| 26 February 2024, Monday |

Qatar Refuses Responsibility for Kabul Airport

Qatar would not take responsibility for Afghanistan’s Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport without “clear” technical and security agreements between all parties involved, including the Taliban.

Doha has become a key broker in Afghanistan following last month’s withdrawal of US forces. It plays the role of mediator between the Taliban and the international community.

Many countries, including the US, have moved their embassies from Kabul to Doha.

“We need to make sure that everything is addressed very clearly otherwise… we are not able to take any responsibility of the airport (if) all these things are not addressed,” Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammad bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said at a press briefing with his Spanish counterpart.

Airport halls and technical infrastructure were severely damaged after the Taliban entered Kabul on August 15, when thousands of people stormed the airport hoping to escape.

“Right now, the status is still (under) negotiation because we need to have an agreement that’s clear for everyone for all the parties and who is going to take care of the technical (side), who’s going to take care of the security aspects,” added the Minister.

He indicated that there is a possibility for “collaboration with other countries if needed, but until now, the discussion is only among us and Turkey and the Taliban.”

A Pakistan International Airlines plane landed at Kabul on Monday, marking the first international commercial flight since the Taliban militants took control of the capital.

An Afghan airline also resumed its domestic services on September 3.

The resumption of commercial flights will be a crucial test for the Taliban, which has repeatedly promised to allow Afghans with the proper documents to leave the country freely.

Kabul Airport was severely damaged during the evacuation of more than 120,000 people, and since then, the Taliban has been seeking to resume operations with technical assistance from several countries.

Qatar Airways operated several flights out of Kabul last week, carrying foreigners and Afghans who could not leave before the US withdrawal.

Tens of thousands of Afghans fear reprisals for helping foreign powers over 20 years. However, the Taliban insist it has granted a general amnesty to everyone, including the security forces that fought it.

The movement promised a better regime than its previous rule between 1996 and 2001. However, it moved quickly to crush dissent, with its members dispersing recent protests demanding women’s right to education and work.

A prominent former Afghan diplomat described the human rights situation in his country as deteriorating, warning that women’s rights began to disappear entirely under the rule of the Taliban.

Speaking at a meeting of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Ambassador Nasir Ahmed Andisha said that the Taliban are carrying out “widespread atrocities.”

He called for the Council to form a fact-finding committee to monitor Taliban actions in the country.

Meanwhile, a former government official and local television indicated that thousands of Afghans protested in Kandahar after the Taliban demanded the evacuation of a housing complex for families of the army and security forces.

Protesters gathered in front of the governor’s house in Kandahar after 3,500 families were given three days to leave a government-owned residential area.

A Taliban spokesman was not available for comment on the eviction orders.

  • Asharq Al-Awsat