US may give Tajikistan Afghan aircraft held since takeover

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The US may let Tajikistan hold on to the Afghan military aircraft which were flown to the neighboring country during the collapse of the former government, Reuters reported, citing a US military commander.

The aircraft were originally donated to the Afghan military by the US, according to Reuters.

The US Central Command commander Gen. Michael Kurilla visited Tajikistan last weekend.

“We are grateful to the Armed Forces of the Republic of Tajikistan for continuing to secure the aircraft that the Afghan Air Force flew into the country last August,” he said in comments relayed by the US embassy.

“The United States is working with the Tajik government to determine the best way to effectively use and maintain the aircraft,” Kurilla said.

“Our hope is to be able to hand over some or all of the aircraft to the Tajik government. I do not have a timeline on when this will occur, but we are working hard to make this happen,” Kurilla added.

The Islamic Emirate said that it is in negotiations with these countries over the fate of the Afghan military aircraft flown abroad.

“The officials of the Islamic Emirate are in contact with the countries. We will share the details after the information is complete,” said Bilal Karimi, deputy spokesman for the Islamic Emirate.

During the collapse of the former government, dozens of military aircraft were flown to the Central Asian neighbors of Afghanistan. More than 50 aircraft are said to be in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

“A part of the blames goes to the former government because it didn’t own the aircraft but received them as a trustee. A part of this also goes to the current government because… they had to engage in talks with the owner of the aircraft–the US,” said Asadullah Nadeem, a military analyst.

Earlier, officials of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan said they will not hand over the military aircraft to Afghanistan.

Analysts believe that the lack of recognition of the current Afghan government could be one of the obstacles for the US to hand over the aircraft to Afghanistan.

“There is a legal aspect–the Islamic Emirate has yet to be recognized by the US and other countries, therefore, the Americans believe that if they had a deal, it was with the former government. So, until the legitimacy of Islamic Emirate is solved, handing over Afghanistan’s property to the Islamic Emirate will face challenges,” said Javid Javid, a political analyst.—Reuters

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