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    Few shocks for the Cyprus issue

    A new state of affairs is created by the disorderly (even predetermined) decision of the Americans to withdraw from Afghanistan. The side effects are expected to be enough and arise either from the very events of the military withdrawal, or as a result of the affected American selfishness. Inevitably some of the developments will also affect our own region, but certainly not in the way it was presented in the first hours after kabul’s surrender to the Taliban.

    It is completely unfounded and unreal reality to talk about negative or other side effects on the Cyprus issue due to developments in Afghanistan. First of all, issues such as Afghanistan had little or no influence on the Cyprus issue and this has been confirmed many times through the course of events. Nor, of course, was there any illusion that the Cyprus issue has risen so high on the international political agenda and now, due to Afghanistan, it will fall low.

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    That is why it is too early to draw any conclusions about how Cyprus in particular or the wider region of the Eastern Mediterranean will be affected by developments in distant Afghanistan. What seems to make clear with regard to the area in which Cyprus is located, the Eastern Mediterranean, is that the Americans do not intend to move away. This is the message they have given from the outset in talks that have taken place with various government officials in the region.

    US President Joe Biden’s invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to go to Washington sends a specific message. As well as the Invitation of the Egyptian President to the Prime Minister of Israel to visit Cairo. These are moves that send a first signal that the U.S. has no intention of ceding strategic space to this region.

    In the coming period, and especially in September in New York, the Cypriot government will attempt through a series of contacts to record this new state of affairs that is being created and to see if these events affect and to what extent Cyprus. At the same time, the upcoming trilateral and multilateral meetings in which Cyprus participates are a good opportunity to record the new international environment.

    With regard to the decisions on Afghanistan:

    1. For the Americans, Afghanistan has long been a lost cause and that is why the decision to withdraw permanently has been taken since the time of Barack Obama. Under Donald Trump, the date came in and Joe Biden came to implement it. He chose to proceed at the beginning of his term of office, so that in time any shocks could be absorbed.

    2. In the 20 years of American presence in Afghanistan, things have hardly changed, which proves for the umpteenth time the problem that exists in Washington for proper analysis of data in various regions of the world, especially in parts of the Middle East, Central Asia and North Africa.

    3. The vacuum created by the US withdrawal affects the countries of Central Asia and those bordering Afghanistan the most. How to fill this gap is a question mark that cannot be answered so early.

    For Moscow and Beijing, the American straiter in Afghanistan is the best for their own strategic plans. But they know that defeating the Americans does not mean their own victory. On the contrary, with the prevalence of the Taliban in Afghanistan, issues concerning both Russia and China may arise in the process. The Chinese side in particular has a lot to worry about the Uyghur issue. But the fact that Russia is rushing to upgrade its relations with Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan has its own significance and shows that developments are not as easy as they may seem for Moscow.

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    The Turkey factor

    Our region may be influenced more by Turkey’s actions than by the Americans. Without this again having, today, any impact on the Cyprus issue. Perhaps in the past such events are an opportunity for Ankara to gain benefits on the Cyprus issue. Today, however, there is no such direct link mainly due to Ankara’s choices in relation to regional and international issues.

    What Turkey is trying to do is to maintain its influence in Afghanistan. Ankara in particular wanted to maintain its presence in Afghanistan by undertaking the provision of security at Kabul airport. An issue that Recep Tayyip Erdogan had discussed with Joe Biden during their meeting on the sidelines of the NATO summit last month. Talks between the two sides continued until last week.

    In Ankara, the Erdogan government and pro-government media were talking about turkey’s new strategic role in Afghanistan, taking over the security of Kabul airport. However, the reality was not as Ankara presented it, because all this time the Taliban have been strongly opposed to Erdogan’s plans for Kabul airport.

    From the very first moment of their victory, the Taliban had sent the message that they would not accept the stay of foreign troops in their country. And the message was not just about the Americans or the British. It was also about Turkey, even if it was one of their interlocutors. The Taliban warned, in connection with the control of Kabul airport, that the troops staying there would be seen as an “occupying force” and treated as invaders.

    And not unrelated to this reaction, Turkey appears to be the country that has very good relations with all the parties involved, including the Taliban, and at the same time signaled that it does not intend to engage in fighting. The three countries with which the Taliban have held talks and been cooperating in recent years were Pakistan, Qatar and Turkey.

    Ankara, realizing that militarily cannot play a role, is trying to promote itself in filling the gap left by the AMERICAN withdrawal. According to a recent report in the Turkish Daily Sabah “Turkey wants to contribute diplomatically to the prevention of civil war after the US withdrawal”, as well as “wants to become a credible mediator and a stabilising force” in Central Asia. As noted in this publication, “if Turkey seeks to play an active role in Central Asian policy it must be part of the balance in Afghanistan.” With interventions in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh presented as positive signs of writing this role that Turkey can play.

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    Other factors that will play a role

    Pakistan is a country that has either secretly or overtly supported the Taliban over the years. Although an ally of the Americans, Pakistan proved to be a refuge for the al-Qaeda leadership. Until now it can be said that the US has given away enough to Pakistan, but after the straits in Afghanistan it is not excluded that Washington will bring out another character in relations with Islamabad.

    Saudi Arabia is one of the countries that feels safe with the presence of the Americans in the region. And it is one of the countries that will not feel so comfortable if American sovereignty in the region is further undermined, even though the Saudis have always had their own ties to the Taliban.

    Beyond that, there are the moderate allies of the UNITED States, such as Egypt and Jordan, who, depending on the turn that developments take, may be affected. Contacts between Egypt and Israel at this time are not considered irrelevant to the situation in Afghanistan.

    THE EU is trembling at a new wave of refugees

    Turkey was able to make the most of Syrian refugees in Europeans Countries, who, starting with Germany, were ready to pay as much as Erdogan could agree to keep all those millions on Turkish soil.

    The situation in Afghanistan will inevitably create a huge new wave of refugees moving westwards. These waves of refugees seem to frighten not only Europeans but also Turkey itself. Projects aimed at halting refugee flows from Afghanistan to Turkish territory have already begun.

    These actions are a corollary of the internal reaction in Turkey in relation to refugees from Syria. The events in Ankara a few days ago with the attacks on Syrian refugees are a sign of the climate within Turkey. And the Erdogan government knows full well that things will be derailed if Afghans start to be added to the more than three million refugees from Syria.

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    Wanting to dispel the impressions in relation to the refugees, the Turkish government had leaked earlier last week information about an agreement with the US. A piece of information that the US Embassy in Ankara was quick to disprove by tweeting it. The U.S. embassy rejected the existence of an agreement between Biden and Erdogan on Afghan migrants and refugees.

    The idea of new migration flows also trembles at the European Union, which is why Josep Borrell after the extraordinary Foreign Affairs Council said that “the EU will support Afghanistan’s neighbours in dealing with consequences expected of an increasing flow of refugees and migrants”.

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