Turkish brigadier general assumes NATO command in Afghanistan

Turkish Brig. Gen. Selçuk Yurtsizoğlu has assumed command of the NATO-led Train, Advise, Assist Command-Capital in Kabul, NATO’s spokesperson Oana Lungescu announced on Wednesday.

“With its 600-strong contingent, Turkey is a vital contributor to the Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan,” she said on her Twitter account.

Turkish presidential adviser Gülnur Aybet also congratulated Yurtsizoğlu on his success, saying that Turkey, with its contributions to peace and stability in Afghanistan since 2002, has won over the hearts of the Afghanis.

Turkey has become one of the leading countries that makes the most contributions to NATO in terms of its mission, operations and joint budgets.

Turkey joined the military alliance of 29 North American and European countries in 1952. The country has also been providing permanent naval assistance to NATO missions in the Aegean Sea while leading regional initiatives, including the Standing NATO Maritime Group’s (SNMG) activities in the Black Sea region.

Turkish Brig. Gen. Selçuk Yurtsizoğlu.
Turkish Brig. Gen. Selçuk Yurtsizoğlu.

Turkey also hosts many NATO initiatives. There is a NATO headquarters in the western Izmir province, an airbase in the southern Adana province, another in Diyarbakır and a NATO Rapid Deployable Corps in Istanbul. It also hosts the AN/TPY-2 radar in the eastern Malatya province as part of the organization’s missile shield project.

As well as this, in 2018 alone, Turkey contributed $101 million (TL 826.33 million) to the common funding of NATO.

Diplomatic ties between Turkey and Afghanistan can be traced back to 1919, the year Afghanistan gained its independence. Turkey then became the first diplomatic representation to be inaugurated in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul. The two countries further strengthened their relationship with the signing of the Turkey-Afghanistan Alliance Agreement on March 1, 1921.

Moreover, Afghanistan became the second country to recognize the Turkish Grand National Assembly (TRNC) during Turkey’s independence war. “As we celebrate the centennial of the establishment of our diplomatic relations, we wish to further develop our cooperation in every aspect in this special year; hope that the ongoing violence in Afghanistan comes to an end and lasting peace and calm will prevail in the country,” the ministry added. Turkey has a fundamental role in Afghanistan’s peacemaking and stability process and it has always been supportive in maintaining peace and tranquility in the region.

In 2020, in the course of their cordial relationship, Turkey pledged to provide $75 million in aid to Afghanistan and it has also acted as a mediator between Afghanistan and Pakistan on terrorism-related issues.