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Turkish base in Qatar to 'boost regional security,' opposition MHP leader says

DAILY SABAH
ANKARA
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Opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Chairman Devlet Bahçeli said that the Turkish military base in Qatar is only to boost regional stability amid ongoing diplomatic crisis and trade boycott between Qatar and Gulf countries. "It's quite difficult to understand people who make a mountain out of a molehill even though the Turkish military base in Qatar has no goal other than supporting the security and stability of Gulf countries," Bahçeli said at his weekly group meeting in Parliament on Tuesday.

Parliament last week ratified two bills on deploying troops to Qatar to train the nation's gendarmerie forces. The deal that would allow for the deployment of troops to Qatar to improve the country's armed forces and boost military cooperation was signed in April 2016, in the Qatari capital of Doha. Under the legislation, the military forces of both countries will also be able to carry out joint exercises. The move aims to contribute to regional and world peace. Turkey already sent around 100 troops to the Qatari Al Udeid Air Base, which has a reported capacity of around 3,000, in October 2015. It remains officially unknown how many soldiers will be stationed at the air base.

Bahçeli also slammed the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) for criticizing the deployment of Turkish soldiers to Qatar, claiming the CHP has an "inferiority complex" and a "disease of criticizing everything." "They [the CHP] said the same thing about the Turkish military base in Bashiqa in Northern Iraq and also for Operation Euphrates Shield," Bahçeli said. "As long as it remains within legal and legitimate framework, it would be non-national to criticize Turkey's cross-border military or political activities," he added.

Clarifying his party's position regarding the Qatar-Gulf crisis, Bahçeli said the issue should be considered above the realm of politics. "The MHP is neither on the side of Qatar nor against it. We are only in favor of Turkey's national interests and we will continue on this path," he said. "We have historical ties with Qatar. Once upon a time, district governors appointed by our ancestors ruled that country," he added. Qatar was part of the Ottoman Empire from 1871 to 1915.

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