• Wednesday, Jul 28, 2021
  • Last Update : 11:07 pm

Turkey offers to run Kabul airport after Nato's Afghan withdrawal

  • Published at 09:20 pm June 8th, 2021
Kabul Airport
File Photo: An aerial view of the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, previously known as Kabul International Airport, in Afghanistan on February 11, 2016 Reuters

Turkey has more than 500 troops stationed in Afghanistan as part of a Nato mission to train Afghan security forces

Turkey has offered to guard and run Kabul's airport after the United States and other Nato forces withdraw from Afghanistan, but US officials say Ankara is imposing conditions that need to be resolved as their leaders prepare to meet next week.

Turkish officials say Ankara made the proposal at a Natomeeting in May when the United States and its partners agreed to withdraw troops by September 11 after 20 years of war trying to defeat Taliban forces.

Turkish and US officials have discussed possible requirements for the mission, some of which Washington has agreed to address, one Turkish official said.

"Following the United States' decision to withdraw from Afghanistan, Turkey has made an offer to ensure the security of Kabul airport. In this framework, there are talks underway with Nato and the United States," the Turkish official said.

A Turkish role securing the airport for international flights could help improve ties between Ankara and the West, sorely strained by Turkey's purchase of Russian defence systems and disputes with European countries over drilling rights in east Mediterranean waters.

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on Monday that Ankara's offer was contingent on backup from those allies.

"We intend to stay in Afghanistan depending on conditions. What are our conditions? Political, financial and logistical support. If these are met, we can remain at Hamid Karzai International Airport," his ministry quoted Akar as saying.

US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they welcomed the Turkish proposal but that Ankara was asking for too many US "enablers" for the mission.

The officials also cited some US concern about Turkey's reliability, given their other disagreements, but said Washington would find a way to make it work.

Nato leaders will discuss Afghanistan at a summit next Monday, where Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan will meet Joe Biden for the first time since the US president took office.

With efforts to resolve the dispute over Turkey's purchase of Russian S-400 missile defences, which led Washington to impose sanctions on Turkey's arms industry last year, the airport plan may offer a rare opportunity to build goodwill.

The two countries are also at odds over US support for Syrian Kurdish fighters, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and a US court case against a Turkish state bank.

Escalating violence

The proposal comes as clashes over territory in Afghanistan raged three months before the planned withdrawal. On Monday, senior government officials said at least 150 Afghan troops were killed or injured in a surge of attacks by Taliban militants in the previous 24 hours.

Securing Kabul airport could help persuade some countries to maintain a diplomatic presence in Afghanistan. Last month Australia shut its embassy there due to security concerns.

Turkey has more than 500 troops stationed in Afghanistan as part of a Nato mission to train Afghan security forces. The Turkish official said additional troops would be needed for the airport mission.

Talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, which was ousted from power by a U.S. invasion in 2001 and has since waged an insurgency, have been shelved amid the withdrawal. 

Both sides have accused each other of provocations.

The Afghan government and Taliban were not immediately available for comment. It was not clear whether the Islamist Taliban would accept an expanded Turkish mission.

Facebook 50
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail