Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan must be pleased with the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan after his government helped secure Turkish jihadists who were trained and fought in Afghanistan and enlisted them in new jihadist ventures in Syria and elsewhere in cooperation with Turkish intelligence agency MIT.
It's no wonder the Taliban announced it would view Turkey as an ally rather than an enemy after taking over Kabul and cementing control of the entire country. It appears the Taliban heard loud and clear the message of President Erdoğan, who said he shares the Taliban's ideology.
Speaking on July 20 Erdoğan said his government would negotiate with the Taliban, whom he said should feel comfortable talking with Turkey, as opposed to the Americans. He justified his reasoning by underlining that "Turkey has nothing against the Taliban's ideology, and since we aren't in conflict with the Taliban's beliefs, I believe we can better discuss and agree with them on issues."
The day before he made these scandalous remarks, Erdoğan announced that Turkey had plans for Afghanistan in the Taliban era and added that "the Taliban knows very well the position of the Turkish government."
The Taliban responded to Erdoğan's calls, with Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, the son of Taliban founder Mullah Omar, telling The Independent Turkish service that they see Turkey as an ally and want to build close relations with it.
President Erdoğan had already sent top officials to the Taliban in a bid to strike an agreement before the Taliban took the control of the country and signaled that he was willing to work with them. Appearing for an interview on a Turkish network on August 11, 2021, he said: "Our relevant institutions [meaning Turkish intelligence and others] have been working on [Afghanistan] including holding some meetings. Maybe I can even host the Taliban leader."
It's not just the words uttered by Erdoğan that give confidence to the Taliban and other jihadists, but also actions by the Erdoğan government over the years which reinforce the assessment that his Islamist government would help spread the jihadist message around the world, albeit in a sophisticated and clandestine manner. ...
Obviously there are a lot of questions as to how well President Erdoğan and his associates will succeed in fulfilling their pan-Islamist dreams given their limited capabilities amid the economic and financial woes the Islamist government faces in Turkey. The examples of Libya and Syria inform us that Erdoğan will push it to the limit and will not let go of pursuing his dream.
Even if Turkey and its allies Qatar and Pakistan have a hard time selling the Taliban's renewed rule as a success, they will certainly unleash a new wave of jihadist enthusiasts across the globe. The renewed vigor is already being felt in the Turkish streets, where some were cheering the Taliban's victory as well the Islamist militant rule in Syria's Idlib region.
Abdullah Bozkurt, a Middle East Forum Writing Fellow, is a Swedish-based investigative journalist and analyst who runs the Nordic Research and Monitoring Network and is chairman of the Stockholm Center for Freedom.