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German Defense Minister not ruling out more troops to Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: February 28, 2021)

German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said if the security situation worsens drastically in Afghanistan, Germany would not rule out sending in more troops if necessary.

Speaking to Deutsche Welle, she said should the situation deteriorate “we would have to talk about a completely new mandate.”

She told DW however that the current mandate ceiling of 1,300 soldiers should be sufficient for the next few months.

The German defense minister arrived in Afghanistan early Friday morning for an unannounced visit to Mazar-e-Sharif, the capital of Balkh province, where the majority of German troops are stationed.

Her visit comes after the German government on Wednesday agreed to extend its military mandate in Afghanistan by at least another 10 months.

Germany’s Deutsche Welle reported that the new draft mandate still needs the approval of the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament.

The current mandate is set to expire at the end of March.

Under the draft agreed by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Cabinet, German troops would be able to stay in the country until January 31, 2022, Deutsche Welle reported.

During her visit, Kramp-Karrenbauer stated that Afghanistan “urgently needs a settlement between the opposing groups of its society.”

She said German soldiers cannot replace these reconciliation processes, but they were “making an important contribution together with allies, especially in the north of the country,” she said.

“We stand ready to continue to support the peace process. The protection of our soldiers has a very high priority in view of the security situation, and all necessary measures are taken together with our partners,” Kramp-Karrenbauer added.

Kramp-Karrenbauer stated that Berlin’s goal remained an orderly withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said last week that no final decision had been made on the future of foreign troops in Afghanistan – despite the May 1 troop withdrawal deadline.

Stoltenberg acknowledged that the military alliance is facing “many dilemmas” over its continued engagement in the country.

With over 1,100 troops, Germany has the second-largest contingent after the United States in the NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan.

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Germany will not abandon Afghan staff, minister says

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(Last Updated On: April 19, 2021)

Germany will not let down its Afghan staff as the international military mission in the country, Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer pledged on Sunday.

“I feel it is Germany’s sincere duty to not leave these people without protection now that we will permanently withdraw,” the defence ministry in Berlin said on Twitter, quoting extracts from an interview with German news agency DPA.

U.S. President Joe Biden and NATO on Wednesday announced that they would withdraw the roughly 10,000 foreign troops still in Afghanistan by Sept. 11. Germany is the second-largest contingent with about 1,100 troops.

The withdrawals have raised concerns that Afghanistan could erupt into full-scale civil war, providing al Qaeda space in which to rebuild and plan new attacks on U.S. and other targets.

The German forces currently employ about 300 Afghans as interpreters and in other jobs, according to the defence ministry in Berlin.

Since 2013 Germany has admitted nearly 800 Afghans at risk in their own country after working for the foreign military, as well as about 2,500 family members.

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Two policemen killed in Taliban group attack in Baghlan

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(Last Updated On: April 19, 2021)

At least two policemen were killed and six others were wounded in a Taliban group attack in Baghlan province on Sunday night, police said Monday.

Police said the Taliban attacked Fabreka Qand Township in the Baghlan-e-Markazi district.

According to them, at least six Taliban insurgents were also killed and eight more were wounded in the ensuing clash between the insurgents and Afghan security forces.

“Afghan forces responded strongly to the Taliban’s attacks and pushed them back,” said Jawed Basharat, spokesman for Baghlan police.

Sayed Kamal Wardak, district governor for Baghlan Markazi district told Ariana News that the clash started on Sunday night at around midnight and lasted until 5am on Monday.

“At least one police Humvee burnt out and another one was seized by the Taliban,” said Wardak.

Police chief Sayed Ashraf Sadat along with other reinforcements are in the area and said the Taliban suffered heavy casualties but he did not provide further details.

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Ghani says Taliban no longer has an ‘excuse’ to continue the war

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(Last Updated On: April 19, 2021)

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday rejected any military parallels with the US war in Vietnam and dismissed concerns that his country would collapse after American forces are withdrawn.

In an interview with CNN, Ghani said it was time Afghanistan regained its sovereignty after 20 years of American and international presence.

“In the past two years, Afghan defence and security forces have been carrying out over 90 per cent of the operations,” he said.

Ghani said the US announcement of troop withdrawal has been a game changer but it’s now time the Taliban and Pakistan make a choice.

“Will they opt for peace or chaos?” he asked.

Ghani said the Taliban no longer has an excuse to carry on the war now that the international forces are withdrawing and they have no religious justification for the war. He said a political settlement is a must but that the ball is “clearly” in the Taliban’s court.

According to him he has never stood in the way of peace but was used as the Trump administration’s scapegoat. He said he was accused of being an “obstacle in the way of peace”.

This was not the case he said, adding that he was clear about wanting the Trump team to deal directly with the Afghan government and not with the Taliban on the troop withdrawal issue last year.

On what the Taliban might do in future, Ghani said he would like the group to “seize the new context” and reach a political settlement where a government of peace ending in an election can be formed.

He also said that Pakistan’s leaders have all “verbally” said they do not want the Taliban to rule, and that they would like to see a peaceful, stable, democratic government in Afghanistan. He added however that Afghanistan is “key to their prosperity”.

According to him, Pakistan has two choices – share in the benefits of a peaceful Afghanistan or “opt for chaos”. He said Pakistan would be the country most affected by a civil war in Afghanistan.

Ghani also stated that Pakistan could become an anchor for regional stability. On China, he said he did not believe Beijing would get “involved” in regional conflict and stated that Afghanistan does not want “a replacement” for US troops once they have withdrawn.

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