In mid June Turkey floated a plan to occupy the airport of Kabul with Turkish troops to allow for emergency evacuation of ‘western’ embassies. The plan seems to have originated on the U.S. side. I had speculated on what might be behind it:
One does not protect diplomatic missions by holding the main airport of a foreign country. There must be other reasons why this was put on the table.
The CIA has tried to get drone-bases in countries neighboring Afghanistan to continue its
drug smuggling business fight against al-Qaida in Afghanistan. Negotiations were held with Pakistan but Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan publicly rejected the plan.
With no other country around Afghanistan willing to support the CIA it needed to find a way to stay in Afghanistan. Turkish control of the airport of Kabul would allow it to keep drones within the country and to stay in contact with its networks on the ground.
A country that has its main international airport controlled by foreign forces is not sovereign. Such a position can thus only be temporary. When the Taliban take Kabul, and there is little that lets me believe that they will have trouble to do so, the airport will come under fire. The Taliban have by now captured enough long range artillery to put it under siege and to bomb it to smithereens. U.S. air support for the Turkish forces would have to come from the wider Middle East and would have to cross through Pakistani airspace. A long term defense of the airport is therefore not possible.
There are well founded rumors that Turkey is hiring ‘Syrian rebel’ mercenaries to be send to Kabul:
According to the Euphrates Media Center, a Syrian Kurdish news outlet, members of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization discussed the issue June 24 with representatives of several rebel factions under the banner of the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army, including Suqour al-Sham, Suqour al-Shamal, Faylaq al-Majd, the Samarkand Brigade, the Hamza Division, the Sultan Murad Division and the Suleiman Shah Brigade. The factions were told to start preparations for the deployment of 2,000 fighters to Afghanistan, the report said, adding that the rebel representatives asked for monthly salaries of $3,000 for the mercenaries. Other Syrian Kurdish media outlets reported the meeting took place in Hawar Kilis, a village near the town of Azez, not far from the Turkish border, and the intelligence officials asked for 2,600 mercenaries.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that unlike the transfer of mercenaries to the Libyan and Nagorno-Karabakh wars, this time Turkey is more image-savvy and will recruit them through official contracts with Turkish private security companies. According to the observatory, the process is to be supervised by Turkish intelligence officers because faction members do not trust their leaders. Under the plan, the mercenaries would be tasked mainly with guarding the Kabul airport and government buildings without any involvement in operations against the Taliban, and would receive monthly salaries of $2,000 to $3,000.
But at the same time Turkey is still negotiating with the U.S. and with NATO. It seems it wants to get paid excessively for the proposed ‘service’:
Turkey has continued with negotiations on securing and operating Afghanistan’s Kabul airport with both the United States as well as other countries, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar stated on Tuesday.
Speaking to journalists in Ankara, Akar said: “There are some issues on which we have agreed with (U.S. Defense Secretary Llloyd) Mr. Austin as part of the negotiations. Moreover, there are positive developments in NATO with Turkey’s initiatives.”
Akar stated that discussions with the technical delegation of the U.S. on the airport continue in a constructive manner.
Saying that the issue has multiple sides, Akar said: “There are other countries that want to help Afghanistan. We try to pursue the process with our Afghan brothers, NATO, the EU and the international community.”
The Taliban had already warned Turkey to not pursue those plans. Today their spokesman published another statement which makes it absolutely clear that any Turkish troops in Afghanistan will be seen as enemies.
As AFP summarizes:
The Taliban on Tuesday warned Turkey against extending its troop presence in Afghanistan when US-led forces leave the country, insisting the decision was “reprehensible”.
“The decision… is ill-advised, a violation of our sovereignty and territorial integrity and against our national interests,” the group said in a statement, days after Turkey promised to provide troops to protect Kabul airport when foreign forces leave next month.
“We consider the stay of foreign forces in our homeland by any country under whatever pretext as occupation,” said the Taliban in the statement and added that “invaders” will be dealt with according to the Fatwa (decree) under which they have fought for the last two decades.
The statement urged the Turkish people and politicians to “reverse their decision” as it would detrimental to both countries.
The Taliban statement makes it difficult for the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to justify a regular troop deployment. His political constituency is in large parts in favor of the Taliban. He can hardly claim to be a ‘good Muslim’ if he ignores the fatwa that has supported their fight over the last 20 years.
Erdogan may have foreseen that problem. Turkish ‘security contractors’ under Turkish military or intelligence command and two thousand ‘Syrian rebels’, including Uighurs, working as ‘private security guards’ can probably be sold as something other than “invaders”. This even while they, as they are used to do, secretly work in support of the CIA.
But the Taliban will not fall for that ruse. It is pretty obvious that the U.S./Turkish plans are not for the benefit of Afghanistan or even for the foreign diplomats hosted in Kabul. For Erdogan the Kabul deployment is a chance to get back into good grace with the U.S. while gaining some extra money from NATO. For the CIA it is a chance to ‘stay in business’ in Afghanistan and to watch over China while a new round of the Great Game unfolds:
Within the [Shanghai Cooperation Organization], as diplomats told me, there’s ample suspicion that the US deep state agenda is to fuel the flames of imminent civil war in Afghanistan and then extend it to the Central Asian “stans,” complete with shady jihadi commandos mixed with Uighurs also destabilizing Xinjiang.
This being the case, the non-withdrawal withdrawal – what with all those remaining 18,000 Pentagon contractors/mercenaries, plus special forces and CIA black op types – would be a cover, allowing Washington a new narrative spin: the Kabul government has invited us to fight a “terrorist” re-emergence and prevent a spiral towards civil war.
The protracted endgame would read like win-win hybrid war for the deep state and its NATO arm.
Russia, China and Iran all have these suspicions. They all have recently held talks with the Taliban. They will certainly have told them to reject any new or re-deployment of whatever forces to Afghanistan. Today’s Taliban statement underlines that it has understood that message.
It will be interesting to see how Erdogan will wiggle himself out of this situation.