Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, cut all economic and diplomatic ties this month and accused Doha of supporting terrorism, a charge it denies.

"This defense cooperation between Doha and Ankara is part of their common defense vision to support anti-terrorism efforts and maintain security and stability in the region," a statement by Qatar's Armed Forces said.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ended talks with ministers from Saudi Arabia and three Arab allies last week over how to end a month-long rift with Qatar, but there was no immediate word of any breakthrough.

On his official Twitter account Friday, UAE minister of state for foreign affairs wrote "We are headed for a long estrangement ... we are very far from a political solution involving a change in Qatar's course, and in light of that nothing will change and we have to look for a different format of relations," Anwar al-Gargash said.