| 20 April 2024, Saturday |

NATO to provide funding for Kabul airport security after full withdrawal

NATO says it will provide funding to help secure Kabul airport, Afghanistan’s main gateway to the outside world, as foreign forces withdraw from the country after two decades of war and occupation.

After a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the Western alliance would help maintain the security of the airport.

“As we end our military presence, we are opening a new chapter. NATO’s future support will have three main pillars,” Stoltenberg said on Friday.

“First, we plan to provide advice and capacity support to Afghan security institutions, as well as continued financial support to the Afghan security forces,” he said. The alliance is also “planning to provide military education and training outside Afghanistan, focusing on Special Operations Forces.”

“And third,” Stoltenberg said, “we are planning to fund the provision of services, including support for the functioning of Kabul airport.”

The NATO chief claimed the measures “will enable NATO allies and the broader international community to continue to help the Afghan people and contribute to the peace efforts.”

Earlier this week, US Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the US  Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that Washington and its NATO allies were exploring a possible international effort to help secure the airport in the Afghan capital.

He said a secure airport would be essential to ensuring that the United States and European allies could maintain embassies in Afghanistan.

The US and its NATO allies are in the process of withdrawing their forces form Afghanistan, to put an end to 20 years of war and occupation.

The US, along with its NATO allies, attacked Afghanistan in 2001, claiming that the Taliban were harboring al-Qaeda. The invasion removed a Taliban regime from power but prompted widespread militancy and insecurity across the Asian country. The war has taken countless lives, including of Afghan civilians.

All foreign troops were supposed to have been withdrawn from Afghanistan by May 1, as part of an agreement that the US had reached with the Taliban in the Qatari capital, Doha, last year. But US President Joe Biden last month pushed that date back to September 11.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has said the Afghan military is ready to fight the Taliban after the full withdrawal of foreign forces, even as Kabul is engaged in peace talks with the militant group. Ghani has urged the Taliban to stop their attacks.

Under the original US-Taliban deal, the militants are obligated to refrain from attacking foreign forces — though not Afghan forces and civilians — in return for the foreign withdrawal.

US military officials have said their equipment could end up in the hands of the Taliban and Daesh.

The US military has been under heavy scrutiny in recent years as US vehicles and weapons have ended up in the hands Daesh terrorists.