The United Arab Emirates has held talks with the Taliban to run Kabul airport, going up in opposition to Gulf rival Qatar in a diplomatic tussle for affect with Afghanistan’s new rulers, in line with 4 sources with information of the matter.
UAE officers have held a sequence of discussions with the group in current weeks to debate working the airport that serves as landlocked Afghanistan’s principal air hyperlink to the world, the overseas diplomats primarily based within the Gulf area instructed Reuters.
The talks exhibit how international locations are looking for to say their affect in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan even because the hardline Islamist group largely stays a world pariah and its authorities not formally recognised by any nation.
The Emiratis are eager to counter diplomatic clout loved there by Qatar, in line with the sources who declined to be title as a result of sensitivity of the matter.
The Qataris have been serving to run the Hamid Karzai Worldwide Airport together with Turkey after enjoying a serious function in evacuation efforts following the chaotic US withdrawal in August, and have stated they’re prepared to take over the operations.
But the Taliban has not but formalised an association with Qatar, the 4 diplomats stated.
A senior Emirati overseas ministry official stated the UAE, which beforehand ran Kabul airport in the course of the US-backed Afghan republic, “stays dedicated to persevering with to help in working” it to make sure humanitarian entry and protected passage.
Abu Dhabi additionally aided current evacuation efforts.
The Taliban and Qatari authorities didn’t reply to requests for remark.
Two of the diplomats stated the Taliban has additionally sought monetary help from the UAE, although they added it was not clear if this was associated to the airport discussions.
The Emirati overseas ministry official, Salem Al Zaabi, director of worldwide safety cooperation, didn’t reply to a query on whether or not the UAE was contemplating offering monetary assist to the Taliban.
One key concern that is nonetheless to be resolved between the Taliban and potential airport operators is who would supply safety on the website, the 4 diplomats stated. The Taliban say they don’t want overseas forces within the nation following their return to energy after 20 years of struggle.
Nonetheless, Qatari particular forces are presently offering safety throughout the airport’s perimeter, the diplomats added, whereas Taliban particular forces had been patrolling areas outdoors.
To this point international locations have been reluctant to formally recognise the Taliban’s authorities, accusing the group of backtracking on pledges to uphold the rights of girls and minorities.
But Qatari officers have urged larger worldwide engagement with the Taliban to stop impoverished Afghanistan from falling right into a humanitarian disaster. Gulf states have additionally voiced concern that the US withdrawal would permit al Qaeda to regain a foothold in Afghanistan.
Whereas there’s little business profit for any operator, the airport would supply a much-needed supply of intelligence on actions in and in a foreign country, in line with the 4 diplomats, who stated that for the reason that withdrawal many international locations have lacked real-time data.
Qatar and the UAE have had strained relations for years as they competed for regional affect.
The UAE, Saudi Arabia and their allies boycotted Qatar for over three years, reducing off political, commerce and transport ties, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism – a cost that it denies. The dispute was resolved in January this yr.
Qatar has lengthy been the gateway to the Taliban, with Doha internet hosting the group’s political workplace since 2013 and negotiations with the US in early 2020 that led to the withdrawal.
Final week, Qatari officers strengthened their place by signing an accord to symbolize American diplomatic pursuits in Afghanistan.
The UAE has maintained ties with the Taliban too, in line with two of the diplomats. They stated the nation had been residence to some members of the group lately, together with Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, who they added lived within the Sharjah emirate along with his household from no less than 2013. Stanikzai is now deputy overseas minister within the Taliban administration.
Al Zaabi didn’t reply to questions on the UAE’s relationship with Stanikzai. The Taliban didn’t instantly reply to queries on Stanikzai dwelling within the UAE.
The Taliban stated this month that the UAE had reopened its embassy in Kabul. The UAE has not commented.
(Aside from the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV workers and is printed from a syndicated feed.)