ISTANBUL BLOG: Nato training for Afghans in Turkey gives off a “Syria” odour

ISTANBUL BLOG: Nato training for Afghans in Turkey gives off a “Syria” odour
The Taliban are painting Afghanistan green faster than many observers thought possible.
By Akin Nazli in Belgrade August 14, 2021

Nato has launched a military training program for soldiers from Afghanistan in Turkey, Daily Sabah reported on July 29, citing “information from Ankara”.

On July 28, Afghan soldiers, members of the so-called “Afghan Special Forces”, were flown to Turkey for the program.

There is no official statement on how many came to Turkey for training, or on where and for how long they will receive the training in question. Thus, this situation has a bad odour, just like with the “Syria case”.

Turkey is still full of jihadists from all over the world thanks to a Barack Obama scheme dubbed the “Syrian Train and Equip Program.” One of many misunderstandings about this program was that it was thought to include lots of Syrians.

The initiative described as a Nato training program for Afghans in Turkey is the organisation’s first such military training program abroad since the two-decades-long Nato training mission in Afghanistan ceased in mid-July.

Don’t get confused at the mention of “special forces”. This does not refer to anything like modern troops. The recruits involved are mainly Afghan citizens who’ve been fighting under various “brands” but with none-too-special conditions. Now, there is talk that Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will carry his international jihadists to Afghanistan, just as he placed them in Syria, Nagorno-Karabakh and Libya.

War and heroin

Since 1979, the only industries in Afghanistan have been war and heroin. The heroin finances the war.

An unnamed Nato spokesperson in Brussels confirmed the launch of the training program for Afghan soldiers to Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA), but did not comment on the location.

“In addition to continued funding and a diplomatic presence, Nato’s continued support to Afghanistan includes out-of-country training for Afghan special forces. This training has now begun,” he has said.

These soldiers are supposed to fight against the Taliban. The Taliban, let’s note, is not a mono-block organisation. It is composed of many jihadist groups. And, as the world watches on, they are fighting against the so-called government in Afghanistan, threatening to seize Kabul at breakneck speed.

The Taliban were formed in the early 1990s by Afghan “mujahideen,” or Islamic “guerrilla” fighters, who resisted the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan (1979–89) with the “covert” backing of the CIA and its Pakistani counterpart, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI), according to the US Council on Foreign Relations.

“Mujahideen” or “guerrillas” turned into “terrorists” in 2001 under the Al-Qaeda brand. Then they became “rebels” in Syria in 2011. Then, they became “Islamic State.” They are hard to pin down, it seems.

In Syria as things stand, some are “terrorists” and some are “rebels.” However, the designations are constantly morphing and remorphing. It takes a big talent to keep on top of matters. For vertebrates, it is in fact impossible as the spine limits the ability to move in the required fashion.

The US recently signed a deal with the Taliban. Now it is training some other Afghans to fight the Taliban.

Everything, naturally, is done in the cause of democracy and human rights and national interests. The national interests always change because it is too complicated to always maximise the well-being of the dear taxpayers in the apparent true “democracies”.

Succession of drills

Currently, Afghanistan’s northern neighbours, three of the Stans—namely Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan—are going through a succession of military drills, while receiving aid from Russia, the US and China.

Everyone, we hear, only wants to secure democracy in Afghanistan and further afield in Central Asia (where there are some very peculiar ideas of democracy indeed). Newly named groups, using some of the same “mujahideen”, are on the way.

Afghanistan is set to bring Central Asia into focus as a new region of action. It is supposed to replace the Middle East and North Africa of the last decade that grew out of the Arab Spring of 2010 (though use the word Spring with all due caution, considering the deep-freeze that so many of its adherents were eventually cast into).

Central Asia will also bring China into the spotlight. Some action will also be seen on the Pacific side of China.

Washington’s China problem is very much down to China’s use of de facto slaves. It is not possible to compete with China in manufacturing. Keeping the China problem in the military sphere will only serve China, and China is aware of it.

This is a win-win for China and its cold-eyed deployment of neoliberalism, while the US will continue to slide from its perch as the global hegemon.

Biden and Erdogan

In June, a deal on Turkey’s involvement in the Afghanistan mission was struck between US President Joe Biden and Erdogan in a private meeting during a Nato summit in Brussels.

No one knows what the exact deal was as only two interpreters were present in the room besides the presidents. Erdogan’s interpreter was the kid of one of his long-time servants.

Since the meeting with Biden, life has become that much easier for Erdogan and his regime.

The media coverage of Afghanistan is in the main utter bunk, quoting the garble of politicians or other “public servants” with no handle on the situation, and out of context to boot.

How is it that the key Afghan issues related to Turkey—including the training of Afghans in the country to fight the Taliban, the plan to leave behind Turkish soldiers, as the only foreign force left present in Afghanistan, to guard the Kabul international airport and its surroundings and the plan to direct fleeing Afghan migrants to Turkey—are reported as “normal”?

Rewind and recall how this also happened with the war in Syria. Some private, even unannounced, meetings were held. Then came the graphic coverage of refugees and bloody clashes that dominated Western media.

Democracy was again the sophistic call of the scoundrel. Democracy, we were told was to be employed against Bashar “Alawi” Assad, an “enemy of Islam”.

Half a million corpses

A decade later and where are we. There are half a million corpses, millions of additional crimes against humanity, a bunch of charlatans in Europe called “populists” ranging from Boris Johnson to Viktor Orban, and a war that won’t end…

Back in Afghanistan, the question of how the 500 Turkish soldiers still stationed at Kabul’s main airport are supposed to sustain its security, not to mention keep the surrounding airspace safe for flights, following the withdrawal of US and all other Nato forces, has become rather more urgent. Erdogan has suggested he’s going to have a word with the Taliban, who are busy continuing with their advance on the capital as the US and UK attempt to evacuate their remaining personnel in a hurry.

The Afghans facing a particularly bleak future, or no future, under the Taliban are streaming out of the country as fast as they can, with great numbers arriving in Turkey, where they are adding to an already chaotic situation with migrants and refugees.

The US has in fact been advising Afghans, who served the American forces and are under threat in the new reality, to head for Turkey.

Syria’s population was around 20mn people prior to its war. Some 7mn then left the country, with 3.6mn of them now hosted by Turkey, according to official figures.


The impact on public opinion in Europe by the 1.5mn that made their way to the European continent turned Europe into a “populist” land-of-fools, and we might note here that Europe’s “populists” are suspiciously relaxed about the growing number of migrants and the related social unrest and violence in Turkey. At the end of the day, a fresh wave of migrants will only add to the support for “populists.”

There are, meanwhile, around 0.4mn migrants in Turkey from other countries, including 0.1mn Afghans, if official figures have it right.

But there are “actual figures” in circulation in Turkey that describe a total of 10mn migrants, including 5-6mn Syrians and 1-1.5mn Afghans.

Turkey has an official population of 83mn, and its eastern and southern borders are relatively open. Migrants from Africa and Asia arrive in Turkey to earn some money to pay people traffickers in the hope of making it to Western Europe. However, Turkey’s Western borders are closed and it has, on paper at least, a migrant readmission agreement with the EU.

With the advent of the latest wave of Afghan migrants, tensions against migrants in Turkey are tightening. It is not exactly clear who is fuelling these tensions and how they will evolve. Those blaming the opposition for fanning the flames must be having a laugh. The opposition to Erdogan in Turkey is simply reactive.

On August 11, mobs attacked Syrians who inhabit the Altindag district of Ankara. This was not a natural reaction by the group of people concerned. No ordinary person in such circumstances violently attacks his neighbours without some kind of organised trigger.

Turkey is accustomed to such pogroms. The Turkish state has been the perpetrator behind all of them.

Police in Ankara detained 76 people in connection with the events seen in Altindag. A total of 38 had criminal records, showing offences including looting, wilful injury, theft and possession of drugs. The index of coincidences has lately been on the rise in Turkey.

We could say it would be nice if Afghanistan and the new waves of migrants were Turkey’s only problems and that the tensions in the country were just a natural result of the latter.

However, that is not the case. Natural disasters including wildfires and deadly flooding, a brutal massacre of a provincial family, real hunger impacting countless millions and skirmishes and manoeuvres among the gangs of the Erdogan regime seeking the dwindling fruits of a near-collapsed economy are just some examples when it comes to outlining what’s now wretched day to day life in the country.

Other nations would have already entirely exploded a million times over if they had faced one percent of what has been happening in Turkey. We’ve reached a situation that looks like a laboratory experiment to test what more can be done to make Turkey itself explode.