On Tuesday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan called on the US to meet “conditions” such as financial, logistical, and political assistance so that Turkey can administer and secure Kabul airport when other foreign forces leave Afghanistan.
Turkey has volunteered to send troops to the airport after NATO withdraws completely, and the two countries have been in talks for several weeks.
Turkey has been threatened by the Taliban, who have gained ground as US-led foreign forces withdraw.
Erdogan acknowledged the Taliban’s objections while speaking in northern Cyprus, but said Turkey would still engage out the mission if the US, a NATO member, met three particular Turkish requirements.
“If these conditions are met, we are considering taking over the operation of Kabul airport,” he said, citing diplomatic support for Turkey and the US surrender of facilities and logistics in Afghanistan as examples.
“There will be significant financial and administrative challenges… After attending morning prayers during the Muslim Eid al-Adha festival, Erdogan remarked, “(the US) would give Turkey the necessary help in this regard as well.”
Turkey hopes that the airport mission will help to ease tensions between Turkey and the United States, which have been strained on multiple fronts, notably Turkey’s acquisition of Russian S-400 missile defense systems.
From 1996 to 2001, the Taliban ruled Afghanistan with an iron fist, and they have been fighting for 20 years to expel foreign soldiers, destabilize the Western-backed government in Kabul, and restore Islamic rule.
The Taliban, encouraged by the withdrawal of international forces from a September objective, have slammed Turkey’s offer. Ankara and others have stated that the airport must remain open in order to protect diplomatic missions.
Erdogan said the Taliban should “stop the occupation” before heading for Cyprus on Monday. He claimed on Tuesday that negotiations between Turkey and the Taliban will overcome any obstacles and would be more comfortable than previous US-Taliban talks.
Erdogan announced plans to build a new government facility for Turkish Cypriots during his visit, as part of a two-state solution opposed by the European Union, Greece, and the internationally recognized Greek Cypriot government.