Turkey’s decision to deploy troops to Qatar aims to ensure Doha’s security after Saudi Arabia and its allies imposed a blockade, the foreign minister said on Saturday.
Turkey’s decision to station troops at a base in Qatar aims to ensure the emirate’s security after Saudi Arabia and its allies imposed a blockade last week over claims it allegedly supports terrorism, the foreign minister said on Saturday.
“This accord is not targeting any Gulf country,” Mevlut Cavusoglu assured, after meeting with his Bahraini counterpart Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa.
The purpose of the troop deployment “is to help foster security and stability across the Gulf,” Cavusoglu said after talks attended by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who said he wanted all parties to end the standoff before the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Erdogan has vowed to support Qatar, a close ally, in the dispute, even though he also wants to maintain good relations with the other Gulf states. So far, Turkey has not directly criticised Riyadh.
“Turkey will continue with its constructive actions aimed at resolving this problem. We consider the stability and security of the Gulf in the same way we consider our own stability and security,” Cavusoglu said.
Bahrain joined Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and other states this past week in cutting ties with Qatar over what they say is the emirate’s alleged financing of extremist groups and its ties to Iran, Saudi Arabia’s regional arch-rival.
The Arab countries closed air, sea and land links with Qatar, barred the emirate’s planes from their airspace and ordered Qatari citizens out within 14 days.
The crisis escalated further on Friday after Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain released a list of 59 Qatari and Doha-based people and entities linked to “terrorism”.
Qatar has vehemently denied all charges against it, describing its isolation as a co-ordinated and pre-planned attack based on baseless, fabricated lies.
On Saturday, Amnesty International warned of the “heartbreak and fear” being suffered by potentially thousands of ordinary individuals because of the political dispute in the Gulf that has isolated Doha.
“Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates are toying with the lives of thousands of Gulf residents as part of their dispute with Qatar, splitting up families and destroying people’s livelihoods and education,” the London-based human rights watchdog said.
“For potentially thousands of people across the Gulf, the effect of the steps imposed in the wake of this political dispute is suffering, heartbreak and fear,” said James Lynch, deputy director of Amnesty’s Global Issues Programme, who was in Doha last week.
“These drastic measures are already having a brutal effect, splitting children from parents and husbands from wives,” said Amnesty after its researchers interviewed dozens of people affected by the crisis.
“People from across the region… risk losing jobs and having their education disrupted.”
Amnesty, quoting Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee, said more than 11,000 nationals of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE live in Qatar, while many Qataris are residents of the three other Gulf states.
Amnesty also pointed out that Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE had warned of harsh punishments, including up to 15 years in jail, “if they dare to criticise these measures” against Qatar.
“Prosecuting anyone on this basis would be a clear violation of the right to freedom of expression. No one should be punished for peacefully expressing their views or criticising a government decision,” said Lynch.