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How Turkey can help NATO in Afghanistan

Turkey may be one of the few countries that can bring Afghanistan and Pakistan together to sort out their differences.

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At the recent London Conference on Afghanistan, the United States, its NATO allies, and Afghanistan’s regional neighbors agreed to more closely align civilian and military efforts to stabilize that nation so foreign forces can withdraw and local Afghan forces can take over security.

On the civilian side, a new emphasis was placed on the key importance of building up Afghan institutions that can attract the allegiance of those who now stand with the Taliban.

As a historically trusted friend of the Afghan people, Turkey, alone among members of the NATO alliance, has a “soft power” ingredient in its arsenal that is key to winning the hearts and minds of the population.

It is said in Afghanistan that “no Afghan was ever killed by a Turkish bullet” and “no Afghan trained by Turks has ever betrayed his country.”

Turks have aided the Afghan government and its people since the days of Amir Abdur Rahman Khan, the “Iron Amir” who unified the country during his reign from 1880 to 1901 and embarked on a path of modernization. Afghanistan was the second country to recognize modern Turkey in 1921 after the USSR. Modern Turkey was instrumental in establishing the military academy, medical school, Kabul University and its faculty of political sciences, the music conservatory, and the public health service of Afghanistan.

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