Siamak Kakai, speaking in an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, said: Now, with the political transformation in Afghanistan and withdrawal of the Americans from that country, the situation has also changed for Ankara. However, since Turkey has practiced political pragmatism in foreign policy, in a turn it raised the approach of having negotiation with the Taliban.
He added: Erdogan has recently said that they had held talks with the Taliban with the help of the Qataris, and it was only after that which a tacit agreement was reached between Turkey, the Taliban, and Qatar for Ankara’s cooperation with them and even taking control of Kabul airport under the Taliban control.
In reply to a question that why Turkey quickly changed its approach towards the Taliban to the extent that there is now the possibility of Turkey recognizing the Taliban, Kakai said: The first answer to this question goes back to the history of Turkey’s relations and policy on Afghanistan. Cultural diversity in Afghanistan, especially the presence of the Uzbeks or Turkmen in that country, has always made Turkey interested in being present and having influence in that country, and in the past, Ankara has been active in Afghanistan within the framework of Western alliances and the NATO.
According to the expert, reference can be made to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) command by Turkey and the presence of Turkish troops in Afghanistan before.
Describing Ankara’s view of Kabul as a strategic one, he said: Given the geopolitical situation of Afghanistan, in a long-term strategy, Turkey is striving for extensive military cooperation with that country, and in the meantime, Turkey’s good relations with Pakistan is strengthening this demand.
The expert on Turkey affairs continued: Although at present Turkish troops are leaving Afghanistan, they may return to Afghanistan with a different definition under the Taliban rule.
Referring to Turkey’s trans-regional cooperation and its efforts for the revival and strengthening of relations with China and the Silk Road to Turkey and Central Asia, Kakai said: Afghanistan will be in the spotlight again. Therefore, Afghanistan, adjacent to China, Central Asia, Pakistan, and South Asia, will be of strategic importance to Ankara, and it is predictable that Turkey will look to Afghanistan with a longer-term target.
Explaining the differences between the outlook of the Taliban and the Justice and Development Party (AKP), which now holds power in Turkey, he said: Although there is a gap in the AKP’s vision with the thoughts of the Taliban, economic and strategic motives can overcome those differences.
Further elaborating, he said: Afghanistan will link the route of the Turkish plan from the Caucasus to China, and therefore the links between Central Asia, Afghanistan, China, and then Azerbaijan and Turkey are a long-term plan for Ankara, which is highly important for that country both economically and strategically.
Referring to the Taliban’s call for a new definition of Turkey’s relationship with Afghanistan, he said: In recent weeks, Taliban officials have explicitly announced that Turkey is an important Islamic country and that the Taliban want to establish deep relations with that country, but not in terms of Ankara’s cooperation with the West and NATO, but in other words, through a new bilateral relationship which seems that Turkish policymakers are pleased with such a view among the Taliban.
Emphasizing the importance of Qatar’s role in the developments, Kakai added: It has been said that control of Kabul airport may be given to a Qatari-Turkish company. Therefore, the visits and the decentralized and unofficial talks between Turkey and the Taliban will signal the establishment of new relations for Turkey in Afghanistan.
He stressed: The Taliban are trying to show a new face by saying that they want international relations, and from this perspective, Turkey has an important place for them among Islamic countries.
According to Kakai, Turkey is trying to take a step in Afghanistan that will lead to Ankara’s long-term military, political, security, economic, trade, strategic, and geopolitical interests.
The expert continued that in fact, Turkey does not want to stay out of its impact wheel in a situation where there is a possibility of international success for the Taliban.
Noting that Turkey already wanted to take charge of Kabul airport Kakai said: Suddenly, with the re-emergence of the Taliban, there was an interference in Ankara’s plans.
The expert on Turkey affairs explained: It was a few months ago that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the US President Joe Biden agreed that Turkey would take control of the Kabul airport after the withdrawal of the US troops from Afghanistan. At the same time, as the Taliban was seeking power again, they warned Turkey to abandon such a decision and announced their opposition to the proposal.
In conclusion Kakai said: But it did not take long for the Taliban to take control of Kabul and Ankara found itself at a crossroads, but eventually we see that Turkey has come to terms with Taliban-controlled Afghanistan and even wants to cooperate with them.