The chaos experienced in Afghanistan has revealed the terrific disorder of the Western system. Afghan citizens are trying to throw themselves into neighboring states via those countries’ land borders, while thousands are crushing each other trying to get on the last evacuation flights to leave the country from the Kabul Airport.
It’s possible to understand this mess. Afghanistan has been taken over by a brutal organization, the Taliban. It shouldn’t surprise us that no one feels secure in the country, and further, it shouldn’t surprise us that they try to escape from this outdated environment, even if security is provided. The most concerning thing about this chaos is the fate of the Afghan citizens who collaborated with, received salaries from, and worked daily with U.S. and NATO allies during the 20-year military intervention – the very military forces the Taliban call “occupiers.” U.S. President Joe Biden has decided to accelerate evacuations from the country in order to quell the American public’s concerns about how people have been devastated by the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Since U.S. military aircrafts weren’t sufficient to evacuate all foreigners and endangered Afghan citizens trying to escape the country, the government reached an agreement with several American civil aviation companies. In addition to military aircraft, 18 commercial airliners will be used for evacuations.
WHERE WILL THEY BE TRANSPORTED?
Although there is somewhat of a system in place to evacuate Afghans working for NAT• or the U.S. government, there is a bigger question. Where will evacuated Afghan citizens be transported?
The UK Secretary of State for Defense Ben Wallace has made the the clearest statement to date regarding this issue. Minister Wallace stated wrote in the Mail on Sunday that refugee centers will be established in countries that neighbor Afghanistan. UK visa and asylum processes for Afghan civilians will take place at these centers, and those whose documentation is approved will be brought to the UK.
Mainstream British broadcasting organizations reported that, referring to statements made by the Secretary of State of Defense, that these processing centers will be established in countries such as Pakistan and Turkey.
U.S. President Joe Biden delivered a similar message. He stated that Afghan citizens evacuated from Afghanistan will not be directly transported to the U.S., but that they will only be accepted into the country after their documents are approved and the asylum process completed.
It seems that before accepting Afghan citizens, the UK and the U.S. will place Afghan citizens in third countries and accept them only after an approval process.
THE OPPOSITION REACTED; THE FOREIGN MINISTRY HAD TO MAKE A STATEMENT
The Turkish opposition reacted harshly to news of the British Secretary’s statement, forcing the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs to make a statement. According to this statement, Secretary Wallace’s claims that processing centers would be established in Turkey is untrue.
However, one must ask who should be believed, since the Turkish government led by the AK Party government has done many things that it said would not do.
Moreover, add to this the fact that Turkey pursues Afghanistan policy without transparency and without making information available to the public or the opposition. The Turkish public still does not understand why the AK Party-led government insists on overseeing the security and operations of the Kabul Airport in the wake of the Taliban takeover. Though the government uses friendship between states and shared religion to explain the cooperation, this statement is far from satisfying to the public.
Given the Afghanistan resolution reached by the NATO mission, agreeing to withdraw all troops from the country, Turkish troops’ presence in Afghanistan after September 1 will be another controversial issue in terms of the Turkish judicial system. (Turkey decided to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan on August 26, two days after this column was written and started the evacuation process.)
WILL REFUGEES BE BROUGHT TO TURKEY THROUGH QATAR?
Given that the political opposition and Turkish citizens reacted angrily to new Afghan migration and the potential transformation of Turkey into a refugee holding-place for Western countries, it will be difficult for the AK Party government to establish a processing center in Turkey for Afghan refugees to be taken to the U.S., the UK, or to the European Union. However, behind closed diplomatic doors, a potential temporary transfer of Afghan refugees to Qatar is being discussed, after which they will be returned to Turkey. Presumably, this would be after the public forgets or after eyes have turned from Afghan border crossings from Iran. In fact, the U.S. and UK aircrafts take off from Kabul and land in Qatar already.
Given AK Party government’s opaque Afghanistan policy, only time will tell whether refugees transported there will quietly be brought back to Turkey or not…