A country without a running airport

A country without a running airport

The crisis in Afghanistan has already preoccupied the global diplomatic agenda as the world witnessed how a state with 40 million people and the 20-year long nation-building efforts by prominent countries collapsed so quickly.

The entire world sees this new reality while trying to figure out a way to let the international airport in Kabul open as this country’s only gateway. A country without an airport is the new phenomenon of today’s world.

With the completion of the evacuations from Afghanistan late Aug. 31, the Taliban have declared victory as many of its armed members entered the airport and opened fire into the air. The airport is uncontrolled and not able to be used for any transportation as of yesterday. This makes commercial airlines impossible to resume flights to Kabul, further increasing the isolation of the war-torn country.

The U.N. Security Council called for the reopening of the airport as soon as possible and urged the Taliban to freely allow those who want to leave the country. Talks at this stage have already focused on how to reopen the airport in a safe and smooth way.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken hailed Turkey and Qatar for their efforts to this end but negotiations with the Taliban have not yet been accomplished. The Taliban are self-assured that it has enough engineers that can operate the airport and provide security, but at the same time propose Turkey and Qatar to provide technical assistance to run the airport.

Turkey, unlike many western and NATO countries, has decided to keep its embassy in Kabul open in a bid not to lose the communication channels with the new rulers of Afghanistan. This is consistent with the Turkish officials’ emphasis on the historical and the cultural bonds between the two nations.

But operating the airport without a solid security structure is another thing. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has made it clear that running the airport without a proper security setup is not possible in an interview over the weekend.

The ball is in the Taliban’s court. The difficulty is that those who declared victory have no slightest experience running a state, let alone an office. Turkey’s calls for an inclusive government are very important if the Taliban wants to cooperate with nations like Turkey in either operating the airport or other administrative staff.

The decision to be given by the Taliban in the coming days will determine to what extent the aforementioned countries and Turkey will be in play. The Taliban’s decision will also refer to the questions of how a state without a running airport can exist.