NATO appreciates Turkey’s bid to stay in Kabul

NATO appreciates Turkey’s bid to stay in Kabul

A week has passed since the Taliban’s lightning takeover of Afghanistan whose aftershocks are still dominating the international media and diplomacy. There are more questions than answers about the course of the developments in the central Asian country with nearly 40 million population.

According to the news, the Taliban and prominent figures from the previous governments, including former President Hamid Karzai, started talks about the composition of the new government. In the meantime, one of the strongest leaders of the Taliban, Molla Baradar has reportedly arrived in Kabul. It remains unknown whether and when these talks will yield a result and whether the Taliban will agree to establish an inclusive government.

The preliminary messages issued by the Taliban spokespersons were found as cautiously positive by Turkey, but the news that some Taliban members launched a manhunt against those who had served the previous government created concerns about the sincerity of the group. It has also been reported that protests in different provinces of Afghanistan against the Taliban’s takeover were suppressed by Taliban members who opened fire and killed some civilians.

Afghans who don’t want to live under the reactionary sharia law for obvious reasons are still trying to flee the country at the expense of causing a stampede at the international airport in Kabul. The Taliban sought to assure that no harm will be given to those who even served the U.S. and other foreign troops, but few believed the group’s promises.

The careful narrative by the Taliban leadership is seen as an effort to earn legitimacy with the objective of developing a capacity to govern the country. It will require a lot of financial assistance and humanitarian aid to overcome the existing problems of one the world’s poorest nations. Naturally, the Taliban’s ideology, deemed to be one of the most backward, will not suffice to run a country with 40 million people who need jobs, security, health and etc.

Plus, this ideology creates its own obstacles before developing a genuine relationship with the Taliban. Many experts believe and urge that the Taliban is not a linear organization, meaning that it includes hardliners and moderates within

Another top question is the fact that the evacuation of the foreigners and tens of thousands of Afghans are still continuing and there is a shared concern that it cannot be accomplished before the deadline set by the Taliban for Aug. 31. NATO foreign ministers agreed to fasten the process by building an air bridge between Kabul and nearby countries.
The Taliban will wait for the accomplishment of the evacuation and complete withdrawal of the U.S. troops before announcing what sort of a government is established, reports suggest.

That takes us to another question: The fate of the Turkish troops who are currently based at the airport. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other senior Turkish authorities express Ankara’s willingness to maintain the responsibility of running the airport, a move appreciated by NATO partners as seen during the meeting on Aug. 20.
Many argue that it will also be to the benefit of the Taliban in pursuit of setting an integrated relationship with the rest of the world. A fully Taliban-controlled airport will unlikely attract commercial flights to Kabul, many say.

That shows the new period ahead will require a special dialogue between Turkey and the Taliban. For many, it bears not only opportunities but also risks to Turkey and the Turkish troops based in the airport. The answers to be given to these questions will shape the scope of the Turkish involvement in the Taliban-led Afghanistan affairs of the future.

Serkan Demirtaş,