(Photo credit: Reuters)
The UAE government and the Taliban are set to strike a deal for Abu Dhabi to run Kabul airport, as well as several other airports in Afghanistan, according to an exclusive report by Reuters.
The deal, the report says, could be announced within the next few weeks.
Despite a lack of formal recognition by the international community, the Taliban government have nonetheless been in talks with Qatar and Turkey on Kabul airport operations.
Following months of negotiations and the possibility of a joint UAE-Turkey-Qatar deal, the Taliban is set to hand over all airport operations to Abu Dhabi.
The agreement would help the Kabul government ease their isolation from the outside world as the impoverished Afghanistan undergoes widespread hunger and a severe economic crisis.
The move would also potentially hand Abu Dhabi a win in its diplomatic struggle with Qatar for influence.
Crucially, for the creation of jobs, the deal calls for Afghans to be employed at the airport, primarily in security roles. But the airport would be run solely by the UAE.
Back in May, the Taliban contacted the Emirati aviation company GAAC, which was responsible for running security and handling ground services at Afghan airports prior to the Taliban takeover last August.
In a bid to increase trade and foreign investment as well as ease the economic crisis in Afghanistan, the Taliban government signed an agreement with a UAE consortium on 24 May to provide ground-handling services at three airports in the country.
According to Taliban government deputy spokesman Inamullah Samangani, the GAAC company will provide ground-handling services at Kabul International Airport, as well as at airports in Kandahar in the south and Herat in the west.
At the signing of the agreement, Afghan Deputy Prime Minister Mullah Ghani Baradar emphasized the guarantee of security throughout the country and the readiness of the Taliban government to cooperate with countries investing in Afghanistan.
Qatar and Turkey sent temporary technical teams to help airport operations and security after the Taliban defeated the US-trained Afghan army in August 2021.