Taliban say it perceives Turkey as an ally, want to build close ties

A Taliban official has told The Independent's Turkish service that the militant group perceives Turkey as an ally and not an enemy. "Turkey is a country that we want to build close relations with," Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob said.

A Taliban militant looks on as he stands at the city of Ghazni, Afghanistan August 14, 2021.

Duvar English 

The Taliban has said that the militant group doesn't perceive Turkey as an enemy, but as an ally instead. 

Speaking to The Independent's Turkish service, Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, the son of Taliban founder Mullah Omar, said that they want to build close relations with Turkey. 

Yaqoob also said that the militants expect President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to be respectful towards them.

"Turkey is a country that houses many Afghans and that we want to build close relations with. We perceive Turkey as an ally and not an enemy," he said on Aug. 15. 

Yaqoob oversees the group's military operations. He was proposed as the overall leader of the movement during various succession tussles, but he put forward Akhundzada in 2016 because he felt he lacked battlefield experience and was too young, according to a Taliban commander. 

Yaqoob is believed to be in his early 30s.

Turkey on Aug. 15 urged its citizens in Afghanistan to contact the Turkish Embassy urgently if they want to leave the country, as the Taliban entered Kabul.

The embassy's call came amid the Taliban's rapid advance in Afghanistan. Erdoğan said on Aug. 11 that he could meet with the leader of the Taliban as part of efforts to end the fighting in Afghanistan.

Turkey has offered to deploy troops at Kabul airport after NATO withdraws and has held talks with the United States for weeks. Erdoğan has asked it to meet financial, logistical and diplomatic conditions.

The Taliban have warned Turkey against keeping troops in Afghanistan to guard the airport but Ankara has maintained its stance.