The Taliban in May ceded management of some of Afghanistan’s airports to a company based in the United Arab Emirates after months of talks.
A specialised Qatari technical team working to repair Kabul International Airport has completed its work, according to a statement from the Qatari embassy in the Afghan capital on Saturday.
“The Embassy of the State of Qatar in Kabul announces that the specialised Qatari technical team has successfully concluded its duties at Kabul International Airport,” the statement read.
“The Qatari technical team had assisted in rehabilitating Kabul Airport in line with international standards, which was pivotal to the delivery of humanitarian and developmental aid to the Afghan people and the resumption of regular traffic flow to
the airport,” it added.
Qatar and Turkey efforts in Afghan airports
Temporary Qatari and Turkish engineering teams were dispatched to Kabul after the completion of the withdrawal of United States and NATO troops from Afghanistan on 31 August last year.
The teams were tasked to repair parts of the Hamid Karzai International Airport to resume civilian flights following mass evacuations.
The teams were able to get the airport to run within a short period of time, enabling the resumption of civilian flights as well as dozens of evacuation trips, many of which were operated by the Gulf country’s national carrier, Qatar Airways.
The two countries have been holding talks with the interim Afghan administration since last year over operating some of the country’s airports. As of April, Qatari and Turkish companies were running technical parts of the airport without an official contract.
“We technically and financially worked [at the airport] and provided the Taliban with a proposal that they will review and there might be a visit to Kabul soon and we are waiting for a response from the Taliban,” the Turkish Ambassador to Qatar Mustafa Göksu told Doha News in February.
Between Qatar and its regional ally Turkey, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed in late December 2021 in a bid to operate parts of Afghanistan’s airports under “equal partnership.”
Earlier in April, Afghanistan’s acting government had requested the foreign ministry to set a deadline for a contract with Qatar over the operations of Afghan airports.
Since the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan in August 2021, the Gulf country carried out the largest airlift of people in history by evacuating at least 70,000 Afghans and foreigners.
Doha has also rallied global diplomatic efforts to ensure a political process is in place in the aftermath of the Taliban takeover.
Qatar’s efforts in Afghanistan
During a press conference in Doha on Sunday, Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani stressed the significance of rapprochement between all Afghan people as well as the need to uphold human rights, particularly the rights of women and girls to education.
Speaking alongside German Chancellor Olaf Sholz, the pair also emphasised the need for a joint international strategy to create a sufficient road map and stressed that the risk of further isolating Afghanistan could ‘backfire’.
Catching up with Qatar’s foreign minister in New York on the sidelines of the 77th United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday, Doha News asked Sheikh Mohammed on the latest situation in Afghanistan and the international community’s efforts in supporting them.
More than a year since the Taliban takeover of Kabul, the Qatari diplomat noted that to date there is no clarity “on the way forward” for the country.
“We’ve been advising the international community that we need to arrange a blueprint for the way forward—what are the required series of conditions we need from the current leadership in Afghanistan, in exchange of what we can provide as an international community,” Sheikh Mohammed told Doha News.