Turkish and US defense chiefs to discuss mission at Kabul airport
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar and his US counterpart Lloyd James Austin are due to hold a phone call on Wednesday to discuss a possible Turkish mission to secure and operate Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport in Afghanistan after the forces withdraw NATO-led war. torn country, Akar said on Tuesday, reiterating that no final decision has yet been made and negotiations are continuing.
Akar responded to reporters’ questions about the talks on the operation and security of the airport in Afghanistan. Describing Afghanistan as the “heart of Asia” and a country of crucial importance, Akar highlighted the deep-rooted historical and cultural ties between Turkey and Afghanistan.
He said Turkey has continued to contribute to NATO’s International Security Assistance Force since its first mission in 2002, and to the Resolute Support mission since 2015, in line with United Nations resolutions. He said the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) continue to fulfill their duty of advisory command of educational assistance in Kabul.
Stressing that ensuring the security and functioning of Hamid Karzai International Airport is of great importance for the future of the Afghan people, Akar said, “Negotiations are continuing on this issue. We are working on how we can do it with other countries. . Our president said at the NATO summit that there are certain conditions and questions. We have indicated an intention in this regard. We said we could stay if these conditions were met. In this sense, our contacts with various countries are continuing. On the one hand, we are in contact with different countries on issues of political decision-making before the UN and NATO, the conclusion of an agreement with the Afghan government, and on the other hand, the support political, financial and logistical. the Americans continue. No final decision has been taken so far. But the discussions continue. Afghanistan is our brother. We have done all we can for their peace, quiet, p peace and security, and we will continue to work in the same direction from now on. “
Noting that Hamid Karzai International Airport has been operated by Turkey for six years, Akar said: “The airport must be opened and operated. We are aware of this. If the airport is not functioning, the embassies will be withdrawn. In this case, Afghanistan will become an isolated state and will experience serious problems in terms of international relations. What will those who have to go abroad for education, health and commerce do if the airport does not function rationally? We are talking about a state. These will also have a negative impact on the peace, well-being and development of our Afghan brothers. We want to achieve appropriate results for the benefit of our country and Afghanistan. Our goal is to continue to contribute to the security, peace and well-being of our Afghan brothers. “
Turkey, whose forces in Afghanistan have always been made up of non-combat troops, has offered to keep and manage Hamid Karzai Airport after NATO pulls out. Turkey’s potential role in Afghanistan following the planned US withdrawal could serve as an area of cooperation.
He has been in talks with the United States over logistical and financial support for the mission, as questions remain about how security will be provided along major transportation routes and at the airport, which is the main gateway. entrance to the capital, Kabul.
Airport security is critical to the functioning of diplomatic missions outside Afghanistan as Western forces withdraw.
The situation in Afghanistan heated up after US President Joe Biden announced that all US forces would withdraw from the war-torn country by September 11, with NATO allies following suit. Biden and Erdoğan discussed the issue at a recent NATO leaders summit in Brussels.
Erdoğan said after the meeting that Turkey was seeking “diplomatic, logistical and financial assistance” from the United States to protect and operate the airport. Turkey also wants Pakistan and Hungary to be involved in the mission, he said.
Ankara has been leading the military and logistics operations at Kabul Airport for six years as part of the NATO-led Resolute Support mission. Turkey has more than 500 troops in Afghanistan as part of the NATO mission to train Afghan security forces. Some of these soldiers are still serving at the airport.
An agreement to protect the airport has become increasingly urgent as the final withdrawal of the remaining 2,500 to 3,500 US troops and 76,000 allied NATO troops draws to a close. The airfield had been the epicenter of the nationwide military operation to defeat the Taliban and track down the al-Qaida perpetrators of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.
Last week, all US and NATO forces left Bagram Air Base near Kabul – the command center for anti-Taliban operations – concluding their exit after 20 years of military engagement that began in the following the attacks of September 11.