US, Turkey see win-win partnership in Afghanistan and beyond

US, Turkey see win-win partnership in Afghanistan and beyond

ΗΠΑ και Τουρκία προσβλέπουν σε επωφελή συνεργασία στο Αφγανιστάν και την ευρύτερη περιοχή

US, Turkey see win-win partnership in Afghanistan and beyond

Turkey is being incentivized on various fronts to return to the Western fold and play its due role as a NATO power.

The zeal with which Washington is soliciting Turkey’s services to plot a way to normalize Afghanistan’s Taliban raises some troubling questions.

Acting on Washington’s request, Turkey will be hosting high-level talks on the Afghanistan peace process this April to bring together the Afghan government and the Taliban. Turkey has appointed a special envoy to assume the mediation role.

Turkey is entering the cockpit to navigate the Afghan peace process to a conclusion that meets US objectives. This will have a salutary effect on the fraught Turkish-American relationship.

The US appreciates that Turkey is an influential member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, enjoys historical links with Afghanistan and has a positive image among Afghans. But digging deeper, the unholy US-Turkey alliance in the Syrian conflict creates disquiet.

The Pentagon and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) are reluctant to vacate Afghanistan by the deadline of May 1. Turkey will be overseeing an open-ended US-NATO presence. The US hopes to retain a strong intelligence presence backed by special operations forces.

A report Friday from CNN disclosed that the “CIA, which has had a significant say in US decision-making in Afghanistan, has ‘staked out some clear positions’ during recent deliberations, arguing in favor of continuing US involvement.”

The scale of the CIA activities in Afghanistan are not in the public domain — especially, whether its regional mandate extends beyond the borders of Afghanistan. The CNN report cited above lifted the veil on “one of the most heavily guarded bases” of the CIA — Forward Operating Base Chapman, “a classified US military installation in eastern Afghanistan.”

Suffice to say, given the presence of the ISIS fighters (including those transferred from Syria to Afghanistan — allegedly in US aircraft, according to Russia and Iran) — the nexus between the Taliban and al-Qaeda, and above all, the presence of Uighur, Central Asian and Chechen terrorists, Turkey’s induction as the US’ buddy in Afghanistan is indeed worrisome for regional states.

Turkey has transferred jihadi fighters from Idlib to Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh to fight hybrid wars.

Significantly, Turkey has abruptly shifted its stance on the Uighur issue after years of passivity and hyped it up as a diplomatic issue between Ankara and Beijing. China’s ambassador to Ankara was summoned to Turkey’s Foreign Ministry last Tuesday.