Turkey signals support for Taliban-led Afghanistan

Turkey signals support for Taliban-led Afghanistan
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NEW YORK — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants Western powers to provide aid to Afghanistan “regardless of the political process” in Kabul, in an apparent break with trans-Atlantic attempts to use foreign aid as leverage to restrain the Taliban’s human rights abuses.

“The people of Afghanistan have been left alone; they were abandoned with the consequences of instability, and the conflicts that have lasted for more than four decades,” Erdogan told the United Nations General Assembly through an interpreter. “Regardless of the political process, Afghanistan needs the help and solidarity of the international community.”

Erdogan’s comments signal just the latest disagreement between Turkey and the wider NATO security bloc, following years of disputes over the Turkish leader’s purchase of advanced Russian anti-aircraft systems and his crackdown on dissidents. U.S. and European officials agree on the need for humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, but they have stipulated that aid to the Taliban should be contingent on the militant group’s political choices and behavior.

“I think he's saying, 'Regardless of whether the West likes the Taliban or not, whether they can find some middle ground, or not, the West should continue to bankroll Afghanistan,'” former Turkish opposition lawmaker Aykan Erdemir, a senior analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the Washington Examiner. “And [the] Turkish presence in Afghanistan.”

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Turkey, along with Qatar, has drawn praise from U.S. officials grateful for Ankara’s assistance in orchestrating evacuation flights out of Taliban-controlled Kabul. “We have had excellent cooperation,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday afternoon, prior to a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. “Thank you very much for this excellent cooperation on Afghanistan, many areas. Of course, we will continue working on Afghanistan together.”

That warmth from Blinken belied Erdogan’s sharp tone, as the Turkish leader threw an elbow at President Joe Biden shortly before his subordinate met with Blinken.

“When somebody acts with a fait accompli logic, the entire humanity will pay the bill, not just the major countries,” Erdogan said, referring to Biden’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from the country despite the misgivings of other NATO allies. “We witnessed, lastly, in Afghanistan, in a very painful way, that the problems cannot be solved by imposing methods that do not take into account the realities and the social fabric on the ground or in the field.”

That language shows a slight softening from July, when Erdogan rebuked “imperial powers” for invading Afghanistan following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

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"The irony is both the United States and Turkey had presence in Afghanistan as part of a NATO mission, as NATO allies,” observed Erdemir, the former opposition lawmaker. “And then, for one NATO member state, Turkey, to turn to the United States, another NATO member state, and accuse it of an imperial presence in Afghanistan — I think this shows how skewed Erdogan’s look at NATO and the NATO mission in Afghanistan [is].”

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Tags: News, Foreign Policy, National Security, Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Taliban, Afghanistan, Antony Blinken, United Nations

Original Author: Joel Gehrke

Original Location: Turkey signals support for Taliban-led Afghanistan

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