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07/22/2021 Turkey (International Christian Concern) –  Turkish President Erdogan is looking to extend the country’s level of influence and ideology yet again, this time turning his attention to Afghanistan. As the United States plans for its September withdrawal, Turkey is placing itself as a key player in the country, including by taking over the security of Kabul Airport. Despite the Taliban’s threats to Turkey to not carry through with its plan, Erdogan said, “as the Taliban held some talks with the US, it should hold these talks with Turkey much more comfortably. Because Turkey has nothing that contradicts their beliefs.”

Erdogan, claiming to not have any issues with the Islamic extremist group’s beliefs, commented during an interview in North Cyprus. North Cyprus is one of the many places in Turkey’s tumultuous past where the country invaded and cleansed the area of the local Christian population. Greek Christians, once the majority, now rarely live in North Cyprus as Turks have populated the area.

Turkey also is reportedly in the process of recruiting Syrian mercenaries for deployment to Afghanistan in order to minimize their own casualty number and create a degree of separation between Turkey at home and Turkey’s actions on the ground. Erdogan has previously utilized Syrian mercenaries in Nagorno-Karabakh (Armenian: Artsakh) with Azerbaijan and in Libya. An initial round of 2,000 Syrian mercenaries is reportedly being finalized in talks with Turkish-backed Syrian factions.

Turkey’s Interior Minister recently traveled to Afrin, Syria, a place known for Turkish-funded extremists with ties to major terrorist groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda. Mercenaries employed for the Nagorno-Karabakh War were drawn from this area and the city has become a symbol of Turkish genocide and religious freedom abuses. Turkey’s cultivation of mercenaries and ideology from that region and plan to export it to Afghanistan is cause for significant concern for human rights and religious freedoms. It validates the local ideology in Afrin, further contributing to local religious freedom abuses and genocide while exporting it abroad to a country already riddle with extremist issues. Afghani Christians, already fearful of their fate with the U.S. withdrawal, may again face new and emboldened extremist ideology. As the Taliban has expanded its domain, an increased number of refugees are running from Afghanistan to Turkey through Iran.

For interviews, please contact Addison Parker: [email protected].