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Turkey scrambles for regional footing as Qatar debacle expands

Head-spinning developments in the region have lead to interesting realignments as a cautious President Recep Tayyip Erdogan works to deploy Turkish forces in Qatar and meets with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Ankara.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) shakes hands with Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani (R) during the 13th Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Summit at Istanbul Congress Center (ICC) on April 14, 2016 in Istanbul. 
Erdogan on April 14 hosts over 30 heads of state and government from Islamic countries in Istanbul for a major summit aimed at overcoming differences in the Muslim world.  / AFP / POOL / ARIF HUDAVERDI YAMAN        (Photo credit should read ARIF HUDAVERDI YAMAN/AFP/Get

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan broke his silence over the crisis engulfing his country’s closest Arab ally Qatar today, condemning the actions of the group of Gulf countries that cut off ties with the emirate over its alleged support for extremist groups and Iran. In a related move, Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has decided to fast-track bills to deploy Turkish forces in Qatar and train Qatari troops in its legislative agenda. Turkey is building a base in Qatar that will eventually host up to 10,000 troops under an accord in which Turkey pledged to defend the Gulf state.

Erdogan was, however, uncharacteristically mild in his rebukes. “I’d like to say that we don’t find sanctions against Qatar right,” he said at a gathering in Ankara. He added, “The most appropriate way for the Gulf Cooperation Council countries to solve their internal problems is through dialogue. In this respect, we admire Qatar’s constructive and level-headed approach.”

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