A decision has yet to be made on the Turkish mission to operate and secure the Afghan Kabul International Airport Hamid Karzai, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Friday, adding that contacts between Turkey and the states -United on the matter would continue.
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. 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.
A delegation of officials from the US State Department and the Pentagon arrived in Ankara last week to discuss progress in efforts to keep Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport operational after the withdrawal of US troops, which is expected to be end on September 11.
The two sides subsequently agreed to continue discussions, according to a statement from the Turkish Ministry of National Defense.
Contacts between Turkey and the United States regarding the security of Kabul International Airport after the American withdrawal will continue, Akar said.
“No decision has been taken yet,” he told reporters after his visit to Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
“We will discuss the outcome of the talks at a meeting chaired by our president. And we will implement the plan after the president’s approval,” he said.
Mentioning how President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stressed that certain conditions must be met for Turkish troops to stay at the airport in the Afghan capital, Akar said: “We said we can stay if these conditions are met.”
“In this regard, our contacts with several countries are continuing,” he said. “We are continuing contacts for certain political decisions to be taken by the United Nations and NATO, to reach an agreement with the Afghan government, and for the political, financial and logistical support of certain countries.”
Turkey also said that the airport being an international concern, there must be foreign financial support for its security.
Stressing that Afghanistan is a “brother” country to Turkey, Akar said Turkey will continue to do everything possible to ensure peace, stability and security for the Afghans.
“The airport must be open and functioning. If the airport is not functioning, the embassies will withdraw, and in such a situation, Afghanistan would become an isolated state, ”Akar added.
Another Pentagon statement this week said some US troops will remain in Afghanistan to protect the US diplomatic presence, adding that they are still working on the details of securing Kabul airport after NATO forces withdraw. as part of the ongoing talks with Turkey. on the mission.
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 doing the same. Biden and Erdoğan discussed the issue at a recent NATO leaders summit in Brussels.
Turkey will likely run and keep Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport in Afghanistan if the necessary conditions are met, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said last week, adding that no additional personnel were to be sent there.
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan recently said Biden and Erdoğan agreed at a NATO summit meeting that Turkey will play a leading role in securing Kabul airport after the withdrawal of NATO.
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 nears completion. 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.
American troops leave Bagram
More recently, all US and NATO troops have left Afghanistan’s largest air base, a US defense official told Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Friday, noting that the full withdrawal of forces foreign exchange was imminent after two decades of war.
Bagram Airfield served as a hub for US operations in the rugged country, where the long war against the Taliban and their al-Qaida allies was fought with airstrikes and refueling missions from the airfield.
“All coalition forces are off Bagram,” said the official – who asked not to be identified – without specifying when the last foreign troops left the base, 50 kilometers (30 miles) north of the capital Kabul.
He did not say when it would be officially handed over to Afghan forces, but Defense Ministry spokesman Rohullah Ahmadzai said government authorities were “fully prepared” to retake the base.
The U.S. military and NATO are set to end their involvement in Afghanistan, bringing home an unknown number of troops remaining by September 11.
The Taliban have launched relentless offensives across Afghanistan in the past two months, engulfing dozens of districts as Afghan security forces largely consolidated their power in the country’s main urban areas.
The ability of Afghan forces to maintain control of Bagram airfield will likely prove crucial to maintaining security in Kabul and keeping pressure on the Taliban.
Media reports say the Pentagon will likely retain around 600 US troops in Afghanistan to guard the sprawling US diplomatic complex in Kabul.
Bagram was built by the United States for its Afghan ally during the Cold War in the 1950s as a bulwark against the Soviet Union in the north.
Ironically, it became the starting point for the Soviet invasion of the country in 1979, and the Red Army significantly expanded it during its occupation that lasted for nearly a decade.
When Moscow withdrew, Bagram became the center of the raging civil war – it was reported that at one point the Taliban controlled one end of the 3 kilometer (2 mile) track and the opposition Northern Alliance each other.
In recent months, Bagram has been the victim of rocket barrages claimed by extremists, raising fears that militants are already considering the base for future attacks.
As of May 2021, there were approximately 9,500 foreign troops in Afghanistan, of which US troops made up the largest contingent of 2,500.
So far, both Germany and Italy have confirmed the full withdrawal of their contingents.