Qatar refuses ‘responsibility’ for Kabul airport without Taliban

Qatar’s foreign minister says the status of Kabul airport operations is still being negotiated with all parties involved.

Since the US pullout, Qatar Airways planes have made many trips to Kabul [File: Karim Sahib/AFP]

Qatar says it will not take responsibility for Kabul airport without “clear” agreements with all parties involved, including the Taliban, about its operations.

Speaking at a press briefing on Tuesday, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said his country cannot take responsibility for the airport’s operations if all issues are not clearly addressed.

“Right now the status is still [under] negotiation,” he said

Doha has become a key broker in Afghanistan following last month’s withdrawal of US-led NATO forces, helping evacuate thousands of foreigners and Afghans, engaging the new Taliban rulers, and supporting operations at Kabul airport.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid has told Al Jazeera the group is now securing and operating the site, indicating it was in talks with Qatar and Turkey about the facility’s future.

Maintaining control

The armed group has repeatedly said it would not accept any foreign military presence in the country after August 31. However, Sheikh Mohammed has been quoted as saying Qatar is urging the Taliban to accept foreign help.

The Taliban had asked Turkey to handle logistics while it maintains control of security and Ankara said it is still assessing the offer. However, with the Taliban insisting on full control of security, Turkey appears less enthusiastic.

A key incentive to operate a functional airport would be the boost it would give the Taliban’s international image.

Since the US pullout, Qatar Airways planes have made several trips to Kabul, flying in aid and Doha’s representatives and ferrying out foreign passport holders.

The two-decade US intervention in Afghanistan ended with the hurried airlift of more than 120,000 people from Kabul as the Taliban returned to power.

The US pulled its final troops out of Afghanistan on August 30, ending its longest war just ahead of the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks that prompted its invasion.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies