Turkish forces at Doha base authorized to conduct intelligence operations in Qatar

Turkish Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli poses with Turkish tropps deployed in Doha base during a visit on Nov.6, 2017

Abdullah Bozkurt

 

The Turkish General Staff was in 2016 authorized to conduct intelligence and surveillance operations in Qatar, a confidential Turkish government document has revealed.

The document also shows the Turkish military was allowed to use any military asset at its disposal including testing newly acquired weapons systems.

According to a confidential government circular obtained by Nordic Monitor, the Turkish government provided the General Staff with the power to maintain the base in Doha and deploy troops and military hardware to Qatar. Circular No. 2016/8832, which was adopted by the Cabinet on April 25, 2016, details how the Turkish military will conduct operations and deployments in Qatar. The circular was adopted as a roadmap for the implementation of Turkish-Qatari military agreements that govern the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and the host country’s support for the Turkish military.

 

The Turkish Cabinet decision:

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The 19-article circular gives the General Staff a mandate to establish the rules of engagement for the troops, conduct intelligence and surveillance activities and make agreements with Qatari authorities on behalf of the Turkish military to administer logistics, planning, coordination and any other task required for fulfillment of the mission. The General Staff would decide what types of military hardware, ammunition and firepower it would bring to Qatar and the security measures it would take to ensure the safety of the troops.

The circular made clear that the General Staff would define the scope of the mission and apply restrictions on how troops would go about completing tasks when needed. Turkish air, land and naval assets were made available for the top brass to put into use in support of the Turkish troops in Doha. The Turkish commander of the Doha base was authorized to sign contracts with locals to obtain goods and services.

The circular allows Turkish troops to use aircraft owned by the Qatari armed forces and likewise makes Turkish aircraft available for the use of the Qatari military for purposes of transportation. Troops will be able to use Turkey’s national flag carrier Turkish Airlines for the transfer, deployment, withdrawal and evacuation. All military procurement from abroad for the needs of the Qatar base will be free from any taxes or duties.

 

The circular:

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For legal purposes, the General Staff defined the Qatar mission as an “important operation” within the meaning of “mobilization.”

The circular was transmitted to all relevant Turkish ministries for implementation on May 23, 2016 by Davut Karataş, head of the Department for Laws and Decisions at the Prime Ministry.

Turkey and Qatar have entered into a comprehensive military agreement, with the Turkish side establishing a military base in Doha and deploying Turkish land troops there. Turkey plans to add air and naval assets to the base, expanding its presence in the tiny Gulf nation.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited Qatar on November 25, 2019 and delivered a speech at the Qatar-Turkey Combined Joint Force Command (QTCJFC). He described military, security and defense industry agreements as the backbone of the countries’ bilateral relations and emphasized that Turkey views Qatar’s security as its own security.

A new base was being built at the time for Turkish troops that will accommodate a larger contingent in Doha. The total force projection for the Doha base by the Turkish Armed Forces is 2,800 troops.

 

The circular was distributed to relevant government ministries for implementation: 

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