As America withdraws from Afghanistan, ending the 20-year war, the longest-running war in its history – the ‘eternal war’ as it was called – the ghost of the departure of the last U.S. forces from Saigon’s embassy at the end of the Vietnam War seems to be haunting U.S. decisions.
Thus, the top concern of Washington is the security of the staff of its embassy in Kabul, as the Taliban are already gaining one province after another.
The embassy, according to the Associated Press, employs 1,400 Americans among a staff of 4,000. All of them are housed in the secure area of the embassy.
The only way for embassy staff to leave Afghanistan is through Kabul International Airport, which is guarded by U.S. and Turkish troops.
This is a heaven-sent opportunity for the Turkish President to offer a valuable service to America, to be useful in Washington, and in this way to restore, as much as possible, his relations there.
A couple days ago, after the Council of Ministers meeting, the Turkish Minister of Defense announced that he would discuss with his American counterpart a plan according to which Turkey will undertake the operation and protection of the airport after the final withdrawal of American military forces.
What (seems) to remain to be decided is the amount of U.S. financial assistance to Turkey, as well as the sharing of information.
If the conditions set by Turkey are met, which does not seem difficult to do, then Erdogan will take over the airport and thus relieve Biden of a major headache.
The tragic occupation of the U.S. embassy in Saigon by the Vietcong and the extremely humiliating, panicked departure of its staff by helicopter must not, of course, be repeated in Kabul.
And the key, in order for this not to be repeated, is held by Turkey.
I don’t know if this really valuable service that Erdogan is going to offer to Biden is enough to erase all his great ‘sins’ against the United States and Biden in recent years.
Even if it is not enough, it will at least open the door to the White House, and over time, it will help erase many of his old sins – if he does not commit new ones.
The Great Powers have little memory. Yesterday is far away. What counts is the ‘now’.
And now that Turkey is lending a helping hand to the United States on a crucial issue, in closing the great wound of the war in Afghanistan, it will no doubt be duly appreciated.
The question that concerns us is how many concessions after this will Turkey secure?