With the imminent withdrawal of the U.S.-led coalition from Afghanistan, U.S and NATO officials have approached Qatar with requests for a base for the training of Afghan special operations commandos. 

“We are holding talks to earmark a base in Qatar to create an exclusive training ground for senior members of the Afghan forces,” said a senior security official of the U.S./NATO coalition in Kabul. The official wasn’t named because he is not authorized to speak with the media.

After nearly 20 years of war, getting all the troops and equipment out of the country is no easy task. Nevertheless, while the U.S. is scheduled to have completely withdrawn its troops from Afghanistan by September 11, early indications show that the American troops may be out from as early as July. 

NATO troops in Afghanistan respond to an incident in Kabul. (Reuters)

A request to host Afghan commandos had also been made to Pakistan but it was rebuffed by Pakistani officials

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said his government, led by Prime Minister Imran Khan, has no intention to give its military bases to Washington.

“Search for bases could be their wish. There is no question of giving them bases, we have to see our interest,” Qureshi said. “We will not allow the kinetic use of drones, nor are we interested in monitoring your drones. This a very clear-cut policy of this government,” he said. Uzbekistan had, likewise, rejected a similar proposal. This makes the request to Qatar especially important.

The Western Withdrawal Will Affect Counterterrorism Missions

The training of the Afghan security forces, especially their Special Forces units who are key to combatting the Taliban, has been a key component of NATO’s mission. Their training has traditionally been done by U.S. Special Operations Forces.

The withdrawal will not only impact the Afghan commandos’ training but will have a significant impact on counterterrorism (CT) operations in Afghanistan, including the collection of intelligence on al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups.