Social media platforms in the Gulf region have been speculating about reports that Turkey intends to establish a military base in the Sultanate of Oman. If confirmed, the military base would substantially increase Turkey’s ability to participate directly and directly in the conflict in Yemen as well as posing a potential threat to its rivals the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
The flurry of speculation started when Turkish politician Ibrahim Kargul, who is close to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, claimed that Turkey had concluded an agreement with the Sultanate to establish a military base.
Kargul stated in comments posted on Twitter: “Erdogan succeeded in his geopolitical mentality to tighten his control of the region by dominating the Red Sea through the military base in Somalia, and on the Gulf through the base that he agreed with the Omani authorities to establish in the Sultanate, after establishing Turkish military base in Qatar.”
Turkish military expert Akar Hakan confirmed on his Twitter account that Turkey is preparing to sign a military treaty with the Sultanate of Oman.
He pointed out that no political or military meetings between the two countries have taken place over the last few days, except for a meeting of the Secretary General of Oman’s Foreign Ministry and the Assistant Foreign Minister of Turkey who held discussions on economic, social and cultural matters.
Akar Hakan continued: “But this does not negate the existence of military cooperation between the Sultanate of Oman and Turkey,” noting that “the issue of establishing a Turkish base in the Sultanate of Oman has been raised for a year or two, and there are reports that Turkey has applied to establish a base near the Yemen border, but there is no Something formal about that.”
However, the Omani journalist and international affairs expert, Salem Al-Jahoury, considers that the claims regarding the establishment of a Turkish military base in Buraimi, and the controversy they have caused, are intended to harm relations between Oman and its neighbours within the Gulf Cooperation Council.
Al-Jhouri said that the claims were inaccurate and contained contradictory information, as Al-Buraimi is a desert region where a naval base could not be established. He also noted that it was said at the beginning that there will be one base, then it was said that two bases will be established.
Al-Jhouri emphasized that “nothing official has been issued by the Omani government regarding the establishment of a Turkish base in Buraimi,” but he pointed out at the same time that “Oman has military cooperation with some countries in the world, including Turkey.” LINK
The speculation follows the news late last week that Turkey and Niger have signed several protocols and agreements, including the areas of delivery of goods, financial aid, military training, and youth and sports.
Cavusoglu commented of his talks with Nigerien President Issoufou Mahamadou on boosting relations between the two countries that they also evaluated the prospects for bilateral cooperation against terrorism and how Africa in general and Niger and the Sahel region in particular have been affected.
Apart from providing a potential alternative bridgehead, logistical base and transport hub for Turkey’s military operations in Libya, the Military Training Cooperation Agreement signed with Niger could also serve as a means to curb France’s influence and oppose the French military’s efforts in Africa’s Sahel region given that country’s vocal criticism of Turkey’s in and around the eastern Mediterranean and shows of support for Greece and Egypt in recent times. Turkey is unlikely to miss an opportunity to disrupt and if possible undermine French interests in the region in retaliation.
An analysis by the Ahval portal comments with respect to Turkey’s growing foreign military presence and activities:
Levent Özgül, a Turkish defence analyst, noted that Turkey has “formal expeditionary bases” in Qatar, Somalia, northern Cyprus and Sudan along with “informal activities in Tripoli, Libya” where Turkey supports and arms the Government of National Accord (GNA) against the UAE-backed Libyan National Army (LNA).
“The Qatar, Somalia and Sudan deployments and Libyan efforts are all against Saudi Arabia and the UAE,” Özgül told Ahval.
Turkey has had a military base in Qatar for several years now, giving its troops a foothold in the Gulf. When the Saudis and Emiratis spearheaded a major blockade against Qatar in the summer of 2017, Turkey bolstered its troop presence there in a clear show of support for its ally.
In Somalia, Turkey established a large military base in the capital Mogadishu to train Somali soldiers. It costs an estimated $50 million and can train about 1,500 Somali soldiers at a time to help Mogadishu combat the Al-Shabaab group.
Özgül said Cyprus was “the hottest spot” where Turkey has military forces. Turkey maintains approximately 30,000 troops in the internationally unrecognised Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and there have been reports that it is also contemplating building a naval base there. LINK
However, a major obstacle Turkey faces in maintaining its overseas bases is accessibility since the Red Sea and Gulf could easily be closed by Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Hence, although the continued expansion of Turkey’s foreign military activities increases Turkey’s scope for possible actions against its rivals, it also increases its vulnerability to countermeasures as many of the military bases and contingents have extended supply lines and are exposed to possible attack, a risk that will increase dramatically if Turkey attempts to utilize these forces in provocative military operations.
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