Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan plans to visit Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar on July 23-24, the Turkish presidency said today, amidst the escalation of sanctions against Qatar.
Egypt said Monday it will end visa-free entry for Qatari nationals with some exceptions, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, the latest measure taken against Doha which Cairo and three Gulf governments, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and United Arab Emirates are boycotting.
Erdogan has been a staunch ally of Qatar in its dispute with the Gulf Arab neighbours. He had criticised a list of demands to end sanctions they imposed on Doha last month over allegations Qatar funds terrorist groups and is allied to their arch-foe Iran.
Qatar has denied the accusations and Erdogan said Qatar’s response was reasonable.
Turkey keeps a military presence in Qatar, one of the issues listed in the 13 point demand of the four nations. The quartet nations want Qatar to close the base.
Erdogan said the demand was disrespectful of his country.
Erdogan said Turkey had also offered to establish a military base in Saudi Arabia, but never received a clear answer.
“If Saudi Arabia wants us to have base there, a step toward this also can be taken,” he told reporters. “I made this offer to the king himself and they said they will consider this.”
“They did not come back to us since that day and even though they still didn’t come back to us on this, asking Turkey to pull back its troops (from Qatar) is disrespectful against Turkey”.
He had also denounced in very strong terms Qatar’s isolation as anti-Islam.
He likened it to a “death penalty”.
“A very grave mistake is being made in Qatar, isolating a nation in all areas is inhumane and against Islamic values. It’s as if a death penalty decision has been taken for Qatar,” Erdogan told members of his ruling AK Party in Ankara, four weeks ago.
“Qatar has shown the most decisive stance against the terrorist organisation Islamic State alongside Turkey. Victimising Qatar through smear campaigns serves no purpose,” he said.