by Leo Kendrick
A pair of suicide bombings outside Kabul’s airport yesterday evening (26 August) come as Turkey considers an offer from the Taliban to continue its management of the Kabul airport, a role Turkey has served since 2015.
Original Turkish plans to maintain a military presence at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport were scrapped earlier this week, as the new Taliban government has been insistent in its request that foreign military elements exit the country by August 31st. Despite the military withdrawal, however, presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalın made clear in a statement released Wednesday that discussions were ongoing regarding a potential Turkish role in providing technical support at the airport.
Prior to a scheduled visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan held a press conference yesterday evening (26 August) at Atatürk Airport in Istanbul, in which he announced that the Taliban had offered for Turkey to manage the airport in Kabul.
The offer to manage the airport, which would extend past the imminent withdrawal of Turkish Armed Forces from Afghanistan, reportedly came during a 3.5 hour meeting between the Taliban and Turkish authorities at Turkey’s Embassy in Kabul. President Erdoğan mentioned that a Turkish decision has not yet been made on the topic.
The president condemned the bombings outside the Kabul airport the same evening which claimed the lives of 72 Afghan citizens and 13 American service members. Commenting on the attacks for which ISIS claimed responsibility, Erdoğan remarked: “The fact that ISIS has committed such an act during a process like this shows the world how dangerous this organization is.” Turkish Armed Forces have reported no casualties following the attacks.
The press conference also touched on the Afghan refugee crisis in Turkey; according to Erdoğan Turkey currently hosts 300,000 documented and undocumented Afghan refugees, and construction on an eastern border wall is ongoing.
Following Bosnia and Herzegovina the president in expected to visit Montenegro on Saturday as part of a short Balkan trip.