Turkey Strikes Deal For Control Of The Kabul Airport

The Kabul airport has faced a suicide bombing with U.S. servicemembers and civilians killed. It’s been the site of a humanitarian disaster as Afghans desperately attempt to flee Taliban control of their country. And with the U.S. stating its intention to stick with an August 31st deadline for full withdrawal, the question of what happens afterward looms large for the many who won’t get out by then.

Amidst this backdrop it appears that the Kabul International Airport will be jointly run by Turkey and Qatar going forward. The deal remains in draft form until the U.S. actually leaves the ground there.

Turkey wanted to leave troops stationed in Afghanistan but failed to achieve a deal with the Taliban for that. However a private Turkish security firm will remain on-site at the airport, staffed by ex-solders. The security company will almost certainly be SADAT, founded by ex-Turkish brigadier general Adnan Tanrıverdi and loyal to President Tayyip Recep Erdogan (indeed, they’ve been accused of serving as Erdogan’s private army).

Key deal points include:

  • Turkish recognition for the Taliban government
  • Turkey and Qatar operating the airport together as a consortium
  • Turkish security firm presence rather than military
  • Turkish special forces on site cannot leave airport grounds

To show just how complicated things are, though, the previous government of Afghanistan had negotiated a deal with a UAE-based group to operate the airport and “[t]he Taliban will need to cut a separate deal with them.”

The deal gets Turkish President Erdogan a bargaining chip with the West, and also helps avoid Turkey being the recipient of refugees (as they are from Syria) and gives them control of the drug trade out of Afghanistan. Put another way, Turkish control over the airport probably makes continued expatriation of Afghans possible while also being a bad result in greater Turkish influence in the region as well as inside NATO.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. The Turkish-Pakistani-Qatari entanglements have gotten deeper following from the development of the Emirati-Israeli-Saudi axis. In a sign of the times, it’s Pakistan’s Taliban and Afghanistan that shows the geopolitical alignments as they really are at this point and have been even before the Biden Administration came into being.

  2. We are so (Deletable) Turkey has what it wanted. Thanks “Walk Away Joe. I spent a couple of days viewing BBC/Sky News/ France 24.Germany DW TV broadcast in English to get a feel for what the western world is /=how reporting about this ‘manufactured” crisis Joe has created, the consensus of all is the trustworthiness of the US and Joe has dropped significantly. This directly affects security for traveling Americans around the world let alone at home.

    Sorry for the political slant

  3. @Alan – Please Sir pull your head out of your arse.

    Seems your Messiah Herr Drumph, got us into this mess by cutting a deal with the Taliban along with ‘former” Sec State Mike ( I drink your fancy Japanese Whiskey) Pompous.

    Creating an exit with no planning, purposefully holding back SIV applicants, releasing Taliban “leaders” from prisons…

    While I don’t disagree, that we needed to get out, some better negotiating by the “Deal Maker” “president”…instead of sucking his boy Putins dick would have made this less of a mess.

    The Administration of the 45th President purposefully withholding transition briefings at State and DoD was an additional nail in the coffin of Afghanistan.

    So instead of being an adult the Former Guy… was busy throwing excrement at a fan trying to stay in office (Kraken, 4 seasons Total Landscape etc etc etc etc etc.)

    Really makes one proud to be an Amerikkkan…

  4. @Gary, you wrote “Turkish control over the airport probably makes continued expatriation of Afghans possible while also being a bad result in greater Turkish influence in the region as well as inside NATO.”

    Would you care to elaborate how this will adversely affect Turkish influence in the region an inside NATO? I am not agreeing or disagreeing with you; I am genuinely interesting to know your thought on how Turkey’s presence in (and running) the airport has an adverse effect on their regional influence.

  5. @Gary, I have the same question as Hossein. Please enlighten us on your thought process as how it will adversely affect Turkish influence in the region and inside NATO?

  6. @Hossein -it will increase Turkish influence, and that is not great (though arguably better than if a Chinese company had gotten the contract)

  7. The blog writer may have sort of mixed feelings with regard to (thankfully out) Netanyahu (and perhaps more or less so with regard to Israel), and so because of that too he may think that the greater Turkish influence in the region and inside NATO is bad for whatever he wants to see in the region and inside NATO. What do you think Israel’s reaction will be if a Palestinian-sympathizing Turkey decides to move forward with a nuclear arsenal of its own using Pakistani assistance as part of an again budding Turkish-Pakistani alliance?

    From how I see it, greater Turkish influence in the region — and maybe even inside NATO — is less problematic than: Turkey being on a route of becoming and being less democratically liberal than it should be due to Erdogan taking Turkey backwards in ways on that front; and Turkey’s use of refugee flows as a tool of state policy/leverage.

  8. Gary,
    I think people are asking “why” you feel it will be a bad result. You’ve said the same thing 3 times without giving your reasons why you feel this way:

    “while also being a bad result in greater Turkish influence in the region as well as inside NATO.”
    “the *bad result* is greater Turkish influence in NATO”
    “it will increase Turkish influence, and that is not great”

    3 ways of saying the same exact thing……………….
    But, WHY do you feel that way? Are you afraid of some eventual Turkish invasion of other countries in the region? Perhaps Turkey plans to join the Taliban and ISIS and attack the USA with terrorism even though they are a part of NATO? Maybe Turkey plans to double cross NATO and join the Russians?

    I also am interested in hearing “why” you feel the increased Turkish influence in the region will be “bad”.

  9. Don’t you find it odd that the ranting Democrat says “Really makes one proud to be an Amerikkkan.” Generally Democrats hide their party’s past association with the kkk. Not the Democrat party’s finest moment when they were burning crosses and hanging people and generally embodying their party’s symbol – the jackass.

  10. M,

    Maybe it’s because of what Erdogan and the contemporary Turkish public not being knee-jerk supporters of Israel means for Israel:


    Some miss the days of the Turkish military ruling Turkey and being a “reliable” ally for Israel. Not I, as it would be akin to a foreigner choosing military rule of the US just because they don’t fancy Trump being elected as President and/or are concerned about what Trump means for an “ally”/“alliance”.

  11. A NATO member will have control vs, say, Pakistan? Sounds good to me.

    There are no easy answers for anything in Afghanistan. The last 20 years has proven that.

  12. @AlohaDaveKennedy

    If you knew what you are talking about…..those Southern Democrats all left the party and became Republicans after 1965. The “Southern Strategy” that resulted in Nixon’s win. Knowledge of the history of Republican party in the South, escapes many. But labeling all Democrats racist, does not do justice to huge racist element of the Republican party. Which is apparent to everyone who is paying attention, except the hypocrites.

  13. @Geoff

    no amound of revisionism and excuses will make up for the fact that the biden surrender as such absolute failure that people will remember as the low point US history.

  14. @JohnB actually that was false you can count on 1 hand how many of those racist dem became republicans. Dozens of racist dems were voted in as democrats well into the 90s.

    You fail at history.

  15. JohnB,

    AlohaDaveKennedy has repeatedly shown himself to be a supporter of xenophobia and the racism and other bigotry espoused by his Lord Trump, and yet he is trying to pretend as if the Democratic Party today is indistinguishable from the racist Trumpistas.

  16. “Geoff “in your rantings which make absolutely no sense you make mention at the end of KKK ties with Trump. You do realize that it was the Democratic Party who had close ties with the KKK many years ago.

    GU Wonder as always I wonder how you are able to even get out of bed in the morning with such a big vocabulary. It is the Democrats who have become the party of intolerance. You say the wrong thing and you get shamed by the left on social media, investigated by Law enforcement and fired from your job. Ever been to an Anarchist rally? They make the Proud Boys look like Boy Scouts. They are the foot soldiers for the liberal / socialist leaning wing of the Democratic Party. Go to Portland Oregon, watch and learn with that big brain of yours. As your close friend “Geoff” would say get your “ head out of your arse!”

  17. Let’s go back to Bush/ Cheney. We should have melted down a few Middle Eastern cities after 911 instead of marching in to pull out a rat cowering in a hole! The US military needs to reread Roman history.

  18. cmorgan,

    Trump was a (Clinton-loving) racist Democrat before he became a Republican. His father was a KKK supporter, and the Trump seed didn’t fall far from the tree on that.

    Trump was also a buffoon on 9/11 and in the immediate months after, so who knows where he really was on the “important issues of the day” in the fall of 2001 and the following year/years. We do know that Trump ultimately made a deal with the Al-Qaeda-supporting Taliban and that too even the Haqqani terrorist network, so I guess we can call him the deal maker. The bad deal maker at that.

  19. @Gary, thanks for that; I had not read your sentence with the intended connotation. I see your point; say no more :-). I agree 100%!

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