Today is Giving Tuesday. Support independent journalism by making a regular contribution to The New Humanitarian.

  1. Home
  2. Asia
  3. Afghanistan

Turkey agrees to take ISAF command

[Afghanistan] ISAF patrol.
Security remains a major concern in Kabul (IRIN)

The Turkish government has formally announced its decision to assume command of Afghanistan's International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF). The UN-mandated peacekeeping force is a critical component of international efforts to assist the beleaguered country on the road to peace and reconstruction.

"The government has officially agreed to take over the ISAF command," foreign ministry spokesman, Huseyin Dirioz told IRIN from the Turkish capital Ankara on Wednesday. "The date of the takeover is now being discussed with our partner countries," he explained.

His comments follow a cabinet statement on Monday stating Turkey would assume command of the 5,000-strong force from Britain for six months. While no exact handover date was given, according to a communiqué issued afterwards, this would be established after further negotiations with the United Nations and representatives of countries making up ISAF.

However, according to the Turkish daily Milliyet on Tuesday, Turkish Major-General Akin Zorlu was set to take command of the force on 22 June and during the months of May and June, Turkey would increase its current contingent of 267 men to 1,300. If there was no extension, Turkey would lead the force until 22 December 2002, it maintained.

Monday's decision comes after months of negotiations over whether Ankara would assume command of the international peacekeeping force based in the Afghan capital Kabul or not. On 31 March, Turkey's National Security Council gave its approval for the assumption of the ISAF command, provided that Turkey's requirements were met in full. These included ensuring that funding was provided to meet the cost of commanding the force, and that there would be no expansion of ISAF from its present operational zone: a 32 km radius around Kabul.

While most assurances, particularly financial, have been given, some technical issues were still under discussion. Ankara wants a commitment from the US to provide transport and logistical support to the Turkish contingent and for the British to leave some of their communications facilities in place before it hands over command.

While Turkish soldiers have participated in peacekeeping operations in the Balkans and Somalia, this will be the first time its military leadership has agreed to take full command of a multinational force. The only Muslim nation in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) - an alliance of 19 nations committed to each other's defence - Turkey enjoys strong historical ties with Afghanistan, putting it in a strong position to assume the leadership of ISAF.


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

Share this article
Join the discussion

Dear Reader,

Today is Giving Tuesday, a day of global giving back to the causes you care about. It’s a day when people around the world will be doing something to support the good causes they care about. As a reader of The New Humanitarian, we know that you care about quality journalism from the heart of crises. 

We broke so many important stories this year. But our work isn’t done. As we compile our annual Ten Crises and Trends to Watch list for 2022, we can see that there’s never been a greater need for independent journalism covering crises. 

We’ll be there, on the ground, reporting on issues like the economic fallout from the pandemic, youth unemployment and radicalisation, locally led peace efforts, and much more. It’s vital that we continue with our mission of putting quality, independent journalism at the service of the millions of people affected by humanitarian crises around the world.

But this work is expensive. Investigations can cost thousands of dollars. We can’t do what we do without the financial support of our donors and readers like you. This December, we’ll be launching a fundraising campaign so we can end the year in the strongest possible position, ready for 2022. You’ll hear about the campaign over email and on social media. 

But you can get in early and show your support today, on Giving Tuesday, by making a regular contribution to our work and becoming a member of The New Humanitarian

Please donate what you can.

Thank you.

Become a member of The New Humanitarian

Support our journalism and become more involved in our community. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide.

Join