The government of German Chancellor Angela Merkel has approved a new draft order for the presence of German troops in Afghanistan, according to which German troops will remain in Afghanistan until January 31 next year. The presence of German troops in Afghanistan would expire at the end of March 2021. Deployment of German troops abroad requires the approval of the German parliament. The issue was debated in parliament on March 4. The AFD (Alternative for Germany), a far-right and racist party, has called for the withdrawal of German troops. At the end of the debate in parliament, the request of the government and the party was referred to the Foreign Affairs Commission.
German Foreign Minister Haiku Moss, was one of the first German officials to say that the decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan should not be rushed and should be conditional on the progress of peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Addressing the’ parliament, he stressed that the international community must prevent the hasty withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan. The hasty withdrawal will end in favor of the Taliban. The mission of foreign forces in Afghanistan must end responsibly. The current talks in Qatar are the first real chance for peace in Afghanistan, and this opportunity should not be missed. The presence of foreign forces in Afghanistan is one of the most important tools of pressure from the international community, and the Taliban will not accept a political solution to end the war in Afghanistan without global pressure. The hasty withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan causes the Taliban to insist on continuing the war instead of continuing negotiations.
According to available statistics, NATO has about 10,000 troops in Afghanistan, and most of their activities are to provide training and advice to the Afghan security forces. With nearly 1,100 troops on NATO’s Resolute Support Mission, Germany is the second largest force after the United States. German troops have been mostly present in the northern and northeastern provinces of Afghanistan in recent years, and 54 soldiers have been killed since their presence in Afghanistan. Studies show that German military participation in the NATO mission in Afghanistan by the end of 2018, cost Germany 16 billion and 400 million euros, and the cost of extending the mission from April 2021 to January 2022 is estimated at 382 million euros.
According to German government spokesman Stephen Sibert, modern history takes into account the complexities of Afghanistan and also provides the flexibility to respond in the event of an unstable security situation and a threat. Under the new decision, a maximum of 1,300 German troops will be present in Afghanistan.
German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer also believes that German troops are sufficient in Afghanistan, but that more troops will be sent to fight terrorism if necessary and in case the security situation in Afghanistan deteriorates. Withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan depends on the situation, but most NATO members have not yet decided to leave the country. Afghanistan urgently needs an agreement between the opposition groups in that country. Early withdrawal of troops could jeopardize the peace process. The minister, who had said in the past that the continued presence of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan was necessary, believes that the early withdrawal of troops could jeopardize the peace process.
According to some NATO military officials and the international community, the Kabul government will sooner or later fall without the military presence of international forces. The return of the Taliban to Kabul is a sign of the failure of 20 years of Western intervention in Afghanistan, and the extension of the mission is the only temporary way to buy time and, of course, cover up the West’s defeat in the country. Prolonged military operations will not bring peace to the country; because not only the Taliban, but many Afghans consider this as a clear violation of the agreement between the Taliban and the United States that legitimizes a new round of violence.
An agreement has been reached with the Taliban to end the US-led international military operations in the country on April 30, 2021. The agreement, signed a year ago, addressed only US security needs, not peace in Afghanistan. In fact, only the Trump administration’s domestic policy interests were taken into account in the run-up to the presidential elections. The failure of the Doha Peace Accords was turned into a crisis for the countries involved in its military intervention much earlier than it was expected. Many who believed in the tempting promises of intervention and cooperated with the West have left the country in recent years. Today, Afghan politicians deny the link between the failure of the intervention in Afghanistan and the mass exodus of the Afghans. Violence in Afghanistan has escalated over the past two decades, with even more victims than Syria and Yemen. Only the Taliban, which has regained power, will benefit.
Critics of German military policy in Afghanistan believe that Afghanistan has become an unwelcome stepchild of German foreign policy, and that the extension of the federal military operations will only benefit the dispute between German parties over equipping the German military with armed drones. By intervening in Afghanistan, Berlin has accepted its obligations to the people of that country and must take responsibility for it. According to them, Germany should clarify which interpretation of the Afghans of the peace it supports and whether the extension of the German military mission will lead to peace in Afghanistan?
From 2001 to 2014, the United States was solely responsible for counterterrorism in Afghanistan; from 2014 to 2017, the United States retained its role in the fight against terrorism and shared it with the government of Afghanistan; and from 2017 to 2020, discarded the issue of nation-building in Afghanistan and considered its role to be limited to the fight against terrorism. Trump wanted to leave Afghanistan because of his electoral commitments to end the current wars in the region and to have a foothold in the 2020 elections, and he could not define a role for Afghanistan in post-2020 foreign policy. Biden defined Russia and China as US rivals and sought to prevent them from expanding their influence by strengthening America’s position and role in international alliances and institutions. The extent of the US presence in Afghanistan depends on what position Afghanistan can define in the international system in which the US, Russia and China compete.
The White House, in Biden’s first days in office, announced that he intended to review the peace agreement with the Taliban to ensure that the Taliban had fulfilled their commitments to reduce violence and cut ties with terrorist groups. According to an agreement reached between the United States and the Taliban on March 31 last year, the Taliban must stop attacks on the US forces, reduce the level of violence, and advance peace talks with the Afghan government. The United States, on the other hand, had pledged to gradually reduce its forces in Afghanistan and withdraw them completely by May 2021. One year after the US reached an agreement with the Taliban, nearly 50,000 people were killed and wounded during the year the Taliban reached an agreement with the US. All the terrorist incidents during the year have been under the pretext of peace and talks that took place in Doha. The talks not only did not have the power to reduce violence, but also became one of the reasons for the continuation of the war.
The United States has given excessive concessions to the Taliban in the Doha Agreement. Some groups in the West believe that withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan could lead to the fall of the Kabul government and the start of civil war in Afghanistan. The Biden administration has two different strategies for Afghanistan. Withdrawal from Afghanistan in accordance with the Doha Agreement at the cost of the collapse of the Afghan government and the crisis in Afghanistan and the transfer of the region to the countries rival to the US. Second, support the Afghan government and strengthen its alliance with India and work for peace in Afghanistan, which on the one hand does not lead to a crisis in Afghanistan and on the other hand is accepted by the US allies in the NATO and India as an ally of the United States.