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Turkey rejects Saudi Arabia and allies' demands to shut down Qatar air base

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Turkey has rejected a key demand by several Arab states involved in a major dispute with Qatar, saying Ankara has no plans to shut down its military base in the small Gulf country.

The demand that Turkey pull out its forces was one of a steep list of ultimatums from Saudi Arabia and others Qatari neighbors that includes shuttering broadcaster Al-Jazeera, curbing back diplomatic relations with Iran and severing all ties with the Muslim Brotherhood. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the 13-point list in Arabic from one of the countries involved in the dispute.

Qatar has confirmed receiving the list Thursday from Kuwait, which is mediating the dispute, but has not yet commented on them.

Rather than focus narrowly on alleged Qatari financing for extremism, the 13-point catalogue of demands illustrates the sweeping change in direction that Qatar's neighbours are insisting the tiny, gas-rich nation must undertake to align itself with Saudi Arabia's broader vision for the region. Though Qatar is likely to reject it, the list answers the growing call from the United States and from Qatar for the countries to put their grievances in writing.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain broke ties with Qatar and restricted access to land, sea and air routes earlier this month over allegations it funds terrorism — an accusation Doha rejects but that President Donald Trump has echoed. The move has left Qatar, whose only land border is shared with Saudi Arabia, under a de facto blockade by its neighbours.

Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik said on Friday that the Turkish base aims to train Qatari soldiers and increase the tiny Persian Gulf nation's security. According to the Milliyet newspaper's online edition, he also said that "no one should be disturbed by" the Turkish presence in Qatar.

Turkey has sided with Qatar in the dispute and its parliament has ratified legislation allowing the deployment of Turkish troops to the base. The military said a contingent of 23 soldiers reached Doha on Thursday.

Qatar has insisted its neighbours are trying to force it to bend to their will on a much broader set of issues, and as the crisis has dragged on, the US has started publicly questioning whether ulterior motives are involved.

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Muslim Global: Turkey rejects Saudi Arabia and allies' demands to shut down Qatar air base
Turkey rejects Saudi Arabia and allies' demands to shut down Qatar air base
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