Qatar has been a key player in providing diplomatic assistance between the Taliban and the global community.
Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban party and Qatar have stepped towards an agreement that would see the two cooperate on security issues, according to local Afghan outlet TOLOnews.
The Taliban’s Acting Minister of Defence Mohammad Yaqoob Mujahid said while Doha has shown interest, a security agreement has yet to be formally signed.
“Qatar is interested in an agreement to be signed between the defence ministries of Qatar and Afghanistan. There will be a security pact, based on which the two countries will cooperate with each other,” he said.
“I look at it as a good step and we will consult on this agreement,” he told the RTA.
Qatar has been a key player in providing diplomatic assistance between the Taliban and the global community, receiving praise from leaders around the world for its efforts in airlifting civilians, journalists and diplomas out of Kabul after the Taliban takeover last year.
Last week, the Afghan official met with Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani at the Amiri Diwan to discuss the latest developments in Kabul as well as regional and international developments.
Qatar’s state news agency (QNA) said the amir stressed the need to work towards achieving stability and reconciliation in the crises-hit country.
While it is unclear whether the latest developments on a security agreement involve the management of airports in Afghanistan, Mujahid’s visit to Qatar comes as the Gulf state, Turkey and the interim Afghan government discuss plans to secure the facilities in the war-torn country.
Qatari and Turkish technical teams were dispatched to Kabul after US and NATO troops made a chaotic exit from Afghanistan on 31 August.
The teams were tasked to repair parts of the Hamid Karzai International Airport to resume civilian flights following mass evacuations.
The first of many passenger flights, operated by Qatar Airways, departed Kabul on 9 September, carrying 113 Afghans and foreigners.
Qatari and Turkish companies are currently running technical parts of the airport without a contract. Doha and its ally Ankara had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in December last year to run specific parts of Afghanistan’s airports.
An agreement over airport operations is crucial in supporting the country through its economic crisis.
Mujahid’s trip came a week after meetings between Taliban and US officials in Doha. Those meetings came as Afghanistan sought humanitarian assistance following tragic earthquakes that struck the southeastern part of the country.
The Afghan official also said he made a request to Qatar for assistance in providing salaries, uniforms and equipment for its armed forces.
“We call for their cooperation in providing salaries for the army because Qatar is an Islamic country and it has helped Afghanistan in the past. And also to help us provide uniforms for the forces to secure the borders,” he said, following a trip to the Gulf state.
In Qatar, the Afghan delegation, led by Foreign Minister Khan Muttaqi, also met with a US Treasury department official to look into the country’s worsening economic crisis.
Since the Taliban militarily seized power last year, the US was quick to freeze up to $9.1 billion worth of Afghan assets, contributing to an already-worsening economic situation.
In February, US President Joe Biden ordered the release of $7 billion of Afghanistan’s funds. However, the Biden administration only gave Afghans living under dire humanitarian conditions $3.5 billion of the total amount.
The other half of the Afghan funds was allocated towards victims of the 9/11 attack, a move that many described as the US “punishing” Afghans.
Analysts who spoke to TOLOnews said Qatar’s moves could provide an incentive for the once-radical group.
“Qatar has offered an agreement based on consultation with western countries to encourage the young Afghan leaders to bring reforms, the reforms which the international community wants,” Torek Farhadi, a political analyst, told the local outlet.
Qatari authorities have yet to comment on the security agreement or request to provide the armed forces with assistance.