By Mohammad Mazhari

Iran, Turkey, Pakistan have great task to solve Afghanistan problem: Turkish politician

August 24, 2021 - 16:50

TEHRAN - Dogan Bekin, vice president of the New Welfare Party in Turkey, is of the opinion that Islamabad, Tehran and Ankara must make a concerted effort to restore peace in Afghanistan.

“Pakistan, Iran and Turkey, which are the D-8 member states, have great duties in solving the Afghanistan problem,” Bekin tells the Tehran Times.

“If these three countries could come together to solve the Afghanistan problem and bring all sides together, it would be possible to solve the Afghanistan problem, which has been facing gangrene for many years,” the Turkish figure remarked.

While U.S. President Joe Biden has pledged to pull out American forces from Afghanistan until September 11, political observers expect regional players like Iran and Turkey in cooperation with other powers like China and Russia will fill the vacuum left by the U.S. in the country.

Many have slammed Biden for his irresponsible move to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan in such a tough time, which led to a lightning downfall of the Afghan government.  

“In a word, we believe that Iran, Turkey, and Pakistan should make a concerted effort to put forward a strong initiative and road map for a permanent solution in Afghanistan,” Bekin suggests.

Following is the text of the interview:

Q:  How do you describe U.S.-Turkey relations under the Biden administration? The U.S. Congress has called for condemning Turkey's behavior on the Cyprus issue, stressing that Ankara has not acted as an ally of the United States for a while.

A: Turkey's geopolitical position and its access to Eurasia constitute the main dynamics of U.S. and Turkish strategic alliance within the framework of NATO. For this reason, the United States has been trying to see Turkey as a lever in its foreign policy which is based on the unilateral will and surrenderist approach in the geopolitical geography of the Middle East (West Asia) and Eurasia since the reign of U.S. President Truman.

Despite large-scale confidence between Turkey and the United States, Ankara's decision to purchase the Russian S-400 in order to fortify its defense system has caused tension in U.S.-Turkey bilateral relationship. The United States is trying to force Turkey to back down on the S-400 by using the F-35 leverage and introducing CAATSA sanctions.

The U.S. Congress has declared Turkey should be condemned, stating that Ankara has not acted as an ally of the United States recently and that Turkey has not adopted the current Cyprus policy. However, the United States publicly supported the policies of Cyprus and Greece in the Eastern Mediterranean. To put it this way, when Turkey tries to implement its own national policies in the Eastern Mediterranean and Cyprus, this situation does not align with U.S. policy, so this time the negative policies of the United States start to come up.

The isolationist and divisive policies that the United States is following against Turkey have entered a new stage since Biden took office in a way that is very different in a difficult period of time.

As the long-running invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan has become more military and politically frayed, U.S. President Joe Biden is eyeing the great potential in the Asia-Pacific, just as he did under Obama.

The United States, which cannot fully trust in Turkey as a NATO ally, especially in the Middle East (West Asia) and Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa policies, tries to take different steps in this regard, by providing great support for the monarchies in the (Persian) Gulf in order to guarantee its own interests and Israel's security in this region.

Americans are keen to put rulers in power who can work closely with them and so as to protect their interests. In this regard, we can put forward some examples that are blindingly obvious including Sudan, Tunisia, Yemen, etc. 

For this reason, Cyprus, which is located at the most strategic point of the Eastern Mediterranean, has a similar situation. The United States, which strives for 'United Cyprus', is in a great political divergence with Turkey on this issue. Rich hydrocarbon reservoirs in the Eastern Mediterranean also can be a drive for the United States to meddle in this region.

Q: What is Turkey's policy when it comes to Afghanistan? How would Ankara deal with the Taliban?

A: As for Afghanistan, the United States will withdraw its military forces from Afghanistan entirely by 9/11, while it is intent on protecting its interests in the most strategic point: Hamid Karzai Airport in Kabul. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Biden met at the recent NATO summit in the headquarters of NATO in Brussels and agreed to ensure the security of Kabul Airport.

The Taliban then stated that Turkey had come to Afghanistan with NATO and should leave Afghanistan together with NATO, and explained that if Turkey had been forced to protect Kabul Airport, they would treat Turkey as an 'occupying force'. It is a grave development that the United States is trying to leave Turkey here in order to protect its own interests after withdrawing its forces from Afghanistan.

What Turkey should do here is not to be a party to the problem, but to be a party to the solution. To put it this way, holding the 'Istanbul Summit, which will bring all parties together, may be a solution-oriented approach. In this regard, Pakistan, Iran and Turkey, which are the D-8 member states, have great duties in solving the Afghanistan problem. If these three countries could come together to solve the Afghanistan problem and bring all sides together, it would be possible to solve the Afghanistan problem, which has been facing gangrene for many years. In a word, we believe that Iran, Turkey, and Pakistan should make a concerted effort to put forward a strong initiative and road map for a permanent solution in Afghanistan.

Q: Palestine is the most important issue of Muslim nations, particularly Arabs. How do you evaluate Turkey's policies in this regard? Is Turkey planning to approach Israel again?

A: The issue of Palestine is a common problem for all Muslims. For the first time, all Palestinians have acted together to show solidarity in the face of the aggressive policies of the occupying Israel against Jerusalem, Masjid al-Aqsa, al-Jarrah neighborhood and Gaza. All Islamic nations, except the (Persian) Gulf states, which have good relations with Israel, have been in great solidarity. It has pushed Israel to back down, especially as a result of demonstrations in the West and throughout the world. Turkey's relations with Israel are generally dependent on ups and downs with the United States. It is not acceptable for President Erdogan to have a phone conversation with Israeli President Yitzhak Hertzog for more than 40 minutes and to stress that Middle East (West Asian) peace is possible with Israel.

President Erdogan’s policy of rapprochement with Israel in order to get close to Biden will not contribute to restoring the rights of Palestinians, but it is an unacceptable step to further strengthen Israel's hand. Such moves and policies are neither acceptable nor efficient.

Q:  Is there any desire in Ankara to form a regional deterrence to confront U.S. influence and meddling in West Asia?

A: As we have always stated, the ability to put forward a lasting solution in the Middle East (West Asia) can greatly reduce U.S. power and influence in this region. In this regard, close rapprochement and cooperation between Islamic countries is a must.

It seems unlikely when Ankara is trying to establish more cozy relations with the U.S. administration headed by Biden.

 There is no way to solve the problems in the Middle East (West Asia) while it is pursuing a policy of rapprochement with the United States and Israel. The current government is trying to strengthen its relations with the United States in order to win Biden's support in the upcoming elections.

Therefore, in the short term, we consider such a formation in the Middle East (West Asia) as a remote possibility.

It is also a fact that peace and stability in the Middle East (West Asia) are unlikely without the contribution of strong countries of the region. It is now inevitable to come together by learning great lessons from the examples of Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iraq.
Q: How do you assess Iran-Turkey's ties? What are the main challenges and opportunities in this regard?

A: Turkey and Iran are the two strong elements of the Middle East (West Asia) that have managed to survive and consolidate their positions despite all external efforts to undermine them. From time to time, Turkey is far from being able to establish full-faith relations with Iran in the context of its relations with the United States and NATO. The Turkish government under the reign of the former Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan had a vision and mission that can truly demonstrate the will and read the stability and future of the region very well. If Necmettin Erbakan's approach towards Iran is followed, relations between Iran and Turkey can be strengthened.

The Turkey-Iran rapprochement will not only be limited to relations between the two countries but also by giving great synergies to other countries in the region, can reshape the Middle East (West Asia). In this regard, the late Prime Minister Dr.  Necmettin Erbakan and Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani’s close relations in many aspects may actually be possible with Iran's newly elected President Ibrahim Raisi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The biggest obstacle in this regard can be the U.S.-Turkey rapprochement; however, President Erdogan thinks just like Prime Minister Dr. Necmettin Erbakan; we expect him to take strong initiative and take concrete steps to improve relations. We are trying to underline that the trust and stability of the Middle East (West Asia) are possible not with the United States and Israel, but with the Turkey-Iran rapprochement, it is extremely necessary to take the most important steps in this regard.

Q: What lessons can be learned from Turkey's forest fires?

A: We can state that the fires in Turkey are aimed at destabilizing Turkey. It's not a coincidence that fires broke out simultaneously at different points. Unlike the Western world, which remains silent on this issue, it makes great sense that friendly and sister countries, especially Iran, Azerbaijan, and Russia, are rushing to help with planes and helicopters to fight the fire in Turkey.

These and similar moves to destabilize Turkey will be scrapped as in the past. Likewise, it cannot be coincidental that similar steps have been taken from time to time to destabilize Iran. It is a fact that strong Turkey and strong Iran are not accepted by the West and it is possible to see that big moves are being made today as they were in the past in order to destabilize these countries. We would like to emphasize once again that the solidarity of both countries is inevitable for the stability of the region.



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