DOHA - Turkey will establish a military base in Qatar as part of a defense agreement aimed at helping them confront "common enemies," Turkey's ambassador to Qatar said on Wednesday.
Establishment of the base, part of an agreement signed in 2014 and ratified by Turkey's parliament in June, intensifies the partnership with Qatar at a time of rising instability and a perceived waning of US interest in the region.
The two countries, both economic heavyweights, have provided support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, backed rebels fighting to overthrow Syrian president Bashar Assad and raised the alarm about creeping Iranian influence in the region.
Both have condemned Russia's intervention on the side of Assad's forces fighting in Syria.
The envoy, Ahmet Demirok, told Reuters that three thousand ground troops would be stationed at the base - Turkey's first overseas military installation in the Middle East - as well as air and naval units, military trainers and special operations forces.
The "multi-purpose" base will primarily serve as a venue for joint training exercises and Qatar was also looking at setting up its own base in Turkey, he said in an interview.
"Turkey and Qatar face common problems and we are both very concerned about developments in the region and uncertain policies of other countries ... We confront common enemies. At this critical time for the Middle East cooperation between us is vital," Demirok said.
One of the wealthiest countries in the world, Qatar is home to the largest US air base in the Middle East, Al Udeid, where around 10,000 military personnel are stationed, though US interest in the region is perceived to be lessening.
Demirok said 100 Turkish troops were currently in Qatar training the Gulf state's military. He did not say when the new Turkish base would be completed.