If Turkish soldiers remain stationed in Afghanistan following the United States-led NATO troops' withdrawal, the security of the Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport will be the only task carried out by them, security sources said Friday.
After the U.S. decision to withdraw from Afghanistan, Turkey's continuation of its duty to operate the Kabul airport, which it maintains under NATO, was brought to the agenda.
Providing the security of the critically important airport that connects Afghanistan to the world for six years, Turkey notes that this task can be continued if the conditions are met.
Ankara has a clear stance that Turkish soldiers will not have a combat mission in Afghanistan and will not be a party to the conflict.
According to the information obtained, there are "not just beginning" contacts with the Taliban. Ankara does not approve of power domination achieved through a military solution, as is generally accepted in the international community.
Turkey underlines that it should be prepared for a wave of immigration to the European Union from Afghanistan.
Most recently, 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.
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.”
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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