Turkey on the cusp of several major diplomatic breakthroughs – report

Turkey will likely make a series of major diplomatic breakthroughs in relations with the United States, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt, Zvi Bar’el wrote in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz on Friday. 

Before the Taliban’s swift takeover of Afghanistan in August, the former Afghan government and the United States had agreed that Turkish troops should secure Kabul’s international airport after U.S.-led coalition troops left the country on Aug. 31. Ankara, seeing an opportunity to improve relations with the United States, agreed. Even though Turkish troops have left Afghanistan and the Taliban now fully control Kabul, Turkey still remains “the sole candidate for running and securing the airport”. 

Ankara wants its forces to secure the facility while the Taliban staunchly oppose any such foreign presence. Despite this, Turkey’s close ally Qatar will, Bar’el wrote, “probably persuade the Taliban to give up this demand if it wants to attain international legitimacy, and more importantly, if the group seriously intends to bring in foreign investors to help rebuild the country.” 

He anticipates that Ankara and Doha “may both reap the fruit of their alliance in Afghanistan” since Turkey is now “becoming a welcome ally” in the United States. 

“The American administration, which doesn’t rule out ties with the Taliban, has no official connection to the Afghan militants and will need all the mediation it can get, even if the mediator is Turkey, not to mention its partner Qatar,” Bar’el wrote. 

Ties between Turkey and regional rival the United Arab Emirates have also hugely improved in recent months. On Aug. 31, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and UAE crown prince Mohammed bin Zayed had a “cordial and productive” phone call. 

The UAE’s re-examination of its relationships in the region may have led it to seek rapprochement with Turkey, a NATO member and one of the most powerful states in the region. Whatever the case, this was an impressive breakthrough for Turkey, which Bar’el notes “has wanted to plant a foothold of influence in the Gulf for years but was rudely rejected.” 

The UAE’s renewal of relations with Turkey could also lead to the resumption of diplomatic ties between Ankara and Cairo. 

While Egypt will likely have several preconditions, Bar’el observed that “it appears that Egypt, like the UAE, is about to change its stance, and what has seemed until this year like an unrealistic development will be yet another proof that one must never say never when it comes to foreign policy.”