Taliban urged to allow assistance in securing Kabul airport

Qatari FM urges Taliban to allow foreign assistance in securing Kabul airport
2 min read
31 August, 2021
Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said there was 'no way' international airlines would fly to Kabul until a 'certain security standard is met'.
Deadly blasts at the airport claimed the lives of more than a hundred Afghans and 13 US servicemen on Tuesday [Getty]

The Qatari foreign minister has urged the Taliban to allow foreign assistance at Kabul airport to maintain security at a level that complies with international standards.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani spoke with The Financial Times on Monday as the final US troops left Afghanistan, ending an evacuation mission in the wake of the Taliban takeover and the West's twenty-year military presence in Afghanistan - which saw some collaboration on security issues during the final days.

Sheikh Al-Thani said that Qatar and Turkey were coordinating their efforts regarding the issue of security at Kabul airport but did not specify details.

He said: "We have to assess the situation and see what we are able to do and what we are not.

"We don’t mind who operates it, but what both of us are focusing on, if they are expecting the airport to run and operate flights for civilians, it needs to be up to the security standards we are looking for."

The Taliban largely coordinated with US and UK troops as the militants held a security perimeter around Kabul airport but were widely accused of stopping eligible Afghans trying to flee via the air route.

Qatar and Turkey both played a key role in the evacuation process.

The Qatari foreign minister, whose government had hosted the Taliban's political office, suggested that militants were focused on receiving "technical" assistance but less receptive to any "foreign security presence" at the airport they now effectively control.

He told the FT there was "no way" international airlines would fly to Kabul airport until a "certain security standard is met".

Thani said Doha was trying to explain to the Taliban that airport security "requires a lot more than securing the perimeters of the airport".

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Deadly blasts at the airport claimed the lives of more than a hundred Afghans and 13 US servicemen on Tuesday. The attacks highlighted the Taliban's weakness in tackling future security threats, with heightened concerns over Afghanistan's Islamic State group affiliate - ISIS-KP.

The much more hardline group claimed last week's bombing and five rockets that targeted Kabul airport on Monday but were intercepted by the US.

Turkey had appeared as the prime candidate to secure Kabul airport - the sole route in for humanitarian assistance - but plans were overshadowed by the Taliban's sweeping offensive across Afghanistan. 

Turkish troops were part of the NATO mission and had been responsible for security at the airport for the last six years.