Why are we there?

March 22, 2012, Thursday/ 16:58:00/ SEDAT LAÇİNER

Endless discussions have erupted as to why Turkish soldiers continue to fight for the Afghan people at the risk of their lives after the deaths of 12 Turkish soldiers in Afghanistan. First of all, it is not a good time to have these discussions.

Turkish soldiers have been in Afghanistan since Dec. 5, 2001. We are questioning their presence there now, after 10 years. Second, it would not be right to imply that the 12 soldiers died for nothing. It is very saddening for those who have devotedly served. For the most part, Turkish soldiers in Afghanistan do not engage in combat; they train Afghan soldiers. As a matter of fact, more than 12,000 Afghan soldiers have been trained by Turkish soldiers. Moreover, Turkey’s support to Afghanistan is not limited to military support. More than $400 million has been spent on aid in Afghanistan and many Turkish schools are providing education for about 5,000 Afghan students. Finally, if we are not there, organizations like al-Qaeda will take root, which would ultimately constitute a threat to Turkey.