UAE in talks with Taliban; offers to run Kabul airport: Report
The United Arab Emirates has offered the Taliban to run the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul in an attempt to outdo its Gulf rival Qatar in a diplomatic tussle for influence with Afghanistan’s new administrators.
A report by Reuters cited foreign diplomats based in the Gulf region saying that the UAE officials have held a series of discussions with the Taliban in recent weeks to discuss operating the Kabul airport.
Even though the government of the “Islamic Emirates” largely remains an international pariah and its government is not formally recognized by any country, the talks show how countries are seeking to assert their influence in the Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.
Reuters quoted an unnamed source as saying, “the Emiratis are keen to counter diplomatic clout enjoyed there by Qatar.”
As of now, Qatar along with Turkey has been helping run the Kabul airport after playing a major role in evacuation efforts following the chaotic United States’ withdrawal in August, and have said that they are willing to take over the operations. However, the Taliban has not yet formalized an arrangement with Qatar, the diplomats said.
The UAE, which previously ran Kabul airport during the US-led Afghan republic, remains committed to continuing to assist in operating it to ensure humanitarian access and safe passage, a senior Emirati foreign ministry official was quoted in the report.