Erdogan offers to help US stabilise Afghanistan

Published June 14, 2021
Turkish Presi­dent Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Turkey will be the ‘only reliable’ country left to stabilise Afghanistan after the United States pulls out its troops. — AFP/File
Turkish Presi­dent Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Turkey will be the ‘only reliable’ country left to stabilise Afghanistan after the United States pulls out its troops. — AFP/File

ISTANBUL: Just a day before his first face-to-face meeting with US President Joe Biden, Turkish Presi­dent Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Turkey will be the ‘only reliable’ country left to stabilise Afghanistan after the United States pulls out its troops from the landlocked country, indicating Washington can rely on its Nato ally.

Erdogan also said he would discuss the issue in his meeting with Biden on the margins of a Nato summit in Brussels on Monday, after strained relations bet­ween their two countries.

“America is preparing to leave Afghanistan soon and from the moment they leave, the only reliable country to maintain the process over there is obviously Turkey,” Erdogan told reporters at Istanbul airport on Sunday before leaving for Brussels.

Turkey has reportedly said it is prepared to keep troops in Afghanistan to protect Kabul airport, the main exit route for western diplomats and humanitarian workers, as the US is in the final stages of completing a military drawdown, alongside Nato forces, by September 11 — 20 years after they invaded Afghanistan.

Erdogan said Turkish officials had informed their American counterparts about Ankara’s plans in Afghanistan after the US troop pullout, without providing details. They are “pleased and happy. We will be able to discuss the Afghanistan process with them,” he said.

A Turkish official confirmed that Western powers were willing to let Turkey stay and protect the Kabul airport. But, the official added, “why should Turkey try hard if nobody is going to give support? These issues need to be clarified.”

On Saturday, the Taliban said that foreign forces should hold “no hope” of keeping a military presence in Afghanistan after the US and Nato withdraw troops, warning the security of embassies and airports would be the responsibility of Afghans.

‘Without ifs and buts’

As relations between the US and Turkey have been tense in recent years, Erdogan said he wanted to turn a new page with the Biden administration. “There were rumours here and there. We need to leave them behind and discuss what we can do,” the president said.

“We expect to see an approach from the US without ifs and buts.”

For the two NATO allies, the list of disagreements is unusually long from US support for Kurdish fighters in Syria to Turkey’s purchase of a Russian weapons system. And in April, Biden infuriated Ankara by declaring that the Ottoman-era mass killing and deportations of Armenians was genocide. Previous US presidents had avoided using the term out of concern that it would complicate ties with Turkey, which is fiercely proud of its Ottoman history and insists that those killed in the early 20th century were victims of civil war and unrest.

Referring to the term of genocide used by Biden, President Erdogan said: “This has seriously saddened us... Turkey is not an ordinary country. It’s an ally of America.”

Erdogan, in power for 18 years as prime minister and then president, also has one-on-one meetings with French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson lined up during the Monday’s summit.

Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2021

Opinion

Who benefits more?
Updated 03 Aug 2021

Who benefits more?

It’s been widely assumed that China was always going to secure the most benefits.
Back to the future
Updated 02 Aug 2021

Back to the future

A civil war next door would pose serious threats to Pakistan’s security and multidimensional challenges.

Editorial

03 Aug 2021

Changing GB’s status

THE government’s plans to accord a provisional provincial status to Gilgit-Baltistan are progressing steadily and...
Taliban assault
03 Aug 2021

Taliban assault

Intra-Afghan peace talks should be promoted, but the global community must be ready for the imminent collapse of the Afghan state.
03 Aug 2021

Cancelling Aurat March

THE cancellation of Aurat March Faisalabad is exactly one of those ‘isolated incidents’ which, when viewed...
02 Aug 2021

Row over NCSW

SOME matters are simply too important to play politics on. Protection of women’s rights is one of them....
02 Aug 2021

Mismanaging LNG

PAKISTAN’S purchase of expensive LNG cargoes for the September-October delivery in less than three weeks after...
Against their will
Updated 02 Aug 2021

Against their will

Estimates indicate that some 1,000 girls from minority communities are forcibly converted to Islam every year in Pakistan.