The latest reports from Afghanistan suggest the Taliban is talking to foreign powers and has neared an agreement with Turkey over Kabul airport. The country’s banks have also been ordered open.
Amid indications of improvement, one of the Taliban spokesmen has claimed that the group’s fighters had entered the Panjshir valley, where a fierce battle is feared.
Evacuation from the Kabul airport continues to be the top priority for the western nation.
London-based online news outlet Middle East Eye claims that the Taliban and Turkey were close to a deal on Kabul airport. Under the proposed agreement, Turkey and Qatar will operate the Kabul airport with Turkey providing security through a private firm. The firm will hire former Turkish soldiers. In return, the Taliban expected recognition from Turkey, which could become the first country to formally recognize the Taliban government, though China has also indicated that it was ready to accept the Taliban regime.
The talks between Turkey and the Taliban were facilitated by Qatar, which also provided the link between the Taliban and France.
French President Emmanuel Macron said Saturday that discussions were underway with the Taliban through Qatar to “protect and repatriate” Afghans at risk since this month’s takeover by the group, AFP reported.
Evacuations are planned jointly with Qatar and may involve “airlift operations”, Macron said after a summit in Baghdad, adding that France had evacuated 2,834 people from Afghanistan since August 17.
Discussions with world powers were, however, unlikely to win the Taliban quick recognition. The White House has dismissed any chance of rapid recognition for a Taliban government by the United States or its allies.
“I want to be really clear: there’s no
rush to recognition of any sort by the United States or any international
partners we have talked to,” Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.
The United States is in close contact with its former enemy as it tries to complete the risky operation to evacuate tens of thousands of people from Afghanistan at the end of a 20-year war, AFP says.
The situation reportedly improved after three of Taliban’s Al Badri battalions entered Kabul airport on Friday in the aftermath of twin suicide bombings.
“Today, three important locations in the military part of Kabul airport were evacuated by the Americans and are under the control of the Islamic Emirate,” spokesman Bilal Karimi said on Twitter.
However, the Pentagon said that the Taliban had not taken control of any operations at Kabul airport.
The UK has completed the evacuation on Saturday. AFP reports that its final flight took off “leaving hundreds of Afghans eligible for resettlement behind.” The US officials have vowed to continue the operation until the final moment. The Pentagon has warned that Kabul airport still faces “specific, credible threats.”
Earlier this week, SAMAA Digital’s Wakil ur Rehman reported that the future of banking in Afghanistan was uncertain because the Taliban’s government was unlikely to allow traditional interest-based banks to operate. He explored the possible Sharia-compliant alternatives. On Saturday, Afghanistan’s State Bank ordered the banks to reopen and operate within certain frameworks to solve the liquidity crisis.
Anaamullah Samangani, a member of the Taliban’s Cultural Commission, claimed on Saturday that the Taliban fighters had entered the Panjshir valley from all directions.
Based in Panjshir, ousted Afghan Vice President Amrullah Saleh and Ahmad Massoud have so far resisted the Taliban advances. Tolo News reports that Massoud’s supporters have rejected claims of a Taliban advance toward Panjshir and say no one has entered the province.
A Taliban onslaught of Panjshir valley could lead to one of the worst battles in recent months. However, there is still hope for peace. Samangani, too, said the door for negation was still open.