Turkey Agrees to Take ‘Lead Role’ Securing Kabul Airport

The US wants Turkey to guard the airport after other foreign troops leave Afghanistan, but the Taliban has rejected the plan

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Thursday that President Biden and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reached an agreement on Afghanistan during a meeting earlier this week.

As foreign troops pulling out of Afghanistan, the US wants to keep its embassy in Kabul open. To do this, the US wants the Kabul airport to be secure. The airport is currently being guarded by Turkish troops, and the US wants them to stay after the withdrawal.

“The clear commitment from the leaders was established that Turkey would play a lead role in securing Hamid Karzai International Airport and we are now working through how to execute to get to that,” Sullivan said.

Details of what exactly the US and Turkey are planning are not clear. But the Taliban has already warned against Turkish troops staying to guard the airport after other foreign troops leave. Sullivan said the Taliban warning would not “deter” the US and Turkey’s plan.

“Obviously we take seriously the concern that Taliban or other elements in Afghanistan will attack the Western or the international presence … We do not believe that what the Taliban has said publicly should or will deter the efforts underway right now to establish that security presence,” he said.

The US-Taliban peace deal that was signed in February 2020 outlined a plan for all foreign troops to leave Afghanistan. Since Turkey is part of the US-NATO coalition, the Taliban views a continued Turkish presence as a violation of the deal.

Sullivan also said that there remains an impasse between Washington and Ankara over the Turkish purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense systems. Erdogan has been clear that he has no plans to reverse the purchase.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of Antiwar.com, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.