Gen. Hulusi Akar, Turkey's Chief of General Staff, paid a surprise visit to the Qatari capital Doha yesterday. He was accompanied by Adm. Adnan Özbal, commander of the Turkish Naval Forces. The army did not disclose more details about his visit to the Gulf country. Turkey last year sent a group of soldiers to Qatar as part of a 2014 defense agreement between Doha and Ankara in which Turkey established a base in Qatar. The two countries will have more military drills aimed to strengthen the defense capabilities of both countries. In addition to operating a military base in the country, Turkey also opened its largest defense investment in Qatar last year: a helicopter simulation center that will help the Gulf country train pilots.
In early June, a handful of Arab states led by Saudi Arabia abruptly severed diplomatic relations with Qatar and imposed a blockade on the tiny Gulf country, accusing it of supporting terrorism.
The Qatari government has denied the accusation, blasting the blockade as unjustified and a violation of international law.
Amid the riff, Turkey has provided increased support to Qatar, boosting food and other exports to meet the country's shortages.
Qatar has made repeated complaints to the United Nations for violation of its airspace by other Gulf countries, namely the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, with the last one on Saturday. On Friday, Qatar asserted that an Emirati vessel had "kidnapped" a Qatari fishing boat and held its eight-person crew.