“Turkey’s relevant institutions are currently working until we have some talks with the Taliban,” says Turkey’s President Erdogan, as Taliban seizes three more provincial capitals, completing a blitz across the country’s northeast.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he could meet with the leader of the Taliban group in an attempt to help secure peace in Afghanistan.
“The latest developments and the situation of the Afghan public are really, really troubling,” Erdogan said on Wednesday during a televised interview with CNN Turk.
“Maybe even I can be in a position to receive the person who will be their leader,” Erdogan said, after referring to efforts by Turkish officials for talks with the Taliban.
Erdogan last month said Turkey would hold discussions with the Taliban as part of the peace process.
“Why? Because if we do not get a control of things like this at a high level, it won’t be possible to secure peace this time in Afghanistan,” he added.
More cities fall to Taliban
The Taliban seized three more Afghan provincial capitals and a local army headquarters on Wednesday, completing a blitz across the country’s northeast and giving them control of two-thirds of the nation as the US and NATO finalise their withdrawal after decades of war.
The fall of the capitals of Badakhshan, Baghlan and Farah provinces put increasing pressure on the country’s central government to stem the tide of the advance, even as it lost a major base in Kunduz.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani rushed to Balkh province, already surrounded by Taliban-held territory, to seek help from warlords, many linked to allegations of atrocities and corruption, in pushing back the insurgents. He also replaced his army chief of staff.
Turkey currently has troops in Afghanistan as part of a NATO force and has offered to secure the strategic Kabul airport after US forces leave by the end of August.
Discussions continue between Turkish and American officials, and Turkey says it would secure the airport if diplomatic, financial and logistical conditions were met.
Turkish concern over people fleeing Afghanistan
Erdogan said that he earlier spoke with the Qatari leader and they discussed “where can we stop the steps taken by the Taliban and where can we take a step towards peace.”
Turkey fears the ongoing violence could bring a wave of irregular migrants into the country via Iran. Turkey already hosts nearly four million Syrian refugees.
Erdogan stressed that Turkey had the issue under control with walls being built in the country’s east and south.
“Whether at the border with Iran or Iraq, our walls are rising significantly right now. These rising walls are to prevent illegal migration to our country,” he said.
Consequences of US withdrawal
US President Joe Biden ordered the American military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan before September 11, 2021, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attack on the US by Afghanistan-based al Qaeda.
The Taliban fighters have rapidly captured several smaller administrative districts, and are now targeting towns and cities. They have captured nine provincial centres from government forces in six days.
Biden said on Tuesday he did not regret his decision to pull US troops from Afghanistan.
Biden maintained that his plans to exit militarily have not changed despite the group’s battlefield successes, emphasising that Afghanistan’s leaders must come together to “fight for themselves, fight for their nation.”