Turkey and Qatar want normal flights to resume at Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport, the US State Department spokesman said on Wednesday, adding that the Taliban expressed the same wish.
“The Taliban also want to see not only charter flights, but also the resumption of normal business activity at Kabul International Airport on an accelerated basis,” Ned Price said at a press briefing.
He added that the United States hopes “that this can happen in the not so distant future, so that in addition to the charter flights that our Qatari partners have very generously administered to date, there will be additional options for individuals from Kabul International Airport.
The United States is working with Turkey and Qatar on the Afghan airport in Kabul.
With the Taliban in possession of the Kabul airport after the United States completed its withdrawal on August 31, attention will now shift from the gigantic evacuation operation in the West to the group’s future plans for the transportation hub.
Turkey had offered to provide security after the withdrawal of foreign troops, but the Taliban have repeatedly stated that they will not accept any foreign military presence in Afghanistan after August 31.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey was still evaluating the group’s offer, but the Taliban still insisted on controlling security.
Since 2002, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) have operated in Afghanistan within the framework of the United Nations, NATO and bilateral agreements to contribute to the peace, well-being and stability of the Afghan people. Turkey had more than 500 non-combatant troops stationed in Afghanistan as part of NATO’s now abandoned mission in the war-torn country.
Turkey had been in Afghanistan in a non-combatant role for two decades and had participated in advisory, reconstruction and maintenance activities. She had operated the airport for six years.
After the Taliban took control of the country, Turkey offered technical and security assistance at the airport.
Keeping the airport open after foreign forces take control of it is vital not only for Afghanistan to remain connected to the world, but also to maintain supplies and aid operations.
The Taliban have insisted they want to keep the civilian airport open, but without security guarantees, commercial airlines are reluctant to operate from Kabul. So far, only Pakistan’s national airline, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), has resumed regular service to the airport.