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Monday December 06, 2021

Turkish experts believe US won’t withdraw from Afghanistan completely

July 02, 2021

Islamabad : Dr Merve Serenfrom Ankara Y ld r m Beyaz t University has said that the US will never leave Afghanistan because that means giving space to China and Russia to an energy-rich country with mineral value.

Dr. Serenfrom was speaking at a Panel Discussion on ‘Conversations on the Afghan peace process: Turkey's role in Afghanistan’ organised here by Institute of Strategic Studies (ISS). Dr. Serenfrom said that Turkey’s presence in Kabul is also important for a lot of international organisations present in Kabul. However, she said Turkey’s exact role needs to be further clarified. It can act as an economic, diplomatic, and social supplement in Afghanistan. Turkey’s existence in Afghanistan needs to be legitimised through a UN Resolution and the Afghan government needs to make Turkey's presence official as well through government channels. She also said that the Kabul airport is the heartland of Kabul and Kabul is the heartland of Afghanistan, hence it is important.

Former ambassador Haroon Shaukat said that Turkey has evolved itself into a reconstruction and capacity-building role in Afghanistan. The important question is how to bring the Afghan factions to the point where they can be convinced for peace talks. Turkey has the advantage of being at a distance in terms of geography and so does not have the same baggage that Pakistan has to face due to geographical proximity. Turkey can work with regional neighbours and global powers to help the Afghans reach the objectives of the peace agreement, he said adding that there is currently a two-pronged problem, the first is to bring the Afghan factions in harmony and the second is to bring in neighbouring countries to officially take part in the process instead of merely backing their respective factions.

Dr Salim Cevik from Centre for Applied Turkey Studies said that Turkey remained a non-combat force and relied on its economic, cultural, health, and educational contributions. Unlike colonial powers, Turkey always treated the Afghan people as equal. Any negotiations will see Turkey taking substantial risks. As long as the Taliban agree to a Turkish role, only then can Turkey play a part. On the question of whether there will be a complete US withdrawal from Afghanistan, he said there will not be a complete withdrawal.

Dr Zalmai Nishat from Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies said that the depth of the Turkish-Afghanistan can be seen in Turkey's multifaceted role over the years which also included assistance in health, education and social development.

Dr. Murat Aslan said that Turkey’s policies in Afghanistan are based on a shared interest policy as opposed to one based on self-interest. Afghanistan's interests lie in a peaceful stable country in order for any development project to be realised. Likewise, for Turkey, there needs first and foremost there must be a consensus in Afghanistan in order to embark on any prosperity projects in Afghanistan in the future. Afghans should talk and build consensus on how to proceed post-withdrawal. Merely a security-oriented approach regarding the Kabul airport is not enough.