No decisions have been made as of yet about the details and scope of the mission Turkey will potentially shoulder in securing and operating Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport in Afghanistan’s capital city, Turkish security sources stated, adding that the negotiations are expected to be finalized in August.
Talks with both the United States as well as countries that are expected to contribute to the mission continue, the sources said.
Regarding the security of the surroundings of the airport, sources said that Turkey’s mission will be limited to the duty it has been carrying out for six years – securing and operating solely the airport.
“The security of the surroundings of the airport will be ensured by Afghan forces.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said recently that Turkey is considering operating the major Kabul airport after the U.S.-led pullout and that Ankara is ready to discuss the peace process with the Taliban, adding that the group must stop the occupation.
The U.S.-led military coalition has been in Afghanistan for nearly two decades following an invasion launched in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
After nearly four decades of fighting, fears are growing that Afghan forces will be overwhelmed without vital coalition air support, allowing for a complete Taliban military takeover or the start of a multisided civil war in a country awash with weapons.
Turkey, whose forces in Afghanistan have always consisted of noncombatant troops, has offered to guard the airport as questions remain on how security will be assured along major transport routes and at the airport, which is the main gateway to the capital Kabul. The security of the airport is crucial for the operation of diplomatic missions out of Afghanistan as Western forces pull out.
The airport is in a strategic location close to the Afghan presidential palace and foreign diplomatic missions in Kabul and is the only place from which to evacuate diplomats in emergency situations.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry has called for a fair burden-sharing of the task given that the “uninterrupted, safe operation of the airport is indispensable for the continued presence of diplomatic missions in Afghanistan.”
At the end of a series of meetings with NATO leaders on the sidelines of the alliance summit in June, Erdoğan stated that Turkey was seeking Pakistani and Hungarian involvement in the mission in Afghanistan following the departure of the U.S.-led NATO force.
However, the Taliban have opposed Ankara’s proposal, saying that Turkey should also withdraw its troops in line with the 2020 deal for the pullout.
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