By: Farahnaz Rahmani
Relations between governments constitute the major component of community development goals.
Many countries experience similar challenges, concerns and interests. Cooperation among countries is proven to be an effective tool to strengthen, share and accelerate development within countries and across regions. It involves creating, adapting, transferring and sharing knowledge and experiences to improve social welfare and security development – while also making the most of existing resources and capacities.
Studies on relations between states show that relations ranging from economic to political and from cultural to military have had significant impacts towards modernization and development of states.
The study of the history and background of the relations between Afghanistan and Turkey brings a good understanding of the existence of long-term relations in terms of religious, historical and cultural friendship between the two countries. The friendship that strengthened Turkey’s role in promoting aids and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan and have resulted in the building and renovation of numerous schools and hospitals, the awarding of hundreds of scholarships, and the rebuilding of roads, bridges and airport.
The historical and cultural relations have become a platform for development of relations in term of military cooperation- the cooperation that turned to a commitment and this commitment is a questions mark in minds that why Turkey continues its high commitment, especially in term of its military efforts with Afghanistan.
Turkey is one of the biggest non U.S contributors in NATO’s “Resolute Support Mission” which was launched in January 2015 to train, advice and assist Afghan National Security and Defensive Forces with its 532 troops.
Reports show that NATO member state – Turkey had remained in Afghanistan under the two-year non-combative mission named “Resolute Support” even when NATO formally ended its combat operations in Afghanistan and transferred full security responsibility to the Afghan government in 2014.
The remarkable point about relations between the two countries is this that Turkey has played a role in empowering women in Afghanistan. Turkish Armed Forces have given military education to Afghan female soldiers through a program held at the Police Turkish Professional High School in the central Anatolian province of Sivas in 2016.
Enduring Partnership provided/s a framework for wider practical cooperation with the key function of Supporting the establishment and sustainment of processes such as force generation, recruiting, training, managing and development of personnel. During a visit in Islamabad in 2012, Turkish Prime Minister RecepTayyipErdoðan said, “Turkey will stay in Afghanistan even after all the other forces have left, and will leave only when our Afghan brothers and sisters tell us, “Thank you, now you can go home.” From the several contributions, a number of them should be highlighted such as Turkey’s role in training local police and military such as providing trainings to 12,500 Afghan personnel inside Afghanistan and 3,300 in Turkey.
Over a course of a decade, Turkey had planned to continue leading training mission to train Afghan policemen. Turkey’s PRT success in Wardak and Jowzjan refers to the several team’s work with indigenous forces and their familiarity with language and culture and Islamic faith.
History shows that during the First World War, Afghans stood next to their Turkish brothers. The term brotherhood between the two sides was formed after when Mustafa Kemal Atatürk came to the embassy as chairman of the Turkish parliament on July 10, 1921, raising the flag of Afghanistan himself. This has created a good image of Turkey in the Afghan people’s eyes and the trust created from that time is still stable and strong.
Atatürk personally welcomed Amanullah Khan, king of Afghanistan, on May 20, 1928 at the Ankara railway station. Meanwhile Amanullah showed his interest and respect in return by saying that he had two eyes; one in Afghanistan and one in Turkey.
Turkey’s presence in Afghanistan reflects the historical relationship between Ankara and Kabul that dates back to the Ottoman Empire. Afghanistan was the second country which recognized the republic of Turkey and soon after its independence in 1919, it started diplomatic relations with Turkey. Since then, the two sides had signed numerous agreements to cooperate with each other.
From the four major pillars of Turkey’s foreign policy towards Afghanistan, one of them is restoration of peace and prosperity by eliminating terrorism and extremism. Turkey hadn’t only operated in Afghanistan as part of its NATO ISAF mission but also as a brotherhood duty to play its role towards peacebuilding and peacekeeping. As long as Afghanistan is stable, Turkey would also feel stable. I refer this perception of Turkey towards Afghanistan to the principle provided by Ataturk “Peace at home, peace abroad.”
Thus, Turkey’s strategic interest would also be ensured thereby such as stability in the region, bringing new economic benefits for the region in general and for Turkey in particular.
The writer is an MA student at Istanbul Aydin University’s International Relations Department.