The Taliban now controls Kabul airport after the United States pull out. The focus will not be on chaotic evacuation operation which has been happening in the past two weeks but on the Taliban’s plan for the airport. The group’s chief spokesperson stood on the airport’s landing strip and declared triumph over the United States. But the step they will take next remains uncertain.
The future of Hamid International Airport
The group’s spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid, said to Al Jazeera that they are now dealing with security and general operations of the site, referring to a dialogue the group had with Qatar and Turkey about the airport’s future. The group insisted that they would not allow any foreign military in the country after August 31.
“Our soldiers and Special Forces can control the facility, and we do not need anyone’s assistance for the security and administrative control of Kabul airport,” the group’s spokesman, Bilal Karimi, told the AFP news agency on Monday.
However, a South Asia specialist at the Wilson Center policy institute in Washington said foreign assistance in security would be essential if airlines were to be functional and that a contract could yet be signed. “You are looking at a very volatile environment in terms of security. There are all sorts of alarm bells… for commercial airlines that I imagine would not be comfortable getting into the airport,” he said to AFP.
Foreign Minister in Qatar, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, said his country is pleading with the Taliban to accept foreign aid. “What we are trying to explain to them is that the airport security needs a lot more than securing the perimeters,” he said.
The US State Department spokesman Ned Price declared on Friday, it was “fundamentally giving the facility back to the people of Afghanistan.” Recently, NATO played an important role in maintaining air traffic control, fuel supplies, and communications.
The Taliban had requested Turkey to run the airport’s logistics and manage control of security. The president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said he was still gauging the offer. Recep seemed less keen about the Taliban insisting on total control of security. “Assuming we took over the security, what would we tell the world if another bloodshed occurs there?” He said.
Controlling an airport is composite and requires proficiency. With many trained workers believed to have left the nation, there are questions over whether enough skilled and knowledgeable workers will be left in Kabul.
The US federation Administration says Kabul airport lacks air traffic control services following the US military withdrawal, adding that US civilian airplanes were banned from landing on Afghanistan’s airspace without prior consent.