ANKARA: Turkey yesterday said it remained hopeful of a solution to the Gulf crisis that has seen its ally Qatar diplomatically and economically isolated, after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held talks with the emirate’s defense minister. In Ankara’s latest show of support for Qatar, Erdogan hosted Defense Minister Khaled bin Mohammed Al-Attiyah for talks at the headquarters of the ruling party in Ankara. The meeting came as Ankara, which has stood by Doha throughout the crisis, resists pressure to shutter a Turkish military base on the emirate that Qatar’s neighbors want to see closed.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain announced on June 5 the suspension of political, economic and diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting extremist groups. Doha denies the claims, a stance backed by Turkey which has sent hundreds of aid flights and even a cargo ship to bring food for its embattled ally.
Ankara’s attempts to mediate between the sides have so far come to nothing but after the talks in the Turkish capital presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said he was hopeful of a resolution. “There are some indications that a solution is possible. This is our general impression. We need to continue efforts to take measures that go in the right direction,” he said.
Crucially, Ankara is also setting up a military base on the emirate that is set to give Turkey a new foothold in the Gulf, sending in a first deployment of two dozen troops. Kalin defended the base, saying its aim was ensuring “defense and security” in the region. Riyadh and its allies issued 13 demands to Qatar for resolving the crisis, including the closure of the Turkish military base and the Doha-based broadcaster Al-Jazeera.
Turkey criticized the ultimatum but has also taken care not to directly target Saudi Arabia, the key protagonist in the crisis. On Friday, US president Donald Trump spoke with Erdogan to discuss the dispute. Trump and Erdogan discussed ways to resolve the dispute “while ensuring that all countries work together to stop terrorist funding and to combat extremist ideology”, the White House said in a statement. – Agencies