Turkey to keep troops at Kabul airport if its terms are met: Minister
Turkey can keep its troops in Afghanistan only if political, financial and logistic support is provided by the allies, as NATO prepares to withdraw from the country, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, daily Hürriyet reported on June 7.
Ankara has conducted talks with the U.S. on the issue, which was also discussed at the NATO defense ministers meeting, he said at Aksaz naval base during the Sea Wolf (Deniz Kurdu) military exercise.
“If these are provided, we can stay at Hamid Karzai International Airport. We are waiting for your reply regarding our terms,” he added.
Calling Afghan people as “brothers,” he said: “The goal is to ensure peace in Afghanistan. We have a historical brotherhood. We want to be able to stay in Afghanistan as long as the Afghan people want to help them.”
U.S. President Joe Biden announced that his country’s troops would start to withdraw from Afghanistan as of May 1. The withdrawal will be completed by the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
More than 5,000 troops of NATO are expected to withdraw from Afghanistan.
Turkey has 500 soldiers in Afghanistan as part of the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission (RSM).
On Oct. 7, 2001, the U.S. launched Operation Enduring Freedom on the ground that Afghanistan was hiding Osama Bin Laden and other al-Qaida leaders. More than 20 countries, including NATO members, supported the U.S. during the 13-year operation from 2001 to 2014.
YPG biggest problem in Turkey-US ties
Elaborating on the topics for the upcoming meeting between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Biden on the sidelines of the NATO Summit, Akar said the biggest problem between the two allies is the support given by Washington to the YPG in Syria.
“The biggest problem between Turkey and the United States, a strategic ally that shares fundamental values such as democracy and human rights, is neither the F-35 nor the S-400 or anything else. The biggest problem is the PKK/YPG terrorist organization issue,” he stated.
The minister recalled that the U.S. provides arms support to the YPG and that they do not recognize affiliation between the group and the PKK.
The minister stated that Turkey has been conducting its cross-border operations against the PKK targets in northern Iraq in coordination with Baghdad and Arbil.
All the cross-border operations of Turkey were carried out with respect to the territorial integrity of all its neighbors, especially Iraq, in accordance with international law, within the scope of the right of self-defense and only targeting terrorist elements in the region, he said.
“Both Baghdad and Erbil understood this. They know we are honest. We continue our struggle in coordination with Baghdad and Erbil,” Akar emphasized.