Qatari, Turkish companies edging closer to deal with Taliban on Afghan airport operations

Qatari, Turkish companies edging closer to deal with Taliban on Afghan airport operations
Turkish and Qatari companies are edging closer to a final deal with the Taliban to jointly operate five airports in Afghanistan, officials have said
2 min read
29 December, 2021
Turkey and Qatar have kept quiet on which companies are involved in the Afghan airports agreement [TASS/Getty]

Private Turkish and Qatari companies have agreed to jointly operate five airports in Afghanistan, although they are still waiting to reach a final deal with the Taliban, officials said Tuesday.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday that a memorandum of understanding (MoM) had been inked in Doha earlier this month, covering Kabul airport and four others in the war-ravaged country.

Cavusoglu said the UAE, which operated the civilian part of Kabul Airport before the Taliban stormed back to power in August after two decades of war, had also expressed an interest in joining the Turkish and Qatari companies.

He said the issue was discussed during Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed's visit to the Turkish capital Ankara in late November.

"They said 'maybe we can run work trilaterally' but there was never any concrete proposal," said Cavusoglu.

"We haven't presented any proposal to them either. But operating the airport briefly appeared on the agenda."

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Qatari and Turkish officials have said little about the details of the MoM, refusing to say which companies will be involved.

Afghan civil aviation ministry spokesman Imamuddin Ahmadi told AFP on Tuesday that "no deal has been signed yet".

The Taliban have already rejected Turkey's offer to provide security for Kabul airport, which offers an escape route for civilians seeking to flee the impoverished country, as well as a way for humanitarian aid to reach Afghanistan.

Cavusoglu has stressed that no deal can be reached until the hardline Islamist group allows a trusted foreign operator to secure the airport terminal while the Taliban protects its perimeter.

"Our teams went to Kabul... to present our proposals and then our friends in Doha continued the discussions," Cavusoglu said on Monday.

"It is natural for different countries to make bids in this process," Cavusoglu added.

"The Taliban administration had stated it would receive proposals from different countries."