Saudi Arabia said Saturday a Turkish military base similar to that built in neighbouring Qatar would not be welcome in the kingdom, insisting it is “not needed”.
The statement came after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reportedly said he had offered to build a military base in the Muslim kingdom shortly after work began on Turkey’s facility in Qatar.
Ankara is at the forefront of efforts to defuse a diplomatic crisis that led Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain, as well as Egypt and other countries, to sever ties with Qatar, which is a strong ally of Ankara.
“The kingdom cannot allow Turkey to set up a military base on its territory,” said a statement carried by SPA state news agency.
The statement, quoting an unnamed official, said Saudi Arabia “does not need such thing”, adding that its armed forces and military capabilities were “at the best standards”.
The official said Saudi armed forces were participating abroad, including from Turkey’s Incirlik base, “in the fight against terrorism and protecting security and stability in the region”.
Erdogan told Portuguese television this week that he had approached the Gulf state’s King Salman “with the same idea for Saudi” after work began on the base in Qatar in 2014.
“I made the same offer to King Salman… and said that if it’s appropriate we could also establish a base in Saudi Arabia. They said they would look into it but since that day nothing more came,” he said.
The Turkish parliament approved the deployment of troops to the base in Qatar only two days after the Gulf crisis broke out earlier this month.
On Friday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu held talks with King Salman as part of Ankara’s efforts to resolve the Gulf crisis.
Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Egypt and others severed ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting extremist groups, including some backed by Iran.
Asked by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency if the talks had found a solution, Cavusoglu replied: “No. There are other countries involved… It’s very complicated at the moment.” Cavusoglu said he told the Saudi king that “it would be useful now to soften the conditions” against Qatar.
He had passed on a message for Salman from Erdogan that “we expect (the king) to find a solution in a worthy way. We are also prepared to contribute.“