Turkey has been augmenting its presence in Qatar, expanding military, security, and economic ties with the country that has distanced itself from neighbors. Now, as Nordic Monitor reveals, Turkey and Qatar have signed a security protocol for the deployment of Turkish police units to the Gulf state during the FIFA World Cup to be held in November-December 2022 and other mega events.
In the text of the deal (which can be read here) the two countries pledge to develop bilateral cooperation in the area of hosting mega events and sharing experience in relevant security. According to the official statements, the agreement aims to build a strategic partnership for the preparation of the World Cup in 2022 and the management of the security of the event.
The deal is valid for five years and will be renewed upon the agreement of the parties. The validity period of the agreement revealed that Turkish police might be deployed during other mega events to be held after the World Cup.
The protocol, titled “Letter of Intent on Cooperation in Mega Event Implementation,” was signed by Turkish Deputy Interior Minister Muhterem Ince and Brig. Gen. Ibrahim Khalil Al-Mohannadi, head of Qatar’s Security Committee of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, on October 31, 2019 in Ankara during the visit of Qatari Prime Minister Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani.
Pro-Erdogan Sabah daily claimed that Turkey will also provide staff support to the Gulf country for mobile emergency intervention, special operations, bomb disposal and security measures against chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats. Turkish police will also send bomb disposal units and bomb-sniffing dogs to Qatar.
The 10-article agreement was submitted to parliament for ratification on January 7, 2020 by Turkish President Erdoğan, who has personal links to Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.
Cooperation under the protocol will include “anti-crime measures during mega-events, anti-terrorism measures, participation in field missions of relevance to mega event hosting,” Article 4 states, adding that parties will “share experiences in the field of qualification to implementing mega event hosting procedures and planning.”
According to the protocol, parties will exchange exploratory visits and bilateral meetings, share experiences at the professional, expert and leadership levels, organize specialized and qualification courses, implement trainings and drills, offer training projects and programs and share invitations to related events, workshops and conferences.
The terms of the agreement will be executed by the Ministry of Interior on the Turkish side and the Security Committee of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy for Qatar.
In addition to military personnel, the deployment of police units will increase Turkey’s visibility in the Gulf.
The question remains as to what extent this presence might also be used for involvement in domestic issues. Will for example Turkish police be used to quell protests, deter civil disobedience, or even support one local faction against another, always with Turkey’s interests in mind. We must also bear in mind that where the Turkish police go, MIT is sure to follow.