As the US flees Afghanistan, Turkey’s role post-US defeat is generating widespread discussion in the media.
As reported by numerous media outlets, Ankara is seeking to provide security to key infrastructure in Afghanistan, mainly in Kabul.
Ankara’s “infrastructure” argument does not seem plausible to informed observers.
Western regimes did not build adequate infrastructure over the past 20 years.
Many ordinary observers in the Muslim world are puzzled by Turkey’s eagerness to maintain military presence in a country known as the graveyard of empires.
So, what lies beneath Turkey’s “infrastructure” camouflage?
Ankara’s primary motivation to shoulder a grave geopolitical risk is rooted in the fact that Turkey’s current political leadership views its geopolitical destiny in West Asia and beyond to be tied to the Western established political and military architecture of the region.
Western analysts correctly point out that Ankara’s eagerness to provide a political presence for NATO in Afghanistan post-US withdrawal is rooted in its motivation to win favors from the Joe Biden regime.
For Turkey, Afghanistan is an important geopolitical gateway to the Turkic states of Central Asia.
Turkey views itself as a cultural and political patron to the relatively new independent Turkic states in Central Asia which previously were part of the Soviet Union.
Active military presence in Central Asia is seen by Ankara as geopolitically advantageous and as a natural sphere of influence.
Western regimes also see Turkey’s active potential presence in Central Asia as a pressure point against Russia and China.
Measured Turkish role in Central Asia also suits China and Russia, provided Ankara retains relative independence from Washington when it comes to specifics in Central Asia.
Cooperative Turkey is an asset for Beijing and Moscow, as it will stall separatism in the region driven by Turkic nationalism and counter Saudified takfiri groups in the area.
Thus, overall Turkey is in a win-win situation if it manages to sell itself as a stabilizer to Western regimes and to China and Russia.
It is, however, unlikely that Ankara will be able to maturely balance its NATO controlled agenda and the regional interests of China and Russia.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s policies in Syria, Iraq and inside Turkey in relation to its Kurdish minority proved him to be an opportunist and simple-minded leader.
Thus, it is unlikely that Erdogan will be able to navigate a complex political landscape like the one in Afghanistan.
If Ankara ends up prioritizing strategic interests of NATO, which it so far has been doing, it will not only end up spoiling its important relations with China, Russia and Iran, it will also throw another Muslim region into turmoil as it has done in Syria.