Following the withdrawal of the United States and NATO from Afghanistan, the role assigned to Turkey is to protect and secure Kabul Airport in Afghanistan. Although this situation will be an achievement for Turkey’s regional policy, it will also present dangers for Turkey. In a move designed in part to appease the United States as well as advance its interests, Turkey has offered to cooperate with Turkish forces as part of a NATO monitoring project to protect Kabul International Airport. Cooperation with the United States in Afghanistan is important in opening a new page in the fragile relations between Turkey and the United States. Ankara has been consulting with its allies, including the United States, on financial, political and logistical support since the announcement. The security of this airport is important for the departure of diplomatic missions from Afghanistan after the withdrawal of the United States. This mission of Turkey will be within the framework of military cooperation agreements with the legitimate government of Afghanistan.
Erdogan has suggested that Turkish forces cooperate in a possible alliance with Hungary. Turkey has protected the airport for 6 years since 2013, along with the United States, Hungary and France. Turkey has also undertaken important tasks such as assisting with security around Kabul and implementing infrastructure projects.
Turkey wants to continue its military presence in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of NATO troops, but the stated purpose of the Turkish military presence in Afghanistan is only to train and assist the Afghan security forces without the presence of combat forces. The tasks of the Turkish mission in Afghanistan are related to the assistance provided by NATO within the framework of UN Security Council resolutions.
The Turkish Armed Forces has joined the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in order to ensure security and stability in Afghanistan, in accordance with the powers given to the Turkish government by the National Assembly in a resolution of 10 October 2001 and the decision of the Council of Ministers in this regard. Turkey has been in Afghanistan since 2002 under the umbrella of NATO and under the command of ISAF (International Security Assistance Force). Of course, Turkish forces in Afghanistan were not combat forces. Turkey will not be left alone in Afghanistan without NATO, as Hungary and Pakistan are likely to participate in the mission at Turkey’s request. Pakistan’s cooperation with Turkey in Afghanistan is important both in terms of risk sharing and in terms of increasing gains. Sending Turkish troops to a country that has declared the Turkish army a foreign force would be a big risk. The recent remarks by a Taliban spokesman that Turkey, as a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), should also withdraw its troops from Afghanistan under an agreement signed with the United States on February 29, 2020, have added to the complexity of the issue.
In Libya, according to the final statement of the second Berlin summit, everything seems to be on track, including the complete withdrawal of foreign troops from the country. Turkey suffered the most at the second Berlin summit in June to find a political solution to the Libyan issue. The final statement of the meeting also called on Turkey to withdraw its military elements from Libya together with foreign forces, without naming them. Cairo continues to demand Turkey’s unconditional withdrawal from Libya, and in its messages to Ankara stressed that security coordination would be suspended if Turkey continued its illegal presence on Libyan soil, but Turkey has refused.
Encouraging remarks by Khalid al-Mishri, Chairman of the High Council of State, that Turkish forces are present in Libya at the invitation of the Libyan government and within the framework of legal agreements signed between the two countries, and with the exception of Turkish forces, all other parties have come to Libya informally and illegally, therefore, Turkish forces cannot be equated with foreign forces and mercenaries, has simplified the situation for Ankara.
Egypt recently established a naval base in the Jarboub area, one of its closest areas to neighboring Libya. The name of this naval base also has a symbolic meaning. Base July 3. In the history of Egypt, July 3 is the day when al-Sisi, the then Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Egyptian Army, ended the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood in a military coup in 2013. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, which was the biggest supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood / Morsi government, reacted most to the July 3 coup in Egypt, and Turkey’s relations with Egypt reached a stalemate. The Turkish government is seeking to normalize relations with al-Sisi, but considered the registration of the Egyptian military base in the region adjacent to Libya, “July 3 base”, as a kind of diplomatic arrogance against Turkey.
Erdogan’s upcoming visit to the Turkish part of Cyprus, scheduled for July 20, has already caused tensions in Greek Cyprus. This trip is a clear political showdown against Nicosia, Greece and the European Union. Because Turkey is the only country in the world that has recognized the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” (KKTC). Greece, as the main ally of Cyprus in connection with the trip, believes that the meeting is at best detrimental to Turkey’s international image and at worst will impose sanctions and restrictions on Turkey.
The European Union has also stated its opposition to Turkey’s political stance on Cyprus, and European Commission President Ursula van der Leyen believes in Erdogan’s visit and said she has told the Turkish President her position on his visit to the Turkish part of Cyprus is quite clear. She said the visit will be followed with sensitivity. The European Union will never accept a two-state solution in Cyprus, she noted.
The “mutual silence agreement” is being implemented between Greece and Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean to prevent cutting tourism revenues for the two countries. Although Ankara continues to drill for oil and gas in the Eastern Mediterranean and near Cyprus, the Greek prime minister has recently used a softer tone towards Turkey and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. According to him the structural problems that lead to tensions between the two countries have not yet solved, but the best relations between the two countries and nations are sought.
But the Greek foreign minister, who has a tougher stance than the prime minister of his country, claims that Greece’s foreign policy is based on international law and in line with UN Security Council resolutions. He added: The long-standing position of all Greek governments and our foreign ministers is that we can only negotiate with Turkey on the continental shelf and the exclusive economic zone. If Turkey wants to negotiate on other issues, we will not participate in such negotiations. Greece has a foreign policy based on international law and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Many Eastern Mediterranean countries share principles and understandings with us. Turkey is the only country in the world that has threatened its neighbor and ally (in NATO) with war.