U.S. President Barack Obama laid out his new Afghanistan strategy on Tuesday night by ordering an additional 30,000 US forces to the country.
While the majority of the analysis and discussion in Washington has centered on the levels of US forces or the president’s reasoning for it, the president emphasized that the “burden [in Afghanistan] is not ours alone to bear.” Declaring that not only is NATO’s credibility on the line, but that the security of the US and all of its allies are at stake, the president invoked the international consensus on Afghanistan that led to a 43-nation coalition that has operated in the country since the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, to sell his new strategy. Yet the reality is that this international coalition is waning, not surging, and is in desperate need of a regional champion that can serve as a model partner for the US in Afghanistan. Obama’s ideal partner is Turkey.
Consider the facts: Turkey boasts the second largest military in NATO after only the US and the largest in Europe. Turkey has been a close American bilateral and NATO ally for more than 60 years. In addition to being a member of almost every European organization, Turkey is a UN Security Council member, a member of the G-20, has successfully pushed Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu as the secretary-general of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and is one of the few examples of a fully functioning Muslim-majority democracy in the Middle East. On top of all of this, Ankara has close historic ties with Afghanistan that date back to the 1920s when the founder of the modern republic, Atatürk, served as a model for modernization that collapsed only after great power interference in Kabul carved up the country. Often referred to as Afghanistan’s “closest neighbor without borders,” Turkey also shares considerable cultural, ethnic and linguistic links that make it an ideal partner for the US to work with. [continued…]