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Turkey and Afghanistan: Culture, Security and Economics

Michael B. Bishku


This is an examination of political, military, economic and cultural relations between Turkey and Afghanistan since 1919. While cultural connections, Turkish security and technical assistance, and bilateral trade have been emphasized throughout this relationship, the closest ties were during the leadership of Turkey’s Kemal Atatürk and the reign of Afghanistan’s King Amanullah when modernization reforms were in vogue in both countries, and more recently since 2002 during the rule of Turkey’s Islam-oriented Justice and Development (AK) Party, which developed an affinity with the leaders of Afghanistan’s Islamic Republic, but kept open connections with the rival Taliban. Both countries included neighboring Iran in their plans for counteracting aggressive moves by the European powers involved in the Middle East, central and south Asia. Since the Second World War, Turkey has been a member of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), while except for the Marxist period (1978–1992), Afghanistan has preferred nonalignment. However, it has been Turkey’s connection with NATO that has facilitated close ties with Afghanistan.

Keywords: Turkey, Afghanistan, Muslim world, foreign relations, security, NATO

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pp. 239–258.