Taliban invite Turkey to play active role in Afghanistan
The acting foreign minister of the interim Taliban government, Amir Khan Muttaq, speaks to the Anadolu Agency, Oct 17, 2021. (AA Photo)

Taliban invite Turkey to play active role in Afghanistan

Turkey can play “an active role in investing, realizing some renovation and restoration projects in Afghanistan” with the resources it possesses, acting foreign minister of the country’s interim Taliban government, Amir Khan Muttaqi, said Sunday.

In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency (AA), Muttaqi said the official recognition of his government and international aid are of great importance for Afghanistan’s economic recovery.

Muttaqi led a Taliban delegation on an official visit to Turkey on Thursday to discuss bilateral issues and cooperation on the future of Afghanistan.

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Muttaqi attended a meeting where they discussed issues related to the official recognition of the Taliban and Afghan assets blocked by the United States.

Muttaqi said the freezing of reserves by the United States after the Taliban’s takeover violated international law and human rights.

He stressed that the money blocked by the U.S. was sent from other countries for the development of Afghanistan.

“The real question is, why was this money blocked? What did the Afghanistan citizens do?” he asked rhetorically. “On the other hand, the U.S. and other countries say that humanitarian aid should be given to Afghanistan and human rights should be respected. But, they leave 40 million Afghan people without basic necessities.”

Muttaqi said these issues were highlighted by Turkish officials at the news conference Wednesday.

Recognition of new government

“In our recent meetings with the U.S. and European Union delegations in Doha, as well as with Turkey, we have said there are some states around in the world that have been established by force, coup or elections, dominated by one person or family. Why are these recognized, but the government in Afghanistan remains a de facto state?” he asked.

Muttaqi said this was the usurpation of the rights of Afghans and added the situation had a negative effect on the economy of Afghanistan.

He noted that humanitarian aid sent from around the world has been distributed, and the U.S. and the European Union had promised aid in prior meetings with delegations.

Noting that the EU promised more than $1 billion in humanitarian aid and the amount of aid was decided at the Geneva Conference, Muttaqi said: “This reveals the cooperation between us and the other countries. The relations are getting better day by day. It has a positive impact on the field.”

Muttaqi argued that security was ensured in the country with the Taliban administration regarding threats from the Daesh terrorist group, and there was no threat in that sense.

“They are carrying out attacks on mosques and streets. You will agree that it is not an easy task to ensure the safety of all mosques and streets. They do not own any place in Afghanistan. In this way, international pressure is being exerted on the Afghan government. This propaganda also works both ways for Daesh,” he said.

“The fact that the new state in Afghanistan is not officially recognized is beneficial to Daesh. The countries of the world, on the one hand, say to control the Afghan people so they do not emigrate. On the other hand, they do not officially recognize the government and give morale to Daesh. This is in the interest of neither Afghanistan nor the world,” he said.

Turkey and the new administration in Afghanistan held their first high-level contact after the Taliban took power on Aug. 15.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Çavuşoğlu said recognizing the Taliban and engaging with them are two different things. He added that Turkey reiterated the need for an inclusive government and voiced its expectations regarding the security of Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport.

“They asked us for humanitarian aid and the continuation of investments there,” Çavuşoğlu also said and added that the Turkish side once again shared its advice on girls’ education and women’s employment in business life.

“The Taliban leadership said they would give their best support if they (Afghan migrants) wanted to return to their country,” he added.

The Taliban captured Kabul, forcing the president and other top officials to leave the country. They have formed an interim government headed by Hasan Akhund.

World powers have called on the group to form an inclusive government that is representative of the country’s ethnic diversity.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recently highlighted the importance of an inclusive government in Afghanistan, as he said it was crucial in reaching a deal regarding the operation of the Kabul airport.

Turkey has been working with Qatar to reopen the airport in the Afghan capital for international travel. However, repairs are needed before commercial flights can resume.

Erdoğan also said at a G-20 virtual meeting that the international community should keep the channels of dialogue with the Taliban open, to “patiently and gradually steer” them toward establishing a more inclusive government.

He said Turkey, which already hosts more than 3.6 million Syrians, cannot bear an influx of migrants from Afghanistan, warning that European nations would also be affected by a new wave of migrants.

The Taliban say they want international recognition but warn that weakening their government will affect security and spark an even bigger exodus of migrants from the country.

Taliban officials previously noted that they want Turkey to provide aid and support to the Afghan people. They called on Turkey to be the first country to formally recognize the new administration in Afghanistan.

NATO member Turkey maintained its embassy in Afghanistan after Western countries withdrew following the Taliban takeover and has urged those countries to step up engagement. At the same time, it said it will only work fully with the Taliban if they form a more inclusive administration.

This article originally appeared in DAILY SABAH on 17 Oct 2021.