By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
An author of the U.S.-based Gatestone Institute think-tank warned that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also seeks “to bolster Russia’s and China’s plans for the future of Afghanistan.”
Both nations seek to increase their economic and security footprint in Afghanistan. The Taliban already praised China as its “main partner,” Worthy News reported.
Turkey, a NATO military alliance ally, initially offered Washington to protect Kabul’s airport from enabling evacuations of Americans and other at risk-Afghans.
But it reportedly abandoned that plan when the Islamist Taliban group was about to overrun the Afghan capital.
The controversy comes as footage re-emerged purportedly showing a younger Erdogan with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a notorious Afghan warlord leader of the Islamic Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin political party.
That photo was allegedly taken during an event in which Erdogan hosted Hekmatyar in Istanbul in 1985. Worthy News wasn’t able to independently verify the authenticity of the footage. However, several sources confirmed ties between the two men.
Erdogan-backed Hekmatyar, designated as a terrorist by the United Nations and the U.S., is seen as a potential kingmaker in future Afghan governments.
“The photo is still telling today,” confirmed Burak Bekdil, a well-informed Turkish journalist writing for Gatestone.
He noted that Hekmatyar recently met Hamid Karzai, a former president of Afghanistan, and Abdullah Abdullah, a former presidential candidate, and key government official.
“In short, there is this designated terrorist, Hekmatyar, whose relations with Erdogan date back to 1985. Hekmatyar is now in talks with both the Taliban and Erdogan for the future of Afghanistan,” Bekdil wrote.
He said Erdogan “is in talks with the Taliban and probably trying to figure out where to jump next.”
Bekdil said Erdogan had been “trying to appease the U.S.” after tensions over Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400 missiles by guarding the Kabul airport. “But that plan collapsed after the Taliban advanced into Kabul.”
Erdogan, therefore, lost “a bargaining chip for his future dealings” with President Joe Biden and the United States, Berkil argued.
“Now, due to Erdogan’s long-term anti-Western ideology, he will probably be tempted to seek an alliance with whichever pro-sharia group(s) will, in the near future, be governing Afghanistan.”
That was expected to raise eyebrows among Turkey’s NATO allies in Europe, who fear an influx of Afghans fleeing Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.
Not everyone appreciates Bekdil’s investigative reporting.
He was reportedly fired from a prominent Turkish newspaper after 29 years over his links to Gatestone.
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