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Why Turkey wants to be in charge of securing Kabul airport

20 27 1

Last month, Turkey offered to assume the responsibility of running and protecting Kabul’s strategic Hamid Karzai Airport – landlocked Afghanistan’s main gateway to the world – after American and NATO troops complete their withdrawal from the war-battered country.

As an agreement between the Taliban and the Afghan government continues to prove elusive, and the security situation in Afghanistan deteriorates rapidly, there is a need to explore Turkey’s motivations for making the offer.

Turkey, the only Muslim-majority country in NATO, has long been diplomatically and politically influential in Afghanistan. It not only has deep-rooted historical, cultural, religious and ethnic ties with Afghanistan but also with Pakistan – the Taliban’s principal backer. In the past, it organised several summits between the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan in an effort to improve dialogue between the neighbouring nations.

While playing an active role in the multifaceted efforts to end Afghanistan’s decades-old conflict, Turkey maintained close ties with various competing ethnic and political factions in the country, including the Taliban.

Turkey has over 500 troops in Afghanistan, but these troops do not participate in combat – their activities are limited to providing security to the military section of the Kabul airport and training Afghan security forces. Due to its non-combatant role in Afghanistan, Turkey has better relations with the Taliban than any........

© Al Jazeera

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