OPINION

The return of the Taliban, and Greece’s support to Turkey

the-return-of-the-taliban-and-greece-s-support-to-turkey

A defeat for the West, concerns for the future in a difficult region where there are countries that already have or seek to acquire nuclear weapons, questions about the role that Turkey might aim for and concerns about increased refugee flows to Greece are some of the many parts of the dramatic puzzle developing after the total and unexpected swift return of the Taliban to power in Afghanistan which is changing the geopolitical landscape.

Embarrassed, the United States and Europe are watching the complete collapse of the previous regime and the escape of the president to Tajikistan, while they are reasonably concerned about Kabul’s relations under the Taliban, with Moscow and Beijing.

There are many questions left unanswered. Among them, whether the Taliban will seek international legitimacy and acceptance by the West, whether their return to power also signals the strengthening of al Qaeda, whether there will be a mass exodus of refugees, among whom it is almost certain that there will be terrorist elements, and of course whether and to what extent new power balances will be formed in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East.

According to the United Nations, al Qaeda has a presence in at least 15 Afghan provinces, and, despite the Taliban’s initial agreement with the United States not to allow the training and operation of “terrorists, including al Qaeda, who would threaten the security of the US and their allies,” it is not at all certain that they will want to or be able to keep it.

As far as Greece is concerned, Athens should play a leading role in the context of Brussels’ reaction, at a point in time where the EU seems rather surprised and unprepared.

Greece also has every reason to encourage offering substantial albeit targeted support to neighboring Turkey for the immediate and effective response to a possible wave of refugees, part of which will inevitably pass into Greek territory.

Athens’ positive stance on a major issue that will be of great concern to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the immediate future can only positively affect bilateral relations.

It is certain that host countries such as Greece will be affected by an expected wave of increased migration, while the strengthening of extremist Islam in the wider region requires the timely planning by our country at the political, diplomatic and operational level.