Turkey prepares mandate to expand presence in Kabul (minister)

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Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said work was underway to prepare a mandate to extend the presence of Turkish forces at Kabul airport.

Hulusi Akar speaking at Istanbul International Defense Industry Fair [Getty]

Turkey is ready to draft a warrant if its soldiers are required to extend their stay in Kabul, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said at the International Defense Industry Fair in Istanbul on Friday.

Akar told Turkish media Daily sabah that Turkish soldiers were stationed at the airport in the Afghan capital and that they were safe.

He added that “if necessary, the parliament can be called to an extraordinary meeting” to discuss the situation, and that the ministries and institutions concerned are already preparing a warrant for the Turkish soldier to stay, if necessary.

Akar explained that the Turkish forces had worked to prepare runways for the flights and that “currently they [the Afghan people] don’t want to leave the airport, they see the airport as a safe place, a shelter and wait. “

He added that every precaution has been taken to ensure that all military personnel are evacuated when necessary, and that Turkish nationals are currently being evacuated from the country.

The minister said Turkish forces would only stay in Kabul for as long as needed and Ankara had no hidden agenda.

Turkey has offered to protect and manage the airport in the Afghan capital after the withdrawal of the United States and NATO, but it is not clear how to ensure security along the main transport routes, which are crucial for the evacuation of diplomatic personnel from Western missions.

For the past 20 years, Turkey has played a non-combat role in Afghanistan, limiting its efforts to reconstruction and maintenance.

“What is important are our Afghan brothers, the rights and interests of our people and our country and our moral values. In this context, Turkey is discussing with the institutions concerned,” Akar said.

“We are receiving positive signals; however, if something is wrong and we see a problem, we will leave the country in 24 hours,” he continued.

“We spoke with the German and British Defense Ministers, NATO and the United States, they said they were ready to cooperate and support Turkey’s presence there.”

Akar said the airport is currently operating smoothly, citing the 146 flights that have taken off in the past four days.

Regarding the sound of gunfire that was heard at the airport, Akar said shots were fired to disperse the crowds but the individuals who were killed died as a result of being pushed around.

The Taliban swept through Afghanistan last week, taking control of the country. Thousands of Afghan civilians have fled to the airport in hopes of securing a seat on a flight out of the country.


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