In my last post, dated August 2, I said that the increasing number of Afghans crossing into Turkey from Iran leads one to question whether the Kabul subcontract is just about the airport or more.
Later in the day, Secretary Blinken in remarks to the press[i], announced the “US Refugee Admissions Program Priority 2 Designation for Afghan Nationals”[ii], a new resettlement opportunity for Afghans who assisted the US, but do dot qualify for Special Immigrant Visas (SIV).
Turkey’s “offer” to remain at the Kabul airport beyond US and other nations’ withdrawal from Afghanistan has become another controversial foreign policy topic. Like the rest of our foreign and security policy issues, this too has immediately turned into another “riddle, wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma”, to use Winston Churchill’s words referring to Soviet policies in 1939. Because Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (JDP) government keeps the public in the dark about its “intricate” foreign policy schemes.
On February 19, President Biden addressed the global community for the first time. At 2021 Virtual Munich Security Conference he defined the partnership between Europe and the US as the cornerstone of all that the West hopes to accomplish in the 21st century, just as it did in the 20th century. He expressed his strong belief that democracy will and must prevail.
On July 8, 2021, President Biden delivered remarks on the drawdown of US forces in Afghanistan and took some questions. With the words “Afghanistan” and “failure” now glued to one another, and reports from Kabul reflecting nothing but doom and gloom, his was a tough task. Contradictions were unavoidable.
On August 4, 2020, Beirut experienced its own Hiroshima. After the explosion thousands took to the streets in Beirut, once called the “Paris of the Middle East”, to express their anger with Lebanon’s leaders. On August 10, the government resigned.
The BBC reported that Mr. Hassan Diab, who was appointed prime minister in January 2020 after months of deadlock, said his government had “gone to great lengths to lay out a road map to save the country”. But corruption in Lebanon was “bigger than the state” itself, and “a very thick and thorny wall separates us from change; a wall fortified by a class that is resorting to all dirty methods in order to resist and preserve its gains”, he added.
Canal İstanbul, called “a crazy project” by ruling Justice and Development Party (JDP) government remains high on our agenda. We are a divided, polarized nation but not on this issue. The large majority of Turks object to the project because they do not see the logic of it. They object to it because its economic, environmental, foreign and security policy consequences are more than likely to prove disastrous. But the government appears determined to go ahead regardless.
In June 1961, President John F. Kennedy, on his first overseas trip, visited France. At the time France had not withdrawn from NATO’s integrated military command and the Alliance headquarters was still in Paris.
On June 1, 1961, President Kennedy addressed the North Atlantic Council. The following are from his remarks:
In an earlier post, in addressing West’s Turkey conundrum I said:
“On the one hand, most Western governments now regard JDP’s Ankara only a “nominal ally” if not an adversary, but they cannot turn their back on a country which enjoys a geo-strategic location surrounded by three seas and joining Asia and Europe, when tensions with Russia are on the rise. Turkey is a unique window into the Middle East. Sadly, it has also acquired a critical role in Europe’s dealing with its refugee problem…
“Thus, sanctioning Turkey has increasingly became a balancing act between targeting the JDP government and not alienating the Turkish people…”
An open-ended US/NATO military engagement in Afghanistan was never an option. The aim was achieving optimal conditions for withdrawal. On April 14, President Biden announced that US troops as well as forces deployed by America’s NATO Allies and operational partners will be out of Afghanistan before the 20th anniversary of 9/11. The plan he said, had long been “in together, out together.” Have optimal conditions for withdrawal been achieved? No. But it is “out together”, regardless.