Turkey's TCG Gokova Frigate manuevers in a joint military exercise between Turkey and Qatar in Qatari territorial waters on Monday. Photo: AA
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region –Turkey and Qatar have concluded two-day-long naval exercises in the Gulf devoted to combating “terrorism,” piracy, and inspection of suspicious vessels amid a two-month blockade by neighboring countries.
“Qatar’s Royal Air Force and Special Naval Force and the General Directorate of Coast and Border Security participated in the exercise,” Lieutenant-Colonel Nawaf bin Mubarak al-Thani stated.
The joint Turkey-Qatar rapid response exercises were conducted in Qatari territorial waters and were aimed at combatting “terrorism,” as reported by Turkish Hurriyet Daily News. Sunday and Monday’s exercises utilized several Qatari missile boats in addition to an Turkish naval frigate.
An earlier Turkey-Qatar military exercise was completed on June 19 at Qatar’s Tariq bin Ziyad military base, just weeks after the blockade, in order to train the country’s gendarmerie forces.
Turkey and Qatar originally announced plans to open Turkey's first military base in the Gulf in 2015. The base opened last year and new troops have arrived since the Gulf rift erupted.
Several Arab neighbors including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, which accused the small oil-rich country of having ties with “terrorist organizations” including the Muslim Brotherhood, cut diplomatic relations with Qatar on June 5 which also resulted in limitations on air, sea and land travel to the peninsular nation.
Thani has repeatedly denied that his country funded extremists.
The other Arab countries insisted Qatar accept a tough 13-point list of demands to end the rift, including shutting down news outlets including Al-Jazeera, cutting ties the Muslim Brotherhood, limiting ties with Iran and expelling Turkish troops stationed in the country.
Qatar refused, arguing that the demands were an effort to undermine its sovereignty.
The United States has urged the feud to be settled through the Gulf Cooperation Council.
The official Kuwait News Agency reported late Monday that retired U.S. Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Timothy Lenderking met with Kuwait's Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled al-Jarallah and reiterated Washington's support for Kuwait's efforts to mediate the crisis.