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Taliban reject Turkish military presence in Afghanistan after troop withdrawal
Turkish soldiers walk on the site of a helicopter crash in Kabul, Afghanistan, on March 16, 2012.
KABUL: The Taliban on Wednesday “strongly opposed” Turkey’s offer to retain soldiers in Afghanistan to guard and run its international airport in the capital city, Kabul, once the United States and NATO-led troops withdraw from the country in the next few months. Turkey has more than 500 troops...arab.news
June 10, 202112:59
KABUL: The Taliban on Wednesday “strongly opposed” Turkey’s offer to retain soldiers in Afghanistan to guard and run its international airport in the capital city, Kabul, once the United States and NATO-led troops withdraw from the country in the next few months.
- Taliban spokesperson says if Turkey decides to keep troops, Afghans will treat them the same way they “dealt with other invaders”
- Turkey has more than 500 troops stationed in Afghanistan as part of a NATO mission to train Afghan security forces
Turkey has more than 500 troops stationed in Afghanistan as part of a NATO mission to train Afghan security forces.
“We will allow no country to keep their troops, be it from America or Turkey... nor agree with this,” Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, told Arab News on Wednesday.
“If Turkey has such an intention, the Islamic Emirate [name of the Taliban’s government when the group was in power] will strongly oppose this, we will not accept any foreign force in the country, under any name,” he added.
“Presence of foreign forces in Afghanistan soil is not acceptable regardless of which country they belong to,” Mujahid said. “As you know Turkey is a member of NATO too. They have stayed here for 20 years and were involved in a part of the war. They should not make the mistake (of keeping troops) and if they want to keep troops in Afghanistan, without doubt, Afghans will treat them in the same manner they have dealt with other invaders because Afghans will not who the invader is.”
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on Monday Turkey intended to stay in Afghanistan “depending on conditions.”
“What are our conditions? Political, financial and logistical support. If these are met, we can remain at Hamid Karzai International Airport,” his ministry quoted Akar as saying, according to a Reuters report.
The Taliban, however, maintained that “there was no need” for foreign forces as Afghans, throughout history, “have not accepted nor will accept the presence of foreign troops,” according to Dr. Mohammad Naem, a spokesman for the group’s political office in Qatar.
“The responsibility of Afghanistan’s security belonged to Afghans alone and protection of foreign civilians, both from an Islamic point of view and based on international principles, was the responsibility of the country where they live,” he told Arab News.
Turkish officials say the airport security proposal was made at a NATO meeting in May when the US and its partners agreed to withdraw troops once Washington ends its nearly 20-year occupation of Afghanistan on Sept. 11.
Safeguarding the airport is crucial for military and commercial flights and the safe passage of international aid groups and diplomats residing in the country. It could also help persuade some countries to maintain a diplomatic presence in Afghanistan. Last month, however, Australia shut its embassy in Afghanistan, citing “security concerns.”
While other US-led foreign troops have been subjected to regular attacks by the Taliban and other militant groups in the past 19 years, Turkey’s forces remain unharmed, partly because it is the only Islamic country and NATO member.
With hope over the success of US sponsored talks between the Taliban and President Ashraf Ghani’s embattled government waning, there are concerns among some Afghans and foreigners that the Taliban will endeavor to retake the country by force as they did in the mid-1990s.
Turkey’s proposal comes amid the Taliban making territorial gains during clashes with local forces in Afghanistan after Washington started to withdraw its troops on May 1.
All foreign troops should have left Afghanistan last month, but the new US administration unilaterally extended the deadline until Sept. 11, based on a controversial agreement between Washington and the Taliban more than a year ago.
Toreq Farhadi, an adviser for former Afghan president Hamid Karzai said the Taliban had rejected Turkey’s offer as part of a “military strategy.”
“It could be part of the Taliban’s military objective [to ensure President Ashraf] Ghani’s total surrender. It is clear that the Taliban’s military strategy is to cut off the Afghan government from the breast that feeds them; the international community,” he told Arab News.
However, he added: “This has its own risks for the Taliban. NATO allies are also a supplier of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, something which the Taliban recognize as a need to be met going forward.”
Farhadi explained that the Taliban have “shown an interest in Afghanistan maintaining its relations with the world, to continue receiving donor funds.”
“They also want their names removed from the UN’s sanctions list... refusing international support would mean depriving Afghanistan of much needed diplomatic, aid and investment support,” he told Arab News, adding: “If they have a problem with Turkey, they should offer an acceptable alternative country for this [airport security] task.”