According to a source in the Turkish Interior Ministry, Turkey will send more than 3,000 riot police to Qatar to help secure World Cup stadiums and hotels in a security operation funded by the competition hosts but under Turkish direction.
In preparation for the month-long FIFA soccer tournament, Qatar, which has a population of less than 3 million people, is short on employees (380,000 of whom are Qataris).
In order to secure the competition that will bring an unprecedented 1.2 million tourists to the small but prosperous Gulf state that exports gas, it has turned to Turkey, its closest regional ally.
Ankara will send to Qatar 3,000 riot police, 100 special operations police, 50 bomb experts, 80 sniffer dogs, and riot dogs as per a protocol agreed by the two nations and published in the official gazette of Turkey.
According to the Turkish source, Turkish police will only obey commands from Turkish superiors temporarily stationed in Qatar during the event. “The Qatari side won’t be able to order the Turkish police directly.”
“The State of Qatar shall bear the costs of the personnel deployed.”
The source did not identify the person in charge of Turkey’s security operation, which will include the hotels where the 32 national soccer squads will stay in addition to the eight venues where matches will be played.
According to the protocol agreement, Turkey will also send “a number of persons for coordination” in addition to one “general coordinator” and senior officials to lead the police units.
Turkey could not be the only nation offering assistance.
A draft deal permitting the government to provide troops for security at the competition was approved by Pakistan’s cabinet last month. The number of personnel that would be dispatched was not specified, and neither nation has indicated that a formal agreement has been reached.
The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, who organized the World Cup in Qatar, did not respond to a request for comment.
Tens of millions of visitors visit Turkey every year, and it recently hosted the UEFA Super Cup, a Formula One race, and a G20 conference. However, its security forces have come under fire for violently suppressing political dissent.
Last year, amid student protests that began at an Istanbul university, 600 individuals were jailed. Authorities claimed that the demonstrators broke a COVID-19-related prohibition on public gatherings.
According to Turkish media, police in the city of Diyarbakir in the southeast of Turkey used pepper spray and water cannons to disperse supporters who were throwing pyrotechnics at the officers.
According to the source, Turkey has also instructed nearly 800 Qataris on topics like “sports safety” and “intervention in social activities.”
When Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates broke all diplomatic and transportation ties with their neighbor Doha in 2017 over claims that it backed terrorism and was cozying up to their enemy Iran, Turkey, which has a military base in Qatar, stood by its ally.
In addition to Turkey’s efforts to strengthen ties with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the Gulf states reestablished their relations last year.