Turkey Hosts Conference on the Future of Afghanistan
Turkey has succeeded in asserting once again its image as a very important country in the Muslim world, as it hosted as of Tuesday a conference called “Security and Cooperation in the Heart of Asia,” organized in Istanbul with the purpose of providing Afghanistan with solutions for development and security in the post-war era, as the American troops are preparing to drawdown from the country where they have waged war for a decade.
The conference itself will be held on Wednesday but the presidents of Afghanistan and Pakistan, Hamid Karzai and Asif Ali Zardari, met on Tuesday amid tensions between Afghanistan, United States and Pakistan over the implication of Pakistan in the solution of the Afghan crisis.
Though the title of the conference is very demanding, the members of the delegations which are expected to attend downplayed expectations. There are 14 countries expected to attend: Afghanistan, China, India, Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan, and the United Arab Emirates.
Germany, France and other Western countries that are represented in Afghanistan with troops sent envoys to encourage the developments the conference may recommend. Iran is sending a deputy foreign minister.
Afghan deputy foreign minister said that the conference in Istanbul was a great opportunity for his country, and that the well being of Afghanistan is strictly related to the security of the region.
Turkish television NTV said that Afghanistan and Pakistan would sign cooperation agreements in Istanbul, and even agreements on conducting joint military drills.
It is considered however that the aims of Afghanistan would not all be achieved in Turkey. Afghanistan is interested in exchanging information on military spending, on the number of troops deployed at the border, pledge not to violate the Afghan territory, or interference in internal affairs of other sovereign states.
An American diplomat said that Afghanistan needs from its neighbors guarantees that they would respect its sovereignty, that they would endorse a transition to democracy, help Afghanistan find a peaceful solution to their crisis, and help the country develop economy.
As this conference is expected to offer some answer to the problems Afghanistan is confronted with, the situation in the field remains unstable and dominated by violence, as few days ago the Taliban executed a spree of attacks focused on the military targets of the Afghan government, in an attempt to show them how weak they were.
The same situation happened in Iraq, as the American troops were going out, and it seems that in the end the Iraqi security forces managed to contain the situation.
The Taliban however are expected to act like a far more aggressive enemy and to be more resilient to talk and negotiated solutions.
A few weeks ago, US State Secretary Hillary Clinton demanded the Pakistani authorities to get more involved in engaging in battle the terrorist groups in their country. The determination of Pakistan to do that could hang in balance of the future of Afghanistan, as many of the fighters that commit attacks in Afghanistan cross the border with Pakistan.11