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Parliamentary committee OKs Qatari planes, personnel deployment to Turkey for training

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The Turkish parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee has approved an agreement allowing Qatar to temporarily deploy aircraft and military personnel to Turkey for training, the Birgün daily reported on Thursday.

If parliament’s general assembly also approves the agreement, Qatari fighter pilots will receive training in Turkey and Qatar will be able to keep 250 military personnel and 36 aircraft in the country for training purposes, Birgün said.

The “Technical Arrangement between the Government of the Republic of Turkey and the Government of the State of Qatar on Temporary Deployment of Qatari Military Aircraft and Support Personnel in the Territory of the Republic of Turkey,” which was signed on March 2, is based on a military cooperation agreement with Qatar dating to May 23, 2007 and will remain in force for a period of five years.

“All the activities of the SN [sending nation, Qatar] military aircraft are subject to the prior approval of the HN [host nation, Turkey] competent authorities. Training flights of SN personnel for the aim of operation readiness are to be coordinated with HN Base/Airfield Commander in advance,” the agreement says.

Qatari training flights inside Turkey are to be conducted during air transportation missions as much as possible, according to the agreement, allowing for the transportation of Turkish “military equipment, material, dangerous goods, ammunition, personnel or humanitarian aid materials” inside and outside the country.

“Transportation aircraft sorties of SN are to have one HN transport pilot in the cockpit as an observer overseeing the flight being conducted in accordance with rules and regulations of HN air space management rules and procedures,” the agreement also says.

Birgün quoted Utku Çakırözer, a deputy for the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), as arguing that the conditions of the agreement are not clear and that it might be necessary to propose it as a motion in parliament.

“It’s not well understood how it [the agreement] will contribute to the training of Qatari pilots. … The entry of 36 warplanes and 250 soldiers into Turkey is perhaps a subject that requires a motion. It should be discussed by the parties in parliament since it’s an issue of armed forces coming here,” the MP said.

Critics have long condemned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s relations with the ideologically aligned Qatari emir.

Qatar and Turkey have enjoyed close relations, particularly since a diplomatic crisis erupted on June 5, 2017. The Arab quartet, led by the UAE and Saudi Arabia, accused Qatar of links to the Muslim Brotherhood along with several other militant Islamist groups in the region.

Qatar was supportive of the Arab Spring, which first erupted in 2011 in Tunisia, with a view to ousting established regimes in Arab countries. Since then, Turkey has backed Qatar and increased its number of troops in the Gulf country.

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