ANKARA — Turkey’s Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar arrived in Qatar as part of an official visit on March 11, 2018. According to Turkey’s official Anatolia news agency Sunday, the Army Chief is accompanied by Commander of the Turkish Naval Forces Vice Admiral Adnan Ozbal.
The high-level officials visit has intensified bilateral relationship during last few months and both Turkey and Qatar are now closely coordinating and cooperating on regional issues. A “Supreme Strategic Committee” between Turkey and Qatar was established in 2014 as a bilateral mechanism for high-level dialogue and cooperation.
The first meeting of this Committee was convened in Doha on 2 December 2015, while its second meeting took place in Trabzon on 18 December 2016 under the co-chairmanship of H.E. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Emir of Qatar H.H. Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.
The Third Meeting of the Supreme Strategic Committee was held in Doha on 14-15 November 2017, again under the co-chairmanship of H.E. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Emir of Qatar, H.H. Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. During those meetings, various agreements, protocols and memorandum of understanding were signed, further strengthening Turkey’s relations with Qatar. Three meetings of The Supreme Strategic Committee have been held so far leading to the signing of total of 40 agreements were signed.
The visits by Turkish officials took place at a time when a senior United Arab Emirates official was quoted as saying on March 10 that Turkey’s policy towards Arab states was not reasonable and advised it to respect their sovereignty. Relations between the two countries have been strained by Ankara’s support for Qatar after Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt imposed sanctions on Doha last year over its alleged support for extremist groups.
“It is no secret that Arab-Turkish relations aren’t in their best state,” UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash tweeted. “In order to return to balance, Ankara has to respect Arab sovereignty and deal with its neighbors with wisdom and rationality,” he was further quoted as saying.