Without Taliban agreement, Qatar will not take “responsibility” for Kabul Airport.
Qatar warned on Tuesday that it would not take responsibility for Kabul airport until all parties involved, including the Taliban, had signed “clear” agreements governing its management.
Following the withdrawal of US forces last month, Doha has emerged as a significant broker in Afghanistan, assisting in the evacuation of thousands of foreigners and Afghans, engaging the new Taliban authorities, and aiding operations at Kabul airport.
“Otherwise, we’ll have to make sure that everything is addressed very clearly… At a press conference, Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani remarked, “We will not be able to assume any responsibility for the airport unless all of these issues are handled.”
“Right now, the status is still (under) negotiation because we need an agreement that is clear for everyone, including who will be in charge of the technical (side) and who will be in charge of the security aspects.
“Collaboration with other countries is possible if necessary, but right now the conversation is mainly between us, Turkey, and the Taliban.”
Qatar Airways planes have made many visits to Kabul since the US withdrawal, flying in aid and Doha’s agents as well as ferrying out foreign passport holders.
The first foreign commercial flight after the US pullout landed in Kabul on Monday with a Pakistan International Airlines plane.
According to airport ground workers, it then flew back to Islamabad with roughly 70 people on board, largely Afghans who were families of international organization staffers.
Kabul’s international airport was ransacked after US-led forces finished a chaotic evacuation of more than 120,000 people, and the Taliban have since scrambled to resume operations with technical assistance from Qatar and other nations.
Last week, Qatar Airways flew six charter planes out of Kabul, largely carrying foreigners and Afghans who had missed the evacuation.
On September 3, an Afghan airline resumed domestic flights.
The reintroduction of regular commercial flights, however, would be a critical test for the Taliban, who have repeatedly stated that Afghans with the proper paperwork will be able to leave the country.
On August 30, the United States withdrew its final soldiers from Afghanistan, concluding the country’s longest conflict just days before the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that triggered the invasion.