JUST a day before his first face to face meeting with US President Joe Biden, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whilst talking to the reporters at Istanbul airport, said his country will be the ‘only reliable’ country left to stabilize Afghanistan after the US pulls out its troops from landlocked country, indicating Washington can rely on its NATO ally.
The very statement made by the Turkish President has a point and special historical context.
For Turkey, Afghanistan has never felt distant historically or socially. Centuries ago, Turkic people migrated to Anatolia from Khorasan, the ancient region covering today’s Afghanistan and beyond.
These ties are still alive today. Their people-to-people affinities and state-to-state relations have always remained strong and there is a deep level of understanding and trust between them.
The Turkish people have also made important contributions to Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion and after 9/11. Unlike other NATO members, Turkish soldiers in Afghanistan have always been welcomed by both the Afghan government and society over the past two decades.
Hence, the stay of Turkish troops in Afghanistan even after the drawdown of US and NATO forces, there are also several other important elements that make Turkey an ideal peace mediator in Afghanistan.
Turkey has close ties with all the local and international players in the Afghan conflict including Afghanistan, the US, the European Union, Russia, Qatar, Iran and Pakistan.
Turkey has especially remained at the forefront to bridge the mistrust between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
This is why the role of Turkey in the Afghan peace process is deemed very pivotal and we understand that it can really play a positive and constructive role by using its influence to end the conflict in Afghanistan. The ultimate aim should not be any peace but a sustainable and enduring one.
Each party in Afghanistan bears a historic responsibility not to miss this opportunity knocking at their doors. Their brothers both in Turkey and Pakistan stand behind them to achieve this goal.