March 8, 2015 By Burak Ege Bekdil - Defense News
ANKARA, Turkey — Despite mounting problems and multiple cross-border threats in its south and southeast, Turkey is seeking a bigger military role in the Gulf region, preparing to set foot first in Qatar.
Turkey and Qatar, two Sunni regional allies, recently signed a comprehensive military accord that gives both countries the right to deploy soldiers in each other's territory.
Analysts say that clause would probably work in one direction.
"Qatari army is too small. Turkey's army is the second biggest in NATO. Given Turkey's regional ambitions it looks like the deployment clause means, on a de facto basis, Turkey could deploy soldiers in Qatar rather than the other way around," said one Ankara-based analyst.
The military agreement between Ankara and Doha also involves cooperation in military training, defense industry and joint military drills.
Berat Conkar, chairman of the Turkish parliament's foreign relations committee, said on March 5 that: "Turkey has a strategic view of its relations with the Gulf states. This agreement (with Qatar) will make sure Turkey gains strategic ground in an area we are already influential."
Conkar also said similar military cooperation agreements would follow with other Gulf countries.
Analysts often view Qatar as Turkey's best political ally in the Middle East.