The Taliban on Wednesday warned Turkey not to keep its forces in war-ravaged Afghanistan, as it accused the “US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)” allies of reneging on last year’s commitment to withdraw foreign troops from the nation.
“The [Islamic] Republic of Turkey should not make such a big mistake, which is neither for Turkey's good nor that of the future of Afghans. It is not appropriate for an Islamic country to be at enmity with another Islamic country on behalf of the occupying infidels,” said Dr Muhammad Naeem, spokesman of the political office of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), unofficially known as the Taliban.
The statement, in the local Dari language, expressed concerns that under the pretext of guarding Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, NATO forces wanted to turn Afghanistan into a “playground for regional rivals”.
“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has repeatedly and very clearly made it clear to the occupiers that it does not accept the presence of foreign forces in any part of Afghanistan,” said Dr Naeem, who is based in Qatar.
The strongly worded Taliban statement comes after Turkey’s defence minister Hulusi Akar offered to station 500 Turkish troops at Kabul’s international airport to secure the facility once the US-led troops exit the south Asian nation. The offer was made on Monday at the NATO Summit in Brussels, which was also attended by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US President Joe Biden.
Erdogan has said that Turkey is the only country that could be “trusted” with maintaining security in Afghanistan once other foreign troops leave. At the same time, the Turkish leader has also asked for diplomatic and logistical support from other NATO allies to keep a presence on Afghan soil.
"Some NATO countries, such as the United States and Turkey, are also in direct talks about how to make an international airport in Kabul sustainable which is essential if a diplomatic presence and aid both from NATO allies and the rest of the world, are to continue," the group’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed at a press briefing after Monday’s summit.
At the ninth session of HoI-IP in March this year, the group, co-chaired by the Afghanistan government, expressed concerns over links between the Taliban and terror outfits such as Al-Qaeda* and Daesh*. The HoI-IP also backed continuing dialogue between the Taliban and the Afghan government.
Biden last month announced that American forces would be leaving the nation by 11 September, with the process of foreign troop withdrawal having begun on 1 May.
However, concerns have been expressed by NATO allies that withdrawal of foreign forces from the country would risk the insurgency-hit nation falling back in the hands of the Taliban.
*Daesh (aka ISIS, ISIL, the Islamic state) and al-Qaeda are terror organizations outlawed in Russia