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Turkey Gears Up for Risky Afghan Mission That No One Else Wants

  • U.S. committed to support Turkey’s guarding of Kabul airport
  • American forces are to pull out of Afghanistan by Sept. 11
Hamid Karzai International airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Hamid Karzai International airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.Photographer: Massoud Hossaini/AP Photos

As the U.S. prepares to exit Afghanistan’s sprawling Bagram base after 20 years of war, NATO partner Turkey is willing to take the lead securing another airstrip -- Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International, 65 kilometers (40 miles) to the south.

Throwing a protective ring around the landlocked nation’s airport is critical for those wanting to sustain a strategic presence in Afghanistan. That includes Western powers on the look out for emerging terrorist threats, China with its now-stalled interest in vast mineral deposits, and India, which wants Kabul as a key ally in its tussle with neighboring Pakistan.