Turkey will operate Kabul’s airport in collaboration with Qatar, according to a new report.
As part of the deal, Turkey — a NATO member — will recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan, according to a report by the London-based news outlet Middle East Eye.
News media accounts throughout the frenzied evacuation in Kabul last week pictured the deal to run the airport once the U.S. leaves this week as an on-again, off-again transaction.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had indicated that one major sticking point was who would provide security at the airport, according to WION-TV. He was quoted as saying Turkey would not operate the airport while the Taliban controlled its security.
EXCLUSIVE: Turkey and Taliban close to deal on Kabul airport
The terms needed approval by Erdogan
• Recognition of Taliban
• Qatar, Turkey to run the airport
• Turkish private security firm
• Special forces to protect Turks
— Ragıp Soylu (@ragipsoylu) August 28, 2021
“What does the Taliban say with regard to the airport issue? They say ‘give us the security but you operate it’,” Erdogan said, according to Barrons.
“How come we hand you over the security?” Erdogan added.
“Let’s say you took over the security but how would we explain to the world if another bloodbath takes place there? It’s not an easy job,” he said.
#Iraq hosts #BaghdadSummit bringing together senior leadership from #SaudiIran, Turkey, UAE, Qatar, Egypt & France. All these nations have some or the other contentious issue among them. Summit is crucial first step towards regional reconciliation, especially with rise of Taliban pic.twitter.com/GQBJOHAoBn
— Samir Dattopadhye (@samirsinh189) August 29, 2021
However, the new report said the security issued was resolved by Turkey agreeing to contract with a private firm for airport security, and that those hired would be former Turkish soldiers or police officers.
Turkey would be allowed to have Turkish special forces present to protect Turkish staff, but they would not be allowed to leave the airport.
The question of how Turkey is to handle the new wave of Afghan refugees seeking to get into the EU is adding further strain to relations between Brussels and Ankara.https://t.co/uTxfAkP3W2
— Balkan Insight (@BalkanInsight) August 27, 2021
Turkey has been guarding the military section of the airport against attacks.
The deal calls for Turkey and Qatar to form a consortium to operate the airport.
— Reuters U.S. News (@ReutersUS) August 25, 2021
Turkey has not yet closed its embassy in Kabul
A United Arab Emirates-based consortium had already won a contract from the former government of Afghanistan to run the airport. It is uncertain how that deal will be dealt with, according to Middle East Eye.