Turkey’s policy in Afghanistan following the American exit - MEHMET ACET

Turkey’s policy in Afghanistan following the American exit

In 1999, when I worked as a young war correspondent in Kosovo, I witnessed a litany of humanitarian tragedies first-hand.

In the villages we visited back then, we came across mass graves where the corpses of murdered bodies laid half-buried.

And that’s far from the worst thing we’ve witnessed.

It was as if Serbian militias deliberately wanted to teach future generations a lesson about how people could meet their end, as they were committing their massacres in Albanian villages!

Since I can't set an age limit for younger readers, let me stop here; it's best not to go into any more detail.

After Milosevic surrendered and the war was over, we set off for Pristina early one morning with two journalists from the Netherlands and Hungary.

As we entered the city, we found dozens of tractors lined up on the road and filled with household goods.

This time, the "civilians" of the losing side were the ones migrating.

I shuddered to think what else I might come to bear witness.

Those tragic scenes at Kabul airport after the Taliban took over the city reminded me of what I saw in Kosovo 22 years ago.

That's why I told that anecdote, not intending to draw any comparisons.

Perhaps a comparison can be made just with regards to how war and chaos could generate even more disasters.

Let's take a look at the statements made by U.S. President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

They both try to explain why troops left or were forced to withdraw from Afghanistan using the same argument.

Biden: “American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves. We gave them every chance to determine their own future. What we could not provide them was the will to fight for that future. I will not repeat the mistakes we’ve made in the past.”

Blinken: “We had invested, over four administrations, billions of dollars in the Afghan security and defense forces. Building a modern military with sophisticated equipment, 300,000 forces strong, with an air force that the Taliban didn’t have. And the fact of the matter is, we have seen that that force has been unable to defend the country. And that has happened more quickly than we anticipated.”

These icy statements serve both as a confession of sorts as well as justification for the shameful scenes witnessed in the wake of the American exit.

When you look at these statements through a logical lens, would it be wrong to deduce that U.S. authorities turned a blind eye to these events to use them to better explain the reasons for their withdrawal from the country?

The U.S. estimatedly spent over $2 trillion in the 20-year war. We are talking about a balance sheet where 2,442 soldiers died, and 20,666 others were injured.

What have we gained?

A big fat nothing.

Maybe they’re just lashing out because they’re angry.

After the new rulers of Afghanistan were declared, numerous countries closed their embassies in Kabul.

Certain countries, including Turkey, continue to maintain a presence in the country.

Yesterday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu's statements made in Jordan served as a sort of "latest update" with regards to the issues that concern Turkey.

Stating that talks are ongoing with all parties, including the Taliban, Çavuşoğlu said: "Right now, the country needs calm. We have welcomed the messages issued by the Taliban so far. We, as Turkey, will continue to support the economic development, stability, peace, and tranquility of fraternal Afghanistan."

Let's recall that last week during a joint broadcast by Kanal D and CNN Türk, President Erdoğan announced that he is also willing to meet with the Taliban administration.

It is quite clear that this level-headed and rational policy is optimal in terms of both the security and safety of the Turkish military and civilian presence in Afghanistan, the nurturing of the affection of the people of Afghanistan towards them, and the prevention of irregular migration from this country to Turkey.

We have one more thing to address regarding Afghanistan.

For months, negotiations have been ongoing with the U.S. on the possibility of Turkey securing Kabul airport.

Recent developments point to the fact that these plans may have been scrapped.

There are no official statements so far, but we have a Reuters report citing unnamed Turkish officials.

Two important statements stand out in the report, pertaining to Turkish authorities:

▪ “At this stage, the process of Turkish soldiers taking up control of the airport has automatically been dropped.”

▪ “However, in the event that the Taliban asks for technical support, Turkey can provide security and technical support at the airport.”


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