Turkey keeping watch over potential migrant influx from Afghanistan: Defense Minister
Turkey is closely watching a potential migrant influx from Afghanistan as Taliban forces are increasing their control in the country after the withdrawal of the United States, the defense minister has said.
“We are closely watching all the developments there, including the Tajikistan-Uzbekistan border security. We are keeping a check on the potential refugee wave towards Turkey. We are evaluating all the possibilities in a multidimensional way. Thank God that there is no problem so far,” Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told the reporters after the weekly cabinet meeting late July 12.
There are serious concerns that thousands of Afghans will flee the country on fears that the Taliban will entirely control Afghanistan and impose its radical Islamic rule after the withdrawal of the American troops. Countries bordering Afghanistan are urging the international community over a potential refugee influx from Afghanistan.
Turkey is one of the target countries for the Afghan people, but Interior Ministery spokesman İsmail Çataklı denied the reports suggesting that scores of Afghan people have already entered Turkey via the Iranian border and without any control. Çataklı said the videos showing Afghan people in massive numbers freely moving were from the Afghanistan-Tajikistan and Iran-Afghanistan borders.
Talks with US continue constructively
Akar also informed about the ongoing talks with the U.S. over Turkey’s bid to operate and protect Kabul International Airport after the withdrawal of the American troops. Recalling that he recently had a phone conversation with U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd James Austin, Akar said: “Constructive and positive talks are being held. Our works continue. Some other countries are willing to help Afghanistan, and we are also in contact with them. This is a multifaceted issue. We are carrying out the process with both our Afghan brothers and NATO, European Union and the international community.”
Akar said he agreed with his American counterpart over a number of issues, recalling that a framework was drawn at a meeting between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and U.S. President Joe Biden in June.
Akar stated that Turkey was seeing Afghans as brothers and has always been on their assistance, repeating that keeping the airport operational was key for the country’s status and stability. “We are running the Hamid Karzai International Airport for the past six years. Now it’s continuation… Our aim is to endure our efforts for the security and prosperity of our Afghan brothers. The airport needs to be open and functional. All the countries say so. Countries will have to withdraw their diplomatic missions if the airport does not operate,” he said.
Taliban against Turkish mission
In the meantime, the Taliban warned Turkey on July 12 against possible plans to keep some troops in Afghanistan to run and guard Kabul’s main airport after the withdrawal of foreign troops, calling the strategy “reprehensible” and warning of “consequences.”
“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan condemns this reprehensible decision,” the militant group said in a statement. “If Turkish officials fail to reconsider their decision and continue the occupation of our country, the Islamic Emirate... will take a stand against them,” it said. In that case, the responsibility for consequences would fall on the shoulders of those who interfere, it added.