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In Order To Make Their Presence Felt!

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Turkey could well be conjectured as planning to expand its presence in Afghanistan, after the withdrawal of US Forces beyond offering training for Afghan soldiers and technical assistance.

Online portal Every Morning Asia recently reported that while Turkey is currently making its mark in the war-ravaged South Asian Nation through providing security at Kabul Airport, Ankara could even replace Washington DC in maintaining stability after the complete withdrawal of the US Forces in September 2021.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani (L) with President Erdoğan

Turkey continues to offer security services at Kabul Airport, a key objective for NATO as the airport is a meeting point for many international diplomats, emissaries and humanitarian aid in Afghanistan, an aspect that the Alliance wants to maintain in the most safe and transparent manner even after the US withdrawal.

The Taliban has already rejected Turkey’s desire to continue maintaining security at Kabul Airport, an intention that international observers state is motivated by Ankara’s desire to be in good terms with the Joe Biden Administration over the removal of Turkey from the US sanctions on NATO ally due to Turkish acquisition of the Russian anti-missile system S-400, as well as the reintroduction of Ankara in the F-35 fighter jet programme.

Kabul International Airport

It may be said that Turkey can strengthen its operation in Afghanistan beyond any NATO-led operation, as Ankara has a unique position on Afghanistan, compared to other regional powers seen as potential US replacements, such as Russia and China.

Currently, Turkey has good relations with both the Government of Afghanistan and the Taliban. Ankara has played a mediating role in the past when it held several meetings between the leaders of the two opposing sides in Afghanistan.

Turkey has also been traditionally well received in both China and Pakistan, the two Regional State Actors indispensable to any future solution for Afghanistan. As a member of the Turkey-Afghanistan-Pakistan Trilateral Summit, Ankara can ensure the rapprochement between Kabul and Islamabad (a Taliban supporter), seen even in Washington DC as the basis for any guarantee of long-term stability and security in post-US Afghanistan.

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