Afghanistan is key to Ankara-Washington relations

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One of the important topics of discussion at the recent NATO summit in Brussels was the Afghan peace process. The protracted peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, the start of the withdrawal of foreign troops and the completion of this process by September 11, 2021, have all raised concerns about the country’s future among citizens. Afghans.

These concerns stem from the possibility of a widespread civil war between the Taliban, anti-Taliban groups and their regional supporters across the country. The successive fall of various neighborhoods into the hands of the Taliban and popular resistance against the group are signs of the possibility of such a civil war.

The fragile situation in Afghanistan has also raised concerns among US allies in Europe and in NATO. Therefore, the European Union sought to persuade the United States to delay the withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan.

US President Joe Biden was to reconsider the US policy of withdrawing troops from Afghanistan when he took office; however, it was only decided to change the release process from May 31 to September 11.

While US officials still speak of the continued political presence and economic support for Afghanistan, the reality is that US forces will no longer fight the Taliban.

Afghan forces must face the Taliban and other terrorist organizations alone. The statistics of the victims of the Afghan security forces in recent days and months are very worrying.

The increase in the number of victims, the fall of various regions to the hands of the Taliban, the mismanagement of the war and logistical problems, the shortage of supplies of arms and ammunition and even the difficulty of sustaining the soldiers show how point it is difficult for the Afghan forces. face the Taliban alone.

Turkey’s role

The Afghan people, anti-Taliban groups and political parties fear a new wave of civil war across the country in the coming months.

Therefore, in the first place, they are trying to bring the Afghan peace process to a successful conclusion and at least to reach a relative agreement between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

If such an expectation does not materialize, efforts are made to find other options. One of the more reliable options is to reach out to Turkey.

Ahead of his visit to Brussels, Turkish President Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸan told reporters that after the withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan, Turkey will be the only reliable international force to maintain the stability of the country.

Turkey has repeatedly declared its interest in managing and securing Kabul International Airport in the absence of foreign forces.

At present, the presence of NATO troops at Kabul airport is the only guarantee that keeps foreign embassies open in Kabul; otherwise, most would close their doors due to growing security threats.

Afghan officials have also repeatedly said that no other country or company could quickly and easily restore security at Kabul airport, stressing that Turkey’s departure would force the closure of embassies and international organizations in the city. .

Any new arrangement to manage and secure the airport will cost the Afghan government more than $ 1 billion.

By continuing its presence in Afghanistan, Turkey can play an effective role in the security of Kabul International Airport.

This has a direct bearing on the security situation in Kabul and attracts political and logistical support from NATO, which will be vital for the Afghan government.

Turkey’s presence in Afghanistan is also in line with EU policies. Europe has always expressed its concerns about the human rights situation and the civil war in Afghanistan.

The civil war in Afghanistan is sure to trigger a massive new wave of migration from Afghanistan to Europe. If a new wave of migration forms, Turkey and Europe will also be badly affected.

Is this an ideal choice?

Letting the Turkish forces stay will be an ideal decision that will benefit the Afghan government, Afghan citizens and overall regional security.

Although the Taliban have declared themselves opposed to maintaining the Turkish military presence, there are reasons the Taliban is unable to seriously confront Turkish forces.

First, these forces will benefit from the political and logistical support of NATO and the United States. In such cases, according to Articles 4 and 5 of the NATO Treaty, if an attack is launched against a NATO member, it is considered to be an attack against all NATO members. states as a whole.

Although these articles stress that the attack must take place on the territory of a NATO member country, Turkey is unlikely to be left alone by other NATO members in the event of military engagement. serious with the Taliban.

Second, Turkey is a Muslim country. Its forces in Afghanistan were hardly attacked by the Taliban during their presence in the country as a NATO member.

Third, Turkey maintains close and strategic relations with the main Taliban supporters, namely Pakistan and Qatar.

Therefore, if Turkish forces come under attack from the Taliban, the group will have to face responses from both countries.

In addition, the historical and long-standing relationship between Turkey and Afghanistan as friendly and Muslim countries and Turkey’s special place among the Afghan people are some of the factors that would help Turkey’s presence in Afghanistan. .

Benefits for Turkey

Turkey can use its current strategic position in the form of an agreement. Ankara-Washington relations have deteriorated on several issues in the Middle East and, above all, the purchase of a Russian anti-aircraft system S-400 capable of targeting various fighter jets.

The United States has imposed sanctions on Turkey and even suspended the sale of state-of-the-art F-35 fighter jets to Turkey.

Highlighting its indispensable position in the future of Afghanistan, now is the best time for Turkey to get US approval on the S-400 case.

The United States also urgently needs a Turkish presence at Kabul airport.

Talks with Pakistan to use a military base have failed, and Russia strongly opposes any use of a base in Central Asia by the United States

As a result, Washington must have a small footprint inside Afghanistan to handle its combat drones, and this is only possible with Turkey’s presence at the Kabul airport.

In short, Turkey’s role in securing Kabul airport after the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan can help improve relations between Ankara and the West.


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