• 23 April, 2024
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Turkey US Afghanistan Linkages

Dr Waiel Awwad, Journalist and Writer in Asian Affairs, New Delhi
Sat, 08 May 2021   |  Reading Time: 5 minutes
Photo:Jose Huwaidi, Wikimedia Commons

Turkey US Afghanistan Linkages

When the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, it was accused of taking away Iraq gold reserves and 10 Billion US dollar under Governor Bremer is still unaccounted for. Also, they allegedly destroyed most of the cities, government institutions and archaeological areas, but protected the building of the Ministry of Petroleum. They kept the compound permanently guarded, until it obtained all the documents and papers of the deals that the Iraqi President Saddam Hussein made at that time with other countries through the oil-for-food program including the donations and gifts that were granted by the Iraqi President to politicians and business figures of friendly nations to break the unjustified siege imposed on Iraq. This prompted the giant American companies to exert pressure on the Pentagon to invade Iraq unilaterally and rob its wealth, and the rest is History.

The United States deliberately unveiled the beneficiaries of the oil-for-food program, including Indian top beneficiaries and scandals began to haunt the figures that stood against the US-British invasion of Iraq as a result of the economic sanctions against Iraq. Reportedly, the harsh US sanction led to half a million Iraqi children dead. During a meeting with an American official about the reason for not revealing their Turkish and Jordanian allies, who also benefited from Iraqi extravagance, the response was: “They are our allies.”

The United States of America has chosen Turkey as the second country after Qatar to host the Afghan initiative and the US-led peace process, which has been postponed due to Taliban’s refusal to participate till now. The geopolitical importance of Turkey has made it a strategic ally and watchdog of American interests in the region. Even after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan came to power and despite American resentments due to Erdogan’s policy during the Arab Spring, and strained relations particularly after the coup attempt in Turkey and the purchase of Russia`s S-400 System, this importance has increased over the years.

Washington realizes the extent of Turkey’s importance as it has historical relations with the countries of Central Asia in which Erdogan is trying to extend his influence and revive the Turkish nationalism; not to mention Erdogan’s association with militant Islamic organizations and the Muslim Brotherhood movement, and his long history of sheltering radical clergies and supporting radical Islamic movements in many countries of the world. He has used his army of mercenaries in the wars of Libya and Karabakh region against Armenia. The intelligence reports reveal, Turkey has been transferring terrorist and mercenary groups to Afghanistan. It is well known that Turkey uses soft power with Afghanistan and has historical ties with it.

The USA is enhancing a quick exit from Afghanistan after the peace agreement with Taliban in February last year. The United States seeks to withdraw its forces before the 11th September this year, and not as agreed with Taliban by May 1st this year. Ankara has appointed a special envoy in Afghanistan.; In its turn, while abandoning Afghanistan to an uncertain future, the United States has emphasized, through its Foreign Minister Antony J. Blinken, during a session with the foreign ministers of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the importance of Turkey to the alliance, especially in tightening the screws on Russia with the escalation of the crisis with Ukraine and the military build-up of NATO along the borders with Russia. The European Union (EU) has a special agenda for Erdogan that falls within the framework of economic cooperation and dealing with immigration, a commitment to the flow of money to immigrants in Turkey, support for the Turkish economy and a return to the western camp as a force affiliated with NATO. Hence, President Erdogan’s rapprochement, with Pakistan in the beginning and with Afghanistan, has come in the context of the struggle over the summit of dependency on the United States.

As prior to the United States’s recognition of the Armenian massacre, President Joe Biden called his Turkish counterpart to inform him of the American decision, as the current administration is concerned with human rights issues in the world; yet it fears Turkish retaliation by targeting the American interests in the region and the future of the US military base – Incirlik – in Turkey. Moreover, even if the economic condition in the country has turned bad, many small companies have gone bankrupt and there is high rate of inflation, unemployment, the decline of the local currency, and even worse the almost daily campaign of arrests of his opponents and yesterday’s allies, President Erdogan has still been the most popular Turkish President for nearly two decades . What adds insult to injury is the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic which has negatively affected the tourism sector, inflicted severe damage on the economy and production, and will increase the economic downturn and social burdens on low-income people who form the popular base of President Erdogan.

During the era of the new President, the rules of the game in American foreign policy have begun to change, Biden had promised in his election campaign that he would recognize the Armenian massacre, he did it and became the first President of the United States to do so, and it is certain that this recognition will negatively affect the future of US-Turkish relations under the rule of President Biden. It will be one of the great challenges for him, specifically as Turkey is guarding the interests of the United States in many conflict zones, therefore, Biden’s administration must realize the role of Turkey as an ally. The recognition of the Armenian massacre may become a blackmail card that Washington uses against Ankara whenever it wants. USA and allies are blind to the deviation of President Erdogan from the course of their interests, and they are still betting on the Ottoman Trojan horse to put pressure on Russia in Ukraine and the Black Sea, on one hand, and to eliminate rising regional powers and achieve the ambitions of the West in the Arab World.

President Erdogan’s revival of Turkish nationalism, announcing the new Ottoman birth and proselytizing for Sultan’s return, the leadership of the Islamic World by his Janissaries army, and the use of religion as a means through his support for Islamic movements, his hostility to Western secularism, and the publicly announced defense of Muslim issues to win the Islamic peoples in international forums. Consequently, he achieves his political ideology and crowned on the throne of the new Ottoman Sultan. However, this policy, in the opinion of many observers of Turkish affairs, will accelerate the collapse of Turkey and deplete its capabilities, especially as President Erdogan has started his military adventures in more than one country of conflict in the region, extending his influence to Western and Southern Asia, and moving away a little from adventures that affect the European interests in the Mediterranean after European countries began to become impatient with Erdogan’s policy. With the emergence of this uneasiness, they have started   calling for the suspension of negotiations for Turkey’s membership in the European Union.

New players in Afghan affairs

Turkey is not considered the only main party in Afghan affairs; there are two giants of Asia – China and India and each of them has its independent policy toward Afghanistan. They are fighting over influence there as China is trying to get closer to Afghanistan and increase investments there as part of its policy of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the Silk Road initiative (BRI). Fearing the return of extremism and to tighten the noose of militant Islam in Xinjiang, cautious of American and Western plans against China,  as it happened with former Soviet Union in Afghanistan, Beijing is trying to converge with Taliban as well.

 There is no time for complacency for India and there is a need to act swiftly to ensure its national interest in Afghanistan and play a major role as a stabilizing factor in South Asia. New Delhi is though strengthening its presence in the management of Afghan affairs and is rightly worried about the Turkish-Pakistani-Afghani rapprochement and the future of security and stability in Jammu and Kashmir . On the hand, the United States is keen on India joining its camp with an alliance in the peace process in Afghanistan in order to enter the markets of South Asian countries.

If the news, that the United States and Turkey are transferring mercenaries from terrorist organizations such as ISIS to Afghanistan, is true, then Turkey is the main player that manipulates the feelings of Muslims, embraces extremists and terrorists, and destroys the Islamic world instead of providing safety, peace and security. The future of Afghanistan will be grim as Taliban will gain more grounds, revenge killing, slaughtering and ethnic cleansing will prevail, more mass exodus and ethnic groups will block its expansion and get the support from bordering nations where more arms will pour in and the disintegration of Afghanistan is the most likely scenario that would emerge in the near future.



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