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ANKARA: The Foreign Ministers of Turkey and Qatar have been reviewing plans to return to normal operations at Kabul International Airport after the Taliban took over Afghanistan.

Mevlut Cavusoglu and his Qatari counterpart, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, discussed options for their countries to operate the airport together and options for providing further humanitarian aid to the Afghan people on terms compatible with the Taliban .

Turkish troops have been guarding the airport in the Afghan capital for around six years, Red Crescent groups from Turkey and Qatar have been helping the Afghans and a Turkish education foundation abroad is keeping its schools open for girls and boys.

During a joint press conference in Doha, Sheikh Mohammed said Qatar and Turkey are ready to control Kabul airport if the Taliban agree.

“Qatar and Turkey are working continuously with the interim government in Afghanistan to reach an agreement to open the airport normally (so that it can function normally),” he added.

Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Doha on Monday for two-day talks to rebuild relations.

In November, the US signed an agreement with Qatar to designate the Gulf country as a power to protect American interests in Afghanistan, as it is seen as a trustworthy mediator. Qatar and Turkey played a significant role in the evacuation from Afghanistan after the Taliban came to power.

Samuel Ramani, a Middle East analyst at Oxford University, told Arab News that Turkey and Qatar could work together to demand limited waivers of US-imposed asset freezes against the Taliban, and use their respective bargaining power in western capitals to achieve this result.

He said, “Turkey and Qatar can also coordinate in alleviating the food crisis in Afghanistan as Qatar’s experience with the World Food Program could be effective in theaters such as Yemen in Afghanistan.”

Ramani noted that Turkey had also increased shipments of food such as wheat to Afghanistan last month.

“Neither Turkey nor Qatar are likely to recognize the Taliban as a legitimate authority in Afghanistan, but both will encourage engagement with the new Islamic emirate,” he added.

During the meeting on Monday, Cavusoglu urged the international community to enter into a dialogue with the Taliban by “distinguishing” between political and humanitarian issues.

Zalmai Nishat, Research Fellow at the University of Sussex’s Asia Center, said the Taliban wanted Turkey to participate in the operationalization of Kabul Airport alongside Qatar.

He told Arab News: “Historically, Turkey is seen as the successor to the Ottoman Empire and respected by the Afghan people with memories of the Caliphate. In addition, Turkey is an ally of the USA and the EU as a key country within NATO. “

Nishat noted that during the peace talks between the former Afghan government and the Taliban, control of Kabul airport was a critical issue and the parties viewed Turkey as an ideal partner.

“Ankara must develop a robust policy towards Afghanistan that enables pressure to be exerted on the Taliban and its supporters in order to create a political system in which various ethnic communities of Afghanistan feel at home and feel included in the political system fair representation. ”,“ he added.

Turkey, which allegedly has intelligence links with some Taliban-affiliated militias in the country, also has strong historical and ethnic ties with Afghanistan as its non-combat forces have historically been on the ground as a member of the NATO alliance.

Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish program at the Washington Institute, told Arab News that the Taliban need legitimacy at this stage by establishing themselves as credible actors through the channels of Qatar and Turkey, thereby helping the group with the rest of the world World.

He said: “Turkey is still trying to position itself as a link between the Taliban and the outside world. First and foremost is Qatar, which is historically and politically more closely linked to the Taliban. Turkey would come to Qatar in this political game, but the two countries can play a vital role in maintaining flight safety in the short term. “

In the medium term, Cagaptay continued, Turkey has significant soft power in Afghanistan, which has developed since the beginning of the Turkish Republic and which can be used to reach Afghan society through its local relations.

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