Taliban moderation to help Turkey’s return to Afghanistan

The United States, along with 97 other countries, announced Sunday that they had reached an agreement with the Taliban to allow them to continue to get Afghan allies out of the country after the Aug. 31 withdrawal deadline.


In related news, Turkey is reportedly nearing a deal to recognize Afghanistan’s Taliban government and operate the Kabul airport in partnership with Qatar, paving the way for the Islamist group to attract foreign aid and investment.

Axios reported that “We are all committed to ensuring that our citizens, nationals and residents, employees, Afghans who have worked with us and those who are at risk can continue to travel freely to destinations outside Afghanistan,” the joint statement said.


“We have received assurances from the Taliban that all foreign nationals and any Afghan citizen with travel authorization from our countries will be allowed to proceed in a safe and orderly manner to points of departure and travel outside the country,” the statement continued.


“We will continue issuing travel documentation to designated Afghans, and we have the clear expectation of and commitment from the Taliban that they can travel to our respective countries. We note the public statements of the Taliban confirming this understanding.”


Sher Mohammed Abas Stanekzai, the Taliban’s chief negotiator, said on Friday that the group would not stop people from departing.


Taliban’s political wing seems to grasp that without international cooperation, governing Afghanistan is not possible. A former UN official who previously worked on Taliban-related sanctions said the economy in Afghanistan may be weeks away from collapse, NBC News reported.


Hans-Jakob Schindler, a German former diplomat, told NBC that there may be weeks or a “couple of months” before economic failure. He said: “Then the economy is in deep trouble.”


To avoid the alleged collapse, Taliban is reaching out to Turkey and Qatar.


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According to  Middle East Eye,  Turkey would provide security through a private contractor, manned by former Turkish soldiers and police. And Turkish special forces would operate in plainclothes to protect the country’s citizens within the airport’s perimeter.


In return, the Taliban would be recognized by Ankara as Afghanistan’s legitimate government.


The Taliban will reportedly need to reach a separate agreement with a group based in the United Arab Emirates that was awarded a contract last year by the Western-backed Afghan government to operate the airport. Turkey has provided security for the Kabul airport’s military section for the past several years and was negotiating a deal with the US to continue that work earlier that summer, before the Taliban overran Afghan security forces and recaptured control of the country even before Washington could complete its withdrawal, MEE said.


Turkish political experts assert that Erdogan is mainly interested in playing a role in Afghanistan’s affairs to appease US pressure for the purchase of Russian made S-400 anti-missile defense system.  A secondary motivation could be to reach a deal with US Treasury Department to avoid stiff penalties in Halkbank case, which   is expected to revert to lower court in September.


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Published By: Atilla Yeşilada

GlobalSource Partners’ Turkey Country Analyst Atilla Yesilada is the country’s leading political analyst and commentator. He is known throughout the finance and political science world for his thorough and outspoken coverage of Turkey’s political and financial developments. In addition to his extensive writing schedule, he is often called upon to provide his political expertise on major radio and television channels. Based in Istanbul, Atilla is co-founder of the information platform Istanbul Analytics and is one of GlobalSource’s local partners in Turkey. In addition to his consulting work and speaking engagements throughout the US, Europe and the Middle East, he writes regular columns for Turkey’s leading financial websites VATAN and www.paraanaliz.com and has contributed to the financial daily Referans and the liberal daily Radikal.