Abstract

One of the most critical foreign policy issues for Turkey in 2009 and 2010 was the US expectation that Turkey would contribute more troops to Afghanistan within the framework of the AfPak Strategy. The US requested Turkey to send troops to combat missions in Afghanistan and expand the mandate of the Kabul Central Command southward to an area where conflicts had intensified. In effect, Turkey was asked to review its policy of not taking part in armed conflicts in Afghanistan. As a response to American requests, Turkey increased its diplomatic efforts to establish peace and stability in the region in 2009 and 2010, including tripartite summits between the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan. This article examines Turkish foreign policy towards Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010 in light of basic principles formulated within the general framework of its initial reactions since 2001: supporting international cooperation, not taking part in armed conflicts, protecting civilians and acting in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions.

Key Words

Turkey, Afghanistan, AfPak Strategy, ISAF, American Operation.

Introduction

The Afghanistan crisis, which has been one of the turning points of the international system of the post-Cold War era, has played a very significant role in identifying newly-emerging perceptions of security, threat and interest in Turkish foreign policy. Since Turkey is a country located in a geographical position adjacent to the areas of conflict in the post-Cold War era, its historical and cultural ties have made it an important player in these conflicts. However, since Turkey mostly took part in international peacekeeping activities rather than political and diplomatic processes in the beginning of the post-Cold War era, Ankara is considered to be a significant military actor in regional politics. From this perspective, the immediate reaction of Turkey just after American operations in Afghanistan constituted an answer to this question: Will Turkey remain a country which is seen as an important player only in terms of its military potential and capacities?

After the attacks of September 11, almost all states concentrated mainly on the question of how they would respond to the new international atmosphere rather than the question of who was behind these attacks. The answer to this question was more important for Turkey than for any other state. Turkey became a very significant actor in the post- September 11 international atmosphere, because of the following factors: Turkey was the only Muslim country in NATO; Ankara’s long-term experience in fighting terrorism; and the possible demand of the US to use Turkey’s air space and the Incirlik air base.

The September 11 attacks and the American operation in Afghanistan that started on 7 October 2001 shaped the formulation of the basic principles of Turkish foreign policy towards Afghanistan. In this article, Turkish foreign policy towards Afghanistan between 2009 and 2010 will be evaluated in light of Turkey’s initial reactions to and policies towards the new international atmosphere in 2001.