Turkey’s Increasing Role In Afghanistan*
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s four-day visit to Afghanistan and Pakistan reawoke debates dealing with Turkey’s increasing role in Afghanistan once again. Intensifying mutual visits since 2005 also designate Turkey’s increasing role and influence in Afghanistan. Prime Minister Erdoğan’s visit to Afghanistan on 20-21 April 2005 and Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s visit to Ankara on 4-7 January 2006 expedited mutual contacts. Later, President Abdullah Gül held a visit to Afghanistan on 26-27 February 2007 which clearly emphasized Afghanistan’s priority for Turkey, was followed by several visits on different levels. Those visits are significant as they are the most effective tools of foreign policy and give clues about the foreign policy which is pursued at the time. In this context, Foreign Minister Davutoğlu’s visits are indicating that Turkey is planning to play a proactive active role in Afghanistan and Pakistan in the near future. Moreover, Davutoğlu’s visit is a sign that Turkey is playing the global actor and consolidating her role as the term President of the UNSC.
This way, Turkey who is pursuing a multi-dimensional and proactive foreign policy since 2003, is becoming a global actor and consulting authority whose expertise in Afghanistani and Pakistani issues -such as global terrorism- which occupy the global agenda since 2001, is widely used. While the instability in Afghanistan is shifting to Pakistan, Turkey’s attempt to hold a Turkish-Pakistani-Afghani triple summit is of vital importance. Turkey became a consulting authority in the region for her deep historical and cultural connections with both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Moreover, Turkey’s attempts to solve Afghanistan’s issues by activating socio-economic mechanisms next to military means, seems to have been recognized by NATO and the UN.
- The Current Situation in Afghanistan
Afghanistan is a buffer zone among the greater powers such as the USA, Russia, China, India, Pakistan, and Iran. The politically and militarily active arena in Afghanistan is destabilizing the region, particularly Pakistan. When it comes to energy, Afghanistan forms a critical bridge as a transport route between Euro-Asia and North-South. For these reasons, Afghanistan stands out as a country of great geopolitical importance. After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the US launched an anti-terror struggle in Afghanistan through NATO but after 8 years, stability and security is not maintained in the country yet. In reality, the issue seems to have exceeded beyond both the limits of terrorism and borders of Afghanistan. Moreover, attempts to deal with Afghanistan’s non-military but structural issues -such as the socio-economical bottlenecks- by military means, caused further security and stability deficiencies. Since Afghanistan is located close to rising powers of the Asia-Pacific and on the cross-routes, the country became the battle ground for such interests. Although there was cooperation between the US and Russia against terror in the region, it was merely a short honeymoon.
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* Published in the Second Issue of Journal of Global Analysis (JGA).