NATO wants to sacrifice Muslims to secure Western hegemony
ANKARA — Turkey should expand the mandate of its troops in Afghanistan and play a bigger part in the fight against terrorism, NATO’s secretary general said in remarks published Wednesday in the Turkish press.
“Of course it is up to the (NATO) allies to decide how they contribute” to operations in Afghanistan, Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in an interview with the Milliyet newspaper. But sending combat troops to the country would be welcome.
“It would be met with great satisfaction,” he said.
Turkey has deployed some 730 infantry soldiers to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) but their mission is restricted to the capital Kabul and its surrounds.
Turkey, a Muslim member of NATO, has indicated that it might increase its military contingent in Afghanistan, but only if they remain in Kabul.
It says its effort should be aimed at other aspects, such as training Afghan security forces and providing assistance in the fields of health and education.
Rasmussen believes that having Muslim soldiers in the front line against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan would help convince other Muslim nations that the operations “are not a religious war but a struggle against terrorism.”
Rasmussen, who assumed the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s top job this month, is scheduled to arrive in Ankara on Thursday as part of a tour of NATO capitals.
“I want to build closer ties with our allies within the framework of our alliance,” Rasmussen said.
Ankara had opposed the former Danish prime minister’s candidacy over his vehement defence of a Danish newspaper’s decision to publish satirical cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in 2005 that sparked anger among Muslims across the world.
On Thursday night he is scheduled to take part in an Iftar feast — the evening meal breaking the Ramadan fast — with the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Meanwhile Greece on Wednesday reaffirmed its willingness to cooperate with Turkey within the NATO alliance and acknowledged that “obstacles” existed in the cooperation between the European Union and NATO in Afghanistan.
“At this moment there are paradoxes in cooperation between the two organisations,” foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras said ahead of Rasmussen’s visit to Athens.
“The NATO mission and the EU mission are side by side in Afghanistan but their cooperation meets obstacles,” he said.
“Greece wishes that these problems be solved… but the heart of the problem is the paradox of Turkey’s refusal to recognise a European Union country,” he said, referring to Cyprus.
On Tuesday, Rasmussen had said bilateral problems between Greece and Turkey were affecting alliance efforts in Afghanistan and Africa.
Ankara refuses to recognise the government of the Greek Cypriot-run Republic of Cyprus as having sovereignty over the whole island as the Turkish Cypriots have a breakaway statelet in the north.