Afghanistan is a modest country located in the middle of the Asian continent. Afghanistan, which has a very important position in the region with its area close to Turkey, is a country neighboring the Muslim countries of Asia such as Iran, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. The total border length is 5529 kilometers. The border length of 2000 km with Pakistan, 936 km with Iran, 1206 km in Tajikistan, 137 km in Uzbekistan, 744 km in Turkmenistan, and its border with China is 76 km which is located in a mountainous area. There are 34 provinces in Afghanistan. Its major provinces are Kabul, Kandahar, Mazari Sharif, Jalalabad, Herat and Kunduz. The official languages of Afghanistan are Pashto and Dari (Persian). Its population is 35 million. The main ethnic groups are Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras, and Uzbeks. Turks make up Afghanistan’s second-largest ethnic group. The Turk groups consist of Uzbeks, Turkmens and Kyrgyz concentrated in the north. In addition, other small Groups of Turks continue to exist within the population of Afghanistan. Pashtuns, Tajiks, Uzbeks, Turkmens, and Kyrgyz are mostly Sunni Muslims. Hazaras are mostly Shiite Muslims. The currency of the country is Afghani.
HISTORY OF AFGHANISTAN
Turkish relations with Afghanistan started in the period of Mahmud of Ghazni (999-1030), and continued with the Ottoman Sultan Mustafa III in 1762, after the Turkish state, the Seljuks. Afghan and Turkish peoples have always been in solidarity at the breaking points of history as two brotherly nations throughout history, with the proximity of living on the historical silk road route in the common history, language, culture, and belief from history to the present and meeting around common denominators.
At the end of World War I, in 1918, the Ottoman State's Chief of War Staff Enver Pasha and the former 4th Army Commander and Minister of the Navy Djemal Pasha contributed to the development of friendship between Turkey and Afghanistan. They were especially influential in Germany and France's acceptance of Afghanistan. In addition, Djemal Pasha came to Afghanistan with around 15 Turkish officers in 1920 and firstly formed a “Sample Regiment” in the Afghan Army. Since the Ottoman Empire, Turkish-Afghan friendship has not been harmed and the interests of the two sides have never conflicted.
Turkey-Afghanistan diplomatic relations, established by the Turkey-Afghanistan friendship and cooperation agreement signed in Moscow on March 1, 1921, have left 100 years of relations behind and there has been no significant problem between the two countries for a century. It is known that the Afghan people have a special place in the hearts of the Turkish nation due to their support for the Turkish War of Independence. Similarly, Afghanistan was also affected by the republican revolutions during the Amanullah Khan period and he tried to make reforms that took Mustafa Kemal Atatürk as an example. The positive relations that have been established between the two countries since the aforementioned period have not changed, despite all the changing conditions, while leaving behind a period of 100 years. The fact that the geography of Afghanistan has become a playground to establish Eurasian dominance in the global struggle requires further development of the communication on the Ankara-Kabul line in terms of friendly relations. Afghanistan is located in a strategically important region as it is East Asia's gateway to the West. Therefore, it bears witness to the various aims of the great powers, but this makes it difficult to achieve permanent stability in the country.
The USA is worried that if the American units in Afghanistan withdraw, which is an important route country in China's Belt-Road Project, the power vacuum here will be filled by China. Russia also wants to be active in the region. Turkey, on the other hand, has never approached Afghanistan with colonialist ambitions. On the contrary, Turkish decision-makers in every period have stated that a strong and stable Afghanistan is more in line with Turkey's interests. For this reason, Afghanistan is the country that Turkey provides the most aid in terms of development assistance. In this context, it is known that Turkey, through the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) and the Maarif Foundation, carries out various aid activities in Afghanistan in areas such as education, health, and infrastructure. Between 2018 and 2020, Turkey provided 150 million dollars to Afghanistan's development aid and 60 million dollars to NATO defense aid.
Moreover, Ankara has actively contributed to the processes carried out to establish lasting peace in Afghanistan and even took the initiative. In this framework, Turkey came together with Afghanistan and Pakistan in the first stage and the “Tripartite Dialogue Group” was established in 2007, and in 2011, efforts were made to establish a stable political order with the “Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process”.
Although the negotiation process between the Western world and the Taliban ended with the Taliban gaining the upper hand in the field, it seems extremely difficult to overcome the disagreements between the parties through contacts. Although this situation indicates that instability may start again in Afghanistan, on the other hand, it may bring along a new process in which Turkey once again takes the initiative in mediation. Because, in addition to Ankara's 100-year friendship relations with Kabul, it is seen that the Taliban did not target Turkish soldiers in their attacks on NATO forces. Because the Turkish soldiers did not fire their weapons against the Afghan people during the NATO intervention and the 30,000 Turks who took part in this operation were not involved in any crime. This facilitated the communication between the Turkish soldiers and the Afghan people. The Taliban also avoided targeting Turkish soldiers because of this idea in mind of the Turkish soldier.
Turkey will likely come to the fore in the rebuilding of Afghanistan and in the new peace talks that will be desired if the process in Doha fails. Such a development may be the best option for both the Kabul administration and the Taliban. Because Turkey is the only concrete example where Islam can survive in democracy without being swept away by radicalism. At the same time, Turkey is a part of both the Western World and the Islamic World; moreover, it is very important that Turkey can protect its national existence without being colonized while doing this. For this reason, Ankara is a role model for oppressed nations.
As a result, these days when various attempts of actors who want to destabilize Afghanistan with the claim of global dominance are discussed within the framework of the New Great Game, it is a historical necessity to bring Turkey-Afghanistan relations to a higher level in terms of “Islamic Union ideal” of ASSAM.
ASSAM Chairman of Afghanistan Board