Turkey, Qatar close to deal on Kabul airport, Taliban seeks recognition

Turkey and Qatar are close to striking an agreement with the Taliban to operate the international airport in Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul, the Middle East Eye reported at the weekend.

The deal would include Turkey recognising the Taliban government as legitimate, the news website said citing the draft deal.

Turkey would provide security at the airport through a private firm, using former soldiers and police, the Middle East Eye said citing two sources familiar with the issue. It will operate the facility in a consortium with Qatar.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan needs to sign off on the agreement and will hold consultations with NATO allies on the issue, chiefly the United States. Erdoğan said on Sunday that Turkey was carefully considering its next steps towards the war-torn country. 

Members of the Turkish special forces would work in plainclothes to secure Turkish technical staff and not stray from the airport perimeter, according to the sources cited by the Middle East Eye.

A contract for the airport awarded last October to a United Arab Emirates-based consortium presents a possible stumbling block to the deal, therefore the Taliban would need to cut a deal with them, the news website said.

The presence of Turkish security staff at the airport could help ensure foreign aid and investment flow into the country during the transition period, it said citing the sources.

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