September 28, 2021

Qatar and Turkey are working with the Taliban to reopen Kabul Airport.

Qatar said on Thursday it was working with the Taliban to reopen Kabul airport, which could be closed after the withdrawal of US troops, posing major strategic and inhumane challenges.

A Gulf jet was the first foreign plane to land in the Afghan capital on Wednesday, as the evacuation ended a day before the US withdrawal.

According to sources close to the matter, a flight from Doha arrived in Kabul on Thursday, carrying experts who will review the security and operational aspects of the airport.

Doha, a key transit point for Afghan refugees, said it was working hard to quickly resume operations.

Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman
Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani holds a press conference in the capital Doha Photo: AFP / Karim Jaffar

Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman al-Thani said, “We are hopeful that we will be able to run it as soon as possible.”

Sheikh Mohammad said it was important for the Taliban to demonstrate their commitment to providing the Afghan people with a safe passage and freedom of movement.

“Hopefully we will hear some good news in the next few days,” he added.

Sheikh Mohammed said Turkey was also in talks to reopen the airport, which he hoped could provide technical assistance.

Kabul Airport.
Crowds at the Afghan airport tarmac in August 2021, leaving the country Photo: AFP / –

Turkey said on Thursday it was “reviewing” proposals from the Taliban and others at the airport, with Foreign Minister Mevl چاt شavu اوoگlu saying security inside and outside the facility was a top priority.

An Afghan civil aviation official told Qatar-owned Al Jazeera that work on Kabul airport would begin soon.

“Domestic flights will start tomorrow (Friday), like international ones, it will take time,” he said.

Taliban
Members of the Taliban’s Badri 313 military unit board a car on the runway at Kabul airport on August 31, 2021, after the US withdrawal Photo: AFP / Lawyer Kohsar

The United States, which seized the airport in the last weeks of its 20-year military mission to blow up tens of thousands of people, said it supported Qatar and Turkey’s efforts to restore the airport.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said in Washington that the airport was previously operated by third-party contractors who are no longer able to do so.

“Before you can work at the airport, you have to have an element or entity that is able to run the airport,” Price told reporters.

Price said commercial aircraft or charters also require security assurances and an airport that is no longer “in deep disrepair.”

The August 26 suicide bombing was claimed by an Islamic State militant group that opposed the Taliban government and killed more than 100 Afghan and 13 American soldiers as it flew out of the country. A large crowd had gathered.

The airport has already presented challenges because it has a runway. The city is only five kilometers (three miles) from Kabul, forcing planes to land in a holding pattern over the city if they can’t land immediately.

A functioning government is essential to meet the humanitarian needs, which are sorely needed, and to bring out more people who fear the Taliban.

On Thursday, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said his country had evacuated about 17,000 British and Afghan nationals since April and reiterated that those left behind – including most At risk – they could travel to the UK.

“That’s why we look with great interest at what could be possible at Kabul Airport,” he said.

The Taliban are returning to power 20 years after the end of their five-year rule in the wake of the September 11 attacks by US-led troops seeking refuge for al-Qaeda.

As insurgents for 20 years, the Taliban now have a major role to play in running and operating the country and its infrastructure.

Qatar, where the Taliban has a political office, has hosted a series of talks in recent months between the United States, the Taliban and the former Afghan government.

Copyright AFP All rights reserved.

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