Turkey’s Mission and role in Afghanistan within the scope of Kabul airport
Turkey comes to the fore as a key actor that takes proactive steps regarding the turbulence and chaos environment in Afghanistan, which heavily occupies the world’s agenda, and shows performance in the near future. It has causal coexistence in the theoretical sense.
First of all, the historical and sociological ties between Turkey and Afghanistan dating back to the 1920s brought these two countries closer to each other. Secondly, religious identity also emerges in the context of elements. Thirdly, it is the deepening of diplomatic, political, military, and intelligence contacts through channels established in the last twenty years. Finally, the obvious performance and qualifications of the Turkish soldiers in the operations carried out in Afghanistan strengthened the ties of these two states.
Turkey’s Mission to Afghanistan
Afghanistan was not in a position to undertake the security of its airports due to important reasons such as the lack of security, economic and human resources in the country. Until now, the USA was mostly responsible for the security of the airport. In practical terms, no Afghan army or security force could be formed to take on the security role of this airport for twenty years. Turkey has offered to take over the security of the international airport in Kabul after the withdrawal of NATO forces. After the withdrawal, ensuring the security of the airport is emphasized as a priority issue. Some countries argue that airport security should be ensured as a condition for holding their diplomatic missions in Afghanistan.
The purpose of the mission planned at Kabul Airport is not to prevent the Taliban from seizing Kabul or to fight the Taliban, but to ensure international air security as long as the need continues. The task of protecting the airport can be undertaken because the Taliban needs an airline to establish health, education, and economic systems in the country and to do business. Turkey says that it is not a combat force against the Taliban and that it is important to be present at the airport to take steps to ensure that it is not isolated from humanitarian aid, trade, and the international system. In order for Turkey to take over the Kabul Airport, it is necessary to come to an agreement with the Taliban, who took over the Kabul administration.
Read: TALIBAN’S BARBARIC RULES IN AFGHANISTAN- ‘RETURN TO THE DARK DAYS’
Hulusi Akar, the Minister of National Defense of Turkey, emphasizes that they intend to stay in Afghanistan and that the conditions must be provided with political, financial, and logistical support, and points out that the USA should support them. It is emphasized that the US should support Turkey’s Afghan mission with a clear capability. Despite the support, it is stated that the commanding officer will be in Turkey.
Today, Turkey is in contact with the Taliban to secure the international airport in Kabul. Turkey is responsible for the operation of the military part of the airport. It is planned that Turkish soldiers will only undertake combat duty in cases that require self-defense, in case of an attack on the airport. However, the Taliban stated that as of September 11, all foreign troops should be withdrawn, otherwise it would be a violation of the agreement made in Doha. He claimed that all foreign soldiers who would stay in the country after September would be treated as an occupation force, but he did not directly mention Turkey.
Why is Kabul Airport so important?
The situation and difficulties of the geographical conditions of Afghanistan is the main determining factor that should be emphasized on the importance of Kabul Airport. There are intense mountains in Afghanistan, especially the capital Kabul is surrounded by mountains. At the same time, it draws attention as a very problematic area in terms of security on the highways, where sea transportation is not possible because it does not have a sea coast. For this reason, this airport functions as a critical role for Afghanistan to maintain and maintain contact with the outside world. Connections with countries other than the country’s land border neighbors are carried out through airports. In addition, international aid coming to the country is transmitted through this airport. Finally, most importantly for both Afghans and foreign missions, an evacuation route is the only place that can serve in the worst-case scenario that no one wants to enter. Considering all these, it is extremely important to ensure the security of Hamid Karzai International Airport.
The Taliban evaluated the concrete steps taken by Turkey regarding its mission to undertake the security of the international airport in Kabul as “an imprudent decision and a violation of our sovereignty, territorial integrity and against our national interests”. However, despite these evaluations, it is thought that the Taliban did not display an aggressive attitude towards Turkey. At the same time, the statements made by the Taliban are described as “symbolic” by Turkey. At the same time, the Taliban pointed out that Turkey is a major Islamic country and has historical ties with Afghanistan, and stated that they hope to have close and good relations when a new Islamic government is established. Because the Taliban has had direct contact with many countries, their efforts to integrate into the international system, and the steps they have taken to avoid being isolated, it is still possible to reconcile with Turkey. In other words, it is highly likely that he will be assigned to Kabul airport by meeting with the Taliban.
Read more: Afghanistan Accusations and the Response
The task of ensuring the security of Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport, which Turkey began to plan during the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, was suspended after the Taliban took control of the city. He stopped the plan to take over his safety. Although the plan was automatically canceled due to the resulting chaos, it was stated that Ankara was ready to provide technical and security support to Kabul Airport if the Taliban requested it. In this process, Turkey was preparing to take over the task by continuing its negotiations with the Taliban, which is effective in the field, as well as the US and Afghan governments. The note sent by the Afghan government, which constitutes the international legal basis for the airport mission of the Turkish military, will also become invalid with the transition period.
Regarding the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, President Erdogan indicates that they also welcome the moderate statements made by the Taliban. President Erdogan says:
“No matter who is in the administration, being with Afghanistan in good and bad times is a requirement of both our commitment and our brotherhood. Our relevant institutions were already in contact with the Taliban for a while. We have also stated before that we can accept Taliban leaders to talk about the future of the country. We maintain this attitude today.”
Author: AYŞE SELCAN AKIN
About The Author
Ayşe Selcan Akın is studying in the Department of International Relations at Hacettepe University. She also attends the department of Local Government at Anadolu University. She is an intern at the Foreign Policy Institute. She speaks advanced English, intermediate German,and Korean. She is interested in the fields of Security Studies, Foreign Policy and International Law.