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Turkey to send humanitarian aid to Afghanistan for winter

Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu said international community should also help Afghanistan to prevent a societal collapse
Children walk along a boundary wall of a dried up canal in Kabul on 27 September 2021 (AFP)
By Ragip Soylu in Istanbul

Turkey plans to send a significant amount of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan upon a verbal request by the Taliban, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday night.

Cavusoglu said Ankara observes that Afghanistan needs help for the upcoming winter. “We suggest everyone in the international community to extend a helping hand to Afghanistan,” Cavusoglu told a group of journalists. “This country shouldn’t collapse. Its economy shouldn’t collapse.”

Cavusoglu said Turkey will deploy the humanitarian aid to this country by using a corridor through Pakistan. “We have already the Turkish Red Crescent in Afghanistan. But additional help will be sent through Pakistan since it would be cheaper to do so,” he added.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last weekend told CBS News that there was still no deal between Turkey and the Taliban to run Kabul international airport. He said that a deal wasn’t possible unless the Taliban established a diverse government that would treat Afghan women well.

Cavusoglu in his remarks said that Turkey still has security concerns with regard to the airport. “They can fly charter flights 12 hours in a day but there isn’t any regular schedule,” Cavusoglu said.

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Earlier this month, sources familiar with the Turkish government’s thinking told Middle East Eye that Ankara was taking a wait-and-see approach, looking to give the Taliban some time to figure out the final form its government would take. “No one is going to be in a rush to recognise them,” the source added.

A dozen Turkish technicians had been in Kabul to help the Qataris operate the airport. MEE sources said they had been deployed there along with a small security team on 1 September.

The second person familiar with the issue said Turkey had been helping the operation at the airport on an “ad hoc and case-by-case” basis, even though there hasn't been any final deal on the issue. "There isn't any deal on systematic and regular work [at the airport] yet," the person added.

Turkey and Qatar have been thrashing out a deal with the Taliban to operate the airport since the Afghan group dramatically seized Kabul on 15 August amid the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan after 20 years. The draft deal revealed by MEE last month included provisions that would see Ankara recognising the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan and providing security at Kabul airport through a private firm.

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