Turkey to send troops to Qatar as diplomatic row continues

United Arab Emirates accuses Doha of escalating crisis after Ankara fast-tracks deployment of military delegation to Gulf state

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Turkey has sent a military delegation to support Qatar in the growing Middle East diplomatic crisis and said troops will follow, according to local reports.

CNN Turkey announced yesterday that a team was in the Gulf state "to conduct reconnaissance". Turkey had planned to increase military numbers in Qatar before the spat but MPs fast-tracked the measures last week.

It is not known how many troops will be deployed or exactly when.

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Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Libya and Yemen severed ties with Qatar last week, triggering a regional diplomatic crisis.

Riyadh alleges that Qatar funds terrorism and fuels unrest in the Gulf. Qatar denies the claims.

Why is Turkey getting involved?

"Turkey and Qatar have both provided support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and backed rebels fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, says Reuters.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday denounced the isolation of Qatar as "inhumane and against Islamic values" and called on Saudi Arabia to urgently resolve the dispute.

A senior official from the UEA accused Doha of escalating the row by seeking help from Turkey and Iran, which has pledged to offer food and water supplies after transport links into Qatar were cut.

"The request for political protection from two non-Arab countries and military protection from one of them could be a new tragic and comic chapter," said UAE foreign minister Anwar Gargash.

However, some analysts warn not to read Turkey's decision as "picking a side", says the state-funded Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera.

Atilla Yesilada, political analyst with Istanbul's Global Source Partners, said: "Turkey's military base in Qatar has always been, and still is, a symbolic gesture and nothing more.

"While Turkey values its partnership with Qatar and does not approve the foreign policy vision Saudi Arabia is trying to enforce on the small but influential emirate, it is also not willing to - and cannot afford to - pick a fight with Riyadh."

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