A Taliban spokesperson said on Thursday that Turkey should withdraw its troops from Afghanistan under the 2020 accord for the withdrawal of US soldiers, thus rejecting Ankara’s proposal to guard and administer Kabul’s airport after US-led NATO forces leave.
The incident raises severe concerns for the US, other governments, and international organizations with operations in Kabul about how to safely evacuate their employees from the country’s landlocked capital if war breaks out.
When asked if the Taliban rejected Turkey’s proposal to keep military in Kabul to monitor and administer the international airport after other foreign soldiers depart, a Taliban spokesman in Doha said that they should leave as well.
“Turkey was a member of NATO forces for the previous 20 years,” Suhail Shaheen told Reuters. “As a result, they should leave from Afghanistan on the basis of the Agreement we reached with the US on February 29, 2020.”
According to the Pentagon, the United States has completed more over half of its pullout. Turkey currently has the largest foreign military commitment in Afghanistan, with around 500 soldiers training security forces.
Due to security concerns, Australia’s embassy was closed last month. As a result of the Taliban’s effective rejection of Turkey’s pledge to safeguard the airport, other countries’ missions may be forced to close.
The development also puts the Biden administration in a bind, as Secretary of State Antony Blinken just stated at a congressional hearing that the US will continue a diplomatic presence in Kabul.